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Nikon 1 V3 - The Good, The Bad & The Ugly


Dallas

Yesterday Nikon Corporation announced the third iteration of their Nikon 1 Mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, unsurprisingly titled the Nikon 1 V3. It’s got a lot of people talking, but not all about the right things in my opinion.

There is a lot of negative comment about certain aspects of the camera, which I do see as justifiably stupid moves by Nikon, but then again on the positive side, if the specs and claims that Nikon make are to be believed, then they are going to be able to make one helluva serious mirrorless camera when they finally decide to take the segment seriously.

OK, so the first thing that’s got everybody shaking their heads in disbelief (that we can file under “the Bad”) is the use of micro SD cards as the media choice. This is definitely not a smart move for a couple of reasons. Micro SD cards are tiny. Really tiny. Losing them in the field is a very real possibility if you have to change them often and considering that the most common sizes found in the market are 8GB, you may need to carry a few of them, especially if you’re going to be using the claimed 20 or 60 frames per second shooting rate that the camera boasts. At that rate a 5 second burst is going to provide you with 100 or 300 images at 18MP each. Lots of storage will be needed.

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The other problem with micro SD cards is that while they are cheap, they don’t offer very fast write speeds, so the chances of actually getting through a 5 second or longer burst seems a little unlikely with your standard cellphone issue micro SD card. I can’t find any information on the Nikon site relating to buffer size for the V3, so I do hope for the sake of Nikon that they have included a really big one in the camera, otherwise the high frame rate is going to be totally useless.

More fodder for “the Bad” folder is that the V3 doesn’t support Nikon’s excellent Creative Lighting System (CLS), which means that it can’t control remotely positioned speedlights. I can understand this because I believe CLS depends on a whole lot of information that is usually read off sensors found in the DSLR mirrorbox, so with a mirrorless design the engineers at Nikon would probably have to incorporate it onto the sensor, which already has a whole bunch of things going on, considering the number of AF points, both CDAF and PDAF. Then again the person buying a V3 isn’t likely to begin using CLS seriously, are they? Might as well get a DSLR if you’re getting that creative with lighting.

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In “the Good” folder we have some staggering numbers claims from Nikon. Up to 60 frames per second when using fixed focus and 20 when using auto focus tracking? That is very fast. Another claim, which if true, is that it can track moving subjects faster than any DSLR can, using 105 phase detect points on the sensor. So if you put the FT-1 adapter on the V3 you can use any of Nikon’s lenses with crop factors of 2.7x. This is very good news for those who shoot birds (especially those in flight), because with this small camera and (say) a 70-300mm VR lens you will get a field of view range equivalent to 810mm. Twitchers will love it.

Also in the Good folder (for me) is the modular design that allows you to add a grip and EVF, as well as the fact that Nikon are using a touch screen, tilting rear LCD. This design allows the camera to be used in a variety of situations, as those of us already using the technology in other cameras can attest to.

It has wifi too, which is good. It may not be the best implementation of wifi, but it's there and it's good to see that Nikon are offering the technology instead of ignoring it completely.

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However, in the Ugly folder we have the price consideration. The basic kit Nikon are punting includes the 10-30mm kit lens, the grip and the EVF for $1200. That’s the US street price, so given Nikon’s global pricing trends those of us in far flung corners of the world, we are going to probably be paying in the region of $1500 to $2000 for the basic kit. That… with a dramatic Horatio Cain / Jeremy Clarkson pause for effect… is complete madness. It puts the camera into the price turf of the likes of the Olympus E-M10, the many various Fujifilm products and other far more desirable mirrorless offerings. I can’t see photography enthusiasts or the soccer Mom buying into the system at that price. Not with the poor native lens options available. Nobody involved in photography is going to recommend getting one when there are so many other, better options available. The FT-1 adapter will add $271 to the price if you’re wanting to use your other Nikkor lenses on this camera.

But all of this is conjecture based on my not having ever seen or used the camera. Yet. I do think that this particular release is a step in the right direction for Nikon though because it shows the industry that they do have the chops to put some serious technology into a mirrorless camera. If they ever start re-thinking the kind of sensor and mount that they could marry this advanced technology to then they will definitely begin making a march into the fast growing mirrorless realm. Right now though the V3 seems to me to be more like a little dog with a big bark. Does it bite? We’ll have to wait and see.

