Lens Mounts: Nikon 1

Pekka Buttler, February 2023

Basic Information on the Nikon 1 mount:

The Nikon 1 mount was introduced together with the Nikon 1 camera in September 2011. The Nikon 1 differs from many other interchangeable lens compact mirrorless cameras (such as the Sony NEX series, The Olympus PEN-series, or the Canon EOS M series) in that it uses a smaller sensor (referred to by Nikon as the Nikon CX format (in contrast to DX=APS-C and FX=full-frame).

While designed as an independent, full, super compact system, Nikon also offered a dedicated “FT1” adapter to allow the use of Nikon F format lenses (albeit with a massive, 2,7 x crop factor). Although Nikon introduced several models with ever-improving specifications, Nikon discontinued the Nikon 1 series in 2018.

Nikon 1 mount specifications

Mount type: Bayonet mount (lens release on camera)
Flange focal distance: 17,00 mm
Sensor size: 13.2 mm x 8.8 mm (‘Nikon CX’)(3:2 aspect ratio)
Mount communication:
• electronic only: focusing, zoom, aperture (camera-to-lens), distance information, lens data (lens-to-camera)
• 12 electronic contacts (springs-loaded at the camera-end)

Adapting Nikon 1 lenses

Due to the short flange focal distance of Nikon 1 lenses, the list of bodies you could theoretically adapt Nikon 1 lenses to is very short: Nikon Z, Pentax Q and Samsung NX mini (the later two have been discontinued)

Furthermore, as the lenses are fully electronic, you won’t be able to use them without a dedicated smart adapter. As the flange focal distance advantage of the Nikon Z is only 1 mm shorter than that of the Nikon 1, such an adapter is likely impossible to construct.

Hence, your only chance to use Nikon 1 lenses is to get a Nikon 1 camera.

Adapting to Nikon 1 cameras

The Nikon 1 mount has a very short flange focal distance, which could make it a tempting camera for adapting a lot of different legacy lenses to. As a result, a wide range of third party adapters are available.

Problematically, the minuscule sensor makes this a relatively unattractive proposition, except for a number of special cases:
• Turning tele lenses into Ultra-tele lenses
• Using those lenses that project image circles smaller than APS-C.
Among that later use case three lens families deserve special mention: C-mount lenses, Pentax-110 lenses and Olympus PEN-F lenses.


1 Leitz (company) changed its name to Leica in 1986.

2 That ‘extension’ is what is referred to as 6-bit coding a strip of 6 white/back dots on the lens’ flange that can be read by a digital Leica M body to determine the lens in question. The digital Leica M body then uses that information to a) activate the correct built-in correction profile, and b) bring up the correct viewfinder frame lines.

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