Nikon 1 V1 First Impressions Review

Joshua Waller has a more detailed look at the new Nikon 1 V1 mirrorless camera from Nikon, and gives his first impressions.

| Nikon 1 V1 in Mirrorless Cameras

The Nikon 1 introduces two new cameras with a completely new lens mount, completely new sensor design, and new lenses to go with the system. Will these cameras become "The One" choice when available? Nikon certainly hopes so, we give our first impressions on the new Nikon 1 V1.

Nikon 1 V1 Features

Nikon 1 V1 First Impressions Review: Front of V1

The Nikon 1 V1 is the premium level mirrorless camera from Nikon with an electronic viewfinder and accessory hot shoe setting it apart from the J1. For more details on the differences between the two new cameras have a look at our Nikon 1 V1 vs Nikon 1 J1 comparison.

Key Features

  • 10.1 megapixel CMOS sensor - CX format, 2.7x crop
  • 3inch 921k dot screen
  • EVF 1.44million dots
  • Full HD video, 1080p, Stereo sound
  • ISO100-3200 (expandable to ISO6400)
  • World's fastest autofocus system
  • Focal plane phase-detection AF + Contrast-detect AF
  • 10fps continuous shooting, with AF tracking
  • 60fps full resolution shooting (Single AF)

Nikon 1 V1 Handling

The EVF has built in eye-detection so that it can automatically switch on when needed. Apart from the larger zoom control on the back of the camera, the accessory / flash hot shoe, and the 1.44 million dot EVF, the V1 controls are pretty much identical to the J1.

Nikon 1 V1 First Impressions Review: Rear of V1
Rear of V1

Ergonomics - There are a good number of buttons, with a mode dial on the back, although the mode dial is quite limited giving the choice of motion snapshot, smart shot selector, normal photo, and video mode. It seems a little surprising that the V1 doesn't include additional more advanced modes on the dial on the back. There is a small raised bar at the front to aid in gripping the camera, and on the rear is a good size rubber thumb grip.

Nikon 1 V1 First Impressions Review: Nikon 1 V1 Speedlight
Nikon 1 V1 Speedlight

The lack of a built in flash could be of concern for some, as the optional flash is not as compact as other mirrorless flash systems. Although it does offer more features, by being adjustable, and includes an LED video light.

Nikon 1 V1 First Impressions Review: Photo menu Nikon 1 V1 First Impressions Review: Setup menu
Photo menu (from J1) Setup menu (from J1)

Menus -  there are three main sections, playback, photo, and setup. When the photo mode is selected with the dial on the back, you can then change the exposure mode in the menus to choose between: Scene auto selector, Programmed auto, Shutter-priority auto, Aperture-priority auto, and full Manual.

Speed -  With 135 focus areas (Single-point AF) and Auto-area AF with 41 focus areas the focusing system on the Nikon 1 V1 is very responsive, and gives excellent control over what you are focusing on. The V1 shoots at 60fps at full resolution, and will shoot at this speed for 30 shots.

Nikon 1 V1 Performance

Sample images from Nikon are shown below, however they are not full size, but resized to 1600 pixels wide. Some are also surprised by the inclusion of a 60/30fps shooting mode, but the lack of auto-exposure bracketing, or the ability to create HDR photos in camera, something the extremely high speed shooting would be ideal for. (Perhaps this will be added in future with a firmware update?)

Nikon 1 V1 First Impressions Review: 1/30 sec | f/2.8 | 10.0 mm | ISO 1600
1/30 sec | f/2.8 | 10.0 mm | ISO 1600
Nikon 1 V1 First Impressions Review: 1/250 sec | f/3.2 | 10.0 mm | ISO 100
1/250 sec | f/3.2 | 10.0 mm | ISO 100
Nikon 1 V1 First Impressions Review: 1/100 sec | f/4.5 | 57.2 mm | ISO 800
1/100 sec | f/4.5 | 57.2 mm | ISO 800
Nikon 1 V1 First Impressions Review: 1/50 sec | f/2.8 | 10.0 mm | ISO 1600
1/50 sec | f/2.8 | 10.0 mm | ISO 1600
Nikon 1 V1 First Impressions Review: 1/200 sec | f/4.5 | 38.5 mm | ISO 400
1/200 sec | f/4.5 | 38.5 mm | ISO 400
Nikon 1 V1 First Impressions Review: 1/60 sec | f/5.6 | 110.0 mm | ISO 2800
1/60 sec | f/5.6 | 110.0 mm | ISO 2800

Without being able to view full size images from production versions of the cameras, it is difficult to assess the image quality. However, colour reproduction looks good so far from viewing these samples, and dynamic range seems decent. With the camera(s) being available to buy on the 20th of October, which is less than a month away, we should have full size samples from production cameras in the not too distant future, where we will be able to give our full verdict.