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The V3 is the latest Nikon 1 mirrorless camera brought to market. It's certainly got people talking, but perhaps not about the right things. OK, so the first thing that’s got everybody shaking their heads in disbelief (that we can file under “the Bad”) is the use of micro SD cards as the media choice. This is definitely not a smart move for a couple of reasons. Micro SD cards are tiny. Really tiny. Losing them in the field is a very real possibility if you have to change them often and considering that the most common sizes found in the market are 8GB, you may need to carry a few of them, especially if you’re going to be using the claimed 20 or 60 frames per second shooting rate that the camera boasts. At that rate a 5 second burst is going to provide you with 100 or 300 images at 18MP each.

It won't do continuous burst of more than 40 frames from what I read (although it will do them in RAW if you want).

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I posted this at NikonGear and thought I'd post it here as well so that those unable to view the thread at NikonGear can access it.

 

Nikon USA has a survey on the Nikon V3:  Here is the link and what I posted in the survey (though I had to abbreviate my comments to fit the 500-words limit):

 

https://webc.nikonimaging.com/form/pub/info/nikon1_v3_en

 

 

   1. Nikon should have used SD instead of micro-SD for the V3
 
   2. Nikon should use the standard hot shoe on the V3 and the built-in flash should support the wireless flash commander function.
 
   3. Rear rotary control should be shaped like the multi-selector control of the upper range Nikon dSLRs to allow for a direct and easy designation of AF points while using the EVF.
 
   4. Add IR port at the rear of the camera as well as in front
 
   5. 90-degrees tilting support for the optional EVF (like the Olympus' EVFs)
 
   6. Built-in Arca system support for the grip
 
   7.  Option of a grip with additional battery compartment and shutter/command dials for shooting on vertical orientation.
 
   8. Add Bluetooth for the V3 to connect with GPS sources
 
   9. Add digital loupe and peaking functions when using manual focus with or without the FT-1

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Nikon designed the V3 with an eye to attracting Nikon dSLR users and equipped the V3 with many features very attractive to many its dSLR users.

 

The V3 superb AF performance and its very fast continuous shooting speed (20fps on AF-C tracking)  plus 40 frames buffer even when shooting RAW certainly got my attention.

 

The use of likely the same EVF used in the E-M1 and the A7 is a plus.  The release of a grip that keeps the camera compact and small yet comfortable to use for extended period is likewise a plus though I would still like Nikon to release a grip with a battery and shutter for vertical shooting.  

 

On the negative side, the use of a proprietary hot shoe and the built-in flash not supporting Nikon CLS & AWL is a show stopper for me.  The ability to bring a pocket of light and direct this to where it is needed is critical for me.  Nikon's use of a micro-SD does not help either.  Faster versions of the Micro-SD are still slow and quite expensive and getting this out of the camera and back is fraught with risks.  

 

But there are a good number of photographers out there for whom both issues will not be a show-stopper so lets tackle what may be a more common issue for many enthusiast photographers.  I will classify these as primarily being as follows:

 

1. High price

 

2. Lack of professional lenses that can take advantage of the many of the V3 strengths.

 

 

The matter of the high price speaks for itself and I will not dwell on this much.  As the price of the V3 set or body-only drops in the coming months, the V3 will become a more viable option.  If the V3 price drops to the same level as the V1, I may even get one.  The margin for the V3 is high so Nikon can if it chooses to lower the price of the V3 and still make money.  The point is, lowering the price to get the V3 into more hands is well within Nikon's capacity to do.

 

I see the lack of professional lenses that can take advantage of the V3 strengths as a much more formidable hurdle which Nikon cannot easily sweep away with the wave of a wand.  The AF and shooting specifications of the V3 beats out all cameras today and yet when a prospective buyer looks around with what lenses to use this with, he faces a blank wall.  There is not a single fast focusing wide-opening professional lens available for him to use the V3 with.  While the FT-1 can be used to adapt many Nikkor FX and DX AF-S lenses with, the FT-1 is limited to a single point AF-C operation and effectively negates the wide-frame coverage of the Nikon V3.  This significantly makes the V3 much less attractive and puts it at a disadvantage against other mirrorless cameras with many native lens support.  

 

Unlike the price hurdle which Nikon can easily lower, the lack of professional lens to use with the V3 as a hurdle cannot be easily addressed by Nikon.  It will take years before Nikon can truly address it.  Nikon's release of still two more slow zoom lenses when there are already many choices here does not bode well for any would-be V3 owners.

