Every now and then a camera comes along that challenges our ability to accept a new concept. The Nikon 1-series V1 is just such a model, says Damien Demolder
Noise, sensitivity and resolution
Image: There is reasonable noise control at ISO 3200, but the 1-series lenses exhibit a lot of barrel distortion
That we are working here with fewer pixels than perhaps we might be used to definitely has an impact on the total image quality this camera system is able to produce. I think, though, that when considering the V1 we have to accept from the beginning that we have 10.1 million pixels, and that we have chosen that way of working, and that surely has to alter the way image quality is examined.
My job initially is to compare with what already exists in the market, and yours will be to decide whether that suits what you do and whether the price is worth paying for the size and weight of the system.
I have spent quite a lot of time shooting in low light as this is both where my own interest in using the system lies as well as where the system will be tested against its weakest points. In the event, though, the results have turned out well and what we might have remembered from previous 10-million-pixel sensors, even ones larger than this, has moved on in the intervening years.
Nikon, already well respected for an ability to reduce noise in high ISO settings, has clearly applied a good deal of expertise to the way it treats the pictures recorded by this camera. While noise is, of course, present and obvious at the higher settings, it never becomes an overriding reason not to adjust the sensitivity beyond ISO 800. I have been quite impressed and my expectations have been at least matched in most cases. Noise reduction is effective.
When studying the images taken by this camera closely, it becomes clear that some fine detail is missing. I am used to cameras that turn grass into carpet when resolution runs out, but that doesn’t happen here. There are no active signs of a lack of detail – no blurring or fuzziness – but when you go to look for that detail you’ll find that actually it’s not there. This was something I noticed in real-world imagery before I examined the results of our lab resolution tests. These tell the same story, but in a more graphic and alarming way – that resolution is actually quite limited.
Scoring just about 20 on our resolution chart, the camera is outperformed by some of the top-end compacts, such as the PowerShot G12 and Samsung EX1. There is no obvious appearance of low resolution in normal pictures, but it does rather limit the amount images can be enlarged.
Resolution and noise: These images show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections of images of a resolution chart, captured using the 10-30mm lens at its sharpest f/8 setting. We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately. The higher the number visible in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution is at the specified sensitivity setting.