A Short Rant: The Sometimes Tempestuous Relationship with the Nikon V1

Searching for Doughnuts in Kentucky

My what a short memory I have! Just a couple of weeks ago I was waxing poetically about the Nikon 1 system, claiming that the V1 was going to become my primary motorcycle travel camera. There's a lot to like about it–the compact body and lenses, the lightning quick AF and FPS, the solid build, etc... The thing just blazes and does a lot of things right. And then I brought it along for my recent motorcycle trip to Kentucky and was quickly reminded of two things that drive me batty about it.

One, you can't turn off instant review, so when my friend Sandy is coming over the bridge at 25MPH, this is what happens:

10 Get a pleasing composition
20 Take a handful of shots
30 Wait for the camera to switch over to instant review
40 Frantically half-stab at the shutter to tell the camera, "I don't have time for this right now! Sandy is riding over the bridge! Let me take more pictures!!!"
50 Wait for the camera to switch over to picture taking mode
60 Go to 10

As I write this I wonder if I'm making much ado about nothing. But then I remember–with a DSLR, I'd be able to track Sandy as he comes over the bridge and quickly take a number of different sets of photos calmly and without any drama. Apart from the momentary mirror blackout, I'd be able to stay in the moment, watch the scene evolve, and get just what I'm looking for. With the V1, everything is much more rushed, and stuff is happening while I'm waiting for camera...stuff that I may want to take a picture of.

And then there are those times when I'm trying to get a funky angle with the rear screen, something close to the ground perhaps or as high as my scrawny arms can lift the camera. And right when I think I've got just the angle I want, BAM! the screen goes black. "What the!!!???" I said the first time this happened. And the second. And the third. Until I figured it out. The EVF has a sensor that automagically turns the LCD off and the EVF on when you bring the camera up to your eye. It's kind of cool when it works, but it's not cool when the sensor is so sensitive that nearly anything six inches away turns off the LCD. And by anything I mean the camera strap, or my arm/wrist as I am positioning the camera, or my helmet as I'm trying to compose a shot without taking the helmet off, or the ground as I'm positioning the camera close to the ground. It's hard enough getting a good composition with the camera in an odd place (half of my shots end up being way off kilter), but to have the screen go dark just when you need it is....arghhhh!!!

Now put these two together (which they often are), and I'm battling Instant Review and a blacked out screen and sweating in the heat while Sandy's coming over the bridge with a row of cars behind him and cars are beginning to stream across the bridge from my direction and taking up too much of the frame and .... and .... the moment's gone. So frustrating.

I think I'll go lay down. Does anyone know if Nikon has fixed these flaws in the V2?


  1. John,

    Electronic Hi is brilliant for the situation you mention at first. Are you using it? And if not:

    1. You still have subject tracking available if you stay at 10fps
    2. You can switch QUICKLY to and from Electronic Hi with F-button
    3. Image review, even when triggered (at the end of your sequence) is much, much quicker to change back to live view

    I totally agree with the eye-sensor thing. That, and low light, are the only real problems for me. I can live with those issues quite happily, though, for all the rest it can do for me.

    Okay, I don't suppose you didn't know my "tips and tricks" allready, but just in case... right? I never used the Electronic shutter myself at first (and found the F-button to be totally lame), but now I use it ALL the time whenever there is a moving target. And I love it.

    Thanks again.

    1. Hey Jan, yes, I have shot a lot with Electronic Hi, and it works much of the time. But sometimes the decisive moment is not quite so decisive, and I like to shoot a short burst, wait, shoot another short burst, etc. The image review ruins that rhythm; with the bridge shot above, the bike could travel 40 yards while I'm trying to get back into shooting mode!

      Thanks for reading and commenting.