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Old 12-11-2012, 12:27 PM   #1
gus6464
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Default Nikon mirrorless questions V1 mainly

Hey guys the good B&H deal is calling me to the world of mirrorless but I just have a couple of questions.

I have had 2 DSLR's, started with a Rebel XT and then moved up to a 7D. I had a couple of lenses for them (70-300, 50, and 28-135). The 7D was huge though and kind of a pita to carry around on trips. I have read the reviews of the V1 and they all say the camera is very fast and pictures are "good enough" which is what I want. I am not looking for 7D quality anymore but just something that gives me versatility that a point and shoot can't.

I like the fact that the V1 has a hotshoe for an outboard flash as well. How is the manual mode on the V1? I don't want all the advanced features of a DSLR anymore as I didn't even use all of them. Just aperture and shutter speed would be nice with a decent prime and flash.
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Old 12-11-2012, 01:45 PM   #2
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I went from a heavy Nikon DSLR to a lighter Nikon DSLR to several Micro Four Thirds cameras, to finally giving up and splitting my camera duties between my smartphone, and a Sony RX100. (If the RX100 had been available years ago, I am not sure I would have gotten into interchangeable-lens systems.) The RX100 has no viewfinder, has a troublesome tripod mount location, no filter ring, etc. but I am buying adapters for it that will let me use it for landscape anyway. Hopefully it will replace most of my high-end camera needs.

Along the way I also got a Canon S95 (to replace my Canon S50 that eventually broke), a Canon DSLR (no thanks, the weak warranties and no lens hoods and cheap feel of Rebels turned me off... plus Canon hasn't had a meaningful upgrade to their image sensor technology for half a decade now, talk about resting on one's laurels!), etc.

This is my personal take on all of my experiences: figure out what you actually NEED in a camera (not marketing-hype), then focus on form factor.

If you want something that will be with you at all times, a smartphone is great. Especially if you just need some quick snapshot. Smartphones are basically disposable at the rate they depreciate, so better to use their cameras than wear down the shutter mechanism on my pricier cameras!

If you want something pocketable, so that it at least has some chance of being with you at all times for situations where a cameraphone won't cut it, then the obvious, but expensive, choice is the Sony RX100. Its sensor is slightly better than Nikon 1's, and the lens is good. Retractable lens cap mechanism. Basically it's like a Canon S-series but better in almost every way, and only slightly bigger. There are some other options you might be able to shoehorn into a pocket, like a LX7 or something, but the LX7 has a lens cap which is a dealbreaker for some. (Note: ironically the LX7's lens is great and has a good sensor, vs the RX100's great sensor and good lens, so they basically cancel each other out in terms of image quality.)

If the RX100 costs too much for you and you want something small without a lens cap, then a Canon S-series is a good choice. They will be a stop and a half worse than the RX100, but be a stop or more better than cheap compact cameras with 1/2.3" sensors and slow glass. The S95, 100, and 110 are all very similar in photographic performance with similar sensors and incrementally improved lenses, but if you take videos then get the S100 or S110 which use CMOS sensors that are far better in video.

If you are willing to go above-pocket-size, you have a harder decision:

- For portability with speed and interchangeable lenses, Nikon 1 is hard to beat. It's not that much smaller than M43 when you add up body and lens sizes, but it has prosumer DSLR-grade autofocus, big-time burst speed/buffer, built-in EVF, etc. You can get thin but not very-thin DoF so for DoF fanatics this is a no-go. The V1 is nicely priced right now at $300, but it comes with no flash built-in. A nice bounceable flash is available for extra cost. Note that if you add everything up, a V1 may end up cost as much as a RX100: for a flash, a 10-30 + 30-110 kit, plus the V1 itself. You basically gain an EVF, a powerful autofocus system, interchangeable lenses, and a better flash (bounceable at more than point-blank range) for about the same money as you'd pay for an RX100, unless you get the V1 gear in a bundle deal or something. But you won't be pocketing a Nikon V1 anytime soon, either. And if you are serious about low light and sports-type photography, you will need a larger sensor size to cope with high ISO noise, so don't think this is a cheap way to get pro-grade sports gear or something, because it's not. But shots of your kids catching footballs, printed at reasonable print sizes? You bet.

- If you don't mind losing tracking speed (e.g., you shoot mostly landscapes or normal stuff, not low-light action or fast-moving sports), or if you want a better lens selection than what Nikon 1 has right now, M43 is the obvious choice and not that much bigger than Nikon 1's for bodies or lenses, even the bodies with EVFs. M43 sensors are large enough that the faster lenses in the large-and-growing stable of M43 lenses can give you DSLR-grade DoF control if that is your thing. Great bokeh on the PanaLeica 25mm f/1.4 and Oly primes, for instance. Also, M43 has the best CDAF in the business right now for single-shot. They can't track fast-flying birds like PDAF-based DSLRs/Nikon1/maybe NEX-5r/6 can, but for one-shot-at-a-time autofocus on live view or in EVF, M43 is sometimes FASTER than even high-end DSLRs. No front or back focusing issues either. Oly has admitted that they are "considering" including a hybrid PDAF/CDAF system in a future camera, but no promises.

