Over the past few months I’ve had a number of readers contact me at my office or via email and inquire about the Nikon 1 gear that I use and why I selected various components. I thought that providing a list of my gear may be of interest and benefit to some readers so here is a “What’s in my bag” article as it pertains to my Nikon 1 gear.
NOTE: Click on images to enlarge.
First of all, my primary camera bag for my Nikon 1 gear is a Tenba Discovery Large Shoulder Bag. I selected this bag for its range of internal dividers, pockets, overall storage capability, and its lower profile. The coffee cup in the photo is to provide a sense of scale. (And yes…my bag is very well used!)
I also like that the top flap opens away from my body making it easy to find gear inside the dividers. I find the lower profile really works well with smaller Nikon 1 gear. This Tenba bag also holds a lot of gear as you’ll see in the next image.
So, what’s in my bag? Here’s a complete list of gear:
• 3 – Nikon 1 V2 mirrorless cameras
• 1 – JVC GC-XA1BU Adixxion Action Camera with charger
• 3 – Nikon 1 CX 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lenses (one fitted with a 40.5mm Vivitar variable neutral density filter, one fitted with a 40.5mm B+W polarizer, and one with a standard 40.5mm UV filter)
• 1 – Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 VR lens with tripod foot
• 1 – Nikon CX 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD VR lens
• 1 – Nikon CX 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 VR lens
• 1 – Nikon CX 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens
• 1 – Nikon CX 32mm f/1.2 lens
• 1 – Nikon CX 18.5mm f/1.8 lens
• 1 – Nikon CX 10mm f/2.8 lens
• 3 – Tamrac N-45 Foam Padded Leather Quick Release Camera Straps
• 3 – Nikon MH-28 battery chargers
• 2 – Nikon EN-EL21 batteries (plus one battery in each camera)
• 1 – Nikon ME-1 shotgun microphone
• 1 – set of Vello auto-focus extension tubes for Nikon 1 (10mm and 16mm)
• 1 – 77mm Nikon polarizing filter
• 1 – 77mm Marumi variable neutral density filter
• 1 – 52mm B+W polarizing filter
• 1 – 52mm Hoya variable neutral density filter
• 1 – Tenba SD card holder with 16 SD cards -mainly SanDisk and a few older Lexar (although I am no longer buying Lexar SD cards due to quality issues), either 16GB or 32GB, various speeds based on card age
• 1 – Vello IR remote control for Nikon
• 3 – Manfrotto quick release plates
• 1 – bag of assorted step-up rings ( 72-77mm and 62-77mm used most frequently)
• 2 – pairs of Sensei filter wrenches (48-58mm, 62-77mm)
• 1 – eyelead sensor cleaning kit
• 1 – Purosol lens cleaner with Pearstone lens cleaning cloth
• 1 – Oben TT-300 table top tripod
• 1 – Giottos Ball.Pod
• 1 – Matin blower
Plus, from time to time I cram in a rain sleeve, and if I’m not worried about it poking out by an inch or two from one of the front pockets, I’ll sometimes pack my Tamrac Zipshot tripod.
I think this detailed listing drives home a couple of key things that I love about using the Nikon 1 system – its size and lightweight!
Here’s a quick run-down of some of listed gear, along with some comments about why I chose it, and how I typically use it.
Nikon 1 V2 Camera Bodies
When I use my Nikon 1 V2’s for client work it is usually for safety and industrial videos. I find the cameras are ideal in terms of their size, lightweight and good 1080HD 30p video capture. The Nikon 1 V2’s meter is almost identical to my Nikon D800 so I can integrate footage from both types of cameras with a minimum of fuss. I often have my D800 and 2 or 3 V2’s 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.
Manual focusing on most Nikon 1 lenses needs to be done through the camera body which is a bit of a pain, but it’s just one of those trade-offs that needs to be made when doing video work.
For personal stills shooting I rely on my Nikon 1 gear most of the time and very seldom use my Nikon D800 and FX glass, unless I’m shooting wildlife or birds with my Tamron 150-600mm.
JVC Adixxion Action Cam
On very rare occasions I need to take video clips underwater, often hand-held or with a small action cam mounted on a miniature tripod. The JVC Adixxion Action Cam is an affordable choice that produces acceptable 1080HD video. I like this particular camera as it incorporates a standard tripod thread so no ‘unique’ mounts are required for it. I can use it on the same mounts as my Nikon 1 bodies and I can also use my Manfrotto quick release plates on it. (I know this is not a Nikon 1 product…but I keep it in with my Nikon 1 kit)
Nikon 1 CX 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lenses (non-PD)
Nikon basically forced people to buy this kit lens when a V2 body was purchased. Rather than sell my additional copies I add speed and functionality to my bag by fitting variable neutral density, polarizing, and UV filters on different lenses. 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 I use them quite a bit. Working the RAW files in post can help image quality significantly.
Nikon 1 CX 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 VR
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. 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. 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.
Nikon 1 CX 6.7-13mm f/3.5-4.5 VR
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! It is great as a landscape 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 10-100mm f/4.5-5.6 PD VR zoom
This is 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. It’s sharper than the 10-30mm but falls a bit short of the 30-110mm in this regard. It is a rather heavy lens so when travelling I typically use the 10-30mm and 30-110mm rather than take this lens. A 72-77mm step up ring allows me to quickly mount either my 77mm polarizer or variable neutral density filters on it.
Nikon 1 CX 70-300 f/4.5-5.6 VR
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 ‘must have’ lens. It is expensive, but worth every penny.
Nikon 1 Primes
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 mainly for client videos when working in dark conditions and very seldom take still photos with them.
Nikon ME-1 Shotgun Mic
Perhaps best rated as an ‘average’ performer the ME-1 is small and doesn’t require batteries so it’s a good addition to my bag for general purposes. I often replace this with my Rode VideoMic Pro when I need something a bit better in my bag.
Tamrac N-45 Quick Release Straps
All of my cameras, including my D800, have these straps on them. When working on client projects I often have to switch between taking stills and video clips so having quick release straps is critical for me as I often need to remove straps when using a slider, skater dolly or jib. I find these straps provide a good level of security and comfort.
Vello Auto Focus Extension Tubes for Nikon 1
These tubes are very affordable and provide additional capability to Nikon 1 lenses, especially the 30-110mm. These are very handy when extreme close-up video clips are required. These extension tubes have plastic flange connections so some care is needed when using them as the flanges are not overly robust. I’m hoping Vello updates these tubes and changes to metal mounts.
Vello IR remote control
An affordable remote that works well with Nikon 1 cameras for both stills and video.
Packing smaller sized tripods like the Oben TT-300, Giottos Ball.Pod, and the Tamrac Zipshot, adds even more flexibility to Nikon 1 gear. The light weight of the Nikon 1 camera bodies and many of the Nikon 1 lenses means that these small sized tripods are excellent choices as they can provide a good level of stability and take up minimal room in your camera bag.
Overall, I find that I can pack a high degree of video and still photography shooting flexibility into one shoulder bag when using my Nikon 1 gear. The small size and light weight of this gear also makes it a very practical choice for travel photography.
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