Nikon 1 V2 review

It’s rare these days that an upgrade to a previous generation of camera looks outwardly any different; but that’s not the case with the newly angular Nikon 1 V2. Nikon has gone back to the drawing board and fashioned something that, whilst it can still be casually used one-handed, is ready for war. It more defiantly resembles a shrunken DSLR or bridge camera than 2011’s V1 predecessor. Part of the reason is that including both a pop-up flash plus electronic viewfinder has resulted in a combined ‘hump’ above the lens, though there’s also a vacant hotshoe for more professional flash, if required.

Whilst such features broaden appeal to both enthusiasts and those simply upgrading from their phone – yes the camera can be held up your eye in ‘classic’ fashion as an alternative to using the 3-inch back screen, and there’s no need to have to slip on an accessory flash in poor light – it means the V2 is a tight squeeze for all but the roomiest coat pocket. And that’s before attaching the standard 10-30mm zoom, or twin lens bundle that equally usefully extends this range with a 30-110mm.

The V2 incorporates a 14.2 megapixel sensor that, in terms of its physical dimensions, falls between what we’d find in any pocket snapshot and what we get from a digital SLR. Couple this with the fact that the V2 costs around £800 even with the one lens, and it’s no surprise photo snobs have griped that Nikon should have gone for a larger sensor. Rivals in Canon’s EOS M, Fuji’s X series, Sony’s NEX range or Samsung’s NX family all feature a bigger APS-C chip, and a like-for-like comparison mostly reveals that bigger is indeed better. At its nadir some shots we viewed could have come from a £200 pocket camera, with a slight overall softness, occasional pixel fringing and loss of corner definition at 28mm maximum wideangle, but when used for video results are more pleasing and there’s stereo sound on board too. 

The outwardly enthusiast targeted V2’s not without its singular charm however, nor appeal. As with the junior J2 model – recently joined by the J3 and S1 – an unlocking and extending of the shallow profile 10-30mm zoom automatically powers the camera up at the same time. Retract the lens completely and the camera shuts down. This saves precious seconds, so can make the difference between getting the shot you spotted when the camera was inactive or missing it. A battery life of 310 shots from a full charge is fair, whilst the control layout shouldn’t tax anyone trading up from a snapshot, in the way that the expected controls fall under finger and thumb. 

The V2 may look like a powerhouse from its angular exterior but a smaller internal sensor than others in its price bracket could prove an Achilles’ heel

OUR VERDICT

Ultimately though, whilst the V2 is better than the vast majority of snapshot cameras, would you want to pay £800 just to be able to say that? It’s well built and handles like you’d expect a semi pro model to, but at full asking price others outgun it.

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