Nikon 1 System Update

It has been over a year since I published the “What’s in my bag: Nikon 1” article. Since a few things have changed, I thought an update on my Nikon 1 system components would be in order, especially since my Nikon 1 gear no longer fits in just one bag!

NOTE: Click on images to enlarge

My Nikon 1 system: 6 camera bodies and 13 lenses
My Nikon 1 system: 6 camera bodies and 14 lenses (J4 and 10-30PD inside WP-N3 Waterproof Housing)

Many Nikon 1 owners have been apprehensive for quite a while fearing that the end of the system may be at hand. Their apprehension has been caused in large part because Nikon has been very slow to introduce an updated V-Series body or any new lenses for the Nikon 1 system. Some folks (like me) are still optimistic about the future. The bottom line is that no one really knows for sure what the future has in store for the Nikon 1 system.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 19mm, efov 51mm, f/8, 1/50, ISO-1600
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 19mm, efov 51mm, f/8, 1/50, ISO-1600

If the Nikon 1 system does disappear there will be a number of current owners looking to pick up good, used Nikon 1 gear to extend the shooting life of their current system. If the system continues, some folks will likely invest in some additional Nikon 1 gear. Hopefully this updated article will be of some interest whether the Nikon 1 system goes or stays.

For the most part my Nikon 1 gear has held up very well under some fairly heavy use. I have had a couple of warranty issues and I’ve noted these where appropriate in this article. We’ll have a look at the camera bodies I own, then move on to lenses.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 22mm, efov 58mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-400
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 22mm, efov 58mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-400

NOTE on interpreting DxO scores
DxO suggests that the following be considered when comparing sensor performance scores.
Colour Depth: Colour sensitivity of 22bits is considered excellent, differences below 1 bit are barely noticeable
Dynamic Range: A value of 12 EV is considered excellent, differences below 0.5 EV are usually not noticeable
Low Light: This score is based on a sensor being able to achieve a signal to noise ratio (SNR) of 30db while keeping a good dynamic range of 9 EVs and a colour depth of 18bits. SNR indicates how much noise is present in an image compared to the actual information, or signal. A difference in low light of 25% represents 1/3 EV and is only slightly noticeable

Nikon 1 Camera Bodies

Nikon 1 V2
Nikon 1 V2

Nikon 1 V2 
Effective pixels: 14.2MP
Sensor Size: 13.2mm x 8.8mm
Shutter: Mechanical up to 1/4000, electronic up to 1/16000
Fastest AFC rate: 15fps
Electronic Viewfinder: built-in
ISO Sensitivity: 160-6400
Weight (body only): 278 grams
DxO test results: Overall 50, Colour Depth 20.2 bits, Dynamic Range 10.8 EV, Low Light 403 ISO

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 32mm, f/5.6, 1/60, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 32mm, f/5.6, 1/60, ISO-3200

The vast majority of my client work is composed of safety and industrial videos. My trio of Nikon 1 V2s are the workhorses of my client assignments. I regularly need to place my cameras in tight or awkward spaces and I find that the V2s are ideal in terms of their size, lightweight and good 1080HD 30p video capture. There are sufficient external setting controls to meet my needs.

Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6, 7mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-160
Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6, 7mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-160

I often have 2 or 3 V2s recording a scene at the same time to give me a range of angles and perspectives. This can add quite a bit of production value for clients. Using identical cameras also makes it easy to include clips from multiple cameras in the same video assembly by potentially reducing time in post due to not having to correct variances in scene exposures.

The V2s will accept accessories like external microphones, the Nikon 1 GP-N100 GPS (which works quite well), and Nikon 1 flash units. Cameras like the J5 will not.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 280mm, efov 756mm, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-160
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 280mm, efov 756mm, f/5.6, 1/2000, ISO-160

While other Nikon owners may have a different experience than I have had, I’ve found that the auto-focus performance of the V2 is better than both the V3 and J5. This is especially true when shooting under lower light conditions. The AF-C performance of the V2 is noticeably better than the J5, and just a hair better than the V3.

The Nikon 1 V2’s 14.2MP Aptina sensor is challenged in terms of colour depth and dynamic range. The higher pixel density sensors of the V3 and J5 provide larger native image sizes and more cropping potential.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 12mm, efov 32mm, f/6.3, 1.6 sec, ISO-160
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 12mm, efov 32mm, f/6.3, 1.6 sec, ISO-160

I never purchased any Nikon 1 V3s as I could not justify the cost given similar sensor performance with the V2 (Overall 52, Colour Depth 20.8, Dynamic Range 10.7, Low Light 384 ISO).  Other contributing factors were the V3’s modular design (which I didn’t like), and the approximate 2/5 stop difference between the V3’s manufacturer stated and measured ISO compared to my V2s.

