Nikon Unveils the V2

Nikon today announced the Nikon 1 V2 model. Unlike the J2, the V2 does have something tangible that's completely new: a 14.24mp sensor replaces the 10mp one of the V1 model. Cosmetically and functionally, however, the V2 is also a bit different than the V1. This is both a good and a bad thing. The gains are a built-in flash at the front of a larger EVF housing, the mode dial moves to the top of the camera instead of the back where it was notoriously loose, we get a command dial, and the whole orientation of the camera is slightly more oriented to the serious photographer (Nikon uses the word "enthusiast." The accessory port, once off to the side, now moves up on top of the camera, making for a higher profile (the camera is also slightly less wide). The phase detect continuous focus now works at up to 15 fps (previously the limit was 5 fps; plus 60 fps is still available with focus fixed at the first frame), plus we get access to the WU-1b WiFi accessory. But the camera looks clunkier and slightly ungainly, not the simple statement of the V1 design, and it looks like we lost the rear IR remote detector. The new model will be available in November for US$900 (with kit lens). 

V2 WH back.high
V2 10 30 WH top.high


Along with the V2, Nikon announced a new modest small and modest power (59'/18m at ISO 100) SB-N7 Speedlight for the V2 (US$160 and not ready until January). We also got "development announcements" for a new 10-100mm f/4-5.6, plus 6.7-13mm f/3.5-5.6 and 32mm f/1.2 lenses, lenses that were already on the roadmap portion of my Nikon Web page (;~). This will eventually give us an 18-35mm equivalent wide angle zoom and an 85mm telephoto prime equivalent, but no real time frame was given for when they'll appear, so I there's nothing much to say that Nikon seems to understand we need more lenses and is promising some.

So what to make of all this slow roll of Nikon 1 announcements? On August 9th we got the J2, WP-N1 underwater case, and 11-27.5mm lens announcements. On September 13th we get the 18.5mm f/1.8 lens announcement. And today we get the V2 announcement plus Speedlight plus the lens development announcements. In the middle of all that we have Nikon heavily discounting the V1. So we've had ten significant things rolled into four pieces over a bit more than two months that just happened to wrap around Photokina. 

Why? 

The Nikon 1 booth was embarrassingly empty most of the time at Photokina. Even the Coolpix booth was getting more action. Now, had Nikon just bundled everything up together (New Cameras!, More Pixels!, Underwater!, Lower Price!, Lotsa Lenses! Better for Enthusiasts!) it seems that they could have done a lot better at Photokina. The only thing I can think of is that Nikon has low self esteem when it comes to the Nikon 1: they didn't think that everything they had to say in the last two months, bundled together, would make a splash.  

It's funny that this latest small Nikon 1 announcement comes later on the same day Apple announced two new iPads, a new laptop, three new mini models, and two new iMacs (plus Fusion Drives, some new software, new technologies, a couple of new ads, and the usual plethora of statistics). Apple sure knows how to make hoopla. Nikon, not so much. 

Despite all that, we are learning something about the Nikon 1, though mostly by inference: Nikon seems pretty committed to it, is slowly building the line out, has quietly addressed a few significant user complaints (the new mode dials are indeed stiffer and the V2's is better positioned), and still seems somewhat oblivious to what some of their users are really doing with these cameras. 

Amazingly, Nikon still thinks these cameras command premium prices. Amazingly, the firmware is pretty much the same as it has been, which means that some significant things like bracketing are still missing while engineers are tinkering with things like how long the Motion Snapshot playback lasts. 

Nikon also seems to think the Nikon 1 is their GoPro (i.e. a small video camera that goes anywhere, does anything, including slow motion), but they haven't picked up on why the GoPro is popular. Plus GoPro's videos at their launches just outshine anything Nikon has shown to date from a Nikon 1. GoPro's are lovingly crafted and marketed and it shows. Nikon 1's are carefully micro managed, and that, too shows. 

Where's the real excitement? Lead weak (J2, 11-27.5mm announcement), do some dribbling (18.5mm f/1.8), seriously piss off the existing users (new V1's at less than half price! Maybe even less!), then drop the most interesting things you've got a month after the world's largest photo show, where people might have actually wanted to see it. 

Don't get me wrong. I'm pleased that the Nikon 1 line finally got iterated and extended. I like the V2. It's an interesting and useful camera for certain things, though those probably aren't the things Nikon thinks people should use the V2 for. I look forward to trying the V2 and the 18.5mm lens. The WP-N1 waterproof case looks like an interesting thing to bring along on my next Galapagos trip with a J2. So there are some things there that are interesting. But we Nikon 1 users want more. We want more camera, more lenses, more accessories, more excitement. The only thing we don't want more of is price. 

Back in August I wrote "The Nikon J2 Doesn't Impress." Well, I've got one now, and it doesn't. It's the camera they should have produced in the first place, and it's still a little pricey (though better than it was). The full line of things Nikon introduced in the last 60+ days does start to impress just a teeny, weeny bit. They obviously weren't totally asleep as the mirrorless market trudged on. But it still all feels like too little, too slowly. The pace of iteration and extension is going to need to increase if the Nikon 1 line is going to stay competitive in the mirrorless market.        

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