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Good points raised there, Larry. I wonder who the target market is for this guy? It's definitely not for the average DSLR user, I mean, why would you bother? Plus of course if you're looking to go light you'd want a fully rounded lens system, so it's not going to compete with the likes of the m43 system. Which puts it at a very big disadvantage when it comes to price comparisons. 

 

What is good to note, as I mentioned, is that Nikon do have the technology to make AF work really well on a mirrorless camera. Hopefully this will get other manufacturers to work harder on improving their systems too. 

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A good way to appreciate what the Nikon V3 offers is to imagine that it has an m4/3 mount and an m4/3- sized sensor.  

 

How deep did that sink in and how quickly did it take you to think that you want one and will in fact get one at its current price?

 

The primary limiting factor are the lenses and had the V3 an m43 mount and the plethora of m43 lenses available, many of us here would be rushing to click on the pre-order links for the V3.

Edited by Larry

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It has a huge sensor for a mirrorless camera.

It has really impressive frame rates....who cares about 1080P or 4k when you can do 18MP@60fps.

Nobody has touched the focus performance of the V1 in three years -- focus in the V3 should be the bomb.

 

Looks to me like it's priced high, but not out of the right ballpark.

Can do everything a M4/3 Oly can do and more....in a smaller package.....

You M4/3 guys should be jumping on this!

 

As far as the microSD -- they are easily 64GB -- that's what in my phone.

If they can sustain the 60fps full frame writes, what more do you need?

 

I think it is kinda funny that the "small and light" crowd who happily give up IQ for size and weight are complaining about something going too small.....

Edited by FredAzinger

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It has a huge sensor for a mirrorless camera.

It has really impressive frame rates....who cares about 1080P or 4k when you can do 18MP@60fps.

Nobody has touched the focus performance of the V1 in three years -- focus in the V3 should be the bomb.

 

Looks to me like it's priced high, but not out of the right ballpark.

Can do everything a M4/3 Oly can do and more....in a smaller package.....

You M4/3 guys should be jumping on this!

 

As far as the microSD -- they are easily 64GB -- that's what in my phone.

If they can sustain the 60fps full frame writes, what more do you need?

 

I think it is kinda funny that the "small and light" crowd who happily give up IQ for size and weight are complaining about something going too small.....

 

Did you read that last bit here, Fred? Certainly wasn't in my commentary. But I'll bite: 

 

1) It does not have a huge sensor for a mirrorless camera. It has the smallest sensor out of any mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. 

 

2) It costs more than an E-M10 and in some places an E-M5. It's undeniably expensive without offering any compelling advantage over other systems.

 

3) I have not ever seen a 64GB micro SD card. Not here. Biggest found are 8GB, maybe 16GB slow models. We are a part of the world, albeit a small part, so if the Nikon boffins want us to buy their product surely they should have considered the world's media availability before putting their product into it? 

 

4) I have not seen the image quality of a Nikon 1 being any better than m43, so why on earth would I want to buy one, especially when there is no native lens ecosystem beyond kit lenses for it? 

 

5) The Nikon 1 does not have a flash system like Olympus, which operates the same way that Nikon CLS does, so there's your first of things the m43 system can do that the Nikon 1 can't do. Another would be wide angle and high ISO. Manual focus? Focus peaking? In body image stabilisation? Should I stop or go on? :) 

 

6) Smaller? Have you heard of the Panasonic GM1? See here: http://camerasize.com/compare/#491,544 :) 

 

Dude, we need to talk! I know you want in on this new fangled mini camera James Bond stuff. I can help. ;) 

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The microSD cannot sustain 18mp 60fps.  The V3 writes to the buffer, not directly to the microSD.  The V3 buffer can support 40 frames RAW at the maximum continuous frame rate but emptying the buffer into a micro-SD, even the fastest one, will take time likely measured in seconds. The fastest micro-SD can only manage 50MBps write speed, far below what the newest SD can manage which is 5x faster than what the micro-SD can do as of this writing.

 

Here is a link to the fastest SD UHS-II card now available which can now manage 250Mbps write speed:

 

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=sandisk+Extreme+PRO+UHS-II+SDHC&Top+Nav-Search=&N=0&sts=ma&InitialSearch=yes

 

 

 

Edit: Dallas, I use a 64GB micro-SD (50mbps) on my Android phone and on my Android phone-tablet.

