Nikon 1 V1 / J1 Review
The Nikon V1 and J1 come with several pieces of software but the key one is ViewNX 2 - a generally capable raw conversion platform. ViewNX 2 is not as sophisticated as Nikon's Capture NX 2 (available separately for $180/£160), but it offers most of the key functionality that a beginner will require when starting out with the Nikon 1 system, including the ability to crop and straighten images, and change white balance and exposure in NEF files. More advanced tools include D-Lighting and highlight/shadow recovery sliders, plus lateral and axial chromatic aberration correction. Basic video editing functionality is also available. In a nice touch, many of these parameters can be built into presets using the Picture Control Utility, meaning that presets you find yourself regularly applying can be uploaded to the camera. Inexplicably absent, however, are any noise reduction options.
As well as being free, ViewNX 2 has another advantage over Capture NX 2 in that it is a small program that does not require a huge amount of computing power to run. It's far from being as slick as Adobe's Camera Raw plug in for Photoshop, but much more forgiving of older, slower computers than Capture NX 2. As well as raw conversion, ViewNX 2 also allows you to geotag photographs using Google Maps (automatically if you use the optional GP-N100 GPS unit), and to rate and label images with stars or colors for ease of organization. You can even modify the names of the color tags so that they show up as 'Work,' 'Holiday,' 'Portraits' or whatever best suits your needs.
As is normal in our digital SLR reviews we like to compare the supplied RAW conversion software, any optional manufacturer RAW conversion software and some third party RAW converter. In the case of the Nikon V1 we used the supplied ViewNX 2 and Adobe Camera RAW 6.6.
- JPEG - Large/Fine, Default settings
- VNX - ViewNX 2.0.3
- ACR - Adobe Camera RAW 6.6 (at default 'Adobe Standard' setting)
Sharpness and Detail
We often see that careful raw conversion can bring out a more convincing rendition of ultra-fine detail than out-of-camera JPEGs. However, at default settings, only Adobe's Camera RAW squeezes a minimal amount of extra detail out the camera's RAW files. The image rendition of View NX, Nikon's free RAW converter, produces output that is slightly less detailed than the camera's JPEGs which appears to be caused by an over-enthusiastic noise reduction at default settings. Unfortunately View NX doesn't offer the option to change noise reduction. You can play with the sharpness setting but, while the image looks a little crisper, this doesn't get you any additional detail.
In the crops below, both ACR and the camera JPEGs are able to describe the finest feather detail with more finesse than ViewNX. Of course this only really matters if you regularly view your images at 100% on-screen or print really large. At smaller viewing sizes you won't be able to tell a difference.
|Adobe ACR 6.6 RAW -> TIFF (Default output settings)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crops
|Nikon View NX 2 RAW -> TIFF (Default output settings)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crops
|JPEG out of camera, High quality setting, manual WB (all other settings default)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop
The differences between ACR and Nikon's ViewNX 2 are minimal when resolution shots are compared, as you can see. We'd stick our necks out and say that ACR gives fractionally better detail rendition than ViewNX 2 as the lines on our chart approach Nyquist, but there's very little in it. In this test both raw conversion engines have produced very slightly better resolution than is possible from in-camera JPEGs, and both describe some lines up to and after Nyquist (although this is not 'genuine' detail).
|Adobe Camera RAW 6.6||ViewNX 2|
The examples below illustrate the kind of real-world advantages you can get from shooting in raw mode. In the first example, some of the highlights in this contrasty scene were a little washed out, so we applied a minimal digital exposure compensation of -0.20EV to the image. We also pushed the detail sharpening up to 65 which brings out some more of the fine detail in low contrast areas such as the bush behind the person in the crop. That said, the V1's out-of-camera JPEGs shows already pretty good detail at a pixel level. At low ISO sensitivity settings, the improvements in detail you can achieve through shooting in raw mode and doing your own processing are actually fairly modest.
|JPEG, ISO 100 (Active D-Lighting on)||Raw file processed 'to taste' in ACR 6.6|
In the example below, taken at ISO 800, you can see the difference that careful processing of a raw file makes to detail retention in a situation where noise-reduction reduces resolution in JPEG mode. A lot of additional detail can be drawn out of the J1 and V1's .NRW files but this comes at the expense of a modest increase in 'grittiness' as luminance noise is accentuated.
|JPEG, ISO 800||Raw file processed 'to taste' in ACR 6.6|
RAW files for download
Don't just take our word for it - take a look at the J1 and V1's raw files for yourself, and run them through your own software and preferred conversion settings. Here, we provide you with a selection of raw files of 'real world' scenes, and if you want to take a closer look at the studio scene shots, you can download original raw files from our Compared to (RAW) page.
|10-30mm lens, Red, Standard Packaging|
|Nikon 1 J1 10.1 MP HD Digital Camera System with 10-30mm...|
|Fangorn Forest by cand1d|
|Yosemite Falls with Moonbow by Jonathan Shapiro|
from Best Landscape of the Week 4
The new stuff should have better red hues, improved sensitivity and finer grain - but don't worry - will still shift blues to green, greens to purple and yellows to pink.