Lenses available:

Nikon 1 V1 First Impressions Review: Front of V1 with lens off
Front of V1 with lens off

The lenses are all optimised / designed for both still image quality and video recording with quiet auto-focus and motors in the power zoom models, and white balance is optimised for each lens. The first three zoom lenses are all retractable / collapsible making them more compact when not in use.

10mm f/2.8 pancake lens - 27mm equivalent.
10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 - 27-81mm equivalent "Standard" zoom.
30-100mm f/3.8-5.6 - 81-297mm equivalent telephoto zoom.
10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 - 27-270mm equivalent power zoom.

A Nikon FT1 adapter is available for Nikon lenses - and with AF-S / AF-I lenses Auto Focus will work. With a 2.7x crop factor, a 35mm standard lens will become a 94.5mm equivalent lens, and this crop factor would suit telephoto lenses particularly if you're interested in having as much zoom as possible. Another way of looking at this is to think of the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 D lens, which is available for around £90, would become a 135mm f/1.8 telephoto lens, which means getting a bright telephoto lens would be very cheap looking at the price of the lens on its own.

Future lenses are already under development with 7 prototypes being shown including a number of thin zooms, portrait, and macro lenses, for details have a look at the future lenses and prototypes here. It will be interesting to find out the specifications of these lenses when they are officially announced.

Value For Money

Available from the 20th October 2011 the Nikon 1 V1 is priced at £829 with kit lens. This makes it a premium priced camera, most closely matched to the Panasonic Lumix GH2 (£739), Olympus PEN E-P3 (£775), Sony NEX-7 (£1250), and Samsung NX200 (£699) and the rest of the compact system camera market is cheaper still.

Nikon 1 V1 Verdict

It's nice to see 4 lenses available at launch with another 7 already in advanced stages of development. This gives the Nikon 1 system more lenses than some other manufacturers have planned for their mirrorless system! The Nikon 1 V1 is the more advanced model of the two cameras announced, with built in EVF and accessory hot shoe, and increased shooting capability, however some more serious photographers may be disappointed that the camera isn't more focused on them. The lens line up is also lacking in bright aperture lenses, and it will be good to see if the future lenses address this. The camera features hybrid AF, with contrast and phase detection built into the sensor, this should provide extremely fast focusing, and initial impressions were very positive. Yes, the camera can select the best photo for you, but nothing is stopping you from choosing the photo yourself and hopefully the high speed shooting ability of the V1 should be seen as a benefit, not a hindrance.

Nikon 1 V1 Pros

High speed shooting at 60fps
High resolution viewfinder
Compact camera and lenses
Large range of future lenses
Hybrid AF - Contrast and Phase Detection

Nikon 1 V1 Cons

Sensor size / Image Quality yet to be determined
High initial price compared to market for V1

Nikon 1 V1 Specifications

Image Sensor
Pixels10.1Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)3872
Pixels (H)2592
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor SizeCX format
Sensor Size (width)13.2mm
Sensor Size (height)8.8mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution921,000
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Multi
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/16,000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec
Bulb modeYes
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • A
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Spot
  • M
  • TTL
ISO sensitivity100 - 6400
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Shade
  • Flash
Exposure Comp+/-3
Viewfinder Resolution1.44million dots
MagnificationNo Data
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting60fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
Video FPS60
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationNo
Wi-FiNo Data
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeRechargeable Li-ion EN-EL15 battery
Battery Life (CIPA rating)400shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsEN-EL15 rechargeable Li-ion battery, MH-25 battery charger, UC-E6 USB cable, EG-CP14 audio/video cable, AN-N1000 strap, BF-N1000 body cap, BS-N1000 multi accessory port cover, ViewNX 2/Short Movie Creator CD

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Photographs taken using the Nikon 1 V1

Bright lightsMargaretYellow ExplosionOld Father TimeTexturesA Honey of a Clock Face“These Boots are made for working”A room with a viewNapolionicTick TockHimmyA view from the Roof TopRiver laganRiver laganEmergence

