Nikon 1 V1 review

Ben Pitt
17 Dec 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
inc VAT

A classy camera, but those willing to spend this much are likely to be left feeling dissatisfied



13.2x8.8mm 10.0-megapixel sensor, 1.0x zoom (27mm equivalent), 460g

Recently we reviewed the Nikon 1 J1, a compact system camera (CSC) that carved a clear niche for itself in this buoyant sector of the digital camera market. This time it's the V1 that is under the spotlight. Launched at the same time as the J1, it comes with a price tag and various features that are aimed at photography enthusiasts rather than discerning point-and-shooters.

Nikon 1 V1

The most obvious difference is the electronic viewfinder, which sits in a housing that protrudes above and to the back of the camera's otherwise minimal form. Its 1.44-million-dot resolution matches the viewfinder on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, and direct comparisons suggest that the same high-quality component has been used. A sensor detects when the camera is raised to the eye, and switches to the viewfinder automatically.

It's not just the viewfinder that makes the V1 physically larger than the J1. It also uses a bigger battery, raising the battery life from 230 shots on the J1 to a much more respectable 400 shots. The V1 also has a front-facing stereo microphone, a minijack microphone input and a small ridge for a more secure grip.

Nikon 1 V1 front

These extra features add to the bulk and weight – the V1 weighs 383g without a lens, whereas the J1 weighs 277g. However, we can't imagine many keen photographers objecting too strongly. It feels reassuringly solid and is still much smaller than any SLR.

Inside, there's a mechanical shutter, which not only makes a satisfying clunk but also eliminates the rolling shutter effect, where the bottom of the frame is captured slightly later than the top. This isn't a huge problem for the J1 though. The V1 can be switched into electronic shutter mode, and it took some fairly extreme tests, photographing a fan at a very fast shutter speed, to pinpoint the differences. The V1 also has more buffer memory, which means that the headline 60fps continuous mode lasted for 30 frames – a big improvement on the J1's 12 frames. The buffer took a full minute to clear, though, even when using a fast UHS-I card.

One feature the V1 lacks is an integrated flash. There's a hotshoe instead, but it's a proprietary design and there's currently only one compatible flashgun – the Nikon SB-N5. This costs £128 including VAT and sits snugly around the V1's viewfinder hump, with power drawn from the camera. It can be tilted and swivelled to bounce light off walls and ceilings, but with a guide number of 8.5m at ISO 100, it's not really powerful enough for these techniques. We'd have preferred to see a standard hotshoe.