Nikon 1 V2 Compact System Camera – More Speed, Better Design

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Nikon 1 V2 Compact System Camera - More Speed, Better DesignThe second generation of the Nikon 1 compact system camera is here. Nikon took a different tack with their mirrorless camera system and went with a smaller body and sensor than the competition but made the cameras really fast with excellent auto focus. The Nikon V2 builds on the strengths of the Nikon 1 mirrorless system with even more speed along with improved ergonomics and controls. The first generation Nikon 1 cameras had a simplified, menu-driven design but the V2 is a lot more like a miniature DSLR, with a real grip, a traditional mode dial, a pop-up flash and better external controls. The V2 is still built around Nikon’s 1-inch CX-format sensor but the resolution has been increased from 10 to 14-megapixels with new EXPEED 3A processing to handle the larger files, increase burst speed and possibly improve image quality. Ultimately, the Nikon 1 system is about action and video and the V2 has some improvements that will make it even better for shooting kids, pets and outdoor action sports.

Nikon 1 V2 Mirrorless Camera - Front & Back

Nikon 1 V2 Key Features & Specs:

  • 14.2 megapixel High-Speed AF CX-format CMOS sensor
  • New EXPEED 3A image processing
  • 1080p full HD video with 30/60/400 and 1200 FPS options and built-in stereo sound
  • Super-quick hybrid auto focus (phase detect + contrast detect)
  • 1.4-million dot EVF (same as V1)
  • 3-inch 921k-dot LCD display
  • ISO 160-6400
  • Built-in flash
  • 15 FPS continuous AF burst and 60 FPS with focus locked
  • Simultaneous still and video capture
  • Motion Snapshot mode
  • New Direct Setting Control
  • New Best Moment Capture Mode
  • Magnesium alloy chassis

The Nikon 1’s smaller CX-format sensor doesn’t deliver the same level of image quality as Olympus, Panasonic, Samsung and Sony compact system cameras. When I tested the J1 last year the image quality was better than I expected though, and hopefully the new sensor and processing will make the V2 even better. I don’t believe the Nikon 1 cameras were designed to compete based on image quality, anyway. They’re about action, with burst speed and auto focus that are second-to-none. The V2 has an even faster burst rate, capable of a ridiculous 15 RAW images per second with continuous auto focus and 60 FPS with the focus locked. Not even a pro DSLR can match that. The continuous auto focus is also astounding. Like the first-generation Nikon 1 CX-format sensor, the V2 sensor incorporates 73 phase detect and 135 contrast detect sites. The Nikon 1 cameras were the first to put phase detect AF right on the sensor and offer really useable auto focus in movie mode (Sony’s SLT DSLRs also have excellent movie mode AF but they use different technology to achieve it). To test the continuous auto focus, I shot some bike racing video clips last fall with the J1 (read our Nikon 1 J1 review) and was surprised to discover that the continuous auto focus totally kept up with cyclists coming right at me. That’s when the Nikon 1 camera system clicked for me and I started recommending it to mountain biker friends who wanted a small camera that was good for capturing action. Check out my Nikon 1 J1 video below to see some video samples. Video and auto focus specs haven’t changed so you can expect the same performance from the V2:

The V2 has an interesting and useful new shooting mode called Best Moment Capture Mode. When you depress the shutter release button halfway in Best Moment Capture Mode, the camera captures and slows down the action making it possible to pick the crux moment after the fact. It caches up to 40 frames and then loops the action so you can take your time watching it in slow motion on the LCD or EVF and choose the absolute best frame. The V2 also adds in-camera HDR (two frames) and Enhanced Motion Snapshot Mode. The J1 and V1 introduced the Motion Snapshot mode, which captures “a single defining still image” and a “short, slow-motion movie sequence,” which can then be combined into a movie clip on the computer with Nikon’s software. The new Enhanced Motion Snapshot Mode combines them in-camera to instantly create a 10-second movie. For hardcore action sports shooters, the V2 can shoot high-speed video for slow motion playback at 400 and 1200 frames per second (at reduced resolution). You can also capture still photos without interrupting filming.

For a quick hands-on look at the camera, check out the intro video below from Engadget:

With the Best Moment Capture Mode, a built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF), mode dial, and 15 FPS faster high-speed burst, the new Nikon 1 V2 looks like the ultimate compact backpack camera for action sports enthusiasts and anyone else who wants a really small camera that can shoot great action stills and video. Photographers who value image quality above all else should probably look elsewhere. I expect the V2’s image quality to be better than the J1 and V1 but image quality is not where the Nikon 1 cameras excel. However, mountain bikers, skateboarders, skiers, coaches, soccer moms and pet owners – especially those who don’t already own a DSLR or mirrorless camera system – should give the Nikon 1 V2 a very close look.

The Nikon 1 V2 compact system camera should be available around the end of November. The price will be US $899.95, bundled with the standard 10-30mm Nikon 1 kit lens. It will also be available in a kit with both the 10mm f/2.8 prime and 30-110mm zoom lens for $1149.95. The price for the body alone will be $899.95. Nikon also has a new flash to go with the V2, the SB-N7 speedlight. The SB-N7 will be available in January for $159.95.stores next month (September, 2012). The new 11-27.5mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens and WP-N1 underwater housing should also be available in September for $189.95 and $749.95, respectively.

Nikon 1 V2 Press Release >>

Related Content:
All Nikon User Reviews
All Compact System Camera User Reviews
Nikon Cameras Forum
Compact System Cameras (Mirrorless) Forum
All Mirrorless Camera News & Articles
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Nikon Web Site

About the author: Photo-John

Photo-John, a.k.a. John Shafer, is the managing editor of and has been since the site launched back in 1999. He's an avid outdoor enthusiast and spends as much time as possible on his mountain bike, hiking or skiing in the mountains. He's been taking pictures for ever and ever, and never goes anywhere without a camera.

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  • keith grayson says:

    i think some of these prices for these cameras,are outrageous…

    • Photo-John says:

      Thanks for the comment, Keith. I’m not disagreeing with you. But can you tell me why you think the prices are outrageous? I’m just curious.

  • G.Johnson says:

    Definitely not cheap, but look at the competition. It’s not just a little point and shoot, it’s Nikon’s answer to the 4/3rd and NEX mirrorless camera systems… Previously, they weren’t competing on IQ, but continuous action/video… Price seems in line with the others, but does the advanced AF and killer frame rates justify a new system? Is their v2 IQ improved enough? Those video and burst modes are pretty interesting…

    PJ, any plans on getting your hands on one for some IQ tests and more action tests? With the small sensor, even their 10mm f2.8 isn’t likely to break any ground from the creative side of shooting. Should be interesting to see how it does in the real world at least…

  • Kenn says:

    I agree with Keith…I think the price of the V2 is outrageous…It’s not small but you can get a D7000 for about 750 dollars , I do understand the Nikon 1 system…I just got the 1 V1 with the 10-30 and the 10 mm 2.8 for around 500 dollars…I think that is a bargain…I do not see the V2 as 500 dollars better…I shoot street and I like to shoot rugby as well…this little machine focuses fast and accurately and does so even in lower light situations…I haven’t shot video with it yet but yours with the cyclo-X and snowboarding and the dog in the snow…are awesome…I just picked up a copy of David Busch’s Nikon V1 digital movie making and still photography book…I think this will help me realize the full potential of this little beast…looking forward to receiving the 18.5 1.8 for this camera at the end of the month…take care and nice work you do here

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