Nikon V2 Review
|Sensor size:||1-inch type|
|Kit Lens:||3.00x zoom
|Viewfinder:||EVF / LCD|
|Dimensions:||4.2 x 3.2 x 1.8 in.
(108 x 82 x 46 mm)
|Weight:||16.1 oz (457 g)
includes batteries, kit lens
Nikon 1 V2 Preview
by Shawn Barnett
Departing radically from the Nikon 1 V1's original design, the V2 goes all out to leave the rather bland looks of the V1 behind while maintaining the family resemblance, with broad curves and a bulky industrial look. The end result is rather odd at first glance, with a big grip and a rectangular EVF and built-in flash hump on top. The Nikon 1 V2 also integrates more enthusiast-friendly features, like a more inclusive Mode dial and a Command dial as well, for quicker adjustments.
Where the rubber meets the road, though, is its imaging capabilities, which include a new 14.2-megapixel CMOS sensor that captures still images at 15 frames per second with full autofocus tracking, thanks to the sensor's built-in phase-detect autofocus system. The Nikon V2 also captures Full HD movies at 60i or 30p. The Nikon 1 system's CX sensor is smaller than even Micro Four Thirds cameras, allowing for smaller lens designs, though the bodies are about the same size as competing mirrorless cameras.
Availability starts in late November 2012, shipping with a 10-30mm kit lens for about US$900. A two-lens kit includes the 10-30mm and 30-110mm lenses for $1150, and body-only the Nikon V2 will be US$800.
Weighing in at 9.8 ounces (278g) body only, the Nikon V2 weighs a little less than the 10.4 ounces (294g) of its predecessor. Made of magnesium alloy, the Nikon V2 is also a little less wide, taller, and less deep overall, measuring 4.2 x 3.2 x 1.8 inches (107.8 x 81.6 x 45.9mm), compared to the V1's 4.4 x 3.0 x 1.7 inches (113 x 76 x 43.5mm).
I can only think they were trying to evoke the big block on the Nikon F Photomic with the unusual pop-up flash design, but all I can think of is the overhanging nose of an elephant seal. The grip is substantial for the size, looking similar to the grip on the NEX-5 in shape. An AF-assist lamp shines out from just left of the Nikon 1 logo, and an infrared port is just barely visible between the grip and lens. Stereo mics flank the EVF/Flash housing, and the flash window is visible beneath the Nikon logo. The Lens release button is pushed over quite a bit compared to the V1's position.
The pop-up flash has a guide number of 20.6 feet (6.3m) at ISO 160, with sufficient coverage for the 10mm pancake or zoom lens (approximately 27mm equivalent).
A far cry from the brick-like shape of the V1, Nikon's redesign of the V2 was quite aggressive. The Nikon V2's thickness gives way to make room for the fingers, slimming down quite a bit in the process. The Power switch rings the Shutter button, and a Movie Record button sits in a good place behind that. Enthusiasts will be happy to see those four letters on the physical Mode dial -- P S A M -- allowing them quick access to the common automatic, semi-automatic, and manual modes photographers prefer. Right of that is the new Command dial for making quick adjustments to exposure, contrast, brightness, or background blur.
A black cover on top of the EVF/Flash housing conceals the Nikon 1 accessory port, compatible with the old accessory flash as well as the new SB-N7 Speedlight, both optional accessories (more on that below).
Rear controls are simple, just a reshuffle of what was available on the Nikon V1. The four buttons that used to surround the Multi-controller now line the left of the LCD. The Command dial on the top deck replaces the former zoom toggle, and a slight thumb grip rises toward the right.
The F button works in concert with the Command dial to allow fast changes to white balance, focus mode, ISO, metering mode, etc. Called Direct Setting Control, the new mode can be adjusted while you're looking through the electronic viewfinder or on the rear LCD.
The 3-inch TFT LCD sports 921,000 dots, with a 3:2 aspect ratio, matching that of the Nikon 1 V2's CX sensor. The electronic viewfinder uses a color TFT LCD that displays 1,440,000 dots. Dioptric adjustment is made with the dial on the left of the housing. An infrared proximity sensor sits just right of the EVF, allowing automatic switching between viewfinder and LCD mode.
