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Nikon 1 V3 Review

July 2014 | By Eugene Lee
Buy on GearShop$1,196.95

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 a6000
Panasonic GM1
Sony RX100 III
Effective Pixels  • 18MP • 24 MP  • 16MP  • 21MP
ISO Range  • 160-12800

• 100-25600

 • 200-25600  • 125-12800
AF System

• Hybrid contrast and phase detect

• Hybrid contrast and phase detect

 • Contrast detect  • Contrast detect
Screen • 3"
• 1,037,000 dots
• 3"
• 921,600 dots
 • 3"
 • 1,036,800 dots
 • 3"
 • 1,228,800 dots
Sensor Size • 1"-type
• (13.2 x 8.8 mm)

• APS-C
• (23.5 x 15.6 mm)

• Four Thirds
• (17.3 x 13 mm)
• 1"-type
• (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
Storage • microSD
• 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

Optional accessories

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.


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2014 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Comments

Total comments: 625
1234
57even
By 57even (2 months ago)

Hmm, can't see many early adopters. Nikon, get a decent sensor, quick!

Better still, put all this excellent technology in an APSC body. You would probably sell millions.

5 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (2 months ago)

Look at raws, the performance is much better than DPR claims.

Extract in ACR 8.5 and ideally find raws shot with a better lens than the kitzoom.

2 upvotes
57even
By 57even (2 months ago)

The raws are fine, but don't compete with APSC ones. Nikon have some great technology in a camera that deserves to compete head on with DSLRs, but it won't do it. In the end, it will hurt them.

I can only think they must have a model on the blocks, but are waiting to see what happens to the DLSR market. At the moment, it doesn't look too promising.

0 upvotes
Fotogeneticist
By Fotogeneticist (2 months ago)

I agree with HowaboutRAW... the JPEGs from this thing are not doing it justice. But I still think Nikon is 1-2 stops away from the perfect camera. I've been using a Nikon V1 to great effect as my D700 replacement. I've learned to work around its limitations in shadow details. I expose for the shadows rather than the highlights and use "other methods" to compensate for highlights.

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (2 months ago)

57even:

Head on with a 2013 APSC DSLR? Huh? No.

Let go of the price thing, and simply see this as a small mirrorless system with some good lenses, and a not great kitzoom, very good high ISO raws, very good AF, very good frame rates.

0 upvotes
MikeReidDesign
By MikeReidDesign (2 months ago)

This Camera has a small but it's stylish CSC with the tilting touchscreen get's a thumbs up from me. Not to mention the Wi-Fi .... Added value. The Nikon brand has certainly come a far way.

0 upvotes
TrojMacReady
By TrojMacReady (2 months ago)

The RAW files are not better than the Dpreview claims which they supported with samples shot in various light conditions (typical deep shadows in typical indoor light included, unlike Imaging Resource). Shot with a $900 lens too, so no excuses possible there either.

Relatively high shadow noise at all ISO's and an early colour shift in shadows at higher ISO's.

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (2 months ago)

TrojMacReady:

And the Imaging Resources raws look excellent thru ISO 6400.

0 upvotes
sebastian huvenaars
By sebastian huvenaars (2 months ago)

It's almost like Nikon wánts you to consider one of their dslr's before dropping 1000k + on a system camera...

23 upvotes
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (2 months ago)

Exactly.

5 upvotes
sebastian huvenaars
By sebastian huvenaars (2 months ago)

1000k is a million lol, my bad :)

6 upvotes
ManuelVilardeMacedo
By ManuelVilardeMacedo (2 months ago)

Right, Sebastian. That would make it the most expensive new camera in the world and put it in Ur-Leica territory.

0 upvotes
steelhead3
By steelhead3 (2 months ago)

Not a Nikon 1 user, but I thought the review may be a little harsh...this camera has possibilities if it came with the 20 meg Sony sensor, which Nikon can do easily since Aptina is into automobile products now.

0 upvotes
57even
By 57even (2 months ago)

That's the problem. It didn't.

6 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (2 months ago)

steel:

Why that Sony sensor isn't better at high ISOs?