Edited by Larry

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A thought just occured to me.  

 

Sony is expected to release at least two new fullframe E-mount cameras in Photokina this year.  The main differentiation of these new cameras from the Sony A7/A7r cousins is that both new cameras will feature the hybrid AF now seen in the Sony A6000.

 

Given Sony's history of fire-selling its older model when new models are introduced, it is possible that the A7 will become available at $1,000 or even less by the end of this year!  Once the A7 drops to such such price level, the value proposition of any "big-sensor" cameras (whether 1", m4/3, APS-C or fullframe") will not fare too well when measured against the A7.  There is no way that Nikon can maintain the current pricing level of the V3.  This could also have a knock-on effect on the Nikon D610 which has a fairly limited coverage in its AF points. 

 

It was not too long ago when the 24mp fullframe Nikon D3X sold for $8,500.  As a digital back and combined with a lens adapter for use with legacy lens, an A7 at $1,000 represents a tremendous value.  

 

Things will get more interesting when Nikon releases its mirrorless DX and FX cameras.

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To be honest I think most of Nikon users have misunderstood from the start that the purpose of the Nikon 1 series which was not to replace in any ways their previous DSLR offers.

 

We can now presume they were initiated a completely new line of product in responding of a contemporary trend for a more simpler, lighter and smaller complete system including optics and speedlight options.

 

I have been a V1 user from the start and presently a V2 enthusiasm owner. I like The Nikon effort to expand their lens series with the addition of the 18.5mm and 32mm and now this safari special lens 70-300mm.

 

What represent the Nikon V3? It is simply the fusion of two ideas: the V1 plus the V2 meaning one single body with two user options. It is so obvious that at this date no photo analyst seem to find that simple clue.

 

More than that versatile design the Nikon V3 should be a good improvement in two areas: IQ picture specially at low ISO and better ergonomic functionality.

 

You must see Nikon 1 series as a work in progress and at a long term that will address new contingents of photographers. 

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To be honest I think most of Nikon users have misunderstood from the start that the purpose of the Nikon 1 series which was not to replace in any ways their previous DSLR offers.

 

 

But why is it priced like a DSLR? I currently have a J1 and really want to try more of the 1 series, but can't justify it at the price.

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Guest smhese

Posted

After some thousands of shots with the V1 (got the kit recently for as low as 300euro) I am still kind of scratching my head.  The camera is fast but only buffers one second of high speed 30 fps RAW data - for heavy use the camera is too small, when in sleep modus it takes at least 2 seconds to wake up (not fast enough). The remote doesn't work with the 30fps or 60fps RAW modi.

 

Had high hopes but I can already see similar restrictions with the V3. After looking into the V3 manual: the (unexplained) eVR modi doesn't work with 1080/60p nor does it work with 720/60p? There is no additional external control (ML3 works) - no info if the remote will work with the 30fps/60fps RAW modi). How about the wakeup speed? The 4K crowd gets 1 1/3 second of buffer @18MP RAWs (more than 4K) is buffer any better when you go for 10MP jpegs? WiFi included - do we get an App to control the camera via iPhone/iPad? (compare with GoPro). I have to pay 1300€ in Germany to get a kit ... this is just too much for so so many loose ends.

I would love to shoot the V1/V3 synced side by side to a DSLR rig but no 10pin controller to do this. 

 

The camera could be the action hero (with better buffer) - it could be a real DSLR competitor (better controls {gives us the Xpro1-deck}, more fixed focal length lenses aka 32, better card, better {V1!} battery, more system thinking, integrated EVF! kidding? this is not an iPhone ... ) - it could be soccer moms cam (if in the 500Euro range) ... but it is something else.  

Forgot something? Ahh yes: AF is cool on the V1 and will likely be great with the V3. FT1 is great but only one AF-Sensor - its a system thing and the system isnt fully making sense to me.   

Regards from Berlin! Sören

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Guest smhese

Posted

ok -  have to correct my comments above: the " Wireless Mobile Utility" from Nikon for Android and iOS supports the V3.  

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Guest DaveO

Posted

  I thought the V2 had a built in viewfinder, did they take it away with the V3?

I'm glad the forum is back on line.

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  I thought the V2 had a built in viewfinder, did they take it away with the V3?

I'm glad the forum is back on line.

Yes it has and it appears they did... Go figure????

 

Rags

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