When does a non-professional camera system become professional?


The answer to the question posed in the heading is a bit like the tautology. 'What is Art?' 'What an artist creates.' 'What is an artist?' 'Someone who creates art.' Therefore the answer to 'When does a non-professional camera system become professional?' is when its used by a professional to make money. 

I've been writing at length about the Nikon 1 system, the V1 camera I've bought and the lenses. Today I've just ordered another V1 + 10mm + grip, the 10-100mm power zoom video lens and the Nikon SB-N5 speedlight with the express purpose of using this as my only system. I have found a way to do this that doesn't involve me loosing out in terms of tax terms so I've decided to go for it.

Now there is no way that the Nikon 1 system was designed for, or intended for professional use. However it just suits what I do and fits so well with what I want, that I really have no desire to use anything else. I'm an outdoors photographer. I don't shoot indoors at events, weddings or in a portrait studio anymore. And that is liable to remain the case for the forseeable future. Doing what I do involves a lot of walking and carrying everything I need with me. I shoot at ISO 100 or my cameras base ISO whenever possible. I am also looking to get the most depth of field I can and the richest most saturated colour. I prefer using zoom lenses with autofocus, though I do like using prime lenses from time to time. I like well made gear that feels good in the hand and much as I like admiring glances for my gear from other photographers, the more inconspicuous I am the better it is for what I do.

In all of these ways the Nikon 1 system works for me. Much more so than I could ever have imagined. I have been seriously testing it out over the past weeks and have been surprised at the quality I have been able to get from the V1 files. Over the past couple of days my premier picture library (i.e. the one that makes me most money) has approved large numbers of V1 files that I have upsized variously to 18MP, 24MP and 25MP and they are now sitting on their website available for sale. And the same is true of all the other libraries that market my work, who have no problem with these interpolated V1 files.


Above image was shot with my Nikon 1 V1 and 6.7-13mm lens.

There is of course every chance that the Nikon 1 system might not last. However todays announcement of the 32mm f/1.2 does show a serious investment in the system. I will of course be getting one. 


There will be some people who think I'm crazy and who suspect that I have finally flipped, but this has been, unusually for me, a considered decision. I am pretty fed up lugging DSLR's around, even though I appreciate their handling and build quality and I'm also fed up fiddling around with all kinds of software to get the results that my V1 gives me in a simple straightforward fashion. It will make what I do a lot easier and I've outlined what I see as the other virtues in lots of posts already. 

Interesting that not everbody has positive feelings about Nikon 1. In a forum where the above lens was announced, one comment was on a comparison with the forthcoming Fuji 56mm f/1.2. 'Indeed, and since it’s not in front of a tiny garbage sensor it will actually be a meaningful aperture' Now I may have been critical of Nikon 1 in the past, but 'garbage sensor? ' meaningful aperture?' Just shows I think how the Nikon 1 system is regarded (incorrectly) by many. I will have to make sure, of course, that I don't use a 'meaningless aperture' in future, as I'm sure will we all. And there I was thinking it was all about how the pictures look. Silly me.

I would have never believed that the Nikon 1 system would give me the versatility, speed and lens options that I want in a package that has the size and weight of a compact camera. Suddenly its possible to carry around two zoom lenses and a prime and not notice the weight. Suddenly its possible to have an image stabilisaton system that allows me to shoot hand held at ridiculous shutter speeds. Suddenly its possible to shoot amazing looking video with something not much bigger than a packet of cigarettes. And yes I know that this has been available for quite a while, but I've only just put my prejudices to one side and allowed myself to discover it. 

The final 'convincers' that have led me to do this were firstly the picture library endorsement that I mentioned earlier and secondly the raw file samples from the Zeiss Touit lenses. I looked at them after processing and thought, these aren't even close to what I can get from my V1. That shouldn't be the case, but it is. In effect who needs a £1000 lens?, and if thats the best one can produce then I know I don't. The Nikon 1 system isn't particularly sexy, there seems to be very little written about it but I think its brilliant. I don't care whether anybody agrees with me and I also don't care about what anybody thinks about what I'm planning to do. Because every time I'm out with the V1 I have a smile on my face and over time that smile has just got bigger. And thats something I'm not going to ignore.