Warranty/Repair Experience
No warranty issues at all with any of my three Nikon 1 V2s have been experienced. I dropped a V2 from waist height which resulted in the battery door and part of the back panel breaking (not the rear screen). No other damage was sustained by the camera and performance was not affected at all. The damage was repaired at Nikon Canada.

Nikon 1 J4
Nikon 1 J5

Nikon 1 J5
Effective pixels: 20.8MP
Sensor Size: 13.2mm x 8.8mm
Shutter: Electronic up to 1/16000
Fastest AFC rate: 20fps
Electronic Viewfinder: None
ISO Sensitivity: 160-12800
Weight (body only): 231 grams
DxO test results: Overall 65, Colour Depth 22.1 bits, Dynamic Range 12 EV, Low Light 479 ISO

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 29mm, efov 77mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-160
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 29mm, efov 77mm, f/8, 1/250, ISO-160

While I was initially quite impressed with the image quality of the J5’s new 20.8MP BSI sensor, the lack of a viewfinder with this model was an impediment to me buying one. Like many folks I was waiting for an updated V-Series camera. With a significant photography tour planned for later his year I finally succumbed and bought a J5 back in May. Within a week I purchased a second one.

The Nikon 1 J5 has quickly become my ‘go to’ camera for a number of photography genres including landscape, street, flower and macro. I discovered that my initial fears of not having a viewfinder were significantly overblown and I quickly adapted to composing on the rear screen.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 192mm, efov 517mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 192mm, efov 517mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-3200

The J5 has greatly improved ergonomics over previous J-Series bodies with more external controls including a PASM dial, shutter speed and aperature adjustments. The function button on the front of the J5 can be custom programmed from a selection of functions. I have mine set for ISO. For typical shooting situations I find that I almost never have to go into the menu with the J5.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-400
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-400

Without question the Nikon 1 J5 produces the best image quality of any Nikon 1 body that is currently available. The BSI sensor performance is much improved with colour depth and dynamic range comparing quite well with M4/3 bodies, and even some APS-C Canon DSLRs. Low light performance is still a challenge for all Nikon 1 bodies, especially when photographing people under lower light conditions.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-5.6 @ 12mm, efov 32mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-160
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.-5.6 @ 12mm, efov 32mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-160

Using software with good noise reduction such as DxO OpticsPro 11 does help quite a bit with Nikon 1 files.

Warranty/Repair Experience
Since my Nikon 1 J5s are still pretty new, as would be expected I haven’t had any warranty or repair issues. My total shot count is a little over 10,000 images and so far both bodies have been trouble free.

Nikon 1 J4
Nikon 1 J4

Nikon 1 J4
Effective pixels: 18.4MP
Sensor Size: 13.2mm x 8.8mm
Shutter: Electronic up to 1/16000
Fastest AFC rate: 20fps
Electronic Viewfinder: None
ISO Sensitivity: 160-12800
Weight (body only): 192 grams
DxO test results: Overall 53, Colour Depth 20.8 bits, Dynamic Range 10.7 EV, Low Light 426 ISO

Nikon 1 J4 + 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom at 30mm, efov 81mm, f/6.3, 1/640, ISO-160
Nikon 1 J4 + 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom at 30mm, efov 81mm, f/6.3, 1/640, ISO-160

The J4 is my least favourite Nikon 1 body that I own. While the camera is capable of capturing pretty decent quality images I really dislike the lack of external controls on the body. For anything other than shooting in an automatic mode or adjusting aperture, the camera forces users to at least go into the function screen to make basic adjustments. I find that this really detracts from the shooting experience with the J4 given my approach which often involves photographing in Manual mode.

Nikon 1 J4 + 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom at 30mm, efov 81mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-160
Nikon 1 J4 + 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom at 30mm, efov 81mm, f/5.6, 1/500, ISO-160

The only reason that I own a Nikon 1 J4 was to create an underwater and inclement weather solution for my kit. Unfortunately the Nikon 1 AW has been plagued with water infiltration issues and I did not feel confident buying it.

