Nikon 1 V2

By Mark Watson 4 April 2014
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The Nikon 1 V2 covers the bases of outdoor photography: It’s tough, useable and produces quality photos.

The past few years have seen an influx of compact, mirrorless, interchangeable-lens cameras, with their vast weight and size advantages over DSLR systems.

The Nikon 1 V2 is no exception to the rule.

The V2 is Nikon’s follow-on from their successful V1 and carries over many of the V1’s more useful features.

Before I waffle about specs and numbers, however, let’s look at the important factors for the outdoor photographer.

“Does the camera take good photos?” “Is it useable?” and “How tough is it?”

Fortunately, the V2 covers all of the above rather neatly.

Like the V1, the V2 carries a few extra grams in its magnesium alloy body (the same stuff pro DSLRs are built from). Having dented and knocked my V1 into an extremely “weathered” look, I assure you mag alloy is a blessing. Thankfully, Nikon didn’t forego the “knockability” of the V2 for a lighter build.

Ergonomically, the V2 bulks up with a more useable handgrip and now offers an external main command dial just like a DSLR. Most importantly, the V2 retains a viewfinder – a must for anybody taking photography seriously.

The V2 also gains a built-in flash for everyday use, a redesigned rear panel with a large 3” TFT LCD, as well as a plethora of smaller upgrades.

While Nikon’s 14.2 MP CX size sensor is smaller than micro 4/3 mirrorless units, Nikon has opted against the “wow factor” of huge MP count, instead keeping the “pixel to sensor-size” ratio where it should be, ensuring exceptional image quality.

The vast range of 1-Nikkor lenses include the very neat 18.5 mm f/1.8 (50mm equivalent), weighing in at a mere 70g, and a nano-crystal coated AFS 32mm f/1.2 (85mm equivalent) – features usually reserved for Nikon’s expensive pro lenses. Zooms such as the 30-100mm f/3.8-5.6 offer a focal length equivalent of nearly 300mm in old-school terms.

Coupled with one of the fastest auto-focus systems in the world (yes, it is faster than the D3 Pro-DSLR) and 15 frames per second with focus tracking, the V2 statistically rivals some pro DLRs for wildlife or action photography.

The V2 is not perfect, however, and the compromise in many mirrorless systems unavoidably leads to inadequacy in some features.

Low-light/high ISO usability is compromised due to the CX sensor size, auto viewfinder function can be a hassle if dirt and grime cover the sensor (carry a cotton bud) and it can be hard to track moving subjects at above 15fps due to the digital viewfinder.

These are small prices to pay for such an amazing camera, however, and the V2 has become part of my compulsory kit, and for some assignments is the only camera I take.

I used to embarrassingly admit I was a pro shooter who didn’t always have a camera at hand, but that’s changed with the advent of the Nikon 1 system.

RRP $1000