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Function Over Form - Simon Stafford takes a look at the new Nikon 1 V2 mirrorless camera

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Nikon has announced the next iteration of its 'flagship' model to the Nikon 1 camera system, the Nikon 1 V2 model, which will be available in either a black, or white finish. The Nikon 1 system cameras represent Nikon's involvement in the mirrorless camera market, with the V2 aimed squarely at the dedicated enthusiast photographer, while the recently announced J2 camera, which is designed primarily as a point-and-shoot device, is orientated towards the mass consumer market. Contrary to the unremarkable update of the original J1 to the J2, the new V2 offers some very tangible and welcome changes from its predecessor, the V1.

All the Nikon 1 system cameras to date have what Nikon described as their CX-format sensors, which produce a 2.7x crop factor from the 35mm (135) format. The first significant difference between the V1 and V2 is a completely new 14.24-megapixel sensor that replaces the 10-megapixel sensor of the V1 model. The higher resolution is certainly a good move on the part of Nikon, since lack of resolution was one of the criticisms often levelled at the V1.

The handling characteristics of the V1 also leave a lot to be desired in some areas, most noticeably the poorly positioned and badly designed mode dial on the rear panel, which is notorious, because it is all too easy to shift it inadvertently. Nikon have clearly listened to the feedback received on the V1, as the mode dial has been repositioned to the top plate of the V2. There is an additional command dial on the rear panel, to the right of the monitor screen, and for buttons arranged along the left edge of the screen. The electronic viewfinder (EVF) has a larger housing, principally to accommodate a built in flash unit, although as ever the positioning of a flash so close to the central axis of the lens makes it of questionable value. In what appears to be a shift towards function over form the sleek profile of the original V1 has given way to a more angular appearance in the V2, which now has a large finger grip for the right-hand, which together with the EVF housing, gives the new camera a far chunkier look compared with its predecessor.

There have also been some functional changes. Most notably the enhanced in-camera processing by virtue of the new EXPEED 3A chip, which is claimed to process image files at the rate of 850-megapixels/second. The phase-detect continuous autofocus operates at up to 15 fps; the previous limit was 5 fps. The V2 offers the same 60 fps when focused is fixed for the first frame. The normal ISO range has also shifted at both ends, with the base value now raised to ISO 160, while the top end has been increased to ISO 6400 (the normal ISO range of the V1 is 100 - 3200). There is a new "Slow View" feature, which enables the camera to record 40 consecutive frames, at full resolution, and then allows the user to review the images in slow motion, so they can select and save the optimum frame. The V2 now supports wireless connectivity, although this does require the optional Nikon WU-1b Wi-Fi adapter.

Aside from the differences commented on above there is little else to differentiate the specification of the V1 from the V2. One aspect of the new camera that will be of interest is the effect, if any, on image quality as a consequence of its smaller pixel pitch.

Announced alongside the V2, is a new external flash unit SB-N7 Speedlight. Small and lightweight it offers a modest output (Guide Number: 59feet/18 m at ISO 100,10mm lens). The maximum flash duration is 1/1650, the flash reflector covers an angle of view of a lens with a focal length of 10mm (6.7 mm with the wide flash adapter); three AAA size batteries power the unit.

Finally, Nikon also announced the development of three new 1 Nikkor lenses for the Nikon 1 system:

  • A 32mm medium-telephoto fixed focal length lens (equivalent to 86.4mm in 35mm format) with a fast maximum aperture of f/1.2, which is designed to offer good subject isolation and a pleasing 'bokeh' effect
  • A 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 ultra wide-angle zoom lens (equivalent to 18-35mm in 35mm format) that includes Vibration Reduction (VR) and is the first 1 Nikkor lens to offer a wide, 100-degree angle of view.
  • A 10-100mm f/4-5.6 (equivalent to 27-270mm in 35mm format) compact and lightweight 10x zoom lens, designed to be convenient and portable, so it can be used for general purpose photograph anywhere.

Camera Specification: Nikon 1 V1 versus Nikon 1 V2

Camera Feature

Nikon 1 V1

Nikon 1 V2

Sensor resolution

10.1 million pixels

14.2 million pixels

Sensor type

CMOS

CMOS

CX-format

13.2 mm x 8.8 mm

13.2 mm x 8.8 mm

Pixel Pitch

3.40µ

2.86µ

Built-in sensor cleaning

Yes

Yes

Image size

3,872 x 2,592

4,608 x 3,072

Image processor

EXPEED 3

EXPEED 3A

Viewfinder type

0.47″ 1.44m dot EVF

0.47″ 1.44m dot EVF

Viewfinder coverage

100%

100%

Built-in flash

No

Yes

Flash sync-speed

1/60 (Electronic), 1/250 (Mechanical)

1/60 (Electronic), 1/250 (Mechanical)

Storage media

1x SD

1x SD

Max frame rate

5 frames per second 10, 30 or 60 fps using Electronic (Hi) shutter

5 frames per second 10, 15, 30 or 60 fps using Electronic (Hi) shutter

Max shutter speed

Electronic Shutter: 1/16,000 sec, Mechanical Shutter: 1/4,000 sec

Electronic Shutter: 1/16,000 sec, Mechanical Shutter: 1/4,000 sec

Exposure metering

TTL metering using image sensor

TTL metering using image sensor

Base ISO

ISO 100

ISO 160

Normal ISO range

ISO 100-3,200

ISO 160-6,400

Extended ISO range

ISO 6,400

N/A

Autofocus system

Hybrid autofocus (phase detection/contrast-detect AF)

Hybrid autofocus (phase detection/contrast-detect AF)

Video

Yes

Yes

Max video clip duration

20 min in 1080/60i and 1080/30p, 30 min in 720/60p

20 min in 1080/60i and 1080/30p, 30 min in 720/60p

Max video resolution

1920×1080 @ 30p, 60i

1920×1080 @ 30p, 60i

Audio recording

Built-in stereo microphone; sensitivity adjustable

Optional external ME-1 microphone

Built-in stereo microphone; sensitivity adjustable

Optional external ME-1 microphone

LCD Size

3.0″ diagonal TFT-LCD

3.0″ diagonal TFT-LCD

LCD Resolution

921,000 dots

921,000 dots

Built-in GPS

No

No

Wi-Fi Support

N/A

WU-1B

Battery

EN-EL15 Lithium-ion Battery

EN-EL21 Lithium-ion Battery

Battery capacity

350 shots (CIPA)

310 shots (CIPA)

Battery charger

MH-25 Battery Charger

MH-28 Battery Charger

USB interface

2.0

2.0

Weight (Body Only)

294 g (10.4 oz.)

278 g (9.8 oz.)

Dimensions

113 x 76 x 43.5mm

107.8 x 81.6 x 45.9mm

Nikon V2 camera - sales start date: 22nd November 2012

RRP: Nikon 1 V2 10-30mm Kit: £799.99 / €999.00

RRP: Nikon 1 V2 10-30mm & 30-110mm: £969.99 / €1199.00

SB-N7 Speedlight - sales start date: 31st January 2013

RRP £149.99 / €179.00

© Simon Stafford October 2012

Posted on: Thursday 25 October 2012

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