I wanted it, now I don't

Started Oct 20, 2011 | Discussions thread
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Andrew Elliott
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I wanted it, now I don't
Oct 20, 2011

I was really looking forward this camera system, especially the V1, because of the small size and especially the much-trumpeted speed advantages on offer. I had almost decided to buy it regardless of sensor size, high ISO performance and so on. I wanted a camera that could focus and take a picture as soon as I decided to take it, as soon as I pressed the button.

This morning the 1 series was launched at Jessops, Charing Cross, London, UK. I popped in to have a look before work. Loads of Nikon staff were there.

"There’s only 8-or-so goodie bags left", the girl outside hawking the 1-series leaflets said. These goodie bags contained 1-series related stuff worth £350 or so of free. I felt slightly uneasy.

I had read all about the camera over and over again, trawling the Internet for anything I could find.

So I get to see the cameras. I ask for the V1 and describe how I want to be able to just lift the camera up and immediately take the picture with no focus or shutter lag at all, or at least none that I could notice. Like for street photography where sometimes you would respond very quickly to take the image before you as it exists only for an instant. The Nikon guy had a J1 and demonstrates that it takes pictures even before you do, that it is so much faster than the fastest thing in the world... well, I thought, how good is that?!

I got the camera and then performed a small pirouette to snap the person beside me and hey presto, lag on the focus locking and a blurred picture. It had the 10-30 kit zoom on it so the 10mm pancake could be a bit faster. I wasn’t aware of the ISO setting but I think it was probably on ‘Auto’ for the launch function.

I then held my hand out in front of me at arm’s length and let the camera focus on that, then took it away, released the shutter button and tried to take an ‘instant’ photo of the Nikon sign 6 foot away in the background… and hey presto, the focus grunted for at least a half a second before locking and firing off an in-focus shot. Maddening. Just like the Panasonic GF1 I had bought and sold for the same reason. I guessed this was the contrast detection being used in the ‘dim’ interior of the shop and confirmed some of what I’d read on this forum and others on the Internet. I did this several times on several settings with the Nikon guy showing me how to do it.

I tried to explain to the Nikon guy that in this interior environment, the camera was probably choosing the contrast-detect auto focus and not the phase-detection auto focus so it had to ‘grunt’ to see its focus – i.e. move through the point of focus to find it in the first place. It was not instant or even that fast. I was advised that you could not set the system to phase-detection focus only and that the camera is so much faster than the fastest thing in the world and that, basically, the camera was always right. Maddening.

The viewfinder is… OK, a lot better than (but not a really giant lift from) the not-very-good Panasonic LVF1 that I had bought (and then sold) for the GF1. Resolution? The problem with these EVFs is that they do not display what you see. An optical viewfinder does. Optical viewfinders show what your eyes see and the image is there instantly and it is always on.

With the V1, when you lift the camera to your eye, the sensor turns off the LCD screen and then turns on the EVF. This takes about 1 second, however many times you try it. Maddening.

I must qualify all this by stressing that I had less than 10 minutes with the camera in the shop, but I can tell you now that my findings thus far have revealed that the photographic wheel has definitely not been re-invented with the Nikon 1-series.

I really wanted to like this camera, to have that small size and ‘instant’ speed, but I think I’ll stick with my (not much bigger actually and a hell of a lot faster) Pentax K5 with its 'big' sensor and my small and sharp ‘Limited’ range of lenses... whilst I save for the M9.

all the best,

Andy

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