Nikon V1 Review

By on July 25, 2012
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A great first entry, but needs improvements.

Good: Solid build, excellent EVF, Motion Snapshot mode is gimmicky but a nice feature, Smart Photo Selector is great for fast moving scenes, Continuous shooting at 60fps provides exceptional speed for novice users, both mechanical and (silent) electronic shutters available, and very fast AF system.
Bad: No manual focus ring on lens and digitally manually zooming is cumbersome, rear LCD doesn't accurately represent exposure compensation in Live View, some basic options are hidden in sub-menus and no special 'art filter' effects.
Price: AED 4,600
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

The Nikon 1 series boasts a host of new features and improvements over their existing DSLR range as well as other mirrorless cameras on the market.

Motion Snapshot

First off is something very unique, the ‘Motion Snapshot’ mode, where in the Nikon V1 takes a quick shot followed by 2.5 second video in slow motion. The playback is what’s actually cool here because the slow motion clip (with fade in and out) is played with a short musical note (from a choice of just 4) followed by the picture itself. It’s something nice, but can only be enjoyed on the camera itself, as the video, picture and music are all one seamless experience. The video file and the picture are recorded as separate files, sans the music clip. To actually be able to extract a .mov file you’ll have to use the bundled NX2 software which will combine the video clip, picture and add the music as well.


Smart Photo Selector

Next up is the ‘Smart Photo Selector’ wherein you can press the shutter release button on a static or moving object and the Nikon 1 will take 20 pictures @ 60fps. From the original 20 pictures, the Nikon 1 automatically picks 5 of the best pictures based on an algorithm that looks for sharpness and focus, and saves them on the memory card. Of these 5, the Nikon 1 automatically chooses the best image which is shown first in the Playback, however, the user can still choose another image from the five and delete the rest if they want to. While this is a great option to use, when it comes to people things can be a little complicated as the best chosen image can be one where people close their eyes or are otherwise not ‘ready for the shot’. Another complication of the ‘Smart Photo Selector’ mode is that because it takes the first 20 images at 60fps, the shutter speed is fixed at 1/60th of a second; meaning that in low light conditions the pictures will come out severely underexposed. ‘Smart Photo Selector’ is also the only mode where you don’t have manual controls on the picture settings.

In the example below the first image on the left (DSC_0567) was chosen as the best one out of all the five. Note: Images resized from 3872 x 2592 to 1280 x 856, no other alterations were done.

High Speed Continuous Shooting

Speaking of frames per second, the Nikon V1 has the ability to shoot 30 pictures @ 60fps by switching from Mechanical to Electronic-Hi shutter (using F button) in the normal ‘Still Image’ mode. The amazing part is that the Nikon 1 is capable of handling this speed in not just JPEG but also with JPEG & RAW.

The below set of images were taken at 60fps, resulting in 30 images. However, I have skipped 1 frame and provided the below 15 images for easier comparison. Note: Images resized from 3872 x 2592 to 1280 x 856, no other alterations were done.

Slow Motion

One last feature I want to mention is the slow motion video recording, whereby the Nikon 1 can do more than just 1080/60i/30p or 720/60p. Under the Slow Motion mode (selectable using the Function button) you can switch from normal HD movie to Slow Motion mode, which gives you a choice of 400fps or 1200fps. Either mode has to be selected in the Menu option, however, note that both speeds are only accessible due to smaller resolutions. At 400fps the resolution goes down from 1080p or 720p to 640×240, while at 1200fps it goes down even further to a miniscule 320×120 pixels. Due to the extremely high frame rates your subject has to be in very bright light. Another thing to keep in mind is that both modes only allow for a maximum of 5 seconds of recording time, which when played back at 30fps for 400fps means a 1 minute 6 seconds video, and 1200fps means a 3 minutes 20 seconds video. The image is, of course, also cropped.

Below are a sample of videos taken from within the Dubai Metro which goes at 80kmph. Note: that both the slow motion videos have been stretched out by YouTube to fill the border, making them very pixelated.


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From auditing to editing, I now test and analyze the latest gadgets and games instead of the latest financial statements. Both jobs are equally intense and rewarding. When I'm not burning up hardware in the name of science, you'll find me nuking in DOTA 2 or engineering in TF2.

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