Nikon 1 V3 vs Sony a6000 vs Nikon D7100 Comparison

April 22, 2014

In this article I will compare the Nikon 1 V3 vs Sony A6000 vs Nikon D7100. The first two are interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras and the D7100 is a DSLR camera.  Many enthusiast photographers have already convinces to buy a mirrorless camera instead of a dSLR and even ditch their current DSLR in favor of a ILC one.

There are a few main reasons for this, but I assume that as there are already a large selection of lenses to satisfy the demanding photographer and the technology innovation is pretty impressive (compared to DSLRs). This all leads to an increase in demand of those type of cameras.  In this comparison article we’ll take a look at some at two advanced mirrorless, with the a6000 at approx. $650 (body only, $800 with the 16-50mm lens) and a #1 top seller on Amazon.com eCommerce store. The 1 V3 is selling for with a 10-30mm kit lens for approx $1200, so it’s much more expensive, and costs around $50 less than the D7100 without a lens. The D7100 with the 18-140mm or the 18-105mm lens will cost you around $1450 as of the time of writing.

So I assume that those of you who had their eye on the D7100 will probably debate whether to buy the a6000, because it’s close to the price segment. The Nikon 1 V3 is a cheaper option, but we will see whether or not it can offers a decent performance and features that will make it offer a better value instead of the other two cameras.

So this article is for those of you who still weren’t able to make a decision and want to get a better understanding about the key differences and what they actually mean for the enthusiast photographer, and whether or not the D7100 or the 1 V3 worth their high extra price tag.

We’ll start with a short introduction to each camera and continue to the comparison, where you will able to clearly see and understand the cons and pros of each camera compare to its peers. Let’s begin!

Sony a6000

Announced on February 12th 2014, the Alpha 16000 join an already large collection of Sony’s new mirrorless NEX camera that includes the NEX-5T, NEX-6, NEX-7, a5000 add the a7 and a7S with the latest two being full frame mirrorless cameras.

Sony a6000, Nikon 1 V3 and Nikon D7100 side by side comparison

Sony a6000 (left), Nikon 1 V3 (center) and Nikon D7100 side by side size comparison

Now that Sony already released two full frame ILCs and offers large collection of E-mount lenses, including those specifically designed for the Full Frame E-mount, choosing Sony instead of a Micro Four Thirds is no longer a disadvantage. A few years back I would have recommended going with the Micro Four Thirds because it has a much wider selection of lenses,  but this advantage for MFT has shrunk considerably, and although there are more MFT lenses still, I think that most of you will find the lenses that you are looking for in the E-mount lens selection.

The a6000 carries has a small size and profile has you can expect from a NEX camera. Yet, it features a 24.3MP APS-C sensor, a sensor size that resembles the D7100 one. Sony has chosen not to go with a smaller sensor, in order to maximize the image quality potential of the camera+lens combination, and the lens size will be smaller compared to DSLR lenses due to the smaller distance of the lens from the sensor. If you don’t know, mirrorles cameras lack the internal reflex mirror, allowing camera manufacturers to produce smaller cameras and lenses.

Furthermore, this camera is the first to use a new-generation RGB filter that significantly enhanced the light absorbing capability.

The a6000 enjoys a fast Hybrid AF, 3.0 921K-dots tilting LCD (90 degrees up, 45 degrees down), 11 fps max. burst speed, NFC + Wi-Fi for remote control and sharing and a very large selection of advanced features that will satisfy the most enthusiast photographer.

One of the most praised features of the a6000 is its super fast 179 AF point autofocus performance. According to developer.sony.com website, this is the World’s fastest auto focus among ILC with APS-C as of February 12, 2014 (research by Sony).

So the a6000 has all the bells and whistles, excellent performance, good ergonomics, tons of built-in features, large and newly designed sensor, fast burst, wireless capabilities — almost all the goodies you can ask for. No wonder that this camera is priced high, but it certainly gives you a lot in return.

