Having shot well over 10,000 frames since I got my first Nikon 1 V2 in late August 2013 I thought it would be interesting to test this little mirror-less camera and two of its most popular kit lenses under some very difficult shooting conditions.
(NOTE: click on images to enlarge them)
So, in February 2014 I headed off to the International Auto Show in Toronto Canada with my Nikon 1 V2 and a couple of kit zoom lenses to see how this CX gear would perform. What makes an event like this challenging is the wide variance in lighting conditions. At times you’re shooting feature cars with numerous flood lights beaming down on them and lens flares can be a challenge. Other subjects can be in quite poor light, requiring either shooting at high ISOs, fast apertures, or slow shutter speeds.
I thought about what I’ve learned shooting with the Nikon 1 V2 and developed a simple game plan:
• To limit noise with the CX sensor I’d shoot the entire day at ISO-800 and if I needed more light I would shoot at slower shutter speeds. I knew that this was going to be an interesting challenge since the two kit lens are not ‘barnburners’ in terms of speed, i.e. the 10-30 is f/3.5-5.6 and the 30-110 is f/3.8-5.6.
• Rather than shoot images of ‘full cars’ I would shoot a lot of close ups to get a good sense of the detail that the camera and lenses could capture
• I would not use a tripod or monopod and would shoot everything hand-held to see how the VR on the two kit lenses would perform
• I’d use auto white balance
• I would shoot in RAW to see what kind of processing I’d need to do to try and get the most out of the images
Overall I must say that I was quite impressed with how the Nikon 1 V2 with the two kit lenses performed. Obviously the quality was not as good as what I could get with my D800 and ‘gold ring’ Nikon glass, but I did come away with a lot of very good, usable shots. And, the compact size of the Nikon 1 V2 made it very easy to get in and out of various cars on display.
I found that the focus was fast and accurate on the Nikon 1 V2 in all of the lighting conditions I faced in the exhibit hall. The VR on the two kit lenses worked very well indeed with some ‘keeper’ shots taken at shutter speeds of only ¼ to 1/8 of a second.
I think the small size and light weight of the Nikon 1 V2 makes it easier to maintain proper shooting technique and obtain good results at slow shutter speeds.
Lens flare was a challenge at times and there were a couple of instances where I simply could not take the photo I wanted because of it. This was not a surprise. After all I wasn’t shooting with professional caliber Nikon glass with Nano Crystal Coating. We’re talking about kit lenses in the $220 to $280 CDN range each, so the results are that much more impressive from a cost/quality perspective.
Note: My original processing with these images was done using CS6. Since the time that I initially took these images I have begun using DxO OpticsPro 10 for all of my RAW processing and I used this program for all of the images in this version of the article.
I applied the DxO OpticsPro 10 lens softness and PRIME noise reduction functions to all of the images, as well as using the new ClearView function in conjunction with Smart Lighting. A DGN file was exported into CS6 for some minor adjustments, then into Viveza 2 for some additional minor adjustments if needed.
I spent about 4 hours shooting at the auto show and took over 350 frames. If you’d like to see more images view my YouTube video:
Overall, the Nikon V2 with the two kit zoom lenses (10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 non-PD and 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6) performed very well under challenging condition. The VR on both lenses is very good and allowed me to capture many useable images at quite slow shutter speeds. To get the most from Nikon 1 RAW files I recommend using DxO OpticsPro 10 with its lens softness and PRIME noise reduction functions. The ClearView and Smart Lighting functions also help to get the most out of Nikon 1 RAW files.
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