Review Nikon FT-1 adaptor for Nikon 1

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Couple the spectacular AF speed of Nikon 1 with spectacularly long focal distances!

If you have a Nikon 1 camera and a Nikon FX or DX telephoto lens, then you can create a super-telephoto combination for a reasonable amount, because with the Nikon FT-1 adaptor, you can use lenses with the Nikon F-mount on a Nikon 1 body, while maintaining most of the automatic functions—including autofocus with AF-S lenses. Both full-frame and APS-C lenses are suitable. Due to the crop factor of 2.7, a 100 mm lens becomes a 270 mm, and so forth.

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Nikon F lenses on a Nikon 1 body – the FT-1 adaptor

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The use of adaptors in order to be able to use lenses with a different kind of mount is not new. Such a thing is only possible when a camera body's register distance (the distance between the mount and the sensor) is smaller than the register distance for which the lens is intended. You then fill in that distance with a an adaptor ring. Because camera bodies currently have to be connected electronically with the lens in a number of ways, the adaptor ring has to accommodate these contacts if you want to retain as much functionality as possible. Adaptors are available for many combinations, especially for the use of full-frame lenses on Micro Four Thirds bodies. We reviewed an adaptor for Nikon F-mount lenses on a Nikon 1 (CX-mount) body.

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On the test camera, a Nikon 1 J3, we first tried an adaptor from a "strange" brand. This only produced the "attach a lens" error message on the screen. That cheap adaptor can go back to the supplier. The Nikon FT-1 adaptor does work, although not all the camera functions will be supported. On the Nikon J3, you're stuck with the "creative" mode. The "fully automatic" setting does not work, and various high-speed options are also missing. We did not investigate whether this applies for all Nikon 1 bodies. To retain auto focus, you have to have a lens from the AF-S series, because the Nikon 1 has no built-in focus motor of its own.

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Nikon V3 + Nikon FT-1 + Nikon 70-200 mm f/2.8G VR @ 112mm (= 300 mm full-frame equivalent) @ f/5.6, 1/500 sec, 200 ISO

For shots with a long focal distance, you often want, as here, to have a lot of focal depth. Then you have an advantage with a camera with a small sensor. If you take this shot with a body with an FX sensor and a 300-mm lens from the same place, then you have the same field of view, but the focal depth is so limited that only one of the two riders would be in focus!

Construction and finish

The Nikon FT-1 is solidly built and flawlessly finished. Switches or buttons are absent; there's just a locking device for the mount.

Although in principle you can use all lenses with an F-mount, regardless of the focal distance, it of course makes no sense to make a "standard" lens from a wide-angle lens with an adaptor. The advantage of the adaptor is in the long focal distances.

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The Nikon FT-1 is fitted with a tripod connection. It's not there without a reason! It addresses the challenge that arises when you hang a heavy telephoto lens on a Nikon 1, and then support that whole package on the tripod mount of the body. That inevitably pulls into a curve. On the picture here, you see the Nikon J3 with a 300 mm f/4 plus 1.4 converter, effective focal distance 1134 mm! For such a set, a heavy tripod is an absolute necessity. This combination, a somewhat older 300 mm with a 1.4x converter, is an extreme example. Telephoto converters do deliver extra telephoto effect, but typically at the cost of resolution and especially chromatic aberration. On a modern digital camera, such a combination will be seen as useless. Use—where possible—the FT-1 adaptor without a supplementary telephoto converter for the highest possible image quality.

With a Nikon 1, you "clip" as it were the middle piece out of the sensor image from a full frame. With long telephoto lens, as on the picture, the focal depth is limited. Good focusing on the LCD screen like that of the Nikon 1 J3 is practically impossible. You're thus dependent on the AF of the body and the lens. The combination of Nikon 1 plus 70-200 mm on setting 200 mm (effective focal distance 540 mm) works very well. For precise work, we would prefer the Nikon 1 V-series (with electronic viewfinder). 1J3-met-300-2-voor-web-klein

Image quality

Mahindra There are few cameras with which you get multiple sharp pictures in a series with a fast-moving subject. Nikon 1 cameras can compete on this point with the fastest and most expensive professional SLR cameras.
With fast-moving subjects, the sharpness will be determined by the skills of the photographer (accurate following) and—even more important—the auto focus of the camera. Because you move the camera with the fast-moving subject, everything that is not moving will be heavily motion-blurred on the photo.

The telephoto effect that you achieve by putting an FF or APS-C lens on a body with a small sensor you can of course also get by putting the same lens on an FF or APS-C body and then cropping the image afterwards. We thus took the optically outstanding Nikkor 70-200 mm f/2.8 AF-S and photographed the same subject with a Nikon D800 and a Nikon 1 J3, with the same camera settings (aperture, shutter time, ISO). We thereafter cropped out the part that corresponded with the image field of the Nikon 1 from the D800 file. A partial enlargement of both shots is shown below. On the left, D800; right, 1 J3.

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The number of pixels (longer side) of the Nikon 1 is 4608. The "clipped out" piece from the D800 is 2700 pixels long. The 1 J3 file thus has many more pixels. That does not automatically result in higher image quality. The differences are actually minimal in this case. The 1 J3 shot has more (color) noise; the resolution is practically the same. The Nikon 1 shot has a bit more contrast and appears (possibly therefore) marginally sharper. Do consider that the D800 has an extremely high number of pixels (36 mp) and in other aspects is among the best SLRs on the market. If you repeat this experiment with a cheaper SLR with fewer megapixels, then the Nikon 1 would undoubtedly come out on top. The advantage of a smaller image field is also that edge flaws (vignetting, CA) that arise with less expensive telephoto lenses will be eliminated by cropping.

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Conclusion review Nikon FT1 adaptor

 

We assume that anyone considering the purchase of the FT-1 already has a Nikon 1 body and at least one Nikon F telephoto lens. With the FT-1, you expand the lens arsenal on the telephoto side. The adaptor is well built and easy to use, but not inexpensive. The list price is 274 euros. On the other hand, you save on the purchase of a telephoto lens if you already have a Nikon F lens available. Do consider that not all the functions of the "1" will work with the adaptor.

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If you do have a Nikon 1 camera, but no F-mount lenses, then you're probably better off purchasing lenses with the Nikon 1 mount. A Nikon 1 70-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 VR zoom lens appeared recently. Note, this is the "real" focal distance; in 35-mm equivalent, it's a 190-810 mm lens! It is (at least right now) more expensive than the 70-300 lens with F-mount, but it has the advantage of—for a telephoto lens—a handy size.

Jop Steenhof de Jong
Author: Jop Steenhof de Jong
Photography has been a hobby of mine for many years. For me, it's about the joy of creating. I like to find and share knowledge in depth topics again. After years of having fun with contributions made to the Dutch magazine "Camera Magazine", I test now with at least as much pleasure for CameraStuffReview.

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