This camera didn’t become an amazon top seller in the ILC category for nothing, and that surprised me considering its price. So I assume that there are many advanced photographers who were willing to pay the extra price in order to get a top-notch performing camera. I say this because there are many much cheaper DSLR cameras that offer excellent image quality performance. You can buy the Canon 1100D for $450 + 18-55mm kit lens, but it seems more and more people are looking for an alternative to DSLRs,  and many, so it seems, prefer investing more money to get a more advanced camera.

The a6000 also enjoys two top dials and many buttons that offers fast access to frequently used function, including function buttons that you can customize yourself.  The camera shoots both 24 and 60p full HD videos, as expected from a camera in this price range. You get a pop-up flash and also a Multi-interface (MI) connector to connect an external flash or compatible accesories.

No doubt that the a6000 poses a really strong competition, and the Nikon 1 V3 and Nikon D7100 will have hard time to compete against this. This is not a conclusion of course, just to give you an idea how competitive this model is compared to the competition.

Nikon 1 V3

Nikon 1 V3 camera

Nikon 1 V3 camera, without the grip and the viewfinder

We heard that Nikon has some struggles with its Nikon 1 system and the sales were much below Nikon’s forecast for 2013. Many people blames Nikon for initially choosing to go with a 1″ (13.2 x 8.8 mm) sensor, which is much smaller in comparison to an APS-C (23.5 x 15.6 mm). you can’t beat physics, and it was not surprise that the Nikon 1 cameras didn’t prevail in lab tests.

Nikon had to come up with unique features that will convince photographers that it’s worth giving up in image quality in favor of features that don’t exist on the other competitive cameras. If Nikon does this right, there might be “enough” photographers who are willing to try Nikon 1 cameras out.

The 1 V3 is Nikon’s new flasgship model, replacing the 1 V2. It utilized Nikon’s new EXPEED 4A iamge processing that promises the world’s fastest continuous shooting speed of 20 fps at full resolution with full autofocus performance. This is one field were Nikon 1 cameras were on top of the other competitive cameras.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAe_6Bv1QIk

This is not all of course. 20 fps is great, and in many other cameras you might get close to 11 fps, but many of them lock the focus in the first frame, allowing the camera to achieve faster AF performance. The 20 fps on the Nikon 1 is without focus locking on the first frame. More than that, the Nikon 1 V3 is able to achieve, listen to this, 60 fps burst speed at full resolution when using fixed focus!

This is an insane burst speed, that will allow you to capture subjects in positioned that weren’t possible before.  The 1 V3 also comes with a Hybrid AF system that uses 171 AF points for contrast-detection and 105 AF points for phase-detection, allowing more precise and faster AF performance than ever before.  All in all, this makes the Nikon 1 V3 an excellent camera for fast-action photography, and I’m sure that those of you whom are into it, will  find the V3 very appealing (this without talking about the other features).

OK, so you get super-fast continuous shooting speed and excellent AF performance, but what else?

The Nikon 1 V3 features a 18.3MP CX-format CMOS sensor with improved low-light performance due to its advanced image processor. You get cleaner photos and videos and the camera can shoot up to ISO 12,8000.

AT the back of the camera you’ll find a tilting touch-sensitive display, there is a built-in Wi-Fi for remote camera control and fast photo sharing, 1080p60 video shooting with an option to shoot 120 fps slow-motion videos. Nikon also introduced the new e-VR Vibration Reduction for videos, that helsp to achieve smoother less shaky videos when shooting handheld. It also helps to minimize the movement in the video when you capture a photo while filming (due to the press of the shutter).

The camera features an impressive 2,359K-dot electronic viewfinder with 100% frame coverage and eye-sensor. The camera can also achieve an astonishing shutter speed of 1/16,000 sec with its electronic shutter.

The 1 V3 scored relatively low in the DxOMark ISO test (384 ISO) compared to the the Panasonic Lumix GM1 (660 ISO) and Olympus OM-D E-M5 (826 ISO). It even performed less than its predecessor the a V2 (402 ISO). Thsi quite disappointing, considering the fact that there are cameras with a smaller sensor that were able to bit the 1 V3.

