Good Things Can Indeed Come in Small Packages
Originally posted Aug 6, 2012
Fascinated with the then-new Nikon 1 mirror-less digital camera, I gave one to Cindy this past Christmas. I gave her the J1 model, which does not have a viewfinder, but rather focuses on the monitor, because I know that's the way she likes to frame a picture. Once in a while I can put a big Nikon DSLR in her hands, but normally, she prefers something more in the point-and-shoot mode. She is nevertheless a talented photographer, and I thought the J1 would be an opportunity to get her into some equipment that would do more justice to her obvious skills.
And she gets some great stuff with it. She took it to Alaska, along with the 30-110 telephoto lens I got for her later on (the Nikon 1 is an interchangeable lens camera, just like the DSLRs), and toward the end of the trip, I began to wonder which of us had bought the most appropriate equipment. I carried two Nikon D3 bodies, a 200-400mm lens, a 70-200mm lens, a 24-70mm, and a 16-35mm. Along with tele-converters, a strobe, extra batteries, lens cleaning supplies, and all the other paraphernalia you seldom need except when you don't happen to have it with you. Thus loaded, my Thinktank Airport Security roller bag weighed in at 36 lbs. And I had to hoist that thing up into the overhead compartment on airplanes as well as buck it up a narrow, winding staircase leading up a flight to the observation level of our car on the Alaska Railroad. At the end of the trip, I wasn't even taking a single camera with me when we'd go out exploring in Fairbanks or Anchorage. By that point, I'd had a gut-full of carrying all that stuff around, and my attitude was, "Let Cindy shoot it - she does a better job anyway."
Suffice it to say that once we were back in Nebraska, I put my now-former walking-around camera...a Fujifilm X100...up for sale, and Cindy (what a gal!) was kind enough to give me a Nikon 1 V1, the same camera as hers only with a viewfinder, which I prefer to compose in. Something about an old dog and new tricks.
Subsequently, I ordered the Nikon adapter for the V1 and/or J1, which will allow the use of any of my Nikon lenses. I had it delivered to me down in Florida week-before-last but didn't get a chance to use it and then forgot it there. Delaney found it in her room and emailed me to let me know, and Kristi kindly UPS-ed it to me. It arrived this morning, and I was quick to try it out later today with both a Nikon 80-400mm and a 28-300mm. Both hook up, but the 80-400mm won't auto-focus for some reason, and indeed the camera gives you an "M focus OK" prompt when it should be focusing itself. But to make up for that, the 28-300mm works perfectly, and the crop factor which results from the V1's smaller sensor, makes 300mm closer to 500mm.
In addition to the crop factor, I further cropped the accompanying shot of a visitor to our bird feeder in the process of touching it up in Photoshop. And look at it! As a picture, it's no great shakes, but look at the sharpness and detail, and this with an outfit that doesn't weigh in at 36 ounces, let alone 36 pounds.
Now, I'm not getting rid of my pro-line equipment. I really do need that stuff for what I do, or at least try to do. Also, there remains just the tiniest (far less than a second) lag between the moment the shutter button is pushed and when the shutter actually fires on the J1 or V1, something that is absolutely instantaneous with the Nikon D series. Nevertheless, I'm totally tickled with the Nikon 1 as a walking-around camera. It will be perfect for when Cindy and I take off to visit a city for a couple of days, and it will be a real advantage that we can share lenses and accessories. And if I can be allowed to say so, I think the evidence shows that it will also do fine for the occasional wildlife shot or two.
Sooo, if you have a point-and-shoot camera but would like to move up to an interchangeable lens camera that is just a little more complex and with a lot more resolution and detail, but still capable of being shot on full automatic, check out a Nikon 1 J1 or a V1. It may be just the camera you've been waiting for.
Apparently, it was for me.
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