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Nikon V1 Digital Camera Review$899.95
The Nikon V1, like the J1, offers a variety of shooting modes accessible through both the camera's menu system and the rear physical mode dial. This creates some problems, however, and we can't figure out why the rear mode dial doesn't include the standard PASM modes when they're all included in the menu. When the dial can easily accommodate four extra modes, it doesn't seem to make much sense to leave them stuck in the menu.
The Nikon V1 also includes two new modes, called "motion snapshot" and "smart photo selector." Motion snapshot will basically take a combination of a short video leading into a still shot. This is great for motion and action shots, and it gives still shots more life. These can be accompanied by sound as well, with the camera including several short jingles to go with your snapshots.
The other mode, smart photo selector, will optimize exposure, focus, and, if a face is detected, keeping eyes open. When shooting in this mode the user pressed the button halfway down to lock focus. Once this is one the V1 continuously records images to its internal buffer until the shutter button is pressed completely down. The camera then compares all the images it captured before and after that point, picking 5 frames that it dictates are the best, determined by optimal exposure, focus, sharpness, and, if faces are detected, if eyes are open or not. The camera saves all five of these shots to the memory card and displays what it thinks the best are on the rear screen.
The Nikon V1 includes a rear control dial, an "F" function key, and a manual zoom toggle, with little else. It's a very point-and-shoot design, without manual controls and dials that might scare away beginners. If you want to change ISO, for example, you're stuck digging into the menu. On the one hand that's a bit restrictive for advanced shooters, while on the other it's another option a novice will likely ignore that's hidden out of sight, where it can't be accidentally triggered.
The Nikon V1 handles focus well overall, with usable manual focus features and autofocus that is effective, and quite snappy. It's just a hair slower than the autofocus seen on some Olympus Micro Four-Thirds cameras, but it more than holds its own in dim, indoor lighting. As with other contrast detection systems, the AF really struggles when light drops to very low levels such as at a club. That's when you're going to have the most trouble with the V1, though the manual focus options and viewfinder make it possible to get around that, when necessary.
The Nikon V1 allows users to select autofocus, manual focus, and autofocus with a manual focus override. The manual focus is usable, with a digital zoom to assist in detecting small details. The focus is otherwise very snappy, with options for single AF and continuous full-time AF, depending on your subject. It wasn't perfect at tracking faster subjects, but the face detection did well to keep up with a walking subject.
The Nikon V1 allows users to capture shots in several different resolutions and qualities, with the maximum resolution being 3872x2592 (large), with options for 2896x1944 (medium) and 1936x1296 (small) sizes. The camera offers the option of recording in JPEG, RAW, or RAW+JPEG. RAW files are in the standard Nikon .NEF format, and are 12-bit compressed files.