So to be honest, if you are an image quality fanatic or you need high image quality for critical work, the Nikon 1 V3 might not be the best camera for you. Some people make compromises in favor of other features that they want to have in their next camera. This is something that you should certainly take into consideration when buying the Nikon 1 V3. It just can’t match the superb low-light performance and image quality performance in general compared to APS-C, it just can’t.

So the Nikon 1 V3 flagship model promises superior burst performance and improved low-light performance.  According to lab-tests, we can certainly be skeptic about the low-light performance, but no doubt that when it comes to speed, you can count on the Nikon 1 V3 to deliver excellent results. Fast action shooters will love it, and they might not be so troubles with its low-light shortcoming, as many will probably shoot outdoors when there is plenty of light and the camera therefore won’t show low of image noise.

The V3 is compatible with the FR-N1010 camera grip and the DF-N1000 electronic viewfinder, which are included in the 10-30mm kit.

In paper, an approximate $1200  price for the Nikon 1 V3 with the 10-30mm lens, viewfinder and grip, seems very steep.  This is even more obvious when you compare it to the a6000 which is much cheaper, but at the same time spoils us with lots of useful features.  Of course we’ll get to understand the differences later on in the comparison section.

Nikon D7100

For many people, the Nikon D7100 needs no introduction. Already won Dpreview’s Gold Award, the D7100 offers a superb all-around performance, both in its AF performance, superb low-light performance, image quality, weather sealing and features. You just can’t go wrong when buying a camera like this. It offers almost everything an enthusiast or semi-pro photographer needs in order to get the job done. Just mount a high-quality lens (not hard considering Nikon’s excellent lenses, even the Kit lenses do magic!), and you’ll be amazed with the image quality and performance of this camera. I had a chance to shoot quite a lot with the D7100, and it was really a joy to use.

The fact is that it’s still a dSLR camera. Means that you still carry a camera that is larger than its mirrorless counterpart, but for many people larger size and weight is an advantages, as it helps to better stabilize the camera when shooting handheld, especially true if you have large hands and/or you are using large and heavy lenses with or without an extra accessories. So don’t think that it’s always preferable to shoot with a smaller camera.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4HIYd1Fy64

My brother bought the Fujifilm X-A1 in his trip to the US. It’s image quality and high ISO performance is just astonishing, nothing comes close to it in the APS-C scene, but for me it was VERY uncomfortable to hold, and you find yourself holding the camera by the lens and every rotations of the lens barrel rotates the camera with it — so that’s something that you probably want to keep in mind.

The D71000 enjoys and extremely fast and accurate 51-point AF system (15 cross-type) with the center point compatible with f/8, very useful if you are using a teleconverter with a maximum aperture of f/4 for example.

At the heart of the D7100 is a 24.1MP (effective) resolution APS-C Sensor without the optical low-pass filter and EXPEED 3 image processor.  The camera supports the 1.3x crop of DX mode, allowing to get closer to your subject and tighten the focus points to cover almost all the area of the frame.

Other features include a pentaprism viewfinder, maximum 7 fps burst speed in 1.3x crop of DX mode (6 fps in regular mode), newly designed 1229K-dot 3.2″ rear RGBW LCD that gives better visibility in bright daylight, Full HD video recording,  excellent battery life, and the camera body itself is employs magnesium alloy top and rear covers and weather seals for a higher degree of weather and dust protection. According to Nikon, the weather sealing is equivalent of the D800.

Nikon D7100 was designed from the ground up to give photographers improved AF speed, superb image quality and details, great versatility, ergonomics and improved usability for outdoor shooting and indoors shooting as well.  This camera already achieved numerous and prestige awards and got high rating in most leading camera review’s websites. The D7100 isn’t cheap, but you get what you paid for, without any doubt.

1 V3 vs a6000 vs D7100 Comparison

As you can see, we have three cameras, each one with its own pros and cons.  The importance is understanding which camera has the features that you need and has cons that you have no problem living with.  The size and weight of the camera plays a significant role for some people, and no doubt that when shooting a mirrorless camera (at least when comparing those three), you get a more portable design that fits better for small hands and make it easier to carry around.