The J4 has proven to be a very competent underwater performer when matched up with the 1 Nikon WP-N3 waterproof housing. Compared to many underwater compact cameras the J4’s sensor is much larger and produces better quality images.

Warranty/Repair Experience
My Nikon 1 J4 has had extremely limited use and no warranty or repair issues have surfaced. The shutter actuation count on my J4 is likely under 1,000.

1 Nikon WP-N3 Waterproof Housing
1 Nikon WP-N3 Waterproof Housing

Nikon WP-N3 Waterproof Housing
The WP-N3 housing is designed to work with either the Nikon 1 J4 or S2 models. When using the J4 the body can simply be placed directly into the housing without any other adjustments. Using an S2 requires some internal modifications to the housing. The controls on the housing all work well and when the gear zoom sleeve is used the zoom control on the lens can be engaged. Everything you need comes in the WP-N3 kit. I’ve only used mine at very shallow depths underwater so I can’t comment on how well it performs at deeper depths.

Whether I end up keeping the Nikon 1 J4 and the WP-N3 waterproof housing remains to be seen as it will depend on frequency of use.

Warranty/Repair Experience
Trouble free, but under very light use thus far.

1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 non-PD
1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 non-PD

1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lenses (non-PD)
Size: 57.5mm x 42mm (dia x len)
Weight: 115g
Filter size: 40.5mm

Nikon basically forced people to buy this kit lens when a V2 body was purchased. On occasion I do set up these lenses with different filters for specific types of shooting situations when I know that I may want to use neutral density and polarizing in rapid succession. That way I can quickly switch lenses and avoid having to mess around changing filters.

The 10-30mm non-PD lens is the least sharp of all of my Nikon 1 lenses. They do cover a useful focal range and are very lightweight so they fit a particular need. Working the RAW files in post can help image quality significantly.

Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 non-PD, 19mm, efov 51mm, f/5.6, 1/20, ISO-800
Nikon 1 V2 + Nikon 1 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 non-PD, 19mm, efov 51mm, f/5.6, 1/20, ISO-800

On rare occasions I will also use them for my client video work when I need to shoot multiple cameras at similar focal lengths.

Since purchasing the 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6, my three 10-30mm non-PD zooms are basically paperweights most of the time.

Warranty/Repair Experience
While I did not experience any issues with any of these lenses they were covered by a Nikon Service Bulletin. I took my three copies in and two were repaired by Nikon Canada.

Nikon 1 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom
Nikon 1 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom

1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 VR PD zoom lenses
Size: 58mm x 28mm (dia x len)
Weight: 85g
Filter size: Does not accept filters

I have three copies of the 10-30mm PD zoom lens as they were included when I purchased two J5s and a J4. Optically this lens is on par, or perhaps slightly better than its non-PD cousin. The only time I ever use one of these lenses is with my J4 and WP-N3 underwater housing.

Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 25mm, efov 68mm, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-800
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 25mm, efov 68mm, f/5.6, 1/100, ISO-800

My wife enjoys using this lens with one of our V2s when she is out taking photographs as she like the simplicity of use. The fact that the 10-30mm PD cannot accept any filters is of no concern to her at all.

Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-400
Nikon 1 J4 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/640, ISO-400

Folks who are looking for a ‘point-and-shoot’ type of experience with their Nikon 1 gear, or who want a very small zoom lens to minimize size, will probably like the 10-30mm PD.

The 10-30mm PD power zoom control is quite jerky and the sound from the zoom motor does get transferred onto video clips so this is not a good lens to use for zoom movements while shooting video.

Warranty/Repair Experience
Trouble free, but under very light use thus far.

1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6
1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6

Nikon 1 CX 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 VR zoom lens
Size: 60mm x 61mm (dia x len)
Weight: 175g
Filter size:

This is a surprisingly good lens for the purchase price. It is almost as sharp as my Nikon 1 primes and is my favourite lens to use with extension tubes. This has been one of my most used Nikon 1 lenses.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 83mm, efov 224mm, f/8, 1/200, ISO-1600, 21mm MOVO extension tube
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 83mm, efov 224mm, f/8, 1/200, ISO-1600, 21mm MOVO extension tube

When I need to get into very tight quarters when shooting video this lens is the one I use most often with one of my very small tripods. Under these challenging conditions it can produce some amazing results. It is also a great travel lens, delivering good image quality and excellent reach for its diminutive size.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 48mm efov 128mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-400, with MOVO extension tube(s)
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 48mm efov 128mm, f/5.6, 1/125, ISO-400, with MOVO extension tube(s)

The VR is very effective and I used this lens quite a bit in museums while in Greece, often shooting at slower shutter speeds. It also has a fairly short minimum focusing distance which provides additional flexibility.

