This short article has a selection of sample images taken hand-held with the Nikon 1 V3 and Nikon 1 CX 70-300 lens at Bird Kingdom in Niagara Falls Canada. While I was intending on doing a full review of the Nikon 1 V3 a number of time sensitive client video projects have recently emerged. Unfortunately that means I will not be able to proceed with my planned full review any time soon. Instead I’ll provide a few initial impressions of this camera along with some sample images.
It is sometimes difficult not to be perceived as a ‘fan boy’ when writing these kinds of articles, especially when Photography Life readers are well aware that I shoot extensively with the Nikon 1 system. Any camera, regardless of price, comes with trade-offs and this article identifies some of the trade-offs that I feel people should consider in their purchase decision.
The Nikon 1 V3’s lack of an anti-aliasing (low pass) filter is noticeable in terms of image quality and allows the camera to render fine details a bit better than the V2.
The higher megapixel CX sensor in the Nikon 1 V3 (18.4MP) provides photographers with more cropping potential than the V1 (10.2MP) or V2 models (14.2MP). The trade-off is that the increased pixel density has increased noise levels somewhat. This can be addressed in post of course.
Over the past few months I’ve started applying noise reduction to all of my Nikon 1 V2 RAW files regardless of the ISO at which they were taken, and I’d recommend doing this with RAW files from the V3 as well.
As with previous Nikon 1 cameras focusing in good light is quite fast with the Nikon 1 V3. I did find that it wasn’t quite as fast as my V2 in challenging, low light conditions. I’m likely not a typical Nikon 1 user as I tend to push things beyond where most folks do, so this may not be an issue for other people.
The removable EVF is a bit of a mixed blessing. It provides a decently bright image and it can be set so that the rear display on the camera is not used. This helps to extend battery life.
The downside is that once the EVF is in place the hot shoe cannot be used for accessories like a flash or microphone. This may be a significant issue for some photographers while others will find it has little or no impact on them.
There also is a removable grip. Again, there is a trade-off involved with this feature. It does provide an additional control button allowing the Nikon 1 V3 to operate closer to a DSLR in terms of convenience. The downside is that it must be removed every time the battery in the camera needs to be replaced.
From a durability standpoint I wonder if the continual installation and removal of the EVF and grip may cause wear down the road and potential issues with the electrical connections. Personally I would have preferred that the camera maintained the integrated EVF and grip of the Nikon 1 V2.
The Nikon 1 V3 uses micro-SD cards. Their small size may be a concern to some photographers in terms of being easy to lose. I didn’t find any performance issues with the SanDisk Extreme PLUS UHS-I card provided with the V3 review unit.
The Nikon 1 V3 comes with a new 10-30mm PD power zoom. To be honest I didn’t bother trying this lens. It does not accept filters, which for my business rules it out from a functionality standpoint.
Every camera, regardless of price, comes with trade-offs of some kind and the Nikon 1 V3 is no exception. Whether a photographer chooses the Nikon 1 V3 and likes it will depend on what’s most important to them. The V3 is capable of producing very nice images, especially when matched up with some of the better Nikon 1 lenses like the CX 70-300.
If buyers can see past some of the quirky design choices that Nikon made with the V3 (removable EVF and grip, micro-SD cards, no-filter 10-30 PD zoom) they may find that they really enjoy shooting with it. For others, these design choices may be deal breakers.
Technical Note: All images were produced from RAW files processed through DxO OpticsPro 10 with PRIME noise reduction. A DNG file was exported into CS6 and Nik Suite for additional adjustments as needed.
Article and all images are Copyright Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, duplication or adaptation allowed without written consent.
Do you by any chance have any shots with a (Nikkor 300mm f/4) prime lens.
Sorry…I have not had a chance to shoot with that lens.
Thomas- nice write up on the V3. I found the V3 to found also odd design choices that I feel detracts from its potential- lie the wheel around the menu buttons that is pretty much a duplicate of what the other wheels are already doing.
I had one briefly, sold it then went for the Nikon 1 J4. I found the J4 to have virtually identical image quality- except in a situation where something like fluorescent light may create those “frequency horizontal bars.” All of your shots I see could be done with a J4 and now in the USA has been seen as low as $250 USD with the kit lens which at that price to me, it’s an outstanding value.
Nikon really needs to get their act together on what they want to do with their system. I never felt like they really knew or cared about the V part of the line and I find the V3 simply grossly overpriced. I wish hey had an option for purchase with no grip but with the EVF for $750 USD tops.
At least Nikon has confirmed commitment to the system- I think once they get a sensor that performs ballpark the Sony 1” sensor, with the great nicer lenses of the system it will perform really good. I think right now it can perform great but within an operation window I feel at the asking price should be wider.
