Suggestions for Adding Nikon 1 Kit Components

Ever since the Nikon 1 system was discontinued in July I’ve been receiving plenty of emails from owners looking for suggestions about the best bodies and lenses to add to their kit so they can extend its useful life.  As photographers we all have our own, unique needs when it comes to camera gear. What follows are some suggestions for Nikon 1 kit components that could be considered, based on a photographer’s priorities and shooting style. These suggestions could act as at least a starting point. Other Nikon owners may have other recommendations of course which I encourage them to share with their comments.

Inexpensive and Flexible Basic System
Suggested body: Any older S-Series, J-Series or V1.
Suggested lenses: Kit 10-30 mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom (PD or non-PD), 30-110 mm f/3.8-5.6 zoom, and 18.5 mm f/1.8 prime
Advantages: Combination of two zoom lenses provides 10 mm to 110 mm focal length flexibility with an equivalent field of view of 27 mm to 297 mm. 18.5 mm f/1.8 prime provides ‘nifty-fifty’ functionality and lower light capability. Older S-Series and J-Series bodies are typically quite attractively priced on the used market. If you shoot mainly jpegs and use automatic settings the lack of external controls will likely not be much of an issue. V1 provides a viewfinder.

Video Emphasis Kit
Suggested body: Nikon 1 V2
Suggested lenses: 10 mm f/2.8, 18.5 mm f/1.8, 32mm f/1.2, 10-100 mm PD f/4.5-5.6 power zoom.
Advantages: Prime lenses provide good sharpness and lower light capability. 10 mm f/2.8 is somewhat restricted by f/2.8 aperture but is still a very functional lens. 18.5 mm f/1.8 and 32 mm f/1.2 are both solid performers with the 32 mm f/1.2 an excellent lower light solution. 10-100 mm f/4/5-5/6 PD zoom has a smooth operating power zoom that can add some interest to video segments. Some care needs to be taken as the lens can shift exposures slightly, but noticeably, when long zoom pulls or pushes are done. Exposure and focal lock button on the back of the V2 works very well. Built-in EVF on the V2 allows for the use of a shotgun or other mic when the viewfinder is being used. The Nikon 1 V2 is the closest match to Nikon DSLRs in terms of measured ISO performance for multiple camera situations. It should be noted that Nikon 1 bodies are not designed to capture long continuous video clips and will overheat after 15-20 minutes of continuous use.

Unobtrusive Street Photography Kit
Suggested body: Nikon 1 J5
Suggested lens: 10-30 mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom or 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom.
Advantages: Small and flexible as long as you don’t need a viewfinder. J5 has the best performing sensor in any Nikon 1 body making it the best choice for high contrast situations. 10-30 mm PD zoom is compact and a decently sharp lens. 6.7-13 mm provides more wide angle flexibility for city streets and architecture photography, while providing excellent sharpness.

All-in-One Kit
Suggested body: Nikon 1 J5 or Nikon 1 V3
Suggested lens: 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 non-PD zoom
Advantages: 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 provides very functional focal length coverage with an equivalent field of view of 27-270 mm. While not a top performer optically the lens is solidly built and delivers great all-in-one functionality. If you need a viewfinder along with a flip screen the V3 is a good option. The all-in-one kit would meet the basic travel photography needs of many people.

Extended Travel Kit
Suggested body: Two Nikon 1 J5s and V2 or V3.
Suggested lenses: 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6, 10-100 mm /4-5.6 non-PD, CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6
Advantages: Pair of J5s, each mounted with either 6.7-13 mm or 10-100 mm provides great flexibility without having to switch out lenses when on a tight travel shooting schedule. 20.8 MP BSI sensor in the J5 is the best performing sensor in any Nikon 1 body making it ideal for landscape, street photography and other typical travel situations. CX 70-300 mm extends the shooting range to an equivalent field of view of 810 mm and is best suited to be used with a viewfinder equipped camera like the V2 or V3.

Augmented Travel Kit
Suggested body: Same as extended travel kit
Suggested lenses: Same as extended travel kit with the addition of 30-110 mm f/3.8-5.6 with extension tubes as well as 18.5 mm f/1.8, and Nikon 1 flash and GPS units.
Advantages: Adds lower light capability with f/1.8 prime and flash unit, close-up photography potential, and GPS tracking.