- The next step up in size is Sony NEX. Great sensors, lens selection is small but growing. The main problem with NEX is small bodies with big lenses. It's even less pocketable than M43 and makes for unbalanced setups at longer focal ranges. The lens size issue goes away if you use pancake lenses but there are few in number and the optical quality is OK but not great. And if you want a viewfinder or flash, that's additional size and weight. However, NEX-5r/6 have PDAF, so if you want PDAF but don't want the bulk of a DSLR but want a sensor larger than that in the Nikon 1, NEX is currently the way to go. I have heard mixed things about it and suspect that they can't match the speed or accuracy of a Nikon 1 or prosumer DSLR.

- Samsung NX appears to be roadkill but if they ever wake up they can be a true threat to NEX.

- Then you have the traditional DSLRs and these vary greatly on size, sensor size, viewfinder, etc. but have great compatibility with all sorts of glass (new and old), accessories, etc. at the cost of size and weight. If you try to match feature-for-feature, you will find that DSLRs are often more bang for the buck than mirrorless counterparts; a mirrorless camera would have to have PDAF, viewfinder, and big sensor, and that means NEX-6 which is close to $1000 whereas you can find a D3200/D5100 for a LOT less money. But bang-for-buck means little if the gear is so bulky that you don't carry it with you. "The best camera is the one you have with you at the moment." A pocket camera thus beats a DSLR, if you would otherwise have no camera at all because you left your heavy gear at home because it was a pain to haul around.

So there you have it. Figure out what you NEED, then get the smallest camera system that meets that need. If there is a dealbreaker/maker like EVF or PDAF then that may sway you. I can't understate how important size/weight is in the long-run. I'm not an old geezer or anything, but I really do NOT enjoy carrying DSLR and DSLR lenses with me on backpacking trips and such. At Best Buy you do not gain a full appreciation for certain things, such as how heavy things weigh. Don't go "oh well they weigh about the same anyway." Sure they do--if you are carrying them for short periods of time. But you don't truly know how much something weighs until you lug it around at Disneyland or up and down a mountain or whatever. So that is why I recommend figuring out what you NEED, and then buying the smallest camera that meets that need.

Also note that over time, electronics will continue to improve, so whatever form factor you buy into will only get better and better. 10 years ago you pretty much had to use a bulky DSLR to get good-quality photos, but electronics have vastly improved to the point where a RX100 or Nikon 1 performs similarly to the early DSLRs, at any given paper print size. (This is sort of like how a modern iPad probably has the computational power of a laptop from 10 years ago. Maybe more.)

Finally, note that lenses and other accessories like flashes are usually in proportion to sensor size, so if you plan to carry multiple lenses then you should take that into account, e.g., you can't compare just the base camera and kit lens when comparing weights, unless you are never going to carry other lenses, or spare batteries, or filters, or flashes, or remotes, or tripods, etc. You should add up the weight of the entire kit and compare that way. Things will vary depending on exactly what is in your kit. Example: mirrorless eats batteries WAY faster than DSLR so factor in the additional expense, size, and weight of carrying spare batteries for mirrorless systems, which takes away a bit from their weight advantage. But you do gain a bit of weight advantage back if you go with smaller cameras, as that allows you to use smaller tripods. Etc.
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Old 12-11-2012, 02:03 PM   #3
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Another excellent post by blasting cap. For some reason, I thought that the Nikon 1 V1 sensor was identical to the Sony RX100 sensor since Sony provided the sensor to Nikon.
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Old 12-11-2012, 02:26 PM   #4
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Blastingcap sums things up pretty well.

I would opt fo Fuji XE-1 or M4/3 over the Nikon J1/V1 if you want an interchangeable lens solution though because the sensors are much larger for negligible difference in camera size. Since the Nikon J1/V1 are not pocketable than you might as well make the tradeoff.

Fuji XE-1's sensor is simply amazing and has a superb Leica lens lineup if you want to spend that kind of dough.

If not I would pick the RX100.

