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I think the new Nikon V1 looks promising as a camera for sports photography:

  • it has lots of auto-focus points and focuses quickly
  • it has a fast continuous shooting frame rate
  • it is small and might even pass for a point-and-shoot (for non-accredited photographers, anything that looks like a DSLR with a big zoom is often not allowed into venues)

However, it also:

  • doesn't have a fast zoom lens (F2.8) yet
  • has a smaller sensor (2.7 crop factor)

I'd also like to know how it well it handles high ISO (low light) shooting.

The 30-110mm zoom (~80-300mm equivalent) is only F3.5-F5.6, but is also only $249!

I know that professional sports photographers will turn up their noses at this camera, but for the amateur/enthusiast, I think there might be something here.

What are some other things to consider when evaluating the Nikon V1 for use in sports?

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'fess up: you're just angling to get sent one of these once meta.photo.stackexchange.com/questions/1250/ becomes a reality, aren't you? ;) –  drewbenn Nov 9 '11 at 7:46

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

The Nikon V1 has a sensor that is smaller than even the Micro Four Thirds cameras currently, and that alone may be the biggest threat to it becoming a serious contender in any higher end application. Yes the sensor is larger than point-and-shoot style cameras, but it is not nearly the surface area of even APS-C or DX sensors.

On the other hand, the camera does excel in some other areas such as its hybrid autofocus system. It allows 10fps with autofocus, or 60fps with focus locked, both utilizing the electronic shutter. With the mechanical shutter you can achieve a very respectable 5fps. One very interesting feature is that with the electronic shutter, you can dial in up to 1/16000 shutter speeds, quite impressive.

The hybrid AF system is quite revolutionary as compared to other mirrorless cameras. The camera not only provides contrast detection AF, but also phase detection, utilizing 73 point phase detection AF in continuous AF mode. This could be a huge benefit when tracking moving subjects such as in sports.

The speed of the AF system comes thanks to the fact that, unlike competing mirrorless cameras which rely solely on contrast detection to determine focus, the Nikon V1 has a hybrid system that combines both phase-detection and contrast-detection capability. The operating mode is chosen automatically as appropriate to the shooting conditions, and a generous array of 73 phase detection AF points are available.

The camera uses the Nikon 1 lens mount, but it is compatible with Nikon F-mount lenses via the FT1 adapter.

Two Nikon 1 mount specific lenses would be applicable to sports photography, and that is the Nikkor VR 30-110mm f3.8-5.6 and the 10-100mm f4.5-5.6 PD-ZOOM. The first offers a range up to 297mm eqiv, and the second 270mm eqiv. The downside may be that they only offer f/5.6 at that range, but it would be usable depending on the lighting.

Due to the sensor size, achieving an out of focus portion of the frame will be difficult. That, paired with the fact that the widest aperture available in these zoom lenses is f/3.8, may mean a very wide depth of field.

Overall, I feel as though this camera will be excellent for enthusiasts to use for sports photography. Due to the limiting nature of small the small sensor, and the range of lenses currently available, I do not see this becoming a replacement for APS-C based bodies in the near future.

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Using the adapter, you can put on any Nikkor AF Glass. With the 2.7x crop, your 70-200 f/2.8 becomes a 540mm 2.8! –  camflan Jan 15 '13 at 15:26

It might work for hobbyists, but the small sensor and lack of a fast lens means that everything is going to have a large depth of field. I don't see it being used for serious pros...

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Shooting sports often means shooting in low light. The best current professional Nikon sports camera, the D3s, is able to shoot in at least 4 stops lower light than the V1. The auto-focus and image processing improvements in the V1 will be surpassed in the D800 and D4 bodies that will be announced in the next several months.

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I think it's a given that there will be better, more expensive cameras that are better for this, but do you think this means the V1 isn't good enough at all? –  mattdm Nov 11 '11 at 18:29
    
"Good enough at all" is subjective and relative. I can't read the OP's mind. But I can say that for basketball and volleyball, they are played in dingy gyms and you need every bit of speed from your lenses and sensor that you can get. Part of the problem is that folks often are not serious hobbyests, as they shoot their kids or relatives in high school. These gyms are terrible. Same with high school football fields. –  Pat Farrell Apr 17 '13 at 1:33

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