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RV Avatar
RV 12 1
First impression: ugly duckling.
thatmanbrian Avatar
As has been said on the forums, the technology required to make such a tiny sensor practical may soon work its way up to their DSLRs which should be good news. The Nikon 1 itself has the right specs to suit a range of photographers so it will be interesting to see which sector takes to it best.
Skatershrew Avatar
As far as the other options for this type of camera go, this seems the least favourable option.
It's only going to offer marginal if any better image quality to the Pentax Q. It's going to be poorer in low light compared to the micro four thirds options and is worse looking than all the csc's. I own the fuji x100 and even if the v1 was on the market when I made my purchase I would still have opted for my fuji, or the ep3 or even the nex5/nex5n. Steve Huff summed up these cameras the best: 'The next APS'. Overall they seem to offer you less for more money. I can't see these becoming popular.
jimthistle73 Avatar
jimthistle73 19 2.4k 1 United Kingdom
Wait. 60 fps?! Really? Isn't that just a video (serious question)? Also wondering about the hotshoe thing - I'm guessing there's no adaptor to allow it to use existing flashguns or radio triggers, which is a great shame.
dannsalik Avatar
WoW... what a awesome camera, i love this new release, want to get it in the next moment.
bumper stickers | sticker printing
LenShepherd Avatar
From Nikon's perspective Coolpix sales in the current year are planned to exceed DSLR and interchangeable lens sales combined by about 40%
Most at ephotozine would not regard the Coolpix range as financially so important - but it is Smile
Elsewhere Nikon clarify DSLR and lens sales continue to grow at a good pace, but Coolpix sales are beginning to show signs of stagnation. Nikon seem be holding market share in the Coolpix range better than others, but few would argue the tide has started to turn against Coolpix camera type sales.
Exit the D2x - a brilliant pro camera in it's era - but by modern standards poor at 400 ISO where it is easily beaten by the D300, and blown out of the water by the 16 MP D7000.
Technology moves on Smile
By restricting D1 MP to 10 MP it might be with Expeed 3 (the first Nikon to have it) it can match or out perform the 10 MP D200 for noise and resolution.
The D200 remains good enough for many DSLR shooters Smile
Those who are as old as I am are likely to appreciate the significance of Nikon 1 as the series name.
The original Nikon 1, introduced in 1948, was a rare 24x32 rangefinder, brought back to the UK and USA after World War II by "lucky" service men.
By lucky owning one and selling it funded a large deposit on a house by the 1960's. To-day selling one might entirely fund a house purchase.
Nikon are making a bold statement - and with a move to "voice coil" AF motors in the lenses who knows what the future holds?
With pro photography continuing it's revenue decline; and Coolpix and the better compact cameras being capable of A3 quality prints my bet is, within 5 years, Nikon 1 series sales will exceed Nikon DSLR and lens revenue.
Whether "we" (as in ephotozine forum users) continue to use DSLR's in great numbers where DSLR's are the best tool for the job is a different topic.
The Nikon 1 series may not be what F mount users were hoping for as Nikon's next move - but in years to come Nikon shareholders could well be smiling from ear to ear Wink
lemmy Avatar
lemmy 16 2.9k United Kingdom
It seems to me that for serious photographers the crucial aspect will be the smaller sensor's noise performance.
nicoatridge Avatar
I am not convinced about this sector. They don't compete with DSLRs on any level except size, but they are still large to serve as a backup camera where cameras like the s95 or G12 make more sense. I also find it hard to get excited if you don't get seriously good noise reduction at high ISO and fast, bright lenses.

What I'd like to see from Nikon is something like the Leica M9, but at this sort of price point.
jrfoto Avatar
jrfoto 16 8 2 United Kingdom
Well, this camera might be of interest to people currently only using a compact, and perhaps that is Nikon's target market. Personally, I am watching this market sector and waiting for something I really like to appear, and the V1 is not it. I would be looking for something with a 4/3 or APS-C sensor for one thing, and ideally some kind of optical viewfinder - maybe a conventional SLR type if that was possible or maybe the hybrid type that Fuji have - I am still not happy with EVFs (not in their current state anyway).
Caffler Avatar
it seems to fall between two stools, but i suppose by offering a whole system, nikon have researched their market. for me i don't see any overwhelming reason to embrace this least not at the moment.
AndyMurdo Avatar
AndyMurdo 17 37 7 United Kingdom
I go with the the ugly duckling tag, pitty they failed to bring it out with an DX size sensor! then again it might have competed to much with thier DSLR's for Nikon's liking.
thatmanbrian Avatar
The point is surely that by developing such a tiny sensor they could keep the lenses very small as well. Together with the mirrorless design, this makes for a very compact camera which seems to me to be the whole idea? Having a larger sensor would defeat the whole excercise.
exsnapper Avatar
I have been brave.... I bought a V1 2 lens kit without reading the reviews!
I traded in my Olympus EPL1 and all its extras. 10Mpx is perfectly OK, I can get a good A3 print from that. I love the veiwfinder, no messing around with plugging it in, just put it up to your eye, and it works. I wear glasses and I can still see full frame without any problems. So can the wife.... She has virtually stolen it from me. All I want now is the ability to use any of my SB flashes and any of my DX series lenses. No more waving cameras about at arms length and you can see the image even with the sun fully on your back!Grin A great partner to the D7000 I have.

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