Warranty/Repair Experience
My lens recently developed a ‘chattering’ sound at full extension and I started getting lens error messages. Although I don’t know for sure I suspect that the VR was beginning to malfunction. The lens was sent in to Nikon Canada and repaired under warranty.

1 Nikon 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6
1 Nikon 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6

Nikon 1 CX 6.7-13mm f/3.5-4.5 VR
Size: 56.5mm x 46mm (dia x len)
Weight: 125g
Filter size: 52mm

This is a really nice lens that delivers good sharpness (on par with the 10mm f/2.8 and 18.5mm f/1.8 primes) nice colour rendition and VR to boot!

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-160
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/5.6, 1/1250, ISO-160

It is great as a landscape, street photography and architectural lens and also comes in very handy when shooting video in tight quarters. I usually have a B+W polarizing filter fitted on mine.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 6.7mm, efov 18mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-400
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 @ 6.7mm, efov 18mm, f/5.6, 1/80, ISO-400

Like many other Nikon 1 owners I love this lens and included it as one part of my Nikon 1 ‘Holy Trinity‘.

Warranty/Repair Experience
Trouble free, but under moderate use thus far.

1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD (right side) and 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 (left side)
1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD (right side) and 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 (left side)

Nikon 1 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD VR zoom and 10-100 f/4-5.6 non-PD VR zoom
10-100mm PD Size: 77mm x 95mm (dia x len)
10-100mm PD Weight: 515g
10-100mm filter size: 72mm
10-100mm non-PD Size: 60,5mm x 70.5mm (dia x len)
10-100mm non-PD Weight: 298g
10-100mm non-PD filter size: 55mm

Having two 1 Nikon lenses that cover the exact same focal length may seem a bit strange, but these two lenses are quite different animals.

The 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 VR PD zoom is one of my ‘go to’ lens for Nikon 1 video work. The power zoom provides very good control, is smooth, and very quiet. It is especially effective when doing slow ‘push or pull’ zooms in scenes. The wide focal range gives this lens a lot of flexibility.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD, 100mm, efov 270mm, f/16, 1/4, ISO-160
Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD, 100mm, efov 270mm, f/16, 1/4, ISO-160

When doing zoom movements while recording video this lens can exhibit rather odd shifts in exposure. These happen even when shooting at f/5.6 and higher, using manual settings and a dedicated ISO. This seems to be an issue with this lens and not just my copy as I demonstrated this issue to some Nikon folks while at a photography show with their lens on display. No one could give me an explanation. Luckily this slight shift in exposure only happens when longer zoom movements are done. For relatively short movements it is usually a non-issue.

The 10-100mm PD zoom is a little bit sharper than the 10-100mm non-PD lens. In my experience the VR is also a tad better as well.  Given the size/weight differences and some advantages of the non-PD lens, I only use my 10-100 PD for video work.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 24mm, efov 65mm, f/8, 1/40, ISO-800
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 24mm, efov 65mm, f/8, 1/40, ISO-800

Since I already had the 10-100mm PD zoom I didn’t bother initially buying the 10-100mm non-PD lens. Many Nikon 1 owners I know love the non-PD lens so I decided to do a review on it. After doing so I ended buying a copy and it is one of my favourite 1 Nikon lenses. In fact, if I was forced to choose only one 1 Nikon lens to use for general photography, the 10-100mm f/4-5.6 non-PD would be a clear choice.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 50mm, efov 135mm, f/5.6, 1/60, ISO-160
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 50mm, efov 135mm, f/5.6, 1/60, ISO-160

I simply love the handling of this lens and its overall functionality. One of the things that few people mention when talking about the 10-100mm f/4-5.6 is its comparatively short minimum focusing distance. This adds a considerable amount of additional flexibility to this lens when compared to the 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 or the 10-100mm PD.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/400, ISO-160
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/400, ISO-160

When I’m going out to shoot just for fun I will invariably reach for one of my Nikon 1 J5 cameras and click the 10-100mm f/4-5.6 on it. It is simply a killer combination for a wide variety of photography genres. The 10-100mm f/4-5.6 non-PD is a lens that I put in my 1 Nikon ‘Holy Trinity’.