1 upvote
mosswings
By mosswings (2 months ago)

You're forgetting one thing. That 20 meg Sony sensor doesn't have on-sensor phase detect, which is what lets you get the shot (in good light) in the first place. And that A6000 everyone's drooling over is an APS-C sized sensor. The trouble with OSPDAF is that it burns up pixel area and sacrifices a bit of IQ to do it. At the 1" sensor size, this is punishing, since AF performance is directly related to OSPDAF array area, and there's not much room for it on a high res 1" sensor. Extremely fast data rates, like the V3's, mean shorter ADC settling times and lowered DR, as well as an architecture optimized for speed not quality. If Sony comes out with an OSPDAF equipped RX100 IV that maintains the III's IQ, then we can talk. The V3 is a niche product. Ya gotta want the fast AF, or the huge magnifications of the 70-300, or to use your f-mount lenses, to consider it. As a general purpose camera, it is behind the pack.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
steelhead3
By steelhead3 (2 months ago)

Here is a Imaging Resource comparison of cameras...as much as a jpeg comparison at low resolution as anything else
http://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2014/07/13/we-present-our-2014-high-iso-8x10-showdown

0 upvotes
steelhead3
By steelhead3 (2 months ago)

Do you think 179 pixels out of 20 million is a big hit on resolution...maybe on processing power, eh.

0 upvotes
mosswings
By mosswings (2 months ago)

Steelhead3, that's 179 focus zones. Each focus zone is implemented by an extended array of pixels that detect the phase difference used to establish focus. Those pixel arrays are quite large...they have to be, to be able to resolve the phase difference well enough. The actual area used by OSPDAF arrays is in the high single digits, enough to hurt, particularly when you include wiring. Canon's full-field split-pixel technique might be the best way to go, because it minimizes OSPDAF losses...but you'd have to buy a Canon 1" sensor camera...which doesn't exist.

0 upvotes
steelhead3
By steelhead3 (2 months ago)

If the Canon split senor photo sites are so good, why does the image quality offer 2005 technology compared to all other currant manufactures?

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (2 months ago)

steelhead3:

And I have raws from the NikOne V3, Sony RX10, RX100II, RX100III and the Samsung NXmini, so I won't be looking at jpeg comparisons.

When I say that using a good lens, the NikOne V3 has a sensor equal to the sensor in the various Sonys' bodies, I'm basing my conclusion on experience with raws from the cameras.

I included the Samsung NXmini, because, at least for high ISOs, that's the best 1" sensor available right now in the July 2014.

Sure I see problems with the 1 system, like it's too expensive, and there are too few fast lenses, and some cameras with very odd controls, but the sensors just haven't been part of the problem and still aren't.

0 upvotes
mosswings
By mosswings (2 months ago)

Canon's gotten a bit better with their newest technology, but the fact that it isn't up to Sony's standard says not much at all about the penalty of OSPDAF technology...merely that other aspects of Canon's sensor architectures and processing limit its low-ISO IQ.

0 upvotes
TrojMacReady
By TrojMacReady (2 months ago)

And we can all compare the RAW files ourselves and notice the V3 performs worse, also at higher ISO's with a $900 lens. No amount of reliance on unknown or private sources will change the simple facts staring us in the eyes.

1 upvote
TrojMacReady
By TrojMacReady (2 months ago)

And btw, the NXMini uses the same Sony sensor, but applies horrible RAW NR (smearing) at higher ISO's.

1 upvote
caravan
By caravan (2 months ago)

Excellent review of a ho hum product.

7 upvotes
Valiant Thor
By Valiant Thor (2 months ago)

Ho hum comment of an excellent product.

1 upvote
Cheezr
By Cheezr (2 months ago)

page 11 does not allow me to select the v3 for the comparison.

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (2 months ago)

Reload - it should do now.

1 upvote
Cheezr
By Cheezr (2 months ago)

yup. works now, thanks.

0 upvotes
Cheng Bao
By Cheng Bao (2 months ago)

page 11, no primary camera is selected in studio comparison tools.
And the reason is v3 is not in drop down list

Comment edited 45 seconds after posting
1 upvote
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (2 months ago)

That should now be fixed.

2 upvotes
Sergey Borachev
By Sergey Borachev (2 months ago)

Another flop from Canikon in their MILCs. For this kind of money, a DSLR would be better for anyone wanting to shoot sport and action. For other types of shooting, there are much better mirrorless cameras. Failure #3 for Nikon.

Comment edited 30 seconds after posting
20 upvotes
0MitchAG
By 0MitchAG (2 months ago)

"For this kind of money, a DSLR would be better..." - I thought that was the point?

