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Body and Design: Nikon 1 V1

The V1 is a relatively bulky camera very similar in size to the Olympus PEN E-P3. It has a rather utilitarian shape, largely free of tonal or textural contrasts. Its excellent electronic viewfinder provides sufficient eye relief for users wearing glasses and because of this relief, we haven't had a problem with nose-induced smears on the rear LCD.

Like the J1, the V1 offers relatively large, easy to press buttons on the rear plate as well as a rear mode dial, which allows you to switch between still image capture mode, movie capture mode, Smart Photo Selector mode and Motion Snapshot mode. Enthusiasts should note that PASM exposure modes must be accessed via the onscreen menu.

Unusually, the V1's rear four-way controller lacks either a WB and ISO setting, instead providing access for AF/AE lock and AF mode. Setting WB and ISO sensitivity again requires a trip to the menu screen. An 'F' (Features) button sits within easy reach of the thumb when your hand is in the shooting position. Yet this non-customizeable control point is only capable of triggering a total of three separate mode-dependant options, and is completely inactive in Smart Photo Selector mode.

The optional Speedlight SB-N5 flash unit attaches to the V1's accessory port. The head can be tilted up to 90 degrees and swivels 180 degrees in both directions. It's quite pricey, though, for what many users will consider an essential accessory.

Compared to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 and Sony NEX-C3

The V1 represents a rather unique interpretation of the needs of would-be point and shoot upgraders by Nikon. While the camera body is physically larger than nearly every other mirrorless competitor, it of course houses a sensor smaller than the Micro Four Thirds offerings. It falls in a similar price range to the more enthusiast-oriented Panasonic GX1 and we've chosen the Sony NEX-C3 to represent the most closely comparable APS-C performer in terms of resolution. The V1 is the only model with a built-in viewfinder but offers much less in the way of customizeable options than either of the other two cameras.

The V1 is slightly taller than the GX1, owning largely to its built-in viewfinder. As you can see, however, the viewfinder gives the V1 considerably more depth than the GX1, which further exaggerates the difference with a pancake-sized kit zoom lens.
Front a front view, the V1's significantly larger height is even more remarkable when you consider that the NEX-C3 houses a sensor with more than three times the area of that in the J1. Of course a smaller sensor does allow for the possibility of smaller lenses. With both lenses covering a nearly identical focal length range, the V1's kit lens makes for a slightly less bulky pairing.

Body elements

The Nikon 1 series introduces a 10MP CMOS sensor that measures 13.2 x 8.8mm. The 'CX format' lens mount is new as well, but a great many lenses for Nikon's F mount can be used on the J1/V1 via the FT-1 adapter.
On the V1's front plate you can see, from left to right, an AF illuminator, two stereo mics and one of the camera's two infrared receivers (the second is on the back of the camera).
An electronic accessory port (V1 only) sits along the camera's top plate and can be used to attach an SB-N5 Speedlight, external stereo microphone or a GPS unit.

Along the top of the camera plate sit the power switch, shutter release and movie record button. The latter is positioned flush with the camera body to minimize accidental operation.

A monaural speaker is visible to the left of the power switch.

All of the camera's rear control points are located along the right side of the body. A mode-dependent function button sits to the left of a multipurpose lever. The mode dial has only four settings, two of which are completely automated. The traditional PASM modes are available only via the onscreen menu.
At the bottom of the camera sits an integrated control dial and four dedicated buttons. A round infrared receiver (V1 only) is located directly beneath the dial. To its left is a memory card activity indicator.
A 1.44 million-dot electronic viewfinder (V1 only) helpfully comes with an eye sensor - located just to the left of the screen - for automated switching between the viewfinder and rear LCD. A diopter adjustment wheel is visible on the right of the viewfinder housing.
The camera's ports are housed behind a flexible plastic flap. In addition to HDMI and USB connections, the V1 provides a 3.5mm stereo microphone socket.
The tripod mount is directly in line with the sensor which is quite helpful for panoramic shots. However it is also quite close to the battery door, making it impossible to change the battery or card while on most tripods.
The V1 ships with a robust EN-EL15 battery (the same model that powers the D7000). It provides 13.3W of power for a CIPA rating of approximately 350 still images.

The memory card slot sits beside the battery, and accepts SD, SDHC and SDXC types.
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I own it
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I had it
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I own it
I want it
I had it
Discuss in the forums


Total comments: 5

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.


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 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 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

what mode & settings do u shoot with ?

Solar Ben

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

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
Total comments: 5