Warranty/Repair Experience
Both lenses have been trouble free, the 10-100 PD under light use, and the 10-100mm non-PD under consistent, everyday use.

1 Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6
1 Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6

Nikon 1 CX 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 VR
Size: 73mm x 108mm (dia x len)
Weight: 550g
Filter size: 62mm

Without question this is my favourite Nikon 1 lens. It is sharp throughout the focal range, renders colours beautifully and is a joy to use. For birders and wildlife photographers who use Nikon 1 bodies this is a lens that deserves serious consideration. It is expensive, but worth every penny.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 201mm, efov 542mm, f/5.6, 1/160, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 201mm, efov 542mm, f/5.6, 1/160, ISO-3200

Buying the CX 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 was the final factor that resulted in me selling my Nikon D800 and all of my FX glass. I had been hesitating to do that earlier since my Nikon 1 system didn’t have a long telephoto capability until the CX 70-300 entered into the picture.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 204mm, efov 552mm, f/5.6, 1/40, ISO-3200
Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 204mm, efov 552mm, f/5.6, 1/40, ISO-3200

I could literally put hundreds of examples of images taken with this lens in this article, but just reading some of my other posts will do this lens the justice it deserves.

The CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 is the final lens in my 1 Nikon ‘Holy Trinity’ selection.

Warranty/Repair Experience
After about a year of very heavy use my lens developed a loud ‘chattering’ sound when it was extended out to about 240mm and would not focus. Although I don’t know for sure I suspect that the VR was malfunctioning. The lens was sent in to Nikon Canada and repaired under warranty.

1 Nikon prime lenses. 10mm f/2.8 (left), 32mm f/1.2 (middle), 18.5mm f/1.8 (right)
1 Nikon prime lenses. 10mm f/2.8 (left), 32mm f/1.2 (middle), 18.5mm f/1.8 (right)

Nikon 1 Primes
10mm size: 55.5mm x 22mm (dia x len)
10mm weight: 77g
10mm filter size: 40.5mm
18.5mm size: 56mm x 36mm (dia x len)
18.5mm weight: 70g
18.5mm filter size: 40.5mm
32mm size: 65.6mm x 47mm (dia x len)
32mm weight: 235g
32mm filter size: 52mm

Nikon makes three prime lenses for the Nikon 1 system and I own all three of them: 10mm f/2.8 (efov 27mm), 18.5mm f/1.8 (efov 50mm), and 32mm f/1.2 (efov 86mm). As expected all are quite sharp and perform well. I use mine almost exclusively for client videos when working in dark conditions and almost never use them for still photography.

Many Nikon 1 owners rave about the still image performance of these lenses and given my experience shooting video with them I have no reason to doubt the reported still image performance.

Warranty/Repair Experience
All three prime lenses have been trouble free, but under moderate use thus far.

1 Nikon 'Holy Trinity': 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6, 10-100mm f/4-5.6, 6,7-13mm f/3.5-5.6
1 Nikon ‘Holy Trinity’: 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6, 10-100mm f/4-5.6, 6,7-13mm f/3.5-5.6

1 Nikon ‘Holy Trinity’
If you enjoy shooting with zoom lenses like I do, then the 1 Nikon ‘Holy Trinity’ is worth considering. This combination of lenses provides 6.7mm to 300mm total shooting range, or an equivalent field of view of 18mm to 810mm when compared to full frame gear. These three lenses along with two J5s and a V2 make up my travel kit.

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19 thoughts on “Nikon 1 System Update”

  1. I have enjoyed reading your articles in Photography Life, thank you !
    Question:
    There are situations, where D4 is too noisy to use, e.g. concerts and the like. The Nikon 1 is quiet they say.
    After being shushed at when photographing a dance show at 12fps with my D5 /Nikkor 400mm combination, I wonder whether Nikon 1 + FT-1 could be the silent solution.
    But is 12 fps possible ?

    1. Hello Heikki,

      To answer your specific question…a Nikon 1 V3 can do much better than 12fps.

      You have heard correctly, when shot in Silent mode a Nikon 1 body is remarkably quiet. With current bodies like the J5 and V3 you have a range of frame rates you can use. When using AF-C you can shoot at 10fps and 20fps with full auto-focus at full resolution with each frame. You can also shoot in full resolution at 30fps and 60fps. At these super fast frame rates focus will be set with the first frame only.

