Sunday, February 19, 2012

Nikon V1 field report: Part 2

The V1's handling

Ah yes, the V1.  Where do I begin?  Let's start with the grip. (part 1 of this report is here)

To paraphrase The Matrix:

Do not try to hold the grip.  That is impossible.  Instead, only try to realize the truth.
What truth?
There is no grip.

Now to almost forgive the V1, I was mostly limiting myself to a one-handed operation of the setup.  Sure I would use my second hand for steadying the camera on some shots, etc, but most of the time it was right hand shooting, left hand guiding my children or catching things.

Blue and orange

I say "almost forgive" because if you look at the V1 and how it's marketed, there shouldn't be a problem holding it one-handed.  The astute reader may say "but you were using the FT-1 and 35mm for most of your shots!  This isn't exactly the 'pure' V1 experience!" and you would be right.  Problem is, all of my complaints also apply when using the kit lens!

You see the V1 is fairly heavy for such a smallish camera - surprisingly so.  Imagine finding a smooth, solid steel soap bar with no discernible grip on it and then imagine holding it comfortably with one hand for any amount of time - that, my readers, is the V1.

Well, maybe I'm using a bit of hyperbole - the V1 does have a grip - two of them in fact!

The front grip - don't blink or you'll miss it (it's the ridge below the '1')

Textured grip on rear of V1

The problem, though, comes from the fact that the forward grip is simply an insult, and the rear grip is really convenient for inadvertently changing your shooting mode - furthermore, the rear grip would really benefit from having a forward grip - opposing forces and all of that.  Although I was well aware of the potential to accidentally change shooting modes and mentally reminded myself all day to not move my thumb one iota, I still managed to change shooting modes no less than 5 or 6 times.  This was highly annoying.

Location of my thumb while resting on the grip - notice the mostly-obscured mode wheel.  Maybe I just have a damn big thumb.

The V1's operation

Okay, so the lack of a live histogram is a gigantic disappointment, but I'll give Nikon a pass on that one - maybe their target audience for this camera are just really well-off club hoppers that will use it like a $1000 point and shoot camera and they wouldn't know a histogram if it came up and bought them a round.  

The inability to disable automatic image review, though,  is a cardinal sin.  This was so infuriating, I can't even begin to describe it.


Just to make sure I wasn't having a gigantic, plastic-bead induced brain cramp, I whipping out my phone (in the middle of festivities, mind you) and Googled "Disable V1 Automatic Review" or some such phrase - maybe there was a secret menu somewhere I didn't know about.

The only thing I found?  Another blog saying to get around this "feature", the only thing that can be done is to quickly half-tap the shutter to get out of preview as quickly as possible.

Now I'll give Nikon some slack - I mean, c'mon, this isn't a PJ camera and everybody knows it - if you want a rapid-fire camera to get those rapid-fire shots, you buy something else.  

But, forcing image review is simply an incredibly dumb move by Nikon.  I really hope this is changed in a future firmware, because I really can't imagine this is actually intentional.

A rather nice ride

The V1's conclusion

A lot of people like to parrot how image quality is king (sometimes that's me), but I really have to wonder about that in the case of the V1.  During no part of my outing today did I find myself really melding with the camera - instead, I was fighting it the entire time.  

Constantly half-pressing the shutter button to get the hell out of review and semi-constantly changing my shooting mode back to stills from whatever the dial had decided to turn to just wasn't that fun.

All the while I'm fighting the camera, my wrist pains were reminding me that I was holding up a rather substantial piece of machinery with a completely insubstantial grip.

I'm mostly happy with the images I managed to grab, but I can't wonder how many moments I managed to miss while trying to get out of review mode or switching my dial back to stills - I think next time I'll just use another camera.

Grabbing the attention

* Poster's defense - now before anyone starts claiming I'm a Sony fanboy or Nikon hater, I can assure you that's a completely incorrect assumption.  Nikon is great, and I believe the D700 is probably one of the best cameras ever made.  The D7000 is an amazing piece of machinery, considering the features you get for the price.  The upcoming D800 looks like a beast (and kudos for the filterless-option!).

Colorful plastic

But the V1 clearly needs to return to the drawing board - even if the operational issues are solved, one is still left with the handling issues, which no amount of firmware will fix.

No comments:

Post a Comment