Nikon D7100, Sony a6000 and Nikon 1 V3 top view size comparison

D7100 (left), a6000 (center) and 1 V3 (right) - Top view size comparison (click to view on camerasize.com)

Having said that, both the Nikon 1 V3 and the Sony Alpha a6000 aren’t pocket cameras. This means that even though they are smaller and thinner in size and weight less, you’ll still need a camera bag to carry it around. The ergonomics and the ability to mount a battery grip plays a significant role for many photographer who intend to use large and heavy lenses, with or without extra accessories attached (e.g. flash). So that being said, you might see the D7100 size as an advantage, rather than a disadvantage. It’s really a very comfortable camera to hold with better spacing between the buttons, easier to use with gloves on, and of course it’s weather-sealed as well.

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Conclusion

When you compare the key features and performance for all three cameras, you can clearly see why the little Sony Alpha a6000 became a #1 top seller on Amazon.com. This camera is small in size, but packs some amazing specs.  The combination of small size, decent build quality, excellent sensor with superb high ISO performance, tilting LCD, built-in OLED EVF, fast burst, 1080p60 with uncompressed HDMI output, good battery life and impressive AF performance, you probably might ask yourself: Who needs more than that.

In fact, for many people the Sony a6000 is the dream camera they have been waiting for. Thanks Sony for not dropping the viewfinder, and now you get an excellent mid-range offering. The price is obviously another thing that makes the a6000 stand out, especially if you compare it versus the D7100 and the V3. You no longer need to make hard compromises when buying a cheaper camera. Although the a6000 is behind the other two in some aspects, it’s core useful features are there, and this camera can satisfy the most demanding enthusiast photographer.

The Nikon D7100 is an excellent camera, no one will argue about that. Having said that, I think that the mirrorless market is evolving faster than the consumer DSLR market, grabbing more photographers to ditch their DSLR and move to mirrorless.  Some people will still prefer the size and ergonomics of the D7100, the extra buttons for fast access to frequently used functions, the classic top LCD display, the superb battery life with the option to attach an optional grip,lack of OLPF, top-in-class AF performance, weather sealing, optical viewfinder and 1/8000 sec shutter speed. All this features are certainly a big plus for outdoor photographers and those who don’t need an gimmicks, just a plain old excellent stills shooter for indoor and outdoor photography.

Let’s not forget the wide selection of Nikkor lenses, and the superb wide and ultra-wide angle optics that Nikon is known for. Yet another reason for the outdoor photographer to prefer the D7100.  So although the D7100 doesn’t come cheap, it certainly has it pros and will appeal more than the a6000 for a specific group of the enthusiast market segment.

I was lest impressed with the Nikon 1 V3. To be honest, I think that the advantages that you gain (what Nikon provided) for having a smaller sensor just doesn’t justify it. The holy grail of this camera is obviously its 60 fps burst shooting at full resolution, built-in Wi-Fi and 1080p60 vodep recording. For me this camera falls between the chairs as it doesn’t provide any significant value, especially considering its high price tag, compared to the other two cameras and even compared to cheaper micro four thirds or some of Fujifilm’s latest mirrorless cameras.

The Nikon 1 V3 image quality is very good, but up to a certain point at high ISO.  So you better of shooting with a fast lens under low-light. Maybe if the 1 V3 costs half of it’s current price, I would be triggered to praise it. With the market shifting from APS-C to Full Frame, and with the Micro Four Thirds and APS-C ILCs already dominating the market, no wonder why Nikon have hard time selling its Nikon 1 cameras. I personally think that Nikon made a big mistake there, but that’s only my opinion.

If I had to choose a camera for myself among those three, I would have gone with the Sony Alpha a6000 hands down. So I personally can’t highly recommend the V3 here, unless you find a feature that you must have that doesn’t exist in the other cameras and you are willing to pay a high price for it. Certainly far from being a bargain, so think twice before picking it up.

Click to buy the Sony a6000 from B&H Photo Video website

Click to buy the Nikon D7100 from B&H Photo Video website

click to buy the Nikon 1 V3 from B&H Photo Video website

What’s your opinion, which one your prefer and why? — place your comment in the discussion section below. Thanks for reading.



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