One really fun application of the Nikon 1 system is for macro photography. The 2.7x crop CX format sensor offers some significant advantages to the close-up photographer, including:
- Greater apparent depth of field
- Longer working distances
- Extra magnification when using true macro lenses
All of these points are important with close-up photography. Macro photographers can use all the depth of field they can get, and having a longer working distance means you don’t have to shove your lens right up against your subject. I got an email from a colleague the other day asking if I had any recommendations for a Nikon 1 macro kit, so I thought I’d test out the one macro lens I have: the 105mm f/2.8 AFS G VR micro-Nikkor.
For this example, I mounted my 105mm f/2.8 AFS VR G micro-Nikkor to my Nikon 1 V1 via the FT1 adapter and made comparison shots with the same lens on my Nikon D700 (FX) body. I set the lens to 1:3, 1:2, and 1:1 magnification and focused by adjusting subject distance. All shots were taken with manual exposure at f/16.
With the Nikon 1 V1’s cropped sensor, we’re effectively above 1:1 magnification, but the working distance is about 18 inches to the front of the lens.
At the 1:1 setting on the lens, we’re now effectively at 2.7:1 magnification. Very close, indeed!
Close-up photographers can really benefit from the CX-format Nikon 1 sensors. The added magnification and greater working distance can be a great help for this style of photography. Of course, be prepared to use a tripod and focus the lens manually, as even slight changes in subject distance will throw your subject out of focus. There are lots of great Nikon macro lenses out there that you can use with the FT1 adapter, including:
- 40mm AFS DX micro-Nikkor
- 60mm AFS G micro-Nikkor
- 85mm AFS DX VR micro-Nikkor
- 105mm AFS G VR micro-Nikkor
- 200mm AF-D micro-Nikkor
Because of the added crop factor of the Nikon 1, you can use any of these lenses with much greater working distance and still get true 1:1 magnification. Even if you aren’t focusing up-close, these lenses are all tack-sharp and deliver smooth bokeh. Because you have a 2.7x crop factor, even the 40mm Nikkor lens will have a telephoto angle of view equivalent to a 108mm lens on 35mm format. That makes the 40mm micro-Nikkor a great budget option at under $300 USD.
At this time, the only major drawbacks of the techniques I described are the limitations of using the Nikon 1 cameras with the FT1 itself, including limited autofocus and exposure options. Most of the time, this won’t be a problem, but the Nikon DSLRs do have a slightly better live view focusing method because you can move the AF point anywhere on the screen. With the FT1, you’re limited to center point AF only. However, the ability to magnify the view during manual focus helps a lot, and for most macro work, manual focus is often preferred.
Learn more about the Nikon 1 System cameras with The Photographer’s Guide to the Nikon 1 V1/J1, the comprehensive guide for photography enthusiasts.