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I stumbled across the Nikon 1 V1 in my web travels, and it sounds as though it's completely different from Nikon's DSLR cameras.

The Nikon website explains some of its specifications but what technical feature is in it that means that it can take shots so quickly (apparently up to 60 fps) and have "the world's fastest autofocus", according to their website?

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2 Answers 2

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  1. The Nikon 1 V1 is not a DSLR. It is does not have a reflex mirror.
  2. The V1 has a smaller sensor with 2.7X crop compared to full-frame.
  3. The previous two points make it much smaller than a DSLR, particularly when including lenses.
  4. It does not have an optical viewfinder, instead it uses an EVF with 1.4 megapixels. This gives it a larger and brighter view than most cropped-sensor DSLRs (D3100, D5100, etc) but smaller than a full-frame (D3X, D3S). Like professional models, it gives 100% coverage.
  5. It uses both an electronic shutter and a mechanical one. Since it has no mirror to move either, it can shoot continuously without any moving parts. As you noted it can do so at up to 60 FPS but also does 30 FPS and 10 FPS with continuous AF.
  6. The electronic shutter allows a maximum shutter-speed of 1/16000s, twice as fast as the best DSLRs on the market.
  7. It uses a different lens mount called Nikon 1 mount with 4 lenses presently available. To use Nikkor AF-S lenses an adapter is planned but not yet available.
  8. It can use fast phase-detect autofocus while recording video. No DSLR can do that which is one reason AF for video is quite disturbing (contrast-detect forces the lens to move back and forth to determine focus).
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The feature set is impressive, except for the sensor size. However, with a resolution of "only" 10.1MP, the smaller sensor size may not be as limiting as you might expect. What do you think the image quality (and high ISO performance) will be like in comparison to something in the same price range (ie. D7000)? –  seanmc Oct 29 '11 at 3:52
    
I guess the other "limiting" factor might be the range of available lenses. I don't see a 70-200mm F2.8 equivalent, for instance, which I would deem necessary for sports photography. –  seanmc Oct 29 '11 at 3:54
    
@seanmc - I expect to find out next week and will have a direct comparison. Remember that difference are visible in proportion to print/display size, so I expect ISO up to 400 to be quite workable for mid-size prints. –  Itai Oct 29 '11 at 15:34
    
@seanmc Remember that this is a 2.7x crop factor, so the 70-200mm equivalent for the 1 series would be a 25-75mm lens. Currently there's a 10-100mm and also a 30-110mm. –  Nick Bedford Nov 10 '11 at 22:55
    
@NickBedford, yes I am aware of the 10-100mm lens, but it is only F3.5-F5.6, not F2.8 which is what you'd want for sports. –  seanmc Nov 11 '11 at 3:39

The V1 does not have a mechanical shutter, sensor is turned on and off electronically. Also, focus is locked on first frame, no auto focusing takes place between frames during hi-speed burst. This combined with a large and fast internal memory buffer enables the quick frame rate.

Fast autofocus is achieved thanks to using phase detection auto focus (a fast method) combined with contrast detection (a precise, but slower method that would require some back-and forth movement and image analysis to detect if and which way the focus is off). The phase detection combined with lightweight lens with big depth of field (thanks to small sensor) makes focusing much quicker.

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