Macro Image Comparison: Nikon D800 vs Nikon 1 V2

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.

Nikon D800 Nikon 1 V2

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.

Pewter Pig in Palm of Hand

This article shows three exposures taken with each camera at f/5.6, f/11 and f/32. You can view the YouTube video to see the entire spread of aperture exposures:

All of the images that you’ll see in this article were taken with the cameras mounted on the same tripod and pistol grip, and using a 2-second (V2) or 3-second (D800) shutter delay. A Nikkor 105mm Micro f/2.8 VR lens was used for all of the images. I did exposures from f/5.6 all the way up to f/32 with both cameras. Focusing was done manually and concentrated on the left edge of the pig’s nose.

I moved the cameras in as close as I could to still achieve focus. After the initial manual focusing was done on the first image of each set, I only adjusted the aperture between shots (cameras were both set for aperture priority). None of the images in this article have been cropped at all. All images were shot at ISO-400. Here are the D800 images:

Nikon D800 f/5.6

Nikon D800 f/11

Nikon D800 f/32

RAW files from both cameras were processed through DxO OpticsPro 8 with standard default settings and two presets (sharpen fine details, HDR realistic). Viveza 2 was used to add +20 on Structure and 4 on Contrast for all images. CS6 was used to take the brightness on the V2 images to +20 so they matched the D800 files a bit better.

Since the Nikon 1 V2 has a 2.7X crop factor it produces a very narrow field of view and creates a more ‘magnified’ macro effect.

Nikon 1 V2 f/5.6 Small 1

Nikon 1 V2 f/11 Small 1

Nikon 1 V2 f/32 Small 1

To try and get some subject images somewhat similar in size to those captured by the D800, I did a third set of exposures and re-composed some V2 images by pulling the camera back away from the subject.

Nikon 1 V2 f/5.6 Small 2

Nikon 1 V2 f/11 Small 2

Nikon 1 V2 f/32 Small 2

Overall, I was quite surprised with how well both cameras held onto image detail as the Nikkor 105 f/2.8 lens was stopped down. I think this macro image comparison demonstrates that the Nikon 1 V2 is a pretty capable performer when paired with a good quality macro lens like the Nikkor 105 f/2.8, and its 2.7X crop factor adds another ‘fun’ dimension to macro photography.

Once I get my Nikon 1 V3 I’ll be doing another macro comparison to see what kind of impact its increased 18.4 MP resolution and lack of an optical low-pass filter has on macro image performance.

Article and all images Copyright 2014, Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, reproduction or duplication including electronic is allowed without written consent.