Ricoh has introduced a new rugged compact camera with a 16MP CMOS sensor, 28-140mm lens, 2.7" LCD and built-in LED macro lights. Read more
This compact drone can shoot HD video using a 2-axis stabilized 12MP camera. Read more
The new Prynt Pocket can print a photo directly from their iPhone simply by inserting the phone into the printer, then snapping a photo. Each print will cost about 50 cents. Read more
Updates for Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom CC bring support for the Sony A9 and Panasonic ZS70/TZ90, along with bug fixes.
The Triggertrap remote camera control system is no longer sold due to the company folding, but now users will be able to build their own. Read more
The Magic Format Converter comes with internal optics that expand the image circle of full-frame DSLR lenses for use on the Fuji medium format camera. Read more
The usually Apple-exclusive MacPhun software developer has announced that it will introduce PC versions of two of its most popular applications. Both Aurora HDR and Luminar should be available for the Windows operating system by the autumn of this year. Read more
Sony's newest G Master telephoto zoom, announced alongside the a9, is the first of the company's FE lenses to reach 400mm natively. We had one in California and photographed horses, portraits, and landscapes - check out how it did. Read more
Garmin has entered the 360-camera market with the VIRB, which captures 5.7K video at 30p as well as 15MP stills. Read more
German media reports that the founders of the company behind the Panono 360-degree ball camera have filed for bankruptcy at a court in Berlin. Read more
With a claimed 800 new custom parts, Microsoft's updated Surface Pro comes with the latest Kaby Lake processors, better battery life, a new hinge, plus the Surface Pen is updated as well. Read more
DW Photo is attempting to resurrect the Hy6 medium format camera, though the legal tangles of its development may stop it being branded Rolleiflex.
The Kodak EKTRA, the company's 'camera first' smartphone, is now available to purchase in the United States. Read more
Apple and Nokia have settled their years-old patent dispute. Apple will make an undisclosed payment to Nokia and sign a licensing agreement related to digital health products with the Finnish company.
David Gibson, one of Britain's best known street shooters, shares all.
Photographers from the SKYGLOW project travelled 150k miles and took 3 million photos in increasingly rare locations: those without light pollution.
The world's fastest 200mm was produced for 16 years. In that time, only 8000 were made.
Photokina, the biennial photo industry trade show in Cologne, Germany, has announced that it will become an annual event beginning in 2018, and expand its focus to additional areas of imaging technology. Read more
No mic socket? No problem. In this video, Daniel Peters at Photo Gear News shows you how to make a lapel microphone using just a smartphone and a pair of earbuds.
How does the iPhone 7 Plus stack up against the Arri Alexa cinema camera? Watch this short video to find out.
Canon Australia's video series "The Lab" is designed to make photographers experiment and think outside the box. In the latest video a group of photographers create images based on their sense of taste.
The GH5 is expected to get a firmware update this summer to support 400Mbps internal recording. NewsShooter explores what memory cards you'll need to make it work.
Microsoft's new Surface Pro offers Intel's latest processor generation and improved battery life.
Riding a mountain bike downhill is dangerous enough in daylight, but potentially lethal at night. Which is where drones come in.
Rumors abound that Canon (and maybe Nikon) may produce a mirrorless camera based using their existing DSLR mount. Does this guarantee immediate great lens choice or a perpetually second-rate experience? Read more
According to rumors, the next camera from Nest will be able to capture 4K video, though that resolution will be only used for 'virtual' pan and tilt functions.
Boundary's Prima 'fully modular' backpack is expandable to 30L and has a removable camera case and tablet sleeve. Early Kickstarter backers can get one for $189.
Stanley Greene captured 'brutally honest' photographs in the war zones of the Middle East, Chechnya and Georgia. He was also one of the few African-American photographers working internationally.
Owners of Leica M cameras that suffer from peeling CCDs will be able to claim a free repair in the future so long as the camera was purchased within five years of the fault becoming apparent, the company has announced. Read more