Sensor and Processor. The CX high speed CMOS sensor measures 13.2 x 8.8mm, outputs a 14.2-megapixel image, and has 73 phase-detect autofocus points built in, employing the same AF system used in previous Nikon 1 cameras. ISO ranges from 160 to 6,400.
The Nikon V2's new EXPEED 3A image processor is said to have improved image-signal processing, speed that allows the camera to track focus while capturing "approximately 15 frames per second," for a burst of up to 45 frames. The Nikon V2 can also shoot at 30 or 60fps for up to 40 frames, but of course without autofocus.
Special modes. An improved Smart Photo Selector mode captures up to 20 shots with each press of the shutter button, with the camera automatically sorting through them to pick the top five, weeding out shots with blink or blur, for example. The new mode puts the camera's top pick at the top of the stack, and you can choose to just save the one image if you like.
Live Image Control allows you to adjust aspects of how a photo is captured before the shutter is pressed. Effects of aspects like aperture, shutter speed, and D-Lighting can be previewed on the LCD before capture.
Slow View Mode is a unique setting that buffers up to 40 frames over a 1.3-second period. Imaging caching begins when the user half-presses the shutter button, and the view is slowed down to 5x slower than normal speed. The user can then better pick the best moment. The mode essentially slows down time so you can capture the image you want.
Enhanced Motion Snapshot Mode is also improved with four and 10 second options. A peculiar mode that captures a still image with a little bit of video before and after the image, Nikon decided to add the enhancements after user feed back. Earlier Nikon 1 cameras shot one second of 60p video around the snapshot and played it back at 24 frames per second, resulting in a 2.5 second playback. Because users said they wanted more time, the new mode captures 1.6 seconds, which turns into four seconds of playback at 24fps. Users can also select when to shoot the still; by default it's snapped at the 60% mark in the video stream, but can now be set to the end of the video.
To combine the images, users had to use Nikon View software on a PC, but now the special NMS (Nikon Motion Snapshot) files can be prepared on the camera itself. The longer 10-second option captures the image at the end and combines them into a single MOV file. Background music can be selected before capture, but also changed afterward.
HDR mode allows combination of two consecutive shots into one high-dynamic-range image.
Movie modes include 1080 60i and 1080 30p, and allow capture of full-resolution still images without interrupting the movie. 1080 movies are limited to 20 minutes, while 720p movies can go as long as 29 minutes. Movie mode also supports Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority, and Manual exposure modes. 400 and 1,200 frame-per-second slow-motion movies are also on offer, as is an external stereo microphone jack, compatible with the ME-1 stereo microphone.
New Accessories. Using AAA batteries instead of the Nikon V2's internal battery, the new SB-N7 flash has a head that tilts up 120 degrees for bounce flash, and has a guide number of 59 feet (18m) at ISO 100. The flash comes with a wide-angle flash adapter that snaps onto the front. The SB-N7 flash is expected to ship in January 2013 for US$160.
Also compatible with the WU-1b Wireless Mobile Adapter introduced with the Nikon D600, the Nikon V2 gains the ability to transfer stills and movies to smart devices like Android and iOS cell phones and tablets. Such users also gain the ability to remote-control the Nikon V2 via WiFi, complete with live view on the device itself.
Availability of the Nikon V2 starts in late November 2012, shipping with a 10-30mm kit lens for about US$900. A two-lens kit includes the 10-30mm and 30-110mm lenses for $1150, and body-only the Nikon V2 will be US$800. Both the camera body and the flash are available in white and black.
Nikon V2 Hands-on Photos
Dave and Roger got some hands-on time with the Nikon V2 at PhotoPlus 2012, and we've posted a few shots here. Click on each to see a larger version.
Nikon V2 Overview Video
Steve Heiner, Senior Technical Manager from Nikon, walked us through some of the main features on the Nikon V2, ranging from the EVF to the Menu system. Click on the Play button below to check it out!
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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.