      You will need to keep in mind that when using an F-Mount lens with the FT-1 adapter that you will be restricted to a single focus point in the centre of the frame that cannot be moved. Also, not all F-mount lenses are compatible with a Nikon 1 body. For example your 400mm f/2.8 will not work with a Nikon 1 J5. You would have to check further but I think it works with the V3. Some third party lenses will also not work with an FT-1 adapter.

      Since the Nikon 1 series bodies use a small CX 1″ sensor you will have a 2.7X crop factor when using an F-mount lens with an FT-1 adapter. The equivalent field-of-view with your 400mm will be 1080mm. This may, or may not be, appropriate for the venue in which you are photographing. Also keep in mind that a Nikon 1 body is not the best under low light conditions as images can be quite noisy, especially when shooting jpegs. I’m not sure what camera settings you would be typically using with your D5/400mm combination right now. A Nikon 1 V3 is limited to ISO-12,800. Assuming that the venue is bright enough that you are shooting at something like ISO-3200 at f/5.6, a V3 could work acceptably for you. If this is the type of lighting under which you are shooting then the 1 Nikon CX 70-300 may be something to consider. This is an excellent lens that provides an equivalent field-of-view of 189-810mm when compared to a full frame camera. You would lose some light as it is a variable aperture f/4.5-5.6 lens. The CX 70-300 only weighs 550g compared to 3800g with your 400mm f/2.8.

      Something else to keep in mind is buffer size. A V3’a buffer is limited to about 45 images. Hope this has helped.

      Tom

  2. Hi
    Thanks for this excellent article. Would you mind if I asked for some advice? I have a J5 which came with the standard 10 – 30mm lens. I want to get a zoom lens and can’t decide between the cheaper 30 – 110 mm or the more expensive 10 – 100mm lens. I’m very much an occasional holiday/pets etc photographer. Is the more expensive lens that much better? For someone like me is it better to have just one lens that can sit on the camera the whole time and which does everything rather than having to use two? Very tricky questions I know but any advice gratefully received.
    Cheers
    Simon

    1. Hi Simon,

      Thank you for your supportive comment – I’m glad you enjoyed the article!

      Choice of lenses is a very personal issue and determined by your photographic priorities. If you are looking for one lens to do take a range of images, the 10-100mm f/4.-5.6 non-PD zoom is very hard to beat. I own this lens and on my recent trips to New Zealand and the western USA I probably captured 75% to 80% of my images with it. If you are looking for a one lens, walk-around solution this lens would be the one to choose. Another benefit of the 10-100mm f/4-5.6 is its comparatively short minimum focusing distance. This often comes in handy when shooting various types of single subject images like blossoms. If you buy this lens your current 10-30mm will become a paperweight. If you tried to sell the 10-30 you likely would not get much for it since most Nikon 1 owners have more copies of 10-30 lenses than they need.

      The 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 is a sharper lens than the 10-100mm and provides additional reach. It is smaller and lighter, making it a good companion lens to your current 10-30mm. It is also a great lens to use with extension tubes if you have an interest in close-up photography. I really love using this lens for close-up work and bought an additional copy of it. The 30-110mm is about half the price of the 10-100mm non-PD. This would allow you to buy the 1 Nikon 18.5mm f/1.8 for lower light conditions, plus a set of extension tubes and likely still have some money left over. While not a ‘one lens solution’ adding the 30-110 would not make your 10-30 obsolete, and give you additional money to expand the overall capability of your Nikon 1 system.

      Another 10-100mm option is the f/4.5-5.6 PD lens. This is one of the largest and heaviest Nikon 1 lenses and provides a nice, smooth power zoom function which is quite good for video work. It is important when buying a 10-100mm Nikon 1 lens, especially online, to make sure you know which lens you will be getting. I know of many folks who thought they were ordering the f/4-5.6 non-PD and ended up receiving the PD version. The 10-100 PD is a tad sharper than the non-PD version, and the VR is a tiny bit better as well.

      I understand that this can be a tough decision, especially since you already have the 10-30 kit lens. I own all of the lenses mentioned in this reply and use them all at different times, for different purposes. You’ll need to decide what is most important to you:
      1) 10-100mm f/4-5.6 is the best single lens solution for general photography
      2) 30-110mm is the best solution for added reach, close-up photography, and potentially extending your Nikon 1 system with the 18.5mm f/1.8 from an overall budget standpoint
      3) 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD is the best solution if you have an interest in video

      Tom

  3. I couldn’t agree more with your gear impressions. I own a V2 matched with the zoom trinity as well. My wife uses a J5 and absolutely loves it.