3 upvotes
dyoon153
By dyoon153 (2 months ago)

Funny how Nikon 1 v3 review has Panasonic GM1 pricing on the bottom... or is that intentional?

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (2 months ago)

That was an error - it should now be fixed.

2 upvotes
thomasw333
By thomasw333 (2 months ago)

Nice looking camera, but the V series should have the EVF built in. And that chart that they show in the beginning of the review just makes the Sony A6000 seem like the best to me. But if you like Nikon, I thought the J3 had good IQ so this V3 should be better and a decent camera.

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (2 months ago)

The A6000 is fine camera, but then there are the native Sony Nex lenses, ugh.

Comment edited 23 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Cheng Bao
By Cheng Bao (2 months ago)

Native nex lense is so so, however, if the critics is coming from nikon 1 camp, hmm...

standard zoom, check
3x 70-200 range zoom check
7x 28-300 range zoom check
wide angle zoom, nex has 15-27mm, 1 got only 18-35
nex has standard zoom start at 24mm, 1 got only 27mm

for fixed focal lense
sony has 24, 35, 40, 45, 50, 75, 85
while 1 only have 28, 50, 85
further more, nex has much larger equivalent aperture, with only exception is 32/1.2, which has F3.2 EA, the counter part 55/1.8, which is F2.7 EA.

The only lense that sony lack of native support is 70-300mm, but consider the size/weight/price, sony 70-300G for full frame has same size/weight/price, although it is not E native.

1 upvote
Kipplemaster
By Kipplemaster (2 months ago)

Could DPReview please start listing lack of USB charging a a con rather than the current practice of listing "lack of included charger" as a con for cameras with have the advantage of USB charging. Particularly for cameras which might be used for travel, for those of use who are not fans of packing random proprietary massive plastic accessories USB charging is a major plus.

5 upvotes
wlad
By wlad (2 months ago)

I don't care about USB connectors on a camera - I have NEVER used them.
What *I* want is a standalone charger, so if a camera doesn't come with one, that means I'll have to pay additional $50-60 for a charger. That's definitely a con.
USB charging is a meh.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (2 months ago)

@Kipplemaster - in theory all reviews for cameras that USB charge should have the convenience of USB charging as a 'Pro' and the lack of external charger as a 'Con.'

If you've seen one that doesn't also acknowledge the benefit, please let me know and I'll correct it.

3 upvotes
dyoon153
By dyoon153 (2 months ago)

Actually, perhaps some still might not agree, USB charging is a good thing when you can carry few USB charging battery packs (like Anker Astro) instead of needing to find wall outlet in the middle of nowhere, especially when traveling far. I am unsure how fast it will charge this camera's battery, though..

2 upvotes
Kipplemaster
By Kipplemaster (2 months ago)

Richard,
The point I was making is that for me the lack of USB charging is a reason not to buy a camera so it should be included as a con. Perhaps if you want to balance it you could include the fact that a (non-USB) charger is included as a pro (although the inclusion of a large non-standard charger does not really seem like an advantage.) I am not expecting USB charging to be included as a pro for cameras which have it as it is becoming expected/standard.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (2 months ago)

Kipplemaster - I'm not sure we're yet at the point where it's the default position, so I'm not sure it's yet fair to criticise the majority of cameras for doing things the way they've always been done (especially as that way has some significant advantages: speed, ability to keep a spare battery charged).

I'll bring it up at our next reviews meeting and see what the team thinks, though.

4 upvotes
wlad
By wlad (2 months ago)

USB charging makes sense for smartphones and toy cameras with built-in battery only. It's pretty much useless (takes forever) for charging high capacity batteries in real cameras.

2 upvotes
Kipplemaster
By Kipplemaster (2 months ago)

Richard,

I admit I'm probably living in the future, maybe 2015 or even 2016! Back in 2009 I wrote an "exit" review of the EOS 5D when I got my EOS 5D Mk II. My number 1 flaw for the 5D was lack of USB charging. Of course no camera at the time offered it. But my review still mentioned it as a flaw. That is because I was simply comparing what I wanted as a travel photographer with what the camera actually delivered, rather than comparing some cameras on the market with others.

http://www.virtualtraveller.org/5dii/5dii.htm

0 upvotes
wlad
By wlad (2 months ago)

using a $2500 camera as a dumb $20 battery charger is something most people are probably not really that comfortable with..

you know, we're dealing with unstable Li-ion batteries that can easily catch fire when something goes wrong while charging...