Portrait Kit
Suggested body: Nikon 1 J5
Suggested lens: 32 mm f/1.2 prime
Advantages: J5 has best performing sensor of any Nikon 1 camera in terms of both dynamic range and colour depth. 32 mm f/1.2 provides an equivalent field of view of 86 mm which is ideal for portraits. The lens is excellent optically and provides the best potential for bokeh.

Close-up Photography Kit
Suggested body: Nikon 1 J5 or Nikon 1 V3
Sugested lens: 30-110 mm f/3.8-5.6 with a set of extension tubes (e.g. 10 mm, 16 mm, 20 mm)
Advantages: Nikon 1 J5 has best performing sensor and better external controls than any other J-Series or S-Series body, and also has highest resolution sensor at 20.8 MP. V3 has a flip up screen as well as having a viewfinder. If that combination of features is needed the V3 is the best choice. 30-110 mm is quite a good lens optically and provides practical camera-to-subject working distances for close-up photography.

Nature/Birding Kit
Suggested body: Nikon 1 V2 or V3
Suggested lens: CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6
Advantages: CX 70-300 is excellent optically and provides an equivalent field of view of 189-810 mm in a lightweight package. V2 and V3 bodies have viewfinders and provide very good continuous auto-focus frame rates of 15 frames per second (V2), and 10 or 20 frames per second (V3). Bodies can also shoot at 30 or 60 frames per second with the first frame locking focus for the balance of the run. This capability can be put to good use when photographing birds taking off or landing. In lower light situations the V2 acquires auto focus better than the V3 and is more consistent holding auto-focus.

Flower Photography Kit
Suggested body: Nikon 1 J5
Suggested lenses: 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 non-PD, 30-110 mm f/3.8-5.6, 32 mm f/1.2, extension tubes (10 mm, 16 mm, 20 mm)
Advantages: Nikon 1 J5 delivers the best sensor performance making it ideal for high contrast flower photography as well as rendering subtle colour differentiation of blossoms. 10-100 mm has a comparatively short minimum focusing distance making it a practical lens for composing images of sections of a garden, groupings of flowers, or individual blossoms. 30-110 mm works very well with extension tubes for close-up flower photography, while the 32 mm f/1.2 brings potential for bokeh and additional creative latitude.

Landscape Photography Kit
Suggested body: Nikon 1 J5
Lenses: 6.7-13 mm f/3.5-5.6, 10-30 mm f/3.5-5.6 non-PD, 30-110 mm f/3.8-5.6
Advantages: Superior dynamic range and colour depth of J5 sensor is a standout for landscape photography especially when used at ISO-400 and under. 6.7-13 mm wide angle zoom is the workhorse lens for many landscape photographers who use the Nikon 1 system with its very good optics and colour rendition. Combination of 10-30 mm f/3-5-5.6 and 30-110 mm f/3.8-5.6 is preferred over the 10-100 mm f/4-5.6 mainly due to better optics of 30-110 mm. 10-30 mm f/3.5-5.6 PD does not accept filters which can be a problem for many photographers although the lens is a bit sharper than the non-PD version. Using this combination of three lenses means that the 10-30 mm non-PD would only have to be used over 13 mm and below 30 mm, thus taking advantage of the better optics of the 6.7-13 mm and 30-110 mm.

NOTE to readers on the 10-30 mm PD zoom:
One of our readers (Chuck Morris) has a solution for the 10-30 PD zoom in terms of adapting it for use with filters. “Buy a Nikon UR-E23 filter adapter (40.5mm) from B&H for under ten dollars. File or sand away the protruberances so all surfaces are smooth. Affix carefully to front of lens with Scotch Heavy Duty Weatherproof double-sided mounting tape. You`re done! For a lens hood, scrounge up a used Nikon HNCP17 (B&H). 40.5mm filters are readily available in all forms from Hoya and B+H.”

Underwater Photography
Suggested body: Nikon 1 J4
Suggested lens: 10-30 mm f/3.5-5.6 PD zoom and WP-N3 underwater housing
Advantages: The Nikon 1 AW1 is prone to water infiltration and some owners are already reporting that they have been unable to get their bodies repaired. The Nikon 1 J4 with WP-N3 underwater housing provides more reliability. Nikon 1 underwater housings can be found at heavily discounted prices at some retailers.

