Nikon 1 V2 Review

Let me start off this hands-on review of the Nikon 1 V2 with a reminder that no one camera can do everything that an owner may require. Regardless of the price paid, every piece of equipment comes with compromises. And, so it is with the Nikon 1 V2. I should also state upfront that I shoot more client videos with my Nikon gear than I do still photographs, so this review does contain a reasonable amount of evaluation from a video perspective.

Nikon 1 V2

1) Specifications

Nasim has already provided a list of Nikon 1 V2 specifications and compared them to the previous model, the Nikon 1 V1. For those of you who would like to see a detailed comparison between the two, it can be found here.

2) The challenges and advantages of a CX sensor

The Nikon 1 V2 has a small 1” CX sensor. This gives the camera some inherent challenges when using it in real-life situations such as more noise at higher ISOs, somewhat limited dynamic range, and difficulty in achieving shallow depth-of-field. Some people are quite negative about the V2 because of its sensor size and immediately dismiss it as a ‘toy’. This is very unfortunate because the Nikon 1 V2 does have some wonderful capabilities and I believe it should have a place in the bags of many professional photographers.

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Mirrorless Camera Comparison

A number of our readers have been asking our team about our recommendations on different mirrorless cameras. With so many different options on the market today, choosing a mirrorless camera can get very confusing. In the new series of articles, we will compare all the options on the market today starting from entry-level, mid-level to high-end. In this particular article, I would like to start off by comparing mirrorless camera systems that are available today from different manufacturers. This below charts will be updated periodically with new / updated information. Please note that the below comparisons are only for mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. Discontinued systems such as Pentax K-01 and Ricoh GXR are not included. The list is sorted alphabetically and had to be split into two parts to fit. Also, please keep in mind that some of the benchmarks presented in this article are very subjective, based on our prior experience using the cameras.

Mirrorless Systems #1Canon EOS MFujifilm XFLeica MNikon 1Olympus M43
* Denotes PL Subjective Rating
Lens MountCanon EF-MFuji XLeica MNikon 1Micro 4/3
Announcement DateOct 2012Jan 2012Mar 2004Oct 2011Jun 2009
Mount Diameter58mm42mm44mm40mm38mm
Sensor Size (Diagonal)26.8mm28.3mm43.0mm15.9mm21.7mm
Flange Distance18mm17.7mm27.80mm17mm20mm
Image StabilizationLensLensN/ALensBody
AutofocusYesYesNoYesYes
Autofocus SystemHybridHybridN/AHybridHybrid
Autofocus Speed *34N/A55
Native Lenses Available312261116
Third Party Lenses3839033
Total Lenses Available620651149
System Compactness *44345
Image Quality *45534
Top Model (Manuf. Link)Canon EOS MFuji X-Pro1Leica MNikon 1 V2OM-D E-M1
Top Model Price (B&H)$339$1,199$6,950$796$1,399

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Mirrorless vs DSLR

DSLR cameras by design have some inherent flaws and limitations. Part of it has to do with the fact that SLR cameras were initially developed for film. When digital evolved, it was treated just like film and was housed in the same mechanical body. Aside from the circuitry required for a digital sensor and other electronics, new digital film media and the back LCD, the rest of the SLR components did not change. Same mechanical mirror, same pentaprism / optical viewfinder, same phase detection system for autofocus operation. While new technological advances eventually led to extending of features of these cameras (In-camera editing, HDR, GPS, WiFi, etc), DSLRs continued to stay bulky for a couple of reasons. First, the mirror inside DSLR cameras had to be the same in size as the digital sensor, taking up plenty of space. Second, the pentaprism that converts vertical rays to horizontal in the viewfinder also had to match the size of the mirror, making the top portion of DSLRs bulky.

Mirrorless vs DSLR

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Four-Thirds Format is Finally Where it Should Be

It has been a very busy week for us here at Photography Life with so many new products announced and launched by several major camera and lens manufacturers. The marathon of announcement articles is coming to an end and the last (hopefully) camera that we need to mention is the new m4/3 sensor mirrorless Panasonic Lumix GM1. But, by all means, it is not the least interesting product to come out this week. In fact, the GM1 is rather special. Let me start by saying this – it is tiny.

Panasonic-Lumix-GM1

1) A Few Thoughts on (Micro) Four-Thirds System

Before Olympus mirrorless took entry-level DSLR market by storm, the 4/3 format didn’t really make all that much sense. With a sensor smaller than APS-C, it was distinctly amateurish. Image quality just wasn’t there, either, and the 4:3 aspect ratio, while a classic, was only shared by compact cameras. However, Olympus insisted on putting such a small sensor into rather large DSLR camera bodies, such as the Olympus E-5. A sensor four times smaller than full-frame in a comparable body? Four-thirds was always supposed to be minuscule – win in size where it lost in performance. That was the only real advantage it could exploit and for a long time Olympus made the mistake of trying to keep its DSLR system alive (which, incidentally, had a very loyal group of users). I still remember how they promised four-thirds would continue to exist when they introduced the E-5 in 2010. Make no mistake. Olympus DSLRs are done for. The only way they are going to “live on” is “spiritually” through micro four-thirds system and cameras like O-MD E-M1 that can use original four-thirds Zuiko lenses effectively.

