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Nikon J1/V1 Dynamic Range (JPEG)

Our Dynamic Range measurement system involves shooting a calibrated Stouffer Step Wedge (13 stops total range) which is backlit using a daylight balanced lamp (98 CRI). A single shot of this produces a gray scale wedge from the camera's clipped white point down to black (example below). Each step of the scale is equivalent to 1/3 EV (a third of a stop), we select one step as 'middle gray' (defined as 50% luminance) and measure outwards to define the dynamic range. Hence there are 'two sides' to our results, the amount of shadow range (below middle gray) and the amount of highlight range (above middle gray).

To most people highlight range is the first thing they think about when talking about dynamic range, that is the amount of highlight detail above middle gray the camera can capture before it clips to white. Shadow range is more complicated; in our test the line on the graph stops as soon as the luminance value drops below our defined 'black point' (about 2% luminance) or the signal-to-noise ratio drops below a predefined value (where shadow detail would be swamped by noise), whichever comes first.

Note: this page features our new interactive dynamic range comparison widget. The wedges below the graph are created by our measurement system from the values read from the step wedge, the red lines indicate approximate shadow and highlight range (the dotted line indicating middle gray).

Compared to...

The J1/V1's default tone curve is almost identical to Nikon's entry-level DSLR D3100, which is exactly what we'd expect. At about 3 2/3 stops it offers, for this class of camera, a very decent highlight range but cannot quite match the smoother highlight roll-off of the Sony NEX C3 and Olympus E-PL3 which capture their images on APS-C and Micro Four Four Thirds sensors respectively. The J1/V1's slightly steeper curve means there can be a rather abrupt transition from near-white pixels to clipped data but the real-life difference is minimal and both cameras still perform noticeably better than the Micro Four Thirds Panasonic GF3.

Active D-Lighting is Nikon's dynamic range expansion option, designed for use when faced with high contrast scenes to balance highlight and shadow detail. It's a feature that the 1 system cameras share with all of Nikon's current DSLRs, but like the entry-level DSLRs, the J1/V1 only have two settings - on or off. The effect of Active D-Lighting differs greatly depending on the scene, and with the J1 and V1 it does not give useful results in our (studio-based) dynamic range test. To get an idea of how ADL works in the real world, head over to the 'Photographic Tests' page of this review.

Picture Controls

The J1 and V1 have five 'Picture Control' presets in addition to their default standard mode. The settings vary slightly in contrast, with 'Neutral' and 'Portrait' applying a flatter tone curve and 'Vivid' applying a more contrasty one than the default 'Standard' setting. Crucially though all settings clip highlights at roughly the same point and therefore do not offer any additional highlight range.

If you prefer punchy out-of-camera images the 'Vivid' setting is a good option, while the 'Neutral' mode gives you the most leeway for general editing and tone-curve adjustments in post-production.

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Comments

Total comments: 4
CHEAW HON MING

I have 2 V1s — one bought in USA and one in Malaysia (last year in January and April 2014) and my wife and I used it mainly for travel and nature photography (actually my wife "hijacked" my V1+FT mount+70-300mm combo so I got another mainly using the FT+80-400mm). We were quite happy with its performance as we had to travel light and quickly shoot whatever that we liked until the beginning of this year — the LCD monitor completely went off both cameras. Repairing it would be expensive and I will continue to use it with the EVF until it too goes off. The plastic ring that holds the filter/cap has also cracked and needed some superglue. This is the main complain of most of my Nikon friends — unreliability of parts and expensive repair. Maybe it only happens in this country.

0 upvotes
BobFoster

This is the most thorough in depth review of the Nikon 1 system . Wish I had seen it before I bought the V1...but it doesn't matter...I use my V1 for 2 purposes...for street photography I use the V1 with the 10mm 2.8 and I set the shutter to silent mode turn off the autofocus assist lamp...and I can be 2 feet from a subject and they are totally unaware that I am photographing them...it is a very unobtrusive setup ...and I also like to shoot rugby...the v1 with the 30-110 on it is amazing in freezing the action...I bought this when the price really dropped...I feel very fortunate that I was able to get one...I have another mirrorless camera...the E-PM2...which I use to shoot indoor ice hockey...it is another phenominal camera...I did have a nex 6 but sent it back...I just did not like the softness of the images...better lenses are coming which is what the nex system needs...but I am happy with the V1...and my Olympus Pen -mini2

1 upvote
Solar Ben

I love the nose hair in the 50mm f1.8 sample pic.

2 upvotes
Duncan Dimanche

Correction : it does not allow full shutter control in video... it is stopped at 100/1 so shooting in low light is a pain

Comment edited 42 seconds after posting
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Total comments: 4