'1 Nikkor' Lenses

For the 1 series cameras Nikon has created an entirely new CX sensor format, and this means a new lens range designated '1 Nikkor' with a new '1' mount. As we've mentioned already, the small sensor size of the 1 series cameras results in a 2.7x effective focal length multiplier. Nikon's decision to go with such a physically small sensor means that lenses for the 1 System can be comparatively small and light. As well as being more portable, small lenses with small focussing elements are also good news for AF, since it means that the lens's built-in focus motors have to do less work.

The downside - from one point of view at least - of such a small sensor is that 'standard' effective focal lengths are achieved with very short focal length lenses. The 1 System requires a 10-30mm kit zoom to offer a 27-80mm equivalent range. This means that at any given aperture and equivalent focal length, the 1 cameras will offer less control over depth-of-field than a camera with a larger sensor. This isn't completely bad news though - wider depth of field is of course very helpful when it comes to focussing since it allows for a greater degree of 'slop' around the actual focus point (especially useful when tracking moving subjects).

The Nikon 1 V1 with the currently available 1 System lenses - (from right to left) the 10-30mm F3.5-5.6 VR, the 30-110mm F2.8-5.6 VR, the 10mm F2.8 pancake and the (comparatively) enormous 10-100mm F4.5-5.6 VR powerzoom.

Here's an overview of the technical specifications of the four lenses currently available for Nikon's 1 System.

  10-30mm F3.5-5.6 VR 30-110mm F3.8-5.6 VR 10mm F2.8 10-100mm F4.5-5.6 PD-Zoom
Price Kit lens $249.95 $249.95 $749.95
Elements 12 18 6 21
Groups 9 12 5 14
Min. focus 0.2 m / 0.66 ft 1m / 3.3.ft 0.2m / 0.66ft 0.3m / 1 ft
Dimensions 57.5x42 mm
2.3x1.7 in
60x61 mm
2.4x2.4 in
55.5x22 mm
2.2x0.9 in
77x95 mm
3.0x3.7 in
Weight 115 g / 4.1 oz 175 g / 6.2 oz 77 g / 2.8 oz 515g / 18.2 oz
Filter size 40.5 mm 40.5 mm 40.5 mm 72 mm
VR Yes Yes No Yes

The 1 Nikkor VR 30-110mm F3.8-5.6 is the kit zoom's natural telezoom companion, offering an equivalent zoom range of 81-297mm in a very small and portable package. The 1 Nikkor 10mm is your best option for keeping the camera/lens package as compact as possible and gives you a 27mm equivalent focal length. The 1 Nikkor 10-100mm F4.5-5.6 PD-Zoom is pretty massive compared to the others, and has been specifically designed with video shooters in mind. It offers three powered zoom speeds and a near-silent voice coil AF motor. None of the currently available lenses offer a manual focus ring, and manual focus is controlled via the control dial on the back of the camera.

Both the 10-30mm kit lens and the 30-110mm telezoom have to be 'unlocked' before use. This is done by pressing the unlock button and twisting the barrel. In their 'locked' state the lenses' dimensions are minimized which allows for easy storage.
The 10-100mm power-zoom is by far the largest and heaviest lens in the range and makes the V1 look somewhat unbalanced. When you switch the camera on the lens extends even further but it doesn't change its length when you zoom. This control element on the power-zoom lens allows you to zoom at three different speeds (the more you push the lever in one direction the quicker the zoom action). You can also lock the zoom position when the camera is switched off.
The 10mm F2.8 pancake lens is your best option if you want to keep the camera/lens package as small as possible. It's only 22mm thick and gives you a larger maximum aperture than the kit lens, but its actual photographic applications are limited by the 27mm equivalent focal length.

FT1 Adapter

No new system would be complete without an adapter to make it compatible with the manufacturer's other system, and Nikon's FT1, announced at the same time as the J1 and V1, fulfils this role. The FT1 allows F-mount lenses to be used with 1 System cameras with impressively few limitations. AF-S lenses will achieve focus (using the cameras' phase-detection system, interestingly), and VR is supported using those lenses that offer it. Focus is 'single shot' only though - AF-C is not an option, and the system is noticeably less useful in poor lighting than we'd expect from one of Nikon's entry-level DSLRs, so although the 2.7x focal length magnification might be tempting, don't expect either the V1 or J1 to offer D7000-like (or even D3100-like) focussing speed or accuracy when coupled with one of your F-mount AF-S lenses.

AF-D ('screw drive') lenses will not autofocus, but a useful left/right arrow manual focus indicator on the cameras' LCD screens (and/or viewfinder in the case of the V1) is on hand.

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Older F-mount lenses with no electronics inside can be mounted, and will work in 'stop-down' mode in aperture priority or manual exposure modes, but AF is (obviously) not possible and no on-screen focus indicator is displayed. You do, however, have the option of engaging the less-useful manual focus magnification display (see 'specific issues' on this page). For full compatibility information, take a look at this page on Nikon's website.

The FT1 adapter can be used to mount F-mount lenses (both DX and those designed for full-frame DSLRs) on the J1 and V1. Autofocus is possible with AF-S lenses but most Nikon F-mount lenses can be mounted, albeit with some limitations (not least a crop factor of 2.7x...)

How practical the FT1 adapter is though is a matter of debate. The 2.7x crop factor means that a 50mm prime for example becomes an effective 135mm lens - a 100mm lens becomes 270mm and so on. Accurate manual focussing becomes very difficult with small-bodied cameras and long, unstabilized focal lengths too, of course.

This picture was taken on an AF Nikkor 24-120mm f/3.5-5.6 with a scratchy front element. Not a great lens, and not in great condition, but the results are perfectly acceptable 'wide open' at f/4.
A manual focus 50mm f/1.8 gives an equivalent focal length of 135mm. Accurate manual focussing at this focal length, on a freezing day was tricky but not impossible. This shot was taken at f/4.
Another shot from the 50mm f/1.8, taken wide open at f/1.8 in our studio. Contrast is a little low but detail capture is extremely high, although a tripod is very helpful for accurate manual focus at such a wide aperture.

Because they were never designed with such a small, densely-populated imager in mind, there's no guarantee, either, that lenses which shine on film or a DSLR will impress you much when paired with the J1/V1's 1 inch 10MP sensor. That said, we've achieved nice results from simple, inexpensive prime lenses, including a 20-year old manual focus 50mm f/1.8 (see images above), which wasn't designed for digital imaging at all, let alone the specific demands of the 1 System's tiny sensor. Such an extreme crop factor also opens up interesting possibilities for macro photography with F-mount lenses, although a tripod will be absolutely essential.