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Fujifilm X-E2 Announcement

Of all the announcements made recently by various manufacturers, including Sony’s groundbreaking step into full-frame mirrorless territory, we at Photography Life are most excited by Fujifilm’s news. Ever since the launch of X100, Fuji has been slowly winning over our hearts. Both with cameras themselves and the determination to improve their products and add features even after release impressed not only our team, but thousands of photographers worldwide. Don’t get me wrong, other manufacturers offer technologically brilliant alternatives and with the full-frame Sony A7 costing just $1700, the replacement for X-Pro1 will face tougher competition than before. Yet Fujifilm cameras, as we’ve written in our reviews, have something about them that makes you want to photograph all the time. The combination of drop-dead gorgeous looks, amazing prime lens selection, innovative hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder, analogue controls and quirks has, no doubt, made the Fujifilm X-series camera system one of the most charismatic on the market today. Fujifilm is not about to sleep on its laurels and is quick on learning from old mistakes. The X100s that we reviewed recently is a clear proof, and the newly introduced, highly-anticipated X-E2 promises to be at least as tempting. Read on to find out what has been improved.

Fujifilm X-E2_Front black

1) Overview and Key Specifications

The new Fujifilm X-E2 is not all that different from its predecessor, but the changes that did take place promise to make it that much more desirable. To start with, it shares virtually the exact same body as the Fuji X-E1, made of high quality plastic and magnesium alloy covers. It is smaller and lighter than top-of-the-line Fuji X-Pro1, but even with Fuji’s smallest lens attached – the XF 27mm f/2.8 – it is not as compact as the X100S. Not far off, though, and certainly much more pocketable than a DSLR. A very welcome addition is the larger, sharper LCD screen on the back of the camera to complement that 2.36 million dot OLED EVF also used in the X-E1. Having a large and super-sharp LCD is not an essential feature – at least for us it did not make the X-E1 less attractive. After-all, it is hardly a good way to sort through images. But having such a screen isn’t going to make a camera worse either, so we are happy it is now up there with the best. Oh, and the OLED EVF has gotten faster! The refresh rate has been changed from 20 fps to 50+ fps in low light situations, making it even easier to photograph without motion blur.

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Sony A7 vs A7R

With Sony taking over the major headlines this week, a number of our readers have been asking about the differences between the Sony A7 and A7R – two new full-frame interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras. As I have written in this article, Sony’s full-frame mirrorless cameras are shaking up the camera market and could potentially influence the future development and pricing of full-frame DSLRs in the future. Boasting impressive 24 and 36 megapixel sensors, the Sony A7 and A7R cameras are attracting a lot of potential buyers from different camps. But one question remains: what is the difference between the A7 and the A7R and which one should one pick? Although both cameras look very similar, there is a big difference in price: the A7 is priced at $1700, while the A7R is at $2300. In this article, I will go over the feature differences between the two cameras and provide personal recommendations on what lens(es) to choose. I believe the two cameras are targeted at completely different audiences. Please keep in mind that this Sony A7 vs A7R comparison is purely based on specifications. A detailed comparison with image samples and ISO comparisons will be provided in the upcoming Sony A7 and Sony A7R reviews.

Sony A7 vs A7r

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Sony NEX-7 Review

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This is an in-depth review of the Sony NEX-7 mirrorless camera that was released on August 24, 2011, so this is obviously a long delayed review that I have not had a chance to publish due to time constraints. I decided to finish it up and get the review published before the highly anticipated full-frame Sony A7 and A7r are announced later this week. The Sony NEX-7 is considered to be the top of the line NEX-series camera, with the highest resolution 24 MP APS-C sensor, built-in OLED electronic viewfinder, tilt-screen, three dial interface and the highest price tag in the line. In this review, I will go over the features and capabilities of the camera and compare it to other mirrorless options, including the Olympus OM-D E-M5, Canon EOS M and other Sony NEX cameras.

Sony NEX-7

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Rugged Nikon 1 AW1 Mirrorless Camera and Two Lenses Announced

Nikon has just made a very surprising move and released a rugged Nikon 1 mirrorless camera, the AW1. I have not been excited by a Nikon announcement in a long time now as they have, just like Canon and Sony, been releasing products that have barely changed since their last iteration. Not this time. The Nikon 1 AW1 is the first camera in its niche, and I hope it is not going to be the last. Of course, a waterproof interchangeable lens camera makes little sense without appropriately rugged lenses. Therefore, two lenses – a 10mm f/2.8 AW and a 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6 AW – have also been announced. A proper new addition, this, and will make Nikon 1 system very tempting for some.

Nikon 1 AW1

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Fujifilm X-A1 Mirrorless Camera Announced

Fujifilm has recently announced a new addition to its X-series of interchangeable lens compact camera system. Fujifilm X-A1 positions itself right below the previous entry-level model in the range, X-M1. At the same time, it is a camera many Fujifilm fans will likely not appreciate all that much. A lot of the initial skepticism may be due to the fact it is not very different from the recently announced X-M1. But more importantly, a difference these two cameras have is also a major one. Because Fujifilm X-A1 has a traditional Bayer color filter array rather than the rightly praised X-Trans. A recipe for failure? Not quite. Before we dive into an overview, though, let’s take a quick look at the specs.

Fujifilm X-A1_front

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Olympus Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 Announcement

Along with the high-end OM-D E-M1, Olympus has also announced a new professional-grade lens for their mirrorless system. Sporting the m4/3 mount, 12-40mm f/2.8 Zuiko lens has an equivalent 24-80mm focal length in 35mm format and is similar to bread-and-butter 24-70mm optics from major DSLR manufacturers.

Olympus Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8

1) Lens Overview

24-70mm f/2.8 class lenses have long been seen as the most versatile of zooms and were always targeted at professional photographers with their dependable build and fast, constant aperture throughout the zoom range. There is no doubt, looking at the lens’ parameters, that the new Olympus Zuiko 12-40mm f/2.8 builds on the same virtues (which makes the slightly pompous “PRO” designation in the naming sort of unnecessary). The 14 glass elements (9 groups) that make up the optical formula are enclosed in a tough, metal barrel. The lens has appropriate weather sealing and is protected against dust, moisture and cold temperatures. As such, it is a perfect companion to the E-M1.

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