Nikon 1 V3 Review
Since the original 1 V1, AF and continuous shooting speed have been a standout feature in Nikon's mirrorless offering for users who want interchangeable lens versatility in a small form factor. The 1 V3 makes a large step toward being a true enthusiast-oriented camera with the addition of features such as twin control dials, two customizable function buttons (a third if using the add-on grip) and a new 18MP 1"-type sensor with no AA filter. Add to that a high-performance hybrid contrast and phase detect AF system, a new Expeed 4A processor, and you have a very capable camera for most shooting situations.
The obvious change from last year's 1 V2 is the loss of the built-in electronic viewfinder, which is now an optional extra. Also available as add-ons are a DSLR-like grip and an adapter ring to attach any F-mount lens. This modular approach allows users to build-up or strip down the V3 to their liking - this should boost its appeal to enthusiasts (although for U.S. buyers, the only option is to buy the kit with EVF and grip). However, at the same time, the V3 still has many 'creative' modes that simulate various art filters and a 'live preview' scene control mode for beginners to blur background or stop action without having to learn aperture or shutter speed numbers.
The V1's cumbersome access to key settings annoyed many enthusiasts. While the V2 addressed some of those issues, it still felt like Nikon could do better with the V-series for serious shooters given the J- and S-series cameras were clearly aimed at people stepping up from smartphones and compacts. The question for the V3 is: Does it now provide enough direct control, customization and image quality to make advanced users give the 1-series a second look?
Nikon 1 V3 key features
- 18.4MP 1"-type CMOS sensor, no AA filter
- Hybrid AF with 171 contrast-detect and 105 phase-detect points
- 20 fps with continuous AF and subject tracking
- Raw file capture
- 3" tilting touchscreen with 1.04M dots
- 1080/60p video capture
- Wi-Fi connectivity with remote control via app
The new sensor and AF system are the headline features of the V3. The V3's 18.4MP CX-format CMOS sensor is a bump up from the 14.2MP found in the V2. It also lacks an anti-aliasing (low-pass) filter that potentially gives the V3 sharper, more detailed images. Along with the sensor, the new Expeed 4A processor enables the V3 to shoot 20 fps in full-time continuous autofocus mode - even when shooting Raw files - and an astounding 60 fps in single focus mode.
Nikon's 1-series from the beginning had one of the fastest AF systems found in mirrorless cameras. The V3 is no different. It uses a hybrid system, combining 171 contrast and 105 phase detection areas. In comparison, the V2 had 135 and 73 respective areas. The phase-detect areas cover almost 100% of the frame, making the Sony a6000 with its hybrid AF system the V3's only serious competitor in this respect. With high fps and quick AF speed, the V3 has the chops for shooting fast action, whether it be sports or a spontaneous moments with kids.
The V3 can now shoot 1080/60p full-HD video with the ability to capture full resolution still images during recording. There's also a high-speed option and slow-motion capture ability at 120 fps at 720p.
And in what is becoming a standard feature on many new cameras, Wi-Fi is now built-in (no NFC). You can transfer images to your smartphone or control the camera remotely using Nikon's Wireless Mobile Utility app.
Key specs compared
Finding a direct rival to the V3 is tough. The Sony a6000 is the nearest competitor in terms of AF performance. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 and Samsung NX Mini are some interchangeable lens cameras that are physically smaller than the V3. Meanwhile the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1000 III is the benchmark 1"-type sensor camera for image quality and its built-in lens is brighter than the Nikon's kit zoom.
Nikon 1 V3
Sony RX100 III
|Effective Pixels||• 18MP||• 24 MP||• 16MP||• 21MP|
|ISO Range||• 160-12800||
|• 200-25600||• 125-12800|
• Hybrid contrast and phase detect
• Hybrid contrast and phase detect
|• Contrast detect||• Contrast detect|
• 1,037,000 dots
• 921,600 dots
| • 3"
• 1,036,800 dots
| • 3"
• 1,228,800 dots
|Sensor Size||• 1"-type
• (13.2 x 8.8 mm)
|• Four Thirds
• (17.3 x 13 mm)
• (13.2 x 8.8 mm)
|Built-in flash||• Yes||• Yes||• Yes||• Yes|
|Continuous drive||• 20 fps continuous AF
• 60 fps single AF
|• 11 fps continuous AF||• 5 fps||• 10 fps|
||• SD||• SD||• SD|
|Weight (inc batteries)||• 381 g (0.84 lb)||• 344 g (0.76 lb)||• 204 g (0.45 lb)||• 290 g (0.64 lb)|
|Dimensions||• 111 x 65 x 33 mm
(4.37 x 2.56 x 1.3")
|• 120 x 67 x 45 mm (4.72 x 2.64 x 1.77")||
• 99 x 55 x 30 mm (3.88 x 2.16 x 1.2")
• 102 x 58 x 41 mm (4.02 x 2.28 x 1.61")
|Wi-Fi||• Built-in||• Built-in||• Built-in||• Built-in|
|When the grip is attached to the camera it adds a shutter button, another front command dial, and third custom function button.|
|The GR-N1010 grip and DF-N1000 electronic viewfinder are included in the US V3 kit. They are sold separately in the UK and Europe.|
Kit options and pricing
In the US, a V3 kit with the 1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm F3.5-5.6 PD-Zoom lens, DF-N1000 electronic viewfinder and the GR-N1010 grip is available for $1,199.95. The 1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm F3.5-5.6 PD-Zoom and the 1 Nikkor VR 70-300mm F4.5-5.6 lenses are also available for $299.95 and $999.95 respectively. An FT-1 mount adapter is also available for $239.95.
In the UK and Europe the V3 will sell for £799.99/€949 with the 10-30mm lens only. The kit with 10-30mm lens, EVF and grip will be available for £1049.99/€1249. The FT-1 mount adapter will sell for £229.99/€279.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Specifications
- 3 Body and Design
- 4 Body and Design
- 5 Operation and Controls
- 6 Shooting Experience
- 7 Performance
- 8 Video
- 9 Features
- 10 Image Quality and Raw
- 11 Lab Report - Image Quality Compared
- 12 Lab Report - Dynamic Range
- 13 Lab Report - Noise & Noise Reduction
- 14 Conclusion
- 15 Sample Images