With their revamp of an old friend, Nikon’s 1 series has recently seen the addition of the V2. When companies create direct iterations of older products, it is always interesting to see what they had in mind for it. They are taking a design which they believe to be proven, and seeing what they can do to improve it. If the new creation isn’t novel enough, Nikon will compete with itself, because why would people pine for something that isn’t too different from the old version? So the challenge has been posed: does the V2 surpass expectations, or is it doomed to a stale refresh?
Specs and Feel
Nikon wanted to ensure that it trumped last year’s models, so right out of the gate they equipped the V2 with a 14.2 MP sensor. Be aware however that the CX format is small, and that beefy number is counteracted by the fact that high ISO performance is limited by the 13.2×8.8mm area. The second overhaul was in the controls. The back of the camera looks and feels minimalist; your fingers will find only 4 menu buttons on the left, a standard dial on the right, and a mode and zoom dial up top. Control placement is crucial when the body’s real estate is so sparse, and though what Nikon designed may have been an intelligent layout on a larger device, the placement of the buttons can make the V2 feel small for your hands.
Mirror-less cameras suffer intrinsically from the type of autofocus that most are required to use. Due to size and the uniqueness of their internal optics, these devices are usually bound to contrast detection autofocus, which is a step slower than the phase systems used conventionally. Nikon threw this statement out and found space for a hybrid system that relies on 135 contrast detection points, and 73 phase detection points. The result is incredible autofocus performance; motion that is simply impossible to track by human hands yields to the AF motors without a fight.
Another useful trait of the V2 is the optional external flash designed for the camera. The SB-N7 is a small yet powerful flash that features tilt and swivel degrees of freedom; absolute necessities for any shot that needs more light. Where-as the add-on flash in the V1 drained the internal battery, the SB-N7 sneaks in two AAA slots, so that it can be powered independently.
So it is clear that the V2 represents a full-hearted effort towards making a device that people would want to buy again. The V2 is in itself a completely different product, but the connection back to the old line-up is that there were mistakes that were learned from, such as depleting the V1’s battery too quickly by sapping flash power from the battery. Available today at around $750 for the body, it is a powerful option for those looking for a small, autonomous, and polished purchase.