Yet another new toy, the Nikon V1

Welcome the Nikon V1. Getting old is not fun, and the D3 is starting to strain my shoulder. I've been looking at the interchangeable lens compacts, and settled on the V1 as a compromise between price and features.

Why the V1? A viewfinder is a must-have (refer to my post on the Olympus E-P1). It's a plus that there's an available adapter for AF-S lenses, but it's out of my budget for now. AF is very fast in bright daylight, slower in dim light. The viewfinder is bright and the refresh rate is high. I tried an OM-D and the viewfinder showed noticeable flickering. There's a slight lag before the viewfinder turns on, but this can be fixed with a little tape.

The camera has a 10mp sensor that's on the small side. With some PS retouching, I was able to make a clean 13x19 print. 

The rear LCD screen is the same as that in D3, but without the fogging issue (so far). I do enjoy the rotating rear controller, which makes it easy to go through the menu items (spin quickly instead of clicking or holding a button). So far the mode dial hasn't slipped, but the detents are on the loose side.
Now for the drawbacks of the V1. Noise is always present, even at the base ISO100. Very noticeable in blue skies and in shadows. Higher ISO's are a problem, limiting the usefulness of the camera. Battery life is also dismal, giving 160 shots with 20% left on one of my outings with the camera. That works out to about 200 shots maximum, much less than the 350 rating for the battery. It's the price you pay for an electronic viewfinder that's always on.

Selecting simple things like exposure mode, ISO, AF settings, and other basic features are hidden in the menu system. The V1 is targeted at the p&s user, and the novice user to be specific, hence the simplified controls. It's not likely that Nikon's going to change the firmware, so this is just something that I'll have to accept.

The lens selection is limited for now, and given the small sensor, it's doubtful that buying a lens for isolation is going to be cheap. Third-party lenses are non-existent, although there several adapters available for other mounts.

Surprisingly, it's not that hard to manually focus. I've tried the 50mm f/1.8E and 75-150 f/3.5E, and it's easy to get accurate focus with either lens. They also perform decently on the camera. Metering doesn't work with these lenses, so it's back to the sunny 16 rule and guesstimating.

I considered the OM-D, Nexus 6 and 7, but they're all more expensive than the V1. The Panasonic G3 is now a steal at $300 with the kit lens, but the AF isn't up to the V1's speed. I also looked at the Nikon D3200, but the price is a bit high, and it's not as small or as light.

The V1 is not a D3 replacement, but then again at $350 for the body and kit 10-30mm lens, it's definitely a bargain.

Things to order: a second battery, a handgrip, a lens hood, and a strap.

Hit rate: 59/162, or 36%. Click here for more photos.

Addendum on 12/02/13: B&H is now offering the V1 for $300. Definitely a bargain. Now, do I take the savings and buy the 30-110mm, or the FT-1....

Check before you pack

Rushing out to an event when you're half-awake is never a good idea. I thought I grabbed my 35mm f/2, and was I surprised to find the 50mm f/1.8 in my bag when I got to Lincoln Park for the Lion's Cars-in-the-Park event.

I made do with what I brought. I had to step back more for some shots, and the bokeh isn't ideal (check out the heptagonal OOF highlights). But when you're around so much beautiful metal, it doesn't matter what your hardware is like.

Hit rate: 45/114

Time does more than fly

It simply disappears.

Several updates:

1. The Nikon S3100 is gone, replaced by a Canon A3300IS. The delay between shutter press and release when the flash was used was a major inconvenience, so the camera's gone to a different home. The Canon is about the same size, with about the same image quality, but a much better flash implementation.

2. My Dell P1100 has been replaced by an ASUS PA246. The Dell (well over 15 years old) sometimes would not turn on, requiring several on-off-on cycles before it fired up.

3. The ASUS is a lovely screen, but I am having problems with calibration. The first one had a green tint, so back it went. The replacement cost $50 less (thanks Amazon for not allowing me to get a replacement and requiring me to order a new on instead), and has less of a green tint, but it's still there.

4. Related to #3, Datacolor is sending a replacement for my Spyder3 Elite after concluding that it's the unit that's at fault. I'll find out if that's true when the new one arrives next week.

5. The Nvidia GeForce 8800GT in my Dell XPS 420 finally died. An EVGA GTX 560 has replaced it. Slightly faster according to Windows, but now there's an occasional stutter in my audio. I'm still trying to figure out what happened. The 420 has been given a new breath of life with an additional 3GB and Windows 7 64-bit.

6. My Dell Inspirion 1420 bit the dust. The video problem finally killed it, and wouldn't you know it, the extended warranty is also over. Yet another Nvidia problem.

7. My Dell 2209WA also suffered an untimely death. A yellow vertical line shows up when the monitor is cold, and goes away once it's warmed up. Dell tech support naturally blamed user damage, and I had to argue with them that there's no way this could be my fault. They replaced it with a refurbished Dell U2212. Slightly smaller screen size at a higher resolution, so not exactly the ideal situation for an aging photographer. I calibrated it with the Spyder3 and it has a smaller color space than the 2209, so it's not the best replacement. I wish they could fix my 2209, but that's not the way things are done in this day and age. I wonder what will happen to it; I was tempted to ask Dell if I could buy it for $50; it would still work for web browsing.

That's what happens when you don't update your blog .