Nikon 1 V1 Mirrorless Camera Review
Nikon 1 V1 Mirrorless Camera Review
It may seem a little late for a review of a camera that, as of July 2018, Nikon no longer makes. However, that does not stop it from being a great camera in its own right; I made some of my favorite images with this camera. It is small, lightweight and creates images that are above its class. So, on with my Nikon 1 V1 mirrorless camera review.
What Is The Nikon 1 V1
The Nikon 1 series mirrorless camera, introduced September 21, 2001, which the V1 was a part of, consisted of three distinct mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras (MILC) targeted towards consumer-oriented and enthusiast-oriented photographers. The line comprised of the original J model (J1, J2, J3, J4, and J5), which was a small, consumer-oriented camera with a compact body style, sometimes referred to as a soap bar; the AW1, which was an underwater version; and the “high-end” V model (V1, V2, and V3), which have a more enthusiast-oriented DSLR like body. The V series models have a built-in Electronic View Finder (EVF) reminiscent of a DSLR, except for the V3 which has more of a hybrid-style body with an optional EVF which attaches to the camera’s hot shoe.
The first Nikon 1 mirrorless camera models, including the V1, came with a 10-megapixel (MP) image sensor, were capable of shooting ten frames per second (fps) with autofocus and 60fps continuous shooting and featured a magnesium-aluminum alloy body. Subsequent models came with 14MP, 18Mp, and finally a 20.8MP sensor on the last version, the J5. Along with the increased megapixels came additional upgrades, such as autofocus speeds up to 20fps, 120fps HD slow-motion video to name just a few.
Along with the new Nikon 1 series, Nikon introduced a new lens mount called the CX line. The CX line of lenses are small compact lenses suitable for use with the smaller camera bodies but boasted many capabilities of larger DSLR lenses such as Vibration-Reduction, Extra-low Dispersion (ED) elements, Super Integrated Coating and Power-Drive (PD) motor zoom lens. These lenses consisted of wide-angle lenses suitable for landscape photography, a mid-range zoom lens for reportage type photography, several all-in-one zoom lenses for general photography, a super-zoom lens perfect for birding and other wildlife photography, as well as several prime lenses from wide-angle to telephoto.
Third party grips add additional Functionality
You would not expect a small lightweight camera to feel as solid as this camera feels. The metal body stays cool to the touch and with an added grip, feels very secure. I paired mine with the Fotodiox Pro Grip which gave it an even more solid feel.
The Nikon 1 V1 Had Exceptional Auto Focus
At the time of its introduction, the Nikon V1 had the worlds fastest autofocus system. From Nikon’s own specifications we read:.
“It has exceptionally good focusing for a small camera, it produces exceptionally good images for the size of its sensor, it has DSLR-like (and not just any DSLR, but high-end DSLR) lag, frame rate, and buffer performance. It has a ton of video capability including some manual controls that many of its bigger DSLR brothers don’t have. When you discover those things about the V1, you really, really want to like and use this camera.”
“Some AFs are better at taking certain shots than others.
That is why Nikon 1 is equipped with both a “focal plane phase-detection AF” superb for shooting fast action and a “contrast-detect AF” excellent for capturing subtle details in poorly lit areas.
Nikon 1’s advanced hybrid AF system intelligently selects the AF that best suits the scene and unfailingly delivers crisp, sharp images.
Nikon 1 also boasts a wide coverage of 73 points(*1) (41 focus areas in auto-area AF), which catches the subject with exceptional accuracy, significantly reducing blurry shots.
*World’s fastest autofocus: Among digital cameras with interchangeable lens, as determined by Nikon performance tests. Measured when using the single-point AF mode and the shortest focal length of a standard zoom lens (1 NIKKOR VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6). As of September 21, 2011.”
Not everything about the Nikon 1 V1 is Perfect
No Nikon 1 V1 mirrorless camera review would be complete with out talking about the negatives. Of course, you have to accept some bad along with the good. Namely, the small sensor has less dynamic range than do cameras with larger sensors such as APS-C or Full Frame 35mm cameras, more noise when shooting with higher ISOs, and limited ability to achieve a shallow depth of field (DOF). A shallow DOF allows the photographer to create images with more pleasing out of focus areas, or Bokeh, this camera produces a less shallow DOF with most of its available lenses. However, with a fast lens, such as the 1 Nikkor 32mm f/1.2 lens, creamy Bokeh is possible.
The advantage of a camera not having a very shallow depth of field is that it makes it easier to have your entire subject in focus. Often with a full-frame sensor, which specializes in shallow depth of field, you may have a nose or an eyelash in focus, but the eye will be out of focus. Or, one eye may be in focus while the other is out of focus. While having one eye in focus while the other is out of focus may be the desired effect for some, for the target audience of this camera the lack of shallow depth of field may be a blessing.
The Lens Line-Up Consisted Of The Following Thirteen Lenses:
1 Nikkor 10mm f/2.8
1 Nikkor AW 10mm f/2.8
1 Nikkor 18.5mm f/1.8
1 Nikkor 32mm f/1.2
1 Nikkor VR 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 
1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6
1 Nikkor VR 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD-Zoom
1 Nikkor VR 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD-Zoom
1 Nikkor VR 10-100mm f/4.0-5.6
1 Nikkor 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6
1 Nikkor VR 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6
1 Nikkor VR 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6
What Other People Said About The Nikon 1 V1
Many other professional reviewers have reviewed the Nikon 1 V1 mirrorless camera. Here is a small sample of what they wrote.
“It has exceptionally good focusing for a small camera, it produces exceptionally good images for the size of its sensor, it has DSLR-like (and not just any DSLR, but high-end DSLR) lag, frame rate, and buffer performance. It has a ton of video capability including some manual controls that many of its bigger DSLR brothers don’t have. When you discover those things about the V1, you really, really want to like and use this camera.” Thom Hogan
“I believe I can give the V1 a Recommended rating without the “barely” qualification. It’s really the EVF and how it makes the V1 into a mini, but mostly automated, DSLR that does that. Little touches such as the external flash and GPS, the infrared receivers on both front and back, some modest hand position/grip changes, and a better rear LCD also help remove the “barely.” Thom Hogan
“This camera is an in between. A camera that gets a lot right and little wrong. No, it is not an IQ dream machine and yes the sensor is small but did we expect D3 performance here? Even if Nikon put in an APS-C I have a feeling the AF would be slower and the camera as a whole would be as well. The lenses would be bigger and then we would hear complaints about it being too big. I really like the V1. It’s a very finished product and you can tell this when you shoot it. It feels right and in use it is such a pleasure to use and know that you nailed the AF, the metering and color.” Steve Huff
Images I Have Taken With The Nikon 1 V1
How I Came To Acquire My Nikon 1 V1
I purchased my Nikon 1 V1 mirrorless camera from KEH as a factory refurbished item. It appeared brand new when I received it. I enjoyed using it for over two years and took many pleasing images with it. I can recommend it highly to anyone looking for a lightweight solidly built camera.
Nikon 1 V1 mirrorless camera used bodies and lenses are readily available from several sources. Although with Nikon ending production of the Nikon 1 series it may become harder to find used equipment, as those who enjoy shooting with the camera may be purchasing spares bodies or trying to build out their lens collection as soon as possible. Others may feel that they bought into a dead and system and may want to dump what they have on the used market as quickly as possible. Only time will tell.