Teaching others to use the V1

Last weekend at the karting shoot (see my previous post), I lent the V1 to a friend so he could give it a try. He's a Canon shooter and knows his stuff, and he has used Nikon bodies a few times.

But the UI of the V1 isn't the most convenient to use. I had to show him how to dig into the menu to switch between the exposure modes. I also had to explain how to adjust the shutter and aperture. Cycling through images was familiar to him as Canon also uses a thumbwheel.

I didn't realize (or I'd forgotten) how inconvenient it is to adjust settings on the V1 until I had to explain it to someone else. I can see how this was done to simplify the camera, but from the outset this was not a tyro's body (that would be the J1). Nikon realized their mistake and wisely changed that with the V2 and V3, but the V1 is stuck with the menu system.

On a side note, I love the thumb wheel for quickly finding the photo you want. Nikon needs to adopt this on ALL their bodies.

Once he had the camera set up the way he liked, he was a happy shooter. He did like the images he got using the V1, so score a point for the little camera.


First outing for 2015! I've been a little lazy, and haven't gone on a photo outing since last year.

So for 2015, it's off to Sonoma Raceway (formerly Sears Point) for some go kart action. I tried the V1 with the 70-200mm VR and TC-14EII. A little too much reach, and AF tracking wasn't as good as the D3, but it's great if you want to get up close. The camera correctly reports the focal length with the TC attached.

The D3 lacks a bit of reach (I was too lazy to bring the Sigma 500mm), but playing with 3D AF got some good results. Panning is still not my best skill though, and the 70-200mm really doesn't like it when you're shooting into the sun.

A slow, but not bad, start to 2015.

What to do when your camera focuses way off the mark

Being a bit lazy over the holidays, I relied on my D3200 for the family snaps. Imagine my surprise when over 90% of the shots showed a bad case of back focus. My brother had shown me an image he had taken of his car a few months ago using the D3200 where nothing of the car was in focus. I thought the lens might be bad, but didn't have the time to look further into it. Paid the price for my procrastination.

I brought the body and lenses home to do some testing and confirmed that the camera was focusing about a foot behind the indicated AF point when using the viewfinder and the phase detect AF sensors. Switching to Live View and the contrast detect sensors gave perfect focus every time. A solution, but not a good one as contrast detect AF is very slow.

Phase detect AF: notice the camera equipment inside the cabinet is in focus

Contrast detect AF: The cabinet is in proper focus. Odd note that the AF sensor indicator for contrast detect is larger than that for phase detect AF. 

So now it's off to the interwebs to find out if there's a way to fix this without sending the camera to Nikon (warranty is over). Turns out there are a couple of cams that can be turned to adjust the AF of a D3200 (among other bodies). Made some adjustments (and managed to get a fingerprint on the sensor, ugh), and now the AF is much better. Still not perfect, but good enough.

Lesson learned: do a thorough test before signing off on the camera.