Ok, another photographic gadget that has to prove it’s worthiness. First impressions: I think it will! The Nikon 1 V1 I got recently has proven to be a solid performer as a constant, daily companion. I got the set with the 10 mm, f/2.8 lens (because I like to work with wide angles on the street, and at a focal length equivalent to 27 mm in 135 film terms, it is a classic lens in the Winogrand style!). The camera’s build is solid, and the surface textures in the black version make it grippy. The white one is glossy, though, and conspicious to boot, so we don’t want that on the street, do we?
There’s been much criticism offered on the net directed at the simplified user interface. Well, I couldn’t care less as long as it lets me set it to some crucial settings and then keeps out of my way while photographing. And this it does.
Even the Smart Photo Selector Mode has it’s uses. It works by machine-gunning your subject for a few seconds and choosing (how it does that only Nikon knows…) up to four best shots. Mind you, it’s a slow machine gun, and I don’t always agree with it’s choices. Never mind, all JPEGs land on the SD card, you can rectify the choice in the comfort of your home.
If you aspire to more of a Henri Cartier Bresson mode while photographing on the street, I recommend you set exposure mode to S, and preset shutter speed to at least 1/250 second (it defaults to that, another instance of the camera “thinking for you”). Let the camera take care of ISO and f-stops. The latter don’t matter much with regards to a shallow depth of field. After all it is a small sensor camera (1 inch sensor) and I use a wide angle. Even at f/2.8, depth of field encompasses a face or a figure. The autofocus is uncannily exact and fast. That is really one of the fortes of this camera! In a crowd, it is easy to shoot from the hip. Exposure isn’t fazed by backlit situations with persons against a sky, either.
Oh, and one more hint for street photography with the V1: by repeatedly pressing the DISP button, you can switch off the rear screen so it doesn’t light up after every shot, giving you away.
So, I imagine you asking me: “How is image quality?”. It is just fine, and amazing for this size of sensor.
Sure, you won’t get a zoom down into it and count the threads in clothing kind of resolution but it will resolve all details that are important for street scenes. I think it is a bit better than the Epson E-PL 1 I had before. And a lot faster to focus!
*) Oh, yes… I know it is mighty insensitive of a german guy with an english-speaking readership to allure to a V1 product as a Pocket Rocket. My apologies for this gaffe go out to you British Blokes.