'The Nikon 1 is the best mirrorless system. Period!'

 To see all my Nikon 1 V1 posts - CLICK HERE

Headline sounds like a Ken Rockwell polemic. Its not. Its not even a real quote, I made it up. And I don't intend to argue the case for that statement either. 

What I will say, is that I, and a lot of other people, missed the point of the Nikon 1 system and mouthed off about it without ever seriously seeing what it was like or even picking one up. With our m4/3, NEX and mirorless sensibilities we just dismissed it. Its pink, for Gods sake!

I was wrong, I was seriously wrong. I wrote about the Nikon 1's more from my prejudices rather than from any reasoned and informed point of view. I just rubbished the system and indeed the whole idea, because it didn't fit with what my notion of what a mirrorless camera system should be like. Like many I was so desperate to prove that using a small camera didn't make me a snapshooter, a point and shooter or an amateur (God forbid!)

Its not perfect. Its far too expensive, unless like me you buy a heavily discounted old model, and I do have a real problem with pink cameras. However, the notion that this is just some throwaway attempt by Nikon to cash in on the mirrorless boom and protect their DSLR's is, quite simply, a load of c**p. And I say that having written exactly that in my (misinformed) posts about the system. So an apology is in order. To Nikon and to all those who appraised the system with some objectivity, and actually held one in their hands, which I never did until a few days ago.

The strange thing is everybody coos about the Sony RX100. Same size sensor, but with no interchangeable lenses, no viewfinder and far too many pixels crammed onto the sensor. resulting in some heavy duty luminance noise, even at low ISO's. So why is that camera so great and the Nikon 1's are not in many peoples opinions? Well to be honest, I don't really know (Sorry Les!)  I would have thought much the same, until I picked up the V1. It just feels like.... a camera. I don't know what its made of, but it has a wonderful solid metallic feel. The lenses are well made as well. And the system is genuinely small. The small sensor allows for diminutive lenses. None of the NEX mismatch between body and lens here. These things are tiny. The camera is also full of 'photographic stuff'. I don't won't apps., I don't want Wi-Fi. OK you can buy an attachment if you must, but its not part of the camera. It is primarily designed as a camera to take pictures with, rather than document my uninteresting life on some social network site. To me a menu item that shows me how much battery life I have left as a % is far more useful than any gadgety facebook, mobile phone interface nonsense. And thats what the V1 gives me.

On my first post about the cameras, I put these things down as things I liked.


The camera body is just superb. Its very metallic and heavier than I thought. With the grip attached its very nice to handle.
Viewfinder is excellent. More or less polaroid sunglasses friendly.
It uses the same battery as my Nikon D800E and (hooray!) there is a % indicator for how much battery life there is left.
It has an electronic shutter. Totally silent.
It has ISO 100.
Menu system is simple and uncluttered.
AF and VR for my Nikon G lenses with the adapter.
Sensor for moving between EVF and screen.
Manual Focus has the same white dot confirmation system as my D800E.
Stereo mini-jack for non-proprietry microphones. 
Very flat colour balance.
Restrained noise reduction on low ISO jpgs. 
Only 10 MP, so not pushing the sensor too far.
Lenses small and light and well made. 

I've had lots of mirrorless cameras that didn't have much of the above, and yet had lots of other stuff I didn't want or need, but all of the above is useful and helps me take good pictures, rather than faff about in endless menus, trying to do something pointless. 

Of course none of this would mean a thing without decent image quality. And the Nikon 1 V1 succeeds there too. No great shakes at high ISO's, but then if thats what you want you won't buy one of these anyway. I wrote in a post that I find it very difficult to distinguish between a Nikon 1 image and those taken on larger sensor cameras at low ISO's and thats something Nikon should be congratulated on. I am going to write a piece about Nikon sensors in the future so I wont pre-empt that, but the notion that Nikon just buy something from Sony, stick it in their cameras and then concentrate on something else is both incorrect and seriously underestimates what Nikon can do with a piece of light gathering silicon. 

I must admit that when the Nikon 1 came out and I looked at some samples, I did think to myself, 'Those are actually pretty good', however my previously mentioned prejudices didn't allow me to bother with further investigation, and thats something I regret. I also liked the look of the things when I saw them on display in my local department store, but then I never allowed myself to pick one up, again because it didn't fit those prejudices.

I know I'm going to like using the Nikon 1 V1 and I know already from my limited use with it that its going to give some great pictures. In many ways its what a mirrorless, compact camera system should be. I've already mentioned about the lenses, which I should also say are reasonable prices unlike the cameras, but the whole feel of the thing strikes me as close to perfect. There's no cramming everything into a very small space. I'm even not that bothered about some of basic changes being in the menu only, since those menus are very pared down compared to lots of other cameras and Nikon being Nikon actually make sense and are logically arranged.

So in conclusion I'm not going to say that this is a better system than any other, however I am going to say that I will try in the future to make my judgements on something other than my preconceptions.