That said, for my street photography work, it has worked pretty nice (J4) and at night with the F1.2 32mm prime makes it doable.
A lot of this really comes down to shooting style and the preferences of individual photographers. Personally, I would never own a camera that did not have a viewfinder as I hate composing and shooting stills from the rear screen. You’re obviously having great results with the J4 and not having a viewfinder is not an issue for you.
I agree that some of the design choices and the pricing of the V3 are odd, e.g. microSD, detachable EVF and grip. Having said that I do think that the V3 with grip and EVF attached give photographers a DSLR-like experience in terms of external controls.
I know I could not have replicated all of the shots in this article using a J4 as some of them were taken at long focal lengths and with very slow shutter speeds. Personally I could not hold a camera away from my face and keep it steady enough to shoot at 1/15th of a second at an efov of 810mm. I doubt that I could even do that at 1/60th.
Always well written and interesting, Thomas. I agree with Ertan. I bought the V2 when the fire sale occurred late last year, and so far I find it to be a blend of genius and, well, lack of genius. I’ve not played with the V3, but it appears to me that Nikon must not have had the same product team working on the 1, then the 2, then the 3. Either that, or those features that those of us with big DSLRs want in a small camera – basically a mini SLR – didn’t work in whatever market segment they are targeting, and so they removed the built in VF and grip from 2 to 3. This isn’t design evolution; it is design ping pong.
There have been some interesting design twists with the various V series models that I’m not understanding either. *shrugs* I guess they just are what they are and we individually need to assess whether certain models fit, or don’t fit, our needs.
I really enjoy shooting with the Nikon 1 V2 and I find it is an excellent second camera for my client video shoots as it brings some different and helpful capability with its small CX sensor…that’s why we now own 3 V2’s with our business. I often need both an EVF and shotgun mic simultaneously so the V3’s configuration isn’t the best for my needs.
I think I’ll not upgrade to V3, because of lack of EVF. The add-on EVF (and actually additional grip) increases the price of the package considerably. V2 is good enough for me now. I’ve upgraded from V1 to V2 due to V2’s better grip and proper mode dial but V3 does not make a lot of sense to me.
As I mentioned in the article there are some trade-offs with the V3 which may not work for some people.
Tom, as usual a very interesting article coupled with amazing images and although I am D7100 user and not a Nikon 1 user, I always look forward
to your articles with great interest. You often mention using
OpticsPro 10 Prime for your noise reduction needs. How would you
compare it to the noise reduction feature in Lightroom 5 ? Thank you
for your great articles.
Thanks for the positive comment – much appreciated! I’ve never used Lightroom so I can’t really answer your question about comparing any of its features to OpticsPro 10…sorry about that.
Thomas, thanks for the fine images and the hint to use DxO, but the filesize overhead is huge, do you have any consideration on that, or is it a no problem as hard drives gets down in price?
I am at the moment evaluating DxO, and it does great things to my V1 images.
My youngest son who is a real ‘techie’ built my main office computer. It’s set up to do my video work so hard drive space hasn’t been an issue…although I am starting to fill up my file storage!
I have also find that OpticsPro does a really nice job with my Nikon 1 files. I also use CS6 and Nik Suite on my files…whether they are Nikon 1 files or ones from my D800.
Hi Tom. First off, thank you for your tuition and support of PL’s readership. Your contribution is really appreciated. I am now using a D810 to photograph birds and find that this camera, while brilliant in many respects, is a bit noisier than my D610. Having said that I have noticed that you are achieving fantastic sharpness and feather detail in your photohraphs taken at much higher ISOs than I use. I am sure that ETTR at capture time helps but wonder if DXO Optics’ PRIME feature is also playing a significant role in keeping the noise under control while maintaining great detail. I have downloaded the trial version and would like to know if you have previously written about your workflow using DXO to process bird photos.
I use PRIME noise reduction for all of my high ISO images taken with my D800, and I use this function for all of my Nikon 1 files regardless of the ISO at which images are shot…and regardless of subject matter.
My basic process is to put all of my RAW files through OpticsPro 10 (usually with PRIME noise reduction) then export a DNG file into CS6 and Nik Suite for additional adjustments as required. I think PRIME does a very nice job reducing noise while still maintaining good details.
As far as the relative amount of noise between the D810 and D610 I can comment from a D800/D600 perspective as I have owned both of these cameras. I agree that files from the D800 are noisier at any given ISO than are files from the D600. This is to be expected given the difference in pixel size.
Thanks for your prompt response. I went out today and shot quite a few images of Roseatte Spoonbills and Snowy Egrets at High ISOs to evaluate DxO’s PRIME feature. I’m looking forward to seeing the results as compared to NIK’s DFine. Thanks again.
