Recently a Photography Life contributor, Alpha Whiskey, posted a great article here on some techniques that we can use to challenge ourselves as photographers. Finding ways to grow and stimulate our individual creativity is one of the most important things we can do to advance our skill level. I gave myself one such challenge this week and I thought I would share the results of it with you with images taken at the Metro Toronto Zoo.
Since buying my first Nikon 1 V2 in August of last year I’ve been having some fun trying to push the limits of this little, mirrorless camera and its small CX sensor to see what it is capable of producing. On the surface doing a macro image comparison between a Nikon D800 and a Nikon 1 V2 may seem like a David and Goliath match-up.
After all, one would expect the 36MP full frame sensor of the D800 to outperform the small 14MP CX sensor in the Nikon 1 V2, especially when stopped down to small apertures like f/22 and f/32 where diffraction can really punish image quality. Before I show you some images, let me introduce the subject of this image test: a pewter pig.
For the past 8 months or so I have been shooting a lot of static and perched birds with a Nikon 1 V2, FT-1 adapter, my Nikkor 70-200 f/4 VR lens and TC-17E II teleconverter. This set-up gives me an equivalent field-of-view of 918mm @ a rather slow f/6.7. Even though the teleconverter does cause some loss of sharpness I’ve been happy with the results as you can see from the sample below.
While successful for perched birds, this set-up has been a different story for birds in flight. I’ve found that the auto focusing hunts a great deal at f/6.7 when trying to capture birds in flight, and the EFoV of 918mm makes it extremely difficult to keep a flying bird in the frame long enough to acquire focus. My skill set is such that other than getting the odd image of a cormorant flying in the distance at a 90-degree angle to me, I was unsuccessful in getting very many usable shots.
There have been some interesting discussions about the pros and cons of various sensor sizes and how they impact angle of view, lens focal length and the depth-of-field that results. For example, some photographers bemoan the fact that it is difficult to achieve a shallow depth of field at a particular equivalent-field-of-view with a CX sensor using 1 Nikon lenses, while others find it useful to be able to get deeper depth-of-field at more open aperture settings such as f/1.8 and f/2. Some D800 shooters are concerned about diffraction setting in above f/8 when trying to achieve deep depth-of-field with a high pixel density 36mp FX sensor, as are many photographers who use high pixel density sensor DX bodies.
At the end of the day there is no such thing as a perfect camera body or format that will suit everyone’s needs. The camera body and sensor format you choose, along with your choice of lenses,comes down to the creative requirements that you have as a photographer based on the work you do.
Grimsby Ontario is on the raptor migration route and every year the town holds an indoor “RaptorFest” event at the local hockey arena during which various presentations of live birds, and educational initiatives are conducted. A fast, mid-range telephoto like the Nikkor 200mm f/2G VR would be the perfect lens to photograph birds during this indoor event. Like most people, I don’t have the $6,000 or so it would take to own the 200mm Nikkor…but I thought I might have a reasonable solution in my camera bag.
Having shot well over 10,000 frames since I got my Nikon 1 V2 in late August 2013, I thought it would be interesting to test this little mirror-less camera and two of its most popular kit lenses under some very difficult shooting conditions. So, I headed off to the International Auto Show in Toronto Canada with my Nikon 1 V2 and a couple of kit zoom lenses to see how this CX gear would perform. What makes an event like this challenging is the wide variance in lighting conditions. At times you’re shooting feature cars with numerous flood lights beaming down on them and lens flares can be a challenge. Other subjects can be in quite poor light, requiring either shooting at high ISOs, fast apertures, or slow shutter speeds.
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.
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.
In this article, I will show feature differences between the Nikon 1 V1 and the newly announced Nikon 1 V2 mirrorless cameras. Judging by the J2 and V2 updates this year, it seems like Nikon will be refreshing the 1 line fairly often, so I am planning to provide feature comparisons like this to show what has changed between cameras after each announcement. As you may already know, the whole Nikon 1 line has a CX mount with a 2.7x crop factor and the J1/J2 cameras are targeted for photo hobbyists, while the V1/V2 cameras are targeted for more serious shooters. Hence, there is a significant difference in size, feature and performance between the two lines. Please keep in mind that this Nikon 1 V1 vs V2 comparison is purely based on specifications. A detailed comparison with image samples and ISO comparisons will be provided in the upcoming Nikon 1 V2 Review.
Nikon has just announced the Nikon 1 V2, an update to the existing Nikon 1 V1 mirrorless camera that was released last year. Unlike the disappointing J2 release earlier this year that had almost no improvements over the J1 that it replaced, the V2 seems to be a much bigger upgrade. First, the camera body went through a complete rework, with a different ergonomic design of a much more serious camera. The camera grip looks similar to those found on Sony NEX series mirrorless cameras and there is now a dedicated PASM Command Mode Dial on the top of the camera. A small built-in flash is now included in the body, with an additional hot shoe that allows mounting Nikon 1 speedlights, similar to the also newly announced SB-N7 speedlight.