Best Two Body Combination
Suggested body: Nikon 1 J5 and V2
Advantages: Nikon 1 J5 provides the best sensor performance and is ideal for all kinds of photography but is difficult to use effectively with the CX 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 due to its lack of a viewfinder and smaller buffer. The Nikon 1 V2 acquired focus faster and holds it better than the V3. The built-in viewfinder on the V2 allows a flash or mic to be used at the same time as the viewfinder. While overall handling of the V2 does not match the V3, the lack of a detachable grip makes battery changes much faster and easier.

Best All Round Functional Body
Suggested body: Nikon 1 V2
Advantages: Built-in viewfinder allows the V2 to be used with an external mic or GPS while using the viewfinder. Has decent external controls and is an effective camera for video work. Lack of flip up rear screen does limit functionality somewhat.

Best Image Quality Body
Suggested body: Nikon 1 J5
Advantages: 20.8 MP BSI sensor has best dynamic range and colour depth of any Nikon 1 body. Reasonable external controls allows adjustment of shutter speed, aperture and ISO for good handling characteristics. To get this improved sensor performance users must be prepared to give up a viewfinder.

Best Handling Body
Suggested body: Nikon 1 V3 with EVF and Grip
Advantages: When equipped with the detachable grip the V3 provides the most DSLR-like shooting experience in terms of the number of external body controls, including back button focus. The detachable EVF does limit the use of flash and GPS attachments and the detachable grip makes battery replacement a bit more complex.

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10 thoughts on “Suggestions for Adding Nikon 1 Kit Components”

  1. Hi Tom
    Thanks for your catalog. For me it comes “only” as a confirmation. Over time I “ebayed” nearly everything in two copies. (Even the bloody big Zacuto and the lighter Hoodman) Sadly, 70-300 is still not cheaper over here. Luckily, mine one and only is still ok. I do not shake it, so I cannot hear nothing suspicious 😉
    I stilll use FF more, but Nikon 1 gets proper share.
    Keep up your work, regards
    Robert

    1. Thanks for adding to the discussion Robert – its good to hear that your Nikon 1 gear is still getting its fair share! I still have a small number of things to sell from my full frame days including a Zacuto and the odd battery charger.
      Tom

  2. I can add when I photograph in bad weather, storm, rain and big waves. Then the Nikon 1 AW1 is unique and a useful tool.
    I have never dived with AW1, but heavy rain and spray from big waves can withstand it very well and you can rinse AW1 in the tap in the bathroom when you get home.
    I’m also using lenshood LH-N103 to reduce the rain drops on the front of the 11-27.5 zoom, but always have the lenscloth ready when I’m in the rain and storm to take pictures.

    1. Hi Jan-Aage,
      Thank you for sharing your experiences with the AW-1! It is positive to learn that you have been experiencing good reliability with the AW-1 in inclement weather. It is much smaller and lighter than using a waterproof housing with a regular Nikon 1 camera body.
      Tom

  3. I’ve had some success with using a J5 with an Elvid OptiView 100 3.2″ LCD Viewfinder Loupe. That particular item appears to have been discontinued, but there is an alternative magnetic Elvid Loupe that would probably work. It’s a bit cumbersome, but better than trying to see the screen in bright sunlight.

    1. Hi Bill,
      I’ve tried using a Zacuto with my J5 and I found it ‘OK’ but cumbersome. I’ve found that adjusting the brightness on the J5 screen helps quite a bit in bright sunlight.
      Tom

      1. Yes, “cumbersome” is the correct word, which kinda defeats the purpose of N1.
        I also dialed up the brightness to +3; however, the Arizona sun is VERY bright!

        1. Hi Bill,
          Although I’ve visited your beautiful state a number of times when in corporate life, I’ve only been fortunate enough to visit for an extended photography-related trip one time. I concur that the Arizona sun is VERY bright indeed! I always wear a good, wide brimmed hat when out in sunny weather and I regularly use it to shade the rear screen of my J5 which can really help. It does necessitate shooting one-handed though.
          Tom

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