Seems to be a nice little camera but I still wouldn’t go near it at that price.
Everyone has different needs and some cameras are a better fit for people than others. Its always important to buy gear that represents the best value for our individual needs.
Tom, once again you wet my apatite for this system. However, I do use flash often and the loss of the hot shoe may drive me toward the V2 instead. As for the grip blocking the camera battery, I believe all my camera grips do that. D7100, D750 for sure. But when shooting an event I can go for a very long time before having to replace both batteries. Not a problem. Am I confused about something or did I read somewhere that Nikon is coming out with a Nikon 1 V5? Maybe I was dreaming about this.
Once again, stunning images even if the animals are behind bars. Hope Betty doesn’t read this.
Thanks for the positive comment – I’m glad you liked the images!
I should have clarified in the articles where I’ve shot at Bird Kingdom that, other than for a very few specimens, the vast majority of the birds at Bird Kingdom are free flying and are not in any type of cage or enclosure. The main aviary is 3-4 stories tall and the birds fly and move about freely throughout. They fly freely in the small bird aviary as well.
I appreciate your comment about other grips blocking the battery door. The battery life on the Nikon 1 cameras is significantly less than would be the case with your D7100 or D750. For example, when I was in Cuba shooting I’d change batteries probably three times in a 7-8 hour shooting day. I think the batteries are rated for about 300 shots. This would be extended if you only used the EVF image and not the back panel. Shooting video obviously really decreases battery duration.
The V2 and V3 do have small, integrated flashes on them. None of the Nikon 1 cameras will accept a standard Nikon flash. You’d need to buy a Nikon 1 specific flash.
You’re not dreaming, a Nikon 1 J5 is expected to be announced shortly – likely in March. It may even have 4K video capability! Previous J models have not had an EVF so I doubt this model would either.
Ah, it is the J5. No I don’t want a J model if I go in this direction it will be one of the V models. 300 shots huh. I know you can remember back in the film days when shooting an event or a spread for a client maybe we would expose 5 rolls of 36 exposure B&W and one roll of color depending upon the client needs. It could have been reversed. Today, none of us think twice about making 1000 exposures of our grandchildren’s second birthday party.
Speaking in regards to the Nikon 1 specific flash units, can you tell me off hand what guide numbers they have? In my work I use a lot of flash or fill flash, not always on camera but it would be interesting to know. I presume since standard Nikon flash units don’t fit the hot shoe neither would a cable connection.
P.S. How many enter strokes does it take to separate paragraphs? I don’t seem to be able to do it.
Well, ok there you are.
Hi Mike / Thomas, I did get 1700 shots off my first V3 battery charge. Mind you I was shooting heavy 20 fps BIF bursts, with image review off, testing my at that time brand new 70-300 CX!
300 shots is under average use, but if you are burst shooting you can get many more.
I would think it would be the other way around. Why can you get more images in burst mode then in single shot if indeed one would turn off image review?
Thanks for the additional insights on your experience with battery life. I would assume that you have your V3 set so that you are only viewing through the EVF and not the back panel. I imagine this would greatly extend battery life. Once I can get some time to do more in-depth work to prepare for my review I’ll have a better handle on this.
I don’t own one of the Nikon 1 specific flashes so I’m unable to answer your question…sorry.
I still don’t think Betty would approve. Just saying.
Tom – thanks again for your data on the v3. I look forward to the full review but must admit this looks very promising. I have a v3 on the way and can’t wait to compare notes with you.
I know the v3 is not without issues, I am no fan of the removable EVF or the tiny micro SD media. But I am a huge fan of the grip that will give me another dial and Fn button. That makes it emulate my D7100 that I love. The articulating touch screen also sold me – along with a few more MP in search for a tiny bit of cropping when needed. Guess I just need the 70-300 next? :)
My trusted v2 has been far more camera than I ever suspected. I am thrilled with that, especially performance with some prime glass. I should have the slightly used v3 here this week. Sadly we are having real winter here in TX so not sure when I will get out!
I agree that the V2 is much more camera than many folks thought…me included! If you buy a CX 70-300 I’m sure you will really enjoy it. I own a good selection of Nikon 1 lenses and the 70-300 is my favourite lens.
As far as winter goes…we’d gladly trade you! We had the coldest February in a very long time. In fact, we did not have one day above 0 Celsius (32F) in February with many days in the -15 to -20 range. The last time this happened in our area, i.e. no days above freezing, was in 1978!
Yea good point – real winter for Texas – LOL!
Yep, clearly a fan boy…. ;-) And so what;-) You do seem to be able to get the best out of these cameras, and that’s what counts.
Hmmm…if that’s how I’ve come across in this article then I have failed with it…sorry.