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Old 12-11-2012, 03:23 PM   #5
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Thanks guys. I did not mean to exclude Fuji. But Fuji's stuff has its own limitations that don't appeal to a lot of people, such as the lens selection and price, that makes it more of a niche player than a mass-market player in my mind. I think they are going after the high-end enthusiasts and pros, knowing that they can get higher margins with high-end stuff rather than try to compete in the lower-margin consumer market. And Fuji makes great primes, but their zoom lens selection is lacking (what an understatement!). Great reviews though, such as: http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2012/1...by-amy-medina/
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Old 12-11-2012, 06:13 PM   #6
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mchammer187 - Do you realize the body-only price of the XE-1 is $600 more than the V1?
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Old 12-11-2012, 07:15 PM   #7
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Thanks for the very thorough post blastingcap. Most of the time on the 7D I shot in Av mode with the occasional Tv. As long as the smaller mirrorless camera can produce a pretty sharp picture with a fast AF system I will be happy. Since from the looks of it the V1 has an insanely fast AF system I think I am going to go with that. I though about a D5100 but it's a lot bulkier than the V1 and I would not end up taking it anywhere. I went and checked out the size of the V1 and it's definitely a lot more portable than the entry level DSLR's.
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Old 12-11-2012, 07:57 PM   #8
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mchammer187 - Do you realize the body-only price of the XE-1 is $600 more than the V1?
I do which is why I qualified my statement with "if you want to spend that kind of dough"
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:06 PM   #9
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Mirrorless was a great opportunity for all the camera makers to get behind one standard... but that didn't happen. Now we have a bunch of different ones, most of which will fail. WTF was Fuji thinking creating YET ANOTHER mount?
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:41 PM   #10
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Mirrorless was a great opportunity for all the camera makers to get behind one standard... but that didn't happen. Now we have a bunch of different ones, most of which will fail. WTF was Fuji thinking creating YET ANOTHER mount?
There is still time for Nikon to join one of the larger-sensor mounts, rather than to create their own. Obviously they will not join Canon no matter what, but there is a tiny chance that they will make a MFT or Sony E-mount compatible camera. MFT is not open but I know OlyPany have tried to get Nikon on board for some time now. Sony made their E-mount open (royalty free) in order to attract third-party lens designers. E-mount is more likely than MFT because MFT is a little too close to Nikon 1 sensor size.
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:53 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Throckmorton View Post
Mirrorless was a great opportunity for all the camera makers to get behind one standard... but that didn't happen. Now we have a bunch of different ones, most of which will fail. WTF was Fuji thinking creating YET ANOTHER mount?
AFAIK there is only 3 mounts that accommodate APS-C sized sensors the Canon M Mount (which was introduced after the X mount), Sony E mount and the Fuji X mount.

M4/3 and the Nikon 1 mount would not work because they are designed for much smaller sensors.

The could have used the leica M mount but that would make the camera bulkier since the Flange distance is 27mm vs 17.7mm for the Fuji.

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Old 12-11-2012, 10:01 PM   #12
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I went with a m4/3 camera two years ago for Christmas (Panasonic GH1). The camera selection is large due to time on market and two companies selling them, but the lens selection is truly superb. It has everything but a telephoto prime and it's getting one next year.

I think just about every ILC has a 1x-3x kit zoom with a 3.5-5.6 aperture lens. So basically mediocre performance. The problem is that the smaller the sensor, the more difficulty you have when the light is low and the faster the lens needs to be for shallow depth of field.

Despite a premium compact (from Canon, Panasonic, Olympus, Nikon, etc.) having a sensor 1/4th to 1/5th the size of the Nikon 1 series, some of the lenses are so fast that they actually have shallower depth of field and also low-light performance that is actually usable. A premium compact lets in over 6x the light per mm2 compared to a basic kit lens and because of the smaller size of the 1 series, a premium compact actually lets in more total light. That blurry shot at 1/10s is sharp at 1/60s.

A few reviews I found on the 1 series didn't give it high marks for low-light performance and even my GH1 with a sensor 80% larger isn't so hot in low light, although the latest cameras are 1-2 stops better.

However, the 1 series just doesn't have a good enough lens selection to overcome its small sensor. Personally, I'd rather buy a premium compact than the Nikon 1 series. Now, if they made a pancake 15mm/1.4....

However, however - I'm not a APS-C/FF downgrader looking for a second camera. For me, my camera system has to be able to do everything so a full-featured camera is a must - controls, features, video, lenses, grip (left-handed. must have a grip. that ruled out Olympus m4/3 and all the 1st gen. Nikons. It also meant APS-C/FF were too big/heavy).
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Old 12-11-2012, 10:30 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by guachi View Post
I went with a m4/3 camera two years ago for Christmas (Panasonic GH1). The camera selection is large due to time on market and two companies selling them, but the lens selection is truly superb. It has everything but a telephoto prime and it's getting one next year.

