Nikon 1 Kit Update

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.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 152 mm, efov 410 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-560

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.

Camera Bodies
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.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 10mm, efov 27mm, f/8, 1/320, ISO-160

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.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 44 mm, efov 119 mm, f/5.6, 1/400, ISO-800

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.

Batteries
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

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300mm, efov 810mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-450

Lenses
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.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 10-100mm f/4-5.6 @ 11mm, efov 30mm, f8, 1/160, ISO-160

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.

Nikon 1 V3 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 20.3 mm, efov 54.8 mm, f/8, 1/10, ISO-160

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.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 201 mm, efov 543 mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO-250, captured at 15 frames per second

Accessories
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.

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikon 10-30mm f/3.5-5.6 non-PD, @ 30mm, efov 81mm, f/8, 1/1000, ISO-3200

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.

Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikon 30-110mm f/3.8-5.6 @ 64mm, f/8, 1/80, ISO-3200, extension tube used

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!

Nikon 1 V2 + 1 Nikkor CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 300 mm, efov 810 mm, f/5.6, 1/5000, ISO-1600

Technical Note:
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.

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Nikon 1 J5 + 1 Nikkor 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 @ 78 mm, efov 211 mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO-160

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10 thoughts on “Nikon 1 Kit Update”

    1. Hi Kevin,

      Much of my gear has been purchased over the past couple of years. I did that by looking regularly at various Canadian camera stores that were clearing out their Nikon 1 inventory. This led to me buying a couple of V2s, a V3 and a J5 all at great prices. I also bought a used V3 from an ad on Kijiji.

      I also bought quite a few new Nikon 1 lenses from camera stores that were clearing out Nikon 1 inventory over the past couple of years. I jumped at some attractive deals like a new 10-100 mm PD zoom for $249 and a 30-110 mm for under $200.

      I also looked for old Nikon 1 models packaged with a 2 lens kit that were getting blown out. That’s how I bought my 10 mm f/2.8. It was part of an S-Series kit that was getting blown out for under $230. I ended up selling the S-Series camera with a 10-30 mm kit zoom for about $110 or so, which meant that I got the 10 mm f/2.8 for about $120. I’ve also bought some gear direct from Nikon Canada. Their stock of Nikon 1 gear is getting depleted as well. The last time I looked they only had about 7 models of 1 Nikkor lenses available. All the bodies and flashes are no longer available on the site.

      It has been very difficult to find new or used Nikon 1 gear in Canada for a while now, but especially during the past several months. It appears that many Nikon 1 owners have decided to keep their gear and are looking for more to future proof it. What little I have seen seems to be going up in price.

      Tom

  1. Thanks Thomas, its always interesting reading your column. I recently added 2 J5’s and the 18.5/1,8 prime to my kit along with a 2nd 30-110. Well my wife saw my new J5 and wanted one too so she got one and the extra 30-110! So now WE have 2 backup J5’s, a V1 and an assortment of lenses. My main reason for keeping the system is the 70-300mm for wildlife. After lots of thought I decided I couldn’t better it and will to stick with the system for as long as possible. It really is a nice system.

  2. Hi Tom,

    When I look at your captures using the Nikon 1 system, I cannot help but wonder if I got into the same system, too, before the Nikon announcement. The J5 and V3 were discounted here in the Philippines prior to the announcement and it was tempting to switch after I had to dispose off my D800 and full frame lenses to a smaller system. Sadly, there weren’t any CX lenses floating around even in our pre-owned market to make this switch work. Oh well. Looking forward to more of your images anyway.

    Oggie

    1. Hi Oggie,

      I can sympathize with the dilemma you faced! Changing systems is never an easy decision to make for any of us.

      For me the most important factor was being able to get the depth-of-field and video quality I needed for my video business with a smaller sensor system. Changing from my D800 and F-Mount lenses to Nikon 1 meant I could shoot video using an aperture of f/2.8 rather than f/8, while getting the depth-of-field I needed. While this may not sound like a big deal on the surface, it meant that I no longer had to bring and set up banks of 4-6 studio lights to shoot client video projects. The time savings were substantial, and as it happens, the video quality from a V2 is virtually identical to a D800 when shot at a maximum of ISO-800.

      I’ve given up some still image quality, but for me the trade-off was well worth it.

      Tom

  3. Interesting read on future proofing a system that your happy with.

    I like using my Nikon 1 kit but I’m on the fence with my own strategy at the moment. I’ve thought about doing something similar (although not quite as extensive) as you. I’ve also considered using what I have until it fails and then thinking about options.

    We have a lot of choice in photo gear now and sometimes it just complicates things 🙂

    1. Hi Mark,

      Making investments in a discontinued system should never be taken lightly. I think you are very prudent by considering your options, one of which being simply using what you have until it is no longer serviceable.

      When I decided to shoot with Nikon 1 exclusively in the summer of 2015 it was a decision that I mulled over for a time, as every camera system comes with some sort of trade off. Even back in 2015 I was aware that the future of Nikon 1 could be in question. For me it really came down to being able to be far more time efficient shooting my client video projects instead of using my D800 and full frame lenses. Once I jumped off that commitment cliff and went with Nikon 1 exclusively, I began to future proof my system as best I could. I’ve bought all of my extra bodies at discounted prices as well as most of my additional lenses.

      Even considering all of the capital that I currently have invested in Nikon 1 gear, it is still less than what I previously had invested in my D800 and selection of F-Mount lenses. I have given up some still image quality through the transition of course, but overall my Nikon 1 kit provides me with far more overall shooting capability than did my full frame gear. I also know that I’ve been able to capture some specific images with my Nikon 1 gear that would not have been possible with my previous full frame gear. So – I am a very happy camper and do not regret my decision to shoot with Nikon 1 exclusively in the slightest.

      Regardless of your decision, it will no doubt be the right one for your photographic needs.

      Tom

  4. Found your article a fine comment on the rewards of capitalizing on Nikon’s unfortunate ending the Nikon 1 series prematurely.
    I too have spent the last few moths acquiring components and am looking forward to the beginning of our bird photography season in Florida.
    I am really amazed that the J5 70-300 combination is sharper than my D850, Nikon 600mm and 1.4 extender!

    1. Hi Jack,
      I agree that the J5 CX 70-300 combo is stellar! I’ve been mainly shooting birds-in-flight and have been using my V3s and V2s for that subject matter. I do plan on doing more static bird images with the J5 and CX 70-300 combo.
      Tom

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