It certainly has been interesting to hear from a wide range of Nikon 1 owners during the past few months since the Nikon 1 system was discontinued. I’ve received numerous emails from many existing owners who are adding to their Nikon 1 kits as a future proofing strategy. Perhaps surprisingly, I’ve also been getting quite a few emails from people who have only recently discovered the Nikon 1 system and are buying into it while new and used gear is still available. Since a number of people have been asking me what I’ve been up to with my gear, I thought it would be timely to provide readers with a Nikon 1 kit update of my own.
NOTE: I’ve added some images to serve as visual breaks. You can click on them to enlarge.
The first thing that I should state upfront is that I still am fully dedicated to the Nikon 1 system. I have no interest in switching to any other system or camera format. Nikon 1 stills does a great job meeting my specific needs and I plan to use the system for many years to come.
I have not added any additional bodies to my Nikon 1 kit, as I figure 8 bodies should do me for quite some time.
I currently have 3 Nikon 1 J5s that I use for almost all of my still photography needs, other than for birds-in-flight and other moving subjects. I love the image quality, compact size and handling of the J5. It is the first camera that I typically reach for when going out to do general photography. I’ve often thought that if the J5 would have been the first camera that Nikon introduced in the Nikon 1 line, the market acceptance would have been more robust. That’s water under the bridge of course.
My kit includes 2 Nikon 1 V3s. These are used primarily for birds-in-flight and other moving subjects. I bought the V3s primarily to help extend the life of my V2 bodies. I’ve been using my V3s quite extensively for the past 5 months as I’ve been doing my field work for an upcoming bird photography eBook. I have gained more appreciation for this particular model in terms of the added resolution and handling characteristics, although I still find its design a bit quirky.
The V3 happens to be my wife’s favourite Nikon 1 body, and she uses it exclusively for all of her photography. She likes having the combination of an EVF, a tilting rear screen, and the horizon leveling screen graphic. She finds the latter particularly helpful when shooting landscapes.
I still have my 3 Nikon 1 V2 bodies which are used primarily for my client video work. They are still doing yeoman’s service and have been a terrific investment in terms of the ROI they have generated. Recently I brought one of my V2s out of retirement from still photography, and have been using it to augment my V3s when doing birds-in-flight photography for my upcoming bird photography eBook. I like having a 15 frames per second continuous auto-focus option, and the V2 is more reliable in terms of grabbing focus quicker and more accurately than the V3. This is especially true in lower light conditions.
I have been adding batteries over time and now have the following in my kit:
7 EN-EL24 for Nikon 1 J5
7 EN-EL21 for Nikon 1 V2
6 EN-EL20a for Nikon 1 V3
I own a good compliment of 19 Nikon 1 lenses, having recently added a couple more as part of my future proofing strategy.
The three Nikon 1 prime lenses I own (10 mm f/2.8, 18.5 mm f/1.8 and 32 mm f/1.2) are all used primarily for my client video work. I do occasionally use the 32 mm f/1.2 for still photography where I specifically want more shallow depth-of-field. These three lenses are all permanently stored in my backpack with other video dedicated gear. At this point I have no plans to buy additional copies of these prime lenses.
Like most Nikon 1 owners I have an abundance of 10-30 mm f/3.5-5.6 kit zoom lenses. These include 3 non-PD and 4 PD versions. The 10-30 mm PD is my wife’s favourite lens so one is kept mounted on one of our V3s. The other 6 lenses are stored in a back-up camera bag and they seldom get any use. I view these 6 lenses as longer term ‘fall back’ kit components after other lenses in my kit have died and are no longer serviceable.
My 10-100 mm f/4.5-5.6 PD zoom is used exclusively for client video projects, and is never used for still photography. It also has been doing yeoman’s service and ends up getting used on most of the projects I do. Before buying an additional copy of this lens I would need to do a thorough evaluation of my client video business in order to justify the additional investment.
This brings me to the four zoom lenses that I consider the critical components for my still photography work. I have added second copies of all of these lenses to my Nikon 1 kit. These include: 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom, 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 non-PD zoom, 30-110 mm f/3.8-5.6 zoom, and CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 zoom.
The 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom is simply a wonderful lens for landscape, architecture and street photography. I also use this lens from time to time for my client video work, especially at the wide end at f/3.5. Just this week I added a second new copy to my kit.
As many Nikon 1 owners will agree, the 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 non-PD is a very flexible, all-purpose lens. If I was limited to a single lens for travel, this is the lens I would choose. I also added a second new copy of this lens to my kit this week.
For close-up photography I use the 30-110 mm f/3.8-5.6 zoom with extension tubes almost exclusively. I find its size, sharpness and handling to be ideal for my needs. I bought a second new copy of this lens about a year ago. At this point I pretty much only use my 30-110 mm lenses to do close-up photography work.
About six months ago I added a second CX 70-300 mm f.4.5-5.6 zoom lens to my kit. I was fortunate to find a Nikon factory refurbished unit at an attractive price and jumped on it. For many people this lens is one of the key reasons why they continue to shoot with Nikon 1. I only have one word to describe this lens: Love.
I own a Nikon 1 SB-N5 flash which meets the occasional needs that I have for a flash. I like the convenience of not needing batteries for it. I also like the tilt/swivel head. The range of the flash is limited, but it suffices for my needs.
I used to own an FT-1 adapter but sold it shortly after selling my D800 and all of my F-Mount lenses back in July 2015.
I have 2 sets of extension tubes, a 3 tube MOVO set as well as a 2 tube Vello Deluxe set. I use them both frequently and find that they continue to meet my needs. I’ve found the key thing with extension tubes is to avoid any that have plastic mounts. Tubes with metal mounts or metal-reinforced plastic mounts are far more durable.
Updated Repair History
Other than the rear screen on one Nikon 1 V2 body blacking out and needing repair, all of my other Nikon 1 bodies have been trouble free.
I have had a few issues with some Nikon 1 lenses. The 10-30 mm non-PD zooms had a service recall. Two of mine were repaired under that recall.
One of my 10-30 mm PD zooms needed repair after my wife fell down with it and jammed the front element (luckily my wife was not badly injured from her fall). It was repaired quickly at modest cost.
One of my 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 zooms needed a minor warranty repair as it was not shutting down properly when retracted.
Within the last month, the aperture on my 32 mm f/1.2 got stuck in the stopped down position and required warranty repair. Nikon Canada did their usual, excellent job and repaired it quickly for me.
My CX 70-300 mm zooms have been the most problematic and have been repaired three times under warranty with the same lens chatter at around 250-270 mm. I now only use VR when I absolutely need to, and I’m being much more gentle when extending and collapsing these lenses. Hopefully this will help eliminate future issues with lens chatter.
Well, that brings us to the end of my update. While I have been using the Nikon 1 system exclusively for all of my video and still photography needs since the summer of 2015 I don’t consider myself a ‘fanboy’ or a system champion of any sort. I continue to use Nikon 1 as it is simply the best solution for my specific needs. I suppose down the road when I retire from client work and my current kit becomes unsustainable I’ll need to determine what to use at that time. In the meantime I’ll be out and about with a smile on my face, using these capable little pocket rockets!
All photographs were captured hand-held in available light using Nikon 1 gear as per the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process of DxO OpticsPro or PhotoLab, CS6 and the Nik Collection.
If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more about the Nikon 1 system, you may want to have a look at our eBook, The Little Camera That Could. It illustrates the capability of the Nikon 1 system through hundreds of original photographs. There is also commentary and tips about the Nikon 1 system. The cost is $9.99 Canadian.
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