    While waiting for a V4, I’ve started to also use a Fuji X-T1. It is so good that I have a pre-order in on the X-T2. I’d still purchase a V4 if it had an integrated EVF and a J5-like sensor though. I hope it doesn’t take Nikon as long to upgrade the V3 as it did for them to release the D500 upgrade to the D300!

    1. Hi Eduard,
      Thanks for sharing the experiences that you and your wife have had with the Nikon 1 system. I’ve heard many other photographers make very positive comments on the Fuji X-T1.
      Tom

  4. “If the Nikon 1 system does disappear there will be a number of current owners looking to pick up good, used Nikon 1 gear […]”

    It would be sad, and I surely hope that the 1 system blooms. For this new 1 user – mainly converted by your BIF photos – the recent low prices for used 1 equipment were a positive. It still isn’t cheap to buy a CX70-300 at > 600 Euro. Apparently few owners of the lens want to sell it! Now I see – it is a great lens, worth every Cent. Aside from the cx70-300, it is easy to find used 1 items, and over the last months I was able to pick up V2, J5, 6.7-13, 10-30, 18.5, 10-100, 30-110 and GPS for a little over 800 Euros. Quality & fun for a low price.

    While I explore the system, your blog and columns are a terrific source. Many thanks for your work!

    1. Hi Stefan,
      Thanks for sharing your recent experiences with the Nikon 1 system…and for your supportive comment! Looks like you have picked up quite a few great deals on used Nikon 1 gear! I have never seen a used CX 70-300 for sale…I guess the folks that own that lens love it.
      Tom

  5. Hi Thomas
    Great article!!

    I am in between to decide to go for V2 or J5. I like The handling and EVF of V2 but I need to compromise the sensor performance of V2 . In J5, great improvement of The sensor. But no EVF.

    Actually I like picture of animals and maybe BIF, while The camera should be small enough for travel. Which camera more suited to my needs in your opinion?

    Thanks & Regards
    Christian

    1. Hi Chris,
      It will really depend on how much you value the improved sensor performance of the J5 vs using an EVF with a V-Series camera. It is certainly possible to capture images of reasonably stationary animals and perched birds with the J5. You would need to buy a Hoodman loupe or similar to photograph birds-in-flight with the J5. The AF-C, small buffer size and slow clearing of the buffer are issues when shooting BIF with the J5, but again, it really depends on how much of that type of photography you are planning to do. Not sure where you live, but in Canada it is virtually impossible to find a used V2. There hasn’t been any new ones for sale here for well over a year. I don’t what the availability is of V3s. I haven’t kept current on that model as the modular design doesn’t fit my needs. I do know that, at least in Canada, the occasional used V1 comes up for sale but the other V models are really hard to find as used units.
      Tom

      1. Hi Thomas

        Answering your question. I think it will be a couple times in a year that I will do wildlife and BIF photography. The rest, I just take people picture, or landscape.

        BTW I am living in Indonesia. Nikon 1 system is not popular here. But I can still find V2 brand new with 2 lenses or some times there are used V2 for sale. The V3 is still too expensive here.

        Regards
        Christian

        1. Hi Christian,
          Given the low expected frequency of taking birds-in-flight I would personally lean towards the J5 to take advantage of the new 20.8MP BSI sensor and its better image quality. You will need to decide if you will like composing images from the rear screen as the J5 does not have a viewfinder. If you can spare the additional cash, I would then buy a good, used V2 with a low shutter count.
          Tom

  6. I was stunned a bit when I saw the picture of all the gear you own ☺ The images in the article are just great.

    I really hope that my 6.7-13 mm will not develop any problems.

    It seems really strange that Nikon has not yet released a V4 with the same sensor as the J5.

    1. Hi Anders,
      My two zooms that have had warranty repairs had a LOT of use…likely much more than a typical user. Probably no need to worry about your 6.7-13mm. Once I made the decision to sell my D800 and all of my FX glass over a year ago I added some additional V2 bodies to help ‘future proof’ my system.
      Tom

  7. An excellent summary Thomas. I can’t disagree with you. I do like to use my 32mm on the J5 as a walkabout lens as perversely I enjoy having to be made to zoom with my feet sometimes.

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