I think just about every ILC has a 1x-3x kit zoom with a 3.5-5.6 aperture lens. So basically mediocre performance. The problem is that the smaller the sensor, the more difficulty you have when the light is low and the faster the lens needs to be for shallow depth of field.

Despite a premium compact (from Canon, Panasonic, Olympus, Nikon, etc.) having a sensor 1/4th to 1/5th the size of the Nikon 1 series, some of the lenses are so fast that they actually have shallower depth of field and also low-light performance that is actually usable. A premium compact lets in over 6x the light per mm2 compared to a basic kit lens and because of the smaller size of the 1 series, a premium compact actually lets in more total light. That blurry shot at 1/10s is sharp at 1/60s.

A few reviews I found on the 1 series didn't give it high marks for low-light performance and even my GH1 with a sensor 80% larger isn't so hot in low light, although the latest cameras are 1-2 stops better.

However, the 1 series just doesn't have a good enough lens selection to overcome its small sensor. Personally, I'd rather buy a premium compact than the Nikon 1 series. Now, if they made a pancake 15mm/1.4....

However, however - I'm not a APS-C/FF downgrader looking for a second camera. For me, my camera system has to be able to do everything so a full-featured camera is a must - controls, features, video, lenses, grip (left-handed. must have a grip. that ruled out Olympus m4/3 and all the 1st gen. Nikons. It also meant APS-C/FF were too big/heavy).
I agree on your analysis of top-tier premium compacts. For instance, this table shows how the RX100's equivalent aperture fares compared to kit lenses on DSLRs and Nikon 1: http://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sony...shot-dsc-rx100 (scroll down the page to the table)

To be fair though, 1) the variable aperture of those compact camera's lenses can decay VERY quickly; the RX100 for instance has a nice max aperture at wideangle but quickly decays after that (nonlinearly) to f/4.9, whereas the Oly XZ-1 starts at f/1.8 and only decay to a max of f/2.5; and 2) you can swap out the lens on an ILC and jump ahead of the RX100 again, though admittedly that would mean more cost and maybe more size/weight.

I agree and disagree with you re: Nikon 1; I think it's actually a good all-rounder and a good value at its current price level, with built-in EVF and powerful autofocus you do not normally see in anything costing less than $1000 (so many autofocus points in a PDAF array). The new 18.5mm f/1.8 lens is supposed to be pretty decent for bokeh: http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2012/1...-craig-litten/

But imho, if you have the budget to buy multiple cameras, I would try to go above and below the Nikon 1, e.g., get a premium compact that is pocketable for most of your casual shooting, and then get a larger-sensored camera for DoF, PDAF, flash, viewfinder, etc. The problem is: which system?! I guess it depends on what you want. For me I want PDAF, flash options, and long exposure time options. If M43 had a hybrid AF camera I'd have stayed with M43, but I have so little faith in OlyPany doing that, which means if OlyPany continue to ignore shooters like me and do not improve CDAF to the point where it rivals PDAF for tracking moving objects, I might hold my nose and get a Nikon DSLR or Sony NEX instead. I'm going try to gut it out and use ONLY the RX100 for as long as possible until I can't stand its limitations anymore (less DoF control, no PDAF, no hotshoe for a more powerful flash or at least a wireless transmitter, no viewfinder, and no exposures beyond 30 seconds).
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Old 12-11-2012, 11:49 PM   #14
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Wow those shots with the 18.5mm are absolutely stunning.
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Old 12-13-2012, 02:32 PM   #15
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Does anyone have either of the flashes for the V1? Trying to decide between the SB-N5 or N7.
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Old 12-13-2012, 02:57 PM   #16
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Quote:
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Does anyone have either of the flashes for the V1? Trying to decide between the SB-N5 or N7.
SB-N5 is smaller and draws power from the camera. The N7 is bigger and draws power from the battery pack; the batteries themselves also add weight. There is some disagreement about what is compatible with that; I think the N5 may be compatible with the V1 and V2, but the N7 is definitely compatible with both.

http://www.nikonusa.com/en/Nikon-Pro...peedlight.html

http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/acil...sb-n7/spec.htm and http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/acil...b-n7/index.htm

http://imaging.nikon.com/lineup/acil...tibility01.htm

The N7 is new, still being reviewed, but various people online have reviewed the N5. Example: http://www.beezodogsplace.com/2011/1...-w-nikon-1-v1/

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/post/39998962

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3288654 - some found the N5 too weak for larger rooms

N5 looks adequate for typical situations like bounced-off-the-ceiling indoors shots at close range or short-range fill flash. The N7 looks like it can cope better with longer ranges and higher ceilings. But the N7 can't swivel from side to side like the N5. Nevertheless, if I had to pick and they weren't too far apart in price, I'd probably get the N7. But if your orient photos vertically for portaits a lot, N5.
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