Friday 30 November 2012

The Nikon V1 - the ultimate Brompton Companion?

Just over a year ago I saw that Nikon had entered the very competitive, cut throat world that has become - compact system cameras. They released the '1' series. The J1 didn't interest me but the V1 did. I recall at theme that reviews were less than kind, in part due to its very high price.

Over a year on and Nikon have released the V2. This has led to retailers heavily discounting the older V1. This discount has brought the camera to a price I am prepared to pay. With a birthday approaching I was allowed by Mrs Orange Brompton and my two little Orange Bromptonettes to buy my very own V1.

Why the V1 I hear you ask. Well, to me at lest it is a rather elegant camera. It has a metal frame and also clad in metal. Build like a tank it is sold and reassuring in the hand. It is very well made and exudes quality.

The 3 inch 920k dot screen is gorgeous. Coupled with this it has an electronic 1.44m dot viewfinder that allows you to frame shots in bright conditions or if you simply want to go old school. Having both is great.

The 10.1 megapixel 1 inch sensor isn't the largest out their but in good light it can produce some great images that punch well above its weight. The battery is the same found in the Nikon D7000 SLR. This means that over 500 shots on one charge is more than possible. (A friend tells me that it is generally a great deal higher).

I bought it with the 10-30mm kit lens (27-80mm in 35mm equivalent). It has build in stabilisation, is well made and is pretty sharp for a kit lens. There are a few 1 series lenses but if your wish a small lens converter allows you to put other Nikon lenses on. I probably won't to this but it's nice to know I could if I wanted to.

The stand out feature is its frame rate. It can shoot at 5 frames per second with its mechanical shutter or 10 frames a second with its electronic shutter. Both of these rates are with full autofocus! I shot a balloon being burst and the images captured were great. If you are prepared to have fixed focus you can go 30 and 60 frames a second! This is quite incredible very usable. I will really use the 5 and 10 frames a second when out on my Brompton rides!

The autofocus is a hybrid type. Phase detection in good light for fast moving subjects and contrast detection when things are low light. It automatically switches between the two and the focus speed is lightening fast!

Another clever and very usable feature is something called Photo Shot Selector. At the press of the shutter the camera takes 20 photos. The camera is so quick it starts to focus on the subject before you press the shutter and takes some after you have finished pressing it. He best 5 shots are selected by the camera for your perusal.

I was able to buy a tiny infra red shutter release for £1.45 and link it to the camera. Now I can fire off the shutter from 15m away. Very useful for all those group shots.

Nikon have been very clever with this camera. They have allowed the owner to change a few settings but the camera is very minimalist, with few buttons. With the V1 it is as if Nikon want you to let the camera do the work. I find myself being like a young Luke Skywalker, turning off his computer on the Death Star run and putting my trust in the Force. I really like this aspect!

I have wanted this camera for ages but the price wasn't right. In short I love it and it will almost certainly become my main camera. I can see me taking this on every Brompton ride I go on as it is fast enough to capture just about anything. I also suspect that the V1 is going to be a camera I am gong to enjoy a great deal. First impressions have been very favourable and I hope to take it out for a good run tomorrow or Sunday.

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