2 upvotes
Kipplemaster
By Kipplemaster (2 months ago)

To wlad,
I would be very, very concerned if my battery charger were to catch fire, irrespective of whether it cost $20 or $2500 but because myself, my wife and children are in the same building as it. If it were necessary to use "dumb chargers" (a good name for them as they are wholly unnecessary) to avoid fires I would be in favour of it. However I am not aware of any cases of fires being caused by USB charging cameras.

0 upvotes
trunksye
By trunksye (2 months ago)

You have my vote. I think USB charging is especially good for smaller cameras that I probably bring along wherever I go, since USB sockets are everywhere nowadays. And, I don't think the batteries in cameras are high capacity ones, having in mind the ones in modern smartphones.

2 upvotes
hydrospanner
By hydrospanner (2 months ago)

TIL that there are apparently real people out there who would rather plug their entire camera in and let it sit instead of just slapping a battery into a charger while they throw in a spare and keep shooting.

Who knew...

0 upvotes
wlad
By wlad (2 months ago)

@Kipplemaster - every Li-ion battery is a fire hazard - basically every single cellphone model has documented (although rare) cases of battery melting while charging - search for yourself. That's why you should NEVER leave a Li-ion battery in a charger unattended.

I would rather have the battery melt a $50 charger than a $2500 camera.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium-ion_battery#Safety

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Retzius
By Retzius (2 months ago)

Image quality is sub-par for the price point.

If I am going to drop $1200 on a camera I want the image quality to reflect that.

I can buy Nikon's own D7100 for the same money for far superior image quality.

If Nikon had released this at $799 I think they would have created a lot more 1 system shooters.

11 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (2 months ago)

Some on the 1 lenses are very good--not so much the kitzoom.

And the Nikon D7100 is bigger+heavier, has a bigger sensor and a much much slower buffer. And it's much more audible.

Yes, this 1v3 is too expensive.

1 upvote
MrSkelter
By MrSkelter (2 months ago)

image quality can only be measured if you have an image. The V3 allows you to capture images no camera under $5,000 can.

That's the value. It's niche but it's real.

0 upvotes
mwstebbins
By mwstebbins (2 months ago)

I believe that's it's unfair to criticize this camera for "Uses micoSD cards (easy to lose)" I welcome the smaller size if it means a smaller/lighter camera.

What I want in these new cameras is USB 3. m2cw

1 upvote
wlad
By wlad (2 months ago)

Q: does the microSD card really make the camera smaller ?
A: no, it doesn't - there are smaller cameras that use full size SD already on the market

11 upvotes
mcshan
By mcshan (2 months ago)

The weight difference between a micro and stardard SD card is so minimal. Going with the micro card was a major blunder. Size savings? Please. Other smaller cameras take regular SD cards. If the Canon S series and Panasonic GM1 can take normal SD cards there is no reason this new V3 should not accept them. Amazingly bad judgement.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
9 upvotes
BarnET
By BarnET (2 months ago)

I have an even better comparison
The rx100 mkiii is smaller but
Has a built in evf
Same sensor size
And a 9-25mm f1.8-2.8 instead of a LARGER(how did they make it this thick) 10-30mm f3.5-5.6)

7 upvotes
Kipplemaster
By Kipplemaster (2 months ago)

It's a flaw (by comparison with the "market standard" at the moment of SD) but by far not the major one. Given file sizes you could stick a large micro-SD card in, download regularly and never have to remove it. I think people are still thinking in terms of 2gb memory cards (or even film) when they make some of these comments.

2 upvotes
Richard Murdey
By Richard Murdey (2 months ago)

Oooh, harsh!

0 upvotes
RobertSigmund
By RobertSigmund (2 months ago)

This honest review destroys the camera. Nikon, try again. Price will fall to Mark 1 levels very soon.

6 upvotes
Sangster
By Sangster (2 months ago)

Unlikely given their low expectations of volume as evidence by recent "shortage" apology. Their Chinese factory is not cranking out the V3s like they were when the V1 first came out with Aston Kutcher's face all over it.

1 upvote
Total comments: 625
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