Nikon V1 Lens Test

This page details several lens tests conducted with a Nikon V1 and both Nikon 1 lenses as well as F-Mount DSLR lenses with the Nikon FT-1 adapter.

Lenses Tested
Nikon 1 10mm f/2.8 (pancake)
Nikon 1 10-30mm f/3.5~5.6 VR II
Nikon 1 10-100mm f/4.5~5.6 VR Power Zoom
Nikon 1 18.5mm f/1.8
Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8~5.6 VR
Nikon FT-1 (F-Mount) Lens Adapter
with Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4/5~5.6 VR II

Vibration Reduction: Like their DSLR counterparts, some (but not all) Nikon 1 lenses use in-camera vibration reduction. As there are no VR switches on the individual lenses, the VR mode must be switched in the camera. When using the FT-1 adapter, VR is always on, and you have to turn it on or off via the lens switch.

Not all lenses support VR, and the menu selection for VR ON-Normal-Active (VR II) will only appear if the lens supports it.

Currently, only zoom lenses support VR, except for the 11~27mm "pancake" zoom. VR is missing from that lens due to it's compact size.

All of the Nikon 1 lenses except for the Nikon 10-100mm power zoom use 40.5mm filters. The power zoom uses 72mm filters.

Testing: How do these lenses match up compared to a DSLR? One simple way to determine that is to test the lens for optical clarity. While to be more accurate, I should have measured the center and all 4 corners of the lens, this simple test provides a basic idea of the lens performance.

The test was conducted photographing this scene at different focal lengths; all using an aperture of f/5.6. The yellow box in the lower right is the cropped area for each photo shown below.

Nikon 1 10mm f/2.8 prime (pancake)

While there are several Nikon 1 lenses that begin at 10mm, this is the only one that is a prime. And it is the only "pancake" or flat lens. This lens is nice if you want to maintain a small camera package. This lens approximates 27mm in the 35mm format.

Using this lens presents a challenge to the aspiring photographer, as one must often zoom-with-their-feet to get the shot.

Surprisingly, this lens is not any sharper than their zoom counterparts. And given the rather steep $250 MSRP price tag, the lens is not that impressive, so it may be a lens to skip.

Refurbished lenses can be found in the $150~180 price range.

V1 10mm f/5.6.

V1 10mm f/8.

Nikon 1 10-30mm f/3.5~5.6 zoom

This is the "kit" lens you get with all of the Nikon 1 packages. It approximates a 27~80mm lens in the 35mm format, which is usually the most-used focal range. This is a good starter lens, especially that it performs as well as the other lenses.

V1 10-30mm @ 10mm f/5.6.

V1 10-30mm @ 22mm f/5.6.

V1 10-30mm @ 30mm f/5.6.

V1 10-30mm @ 30mm f/8.

Nikon 1 10-100mm f/4.5~5.6 Power Zoom

Given this lens has a power zoom, it is in reality intended for video. However, the lens seems to be very sharp and has great contrast. Some have reported this lens is a bit soft, however, I really don't see it - especially when compared to the other Nikon 1 lenses.

The 10-100mm focal length provides an equivalent of 27~270mm in the 35mm format. Like most of the Nikon 1 product line, at $750 MSRP, the lens is fairly overpriced. Also, it is heavy and rather large. It is larger than some DSLR lenses. I would skip this lens for everything but video.

If you want this lens, look for a refurbished lens, as they go for around $370 - which is more like it.

V1 10-100mm PowerZoom @ 10mm f/5.6.

V1 10-100mm PowerZoom @ 20mm f/5.6.

V1 10-100mm PowerZoom @ 40mm f/5.6.

V1 10-100mm PowerZoom @ 60mm f/5.6.

V1 10-100mm PowerZoom @ 100mm f/5.6.

V1 10-100mm PowerZoom @ 100mm f/8.

Nikon 1 18.5mm f/1.8 prime

This lens is very sharp - even down to f/1.8 (remember, you are looking at the extreme corners in these photos), and perhaps is the sharpest lens I have yet used with the Nikon 1 (however, I have not tested the $900 32mm f/1.2). At 18.5mm, it approximates a 50mm "normal" lens in the 35mm format, so it should find plenty of use on your camera.

V1 18.5mm @ f/1.8.

V1 18.5mm @ f/4.

V1 18.5mm @ f/5.6.

V1 18.5mm @ f/8.

Nikon 1 30-110mm f/3.8~5.6 zoom

This lens is a good complement to the 10-30mm kit lens, and is often supplied as a second kit lens in selected packages. The lens is an equivalent of 81~297mm in the 35mm format - or the equivalent to the proverable 70-300mm. This lens is around $250 MRSP, but can be found refurbished for around $100 less.

V1 30-110mm @ 30mm f/5.6.

V1 30-110mm @ 60mm f/5.6.

V1 30-110mm @ 110mm f/5.6.

V1 30-110mm @ 110mm f/8.

Nikon FT-1 and AF-S Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5~5.6 zoom (F-Mount)

If you want to go beyond - way beyond - the Nikon 1 lenses, you should consider the FT-1 adapter, which allows you to use your full-sized Nikon DSLR lenses on the Nikon 1 system. You will have some limitations when using the FT-1 adapter, such as only being able to use spot focusing, however Nikon is always improving things, and a FT-1 firmware was recently released to add AF-C (Continuous).

This adapter will only autofocus AF-S lenses as there is no built-in focus motor. I have used this adapter with AF lenses though, and was able to manually focus them.

Also, some 3rd party lenses may not work with the FT-1 adapter.

V1 FT-1 and 70-300mm @ 70mm f/5.6.

V1 FT-1 and 70-300mm @ 100mm f/5.6.

V1 FT-1 and 70-300mm @ 200mm f/5.6.

V1 FT-1 and 70-300mm @ 300mm f/5.6.

V1 FT-1 and 70-300mm @ 300mm f/8.

Reference Photos: D90 DSLR and Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5~5.6. This compares how well the V1/FT-1 combination compares to the lens on a traditional DSLR.

D90 and 70-300mm @ 70mm f/5.6.

D90 and 70-300mm @ 100mm f/5.6.

D90 and 70-300mm @ 200mm f/5.6.

D90 and 70-300mm @ 300mm f/5.6.

D90 and 70-300mm @ 300mm f/8.

Conclusion: Across the spectrum, at f/5.6 and f/8, the V1's lenses do very well. And with the FT-1 adapter, the lenses tend to work as well on the V1 as they do on a DSLR.

V1 and 10mm lens (equivalent 27mm).

V1/FT-1 and 70-300mm @ 300mm lens (equivalent 810mm). The bow of this boat is the center boat in the left photo.

Another long distance V1/FT1 photo with Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5~5.6
It appears from the above example that the V1/FT1 combination, paired with the Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5~5.6 is a viable long distance lens. Since some folks - even those that have DLSRs - consider the purchase a bridge camera for a long reach, the V1 alternative is a viable high-quality solution.

Especially if the DSLR owner has an AF-S 70-300mm lens, the cost of this solution can be in the same range as a bridge camera. And with a bridge camera's small sensor and questionable 50x zoom optic quality, the V1/FT1 solution is a highly desireable alternative.

V1/FT1 with Nikon AF-S 70-300mm f/4.5~5.6