Oct. 24, 2012 at 4:08 PM ET
The new V2 compact interchangeable-lens camera from Nikon attempts to strike a balance between the company's more compact V1 and its more capable DSLRs. It's a bit larger, but it improves on its predecessor in several ways.
First of all, there's a new 14.2-megapixel sensor; it's the same size physically as the old one but packs more pixels onto it. At 1 inch diagonally, the sensor is midway between micro four-thirds and point-and-shoots. That makes for a more compact camera and lenses, but generally speaking, larger sensors are better for image quality (though Nikon claims the 1 sensor performs very well).
The image processor has been updated as well, allowing for some impressive shooting stats: it can shoot full-resolution images at 15 frames per second, faster than many more expensive cameras.
The camera's design is a bit unusual, with a prominent hump for the electronic viewfinder and an overall lopsided appearance. But while it's certainly larger than the petite V1 (due to the larger EVF and new protruding hand grip), it's significantly smaller than Nikon's consumer DSLRs like the D3200.
It has some interesting modes that let you slow down the action to capture the perfect moment. In addition to the 15-fps shooting already mentioned, you can press the shutter down halfway to let it take the next second or so and stretch it out to five times as long through photographic wizardry. With a long lens on there and decent high-ISO performance, you've got a very competent camera for shots of the kids playing ball.
The improved ergonomics and shooting options of the V2 may allow consumers to see past its rather utilitarian appearance. Pricing — $800 for the body only or $900 with a kit lens — puts it in line with other enthusiast-level mirrorless cameras like the Panasonic G5 and Olympus E-PL5. As always, testing of the sensor and the latest lenses (Nikon is working on a plethora) will be conducted by specialists and should be considered before investing in the camera system.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.