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Nikon V1 Digital Camera Review$899.95
The Nikon V1 offers an ISO range of 100-6400 when extended, as well as a high ISO noise reduction option that can be turned on or off. With noise reduction turned off we found that noise was kept under 2% through ISO 1600, rising to just 2.2% at ISO 3200 and 3.2% at the maximum ISO of 6400. Typically, we like to see noise under 2% for acceptable image quality. We found that the noise reduction, when activated, kicked in right at ISO 200, keeping noise to acceptably low levels all the way through ISO 6400—performance bought with some of the finer details in your image.
With noise reduction turned on the noise level reached 0.86% at ISO 100 (the same as with NR turned off), but was kept aggressively under 1.5% all the way through the maximum ISO of 6400. As you go up the ISO scale with NR activated you'll quickly see some detail deteriorate, especially around complicated edges such as on leaves, faces, text, or textures. The result is some muddled fine detail, but it's only noticeable at 100% view or in large prints. More on how we test noise.
ISO can be set in the Nikon V1's menu, with the option to select from any whole stop value from 100-3200, with a Hi1 option standing in for ISO 6400. You can also let the camera automatically select from a range of ISO values, with three options. All three auto ISO ranges begin at ISO 100, but they cap out at 400, 800, and 1600, respectively. ISO can only be set through the menu, with no quick control menu or dedicated ISO button on the V1's body.
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.
Video: Low Light Sensitivity
We found the Nikon V1 was able to produce an acceptably bright image (which we define as reaching 50 IRE on a waveform monitor) with 20 lux of light at its maximum ISO speed with the 10-30mm kit lens. That's a very dim lighting setup, so the V1 should be able to ably capture video in a dark bar, but that's still quite a bit worse than what we're used to seeing from DSLRs (most of which only need 7-15 lux to produce the same image brightness.)