Body & Design

At first glance the Nikon 1 V3 might look like a compact camera. Once you pick it up, you'll notice the high-build quality with all-metal body that gives it definite heft. The enthusiast-oriented mode dial, the twin control wheels and buttons all feel sturdy and well put together. In terms of size (without the optional grip), it's definitely larger than a compact like the Sony RX100 III, but still one of the smaller mirrorless cameras on the market, even with the 10-30mm F3.5-5.6 power zoom attached. Of course, it also features one of the smallest image sensors of any mirrorless camera.

What sets the V3 apart from its predecessors and other beginner cameras are the twin command dials. The front dials sits vertically next to the lens mount. Adding the optional grip places a duplicate dial horizontally like a traditional Nikon DSLR. The thumb dial also serves as a function button by pressing it in.

On the back, you'll find buttons for: AE-L/AF-L, another customizable Function button, four-way direction pad scroll with wheel, and an 'F' button to bring up a 'quick menu'.

In your hand

The V's all-metal body feels solid in-hand. The enthusiast-oriented twin dials are easy to access, though it takes some getting used to the compactness of the controls.

Top of camera

On the top plate, from left right, you'll see the built-in flash, accessory port, mode dial, shutter button with on/off switch, and video button.

The accessory port still only accepts Nikon's proprietary mount for 1-system accessories like the optional electronic viewfinder. It's not a standard hot shoe, so Speedlights or manual remote triggering systems like Pocket Wizards cannot be used.

The mode dial is the clearest indicator of the V3's split personality. Alongside the enthusiast-oriented PASM options are settings for Full Auto, Creative filters, Advanced Movie mode, Motion Snapshot, and Best Moment Capture. It's not the usual 'scene modes' (Sports, Portraits, Night, etc.) typically found on entry-level DSLRs. It would have been nice to have at least one custom mode included.

Touchscreen LCD and EVF

The V3 has a fairly typical tilting touchscreen LCD display. It can tilt up about 170 degrees and down about 87 degree to make composing low and high angle shots easier. Unlike the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark II or Samsung NX Mini, the screen doesn't flip up 180 degrees for selfies.

The 3" 1.04 million dot screen (720 x 480 pixels) is also touch-enabled allowing you to change menu items, select AF points and/or trigger the shutter, and flip through photos already taken. Visibility in bright sun is below average, which makes the optional 2.36 million dot electronic viewfinder a nice addition. We also noticed colors on the LCD sometimes renders cooler or more on the green side than the actual image recorded to the memory card.

Side-by-Side Comparison

Sony a6000
Panasonic GM1
Sony RX100 III