Earlier this week Nikon launched an entire new camera system, focussed around the compact V1 and J1 and a clutch of lenses and other accessories. With a sensor halfway in size between m4/3 and high end compacts, it looks like a decent stab at carving out a chunk of the new compact, interchangeable lens market. You can read all about it here... and Thom Hogan has, as always, a few pithy comments to make too.
It's always rather hard to judge a new camera just from a press release and a few images, but most of the early signs are fairly promising. The small sensor and modest pixel count make quite a bit of sense, differentiating the Nikons from their competitors and allowing - in theory at least - Nikon's designers to capitalise on smaller sizes and lower weights. If that means a true system camera that's really portable, I'm all for it.
The higher end V1's specs aren't too bad, either. The J1 is out of the running for me with its 1/60sec flash sync speed, but the V1's mechanical shutter boosts flash sync to a respectable 1/250sec. The claims for AF performance are pretty bold, so I'll reserve judgement on that. It'll have to be good, though, because using an EVF to focus manually is usually an exercise in frustration.
Which brings me to one of the potential sticking points. The EVFs I've tried so far don't have a refresh rate anywhere near fast enough to make panning action shots a viable proposition. Nikon appears to have crammed a fair few pixels into the V1 - let's hope they also packed enough processing power to refresh them at a decent rate.
The other thing that's likely to make me hold back, at least for the moment, is lens range. I like the sound of the 10mm f/2.8 (27mm equivalent), but it's not wide enough. Nikon needs to produce a good ultra-wide zoom to persuade me to take the plunge... and it wouldn't hurt to have some faster options on the long lens front, either.
But that's the trouble. Nikon hasn't designed the V1 for me, or photographers like me. PASM modes are accessed through menus, not via a dial. iTTL isn't supported. Three of the four launch lenses are slow zooms. And so on.
Still, let's not get disheartened. Frankly, I was expecting much worse. The fact that the V1's piqued my interest at all is an achievement. If the EVF is reasonable, the AF is up to snuff and Nikon manages to follow through with more lenses... I can see the V1 potentially finding a place in my bag at some point in the future.