Nikon D1

Nikon D1

Nikon’s D1 has been on the market for more than a year now, having been formally introduced on June 15th, 1999, but we’d seen plenty of “behind glass” prototypes before that date. In September of last year, I was the first to get my hands on a prototype of the D1 product.

When it came to professional SLR cameras, Nikon’s D1 was their response to Kodak’s dominance of the industry. In terms of history, it was significant since it was the first digital SLR developed and constructed completely by one of the major manufacturers (“homegrown”).

As a result, it signified a significant shift in consumer expectations about the cost of this type of equipment, as it was at least half (if not a third) the price of its nearest Nikon-based competitor, Kodak DCS 620, at the time of its release. Better still, it had a 2.7-megapixel sensor as opposed to the DCS x20’s 2.0-megapixel sensor, allowing the camera to capture images big enough to print and produce high-quality prints.

This is a good opportunity to clarify why it has taken me this long to publish this review. I did have a loan D1 at the beginning of this year, but my relocation from Singapore to the United Kingdom put a stop to the work on this review. I’m sharing this review in order to assist round out the spectrum of digital SLR reviews available online (also Canon EOS-D30, Fujifilm S1 Pro, Kodak DCS 520, 620 & 620x).

CCD sensor with a resolution of 2.74 megapixels

The D1 is equipped with a 2.74 megapixel CCD measuring 23.7 mm by 16.7 mm, which produces 2.62 million pixels (2000 x 1312). This sensor is slightly larger than the one used in Canon’s new D30, but it is still significantly smaller than either the APS or 35mm film formats. Because the D1 has a 1.5x focal length multiplier, like other digital SLRs, a 28-mm lens on the D1 will produce an equivalent image of a 35-mm lens on an SLR. 42 mm is the focal length of the lens.

Nikon D1 Specs

NameNikon D1
Retail priceUS$5,500 (body only)
TypeLens-interchangeable SLR-type digital camera
BodyMagnesium alloy, resistant to penetration by water drops
Imager / Sensor
ImagerCCD Sensor
Imager effective pixels2,000 x 1,312 (2.72 million)
Imager total pixels2.74 million
Imager ratio3:2
Imager size15.6 mm x 23.7 mm
Imager system output36-bit (12-bits per colour)
Imager filterPrimary (RGBG) colour filter
Low-Pass filter
(anti-alias filter)
Ultra-thin lithium niobate (LiNB) Low-Pass Filter (also cuts infrared rays) incorporated just in front of CCD
ISO speed rangeEquiv to 200, 400, 800 and 1,600
Lens compatibilityCompatible with virtually any F-mount Nikkor lens, picture angle with D1 is equivalent to 1.5x focal length in 35mm format.
Focal length multiplier1.5x, therefore a Nikkor 28 mm lens on this camera has a focal length equivalent to 42 mm.
Usable lenses1) D-type AF Nikkor: All functions possible
2) D-type Manual-Focus Nikkor: All functions except autofocus possible
3) AF Nikkor other than D-type: All functions except 3D Color Matrix Metering and 3D Multi-Sensor Balanced Fill-Flash for D1 possible,
4) AI-P Nikkor: All functions except 3D Colour Matrix Metering, 3D Multi-Sensor Balanced Fill-Flash for D1 and autofocus possible
5) Non-CPU: Usable in [A] or [M] modeCentre-Weighted or Spot Metering; Electronic Rangefinder usable with lens with maximum aperture of f/5.6 or fasterNote: When Non-CPU lenses are used, [A] mode is selected automatically for [P] or [S] mode, also Centre-Weighted Metering is selected for 3D Colour Matrix Metering.
Auto focusHigh-speed AF system including Dynamic AF operation (same performance as F5 and F100) TTL phase detection, Nikon Multi-CAM1300 autofocus module; Detection range: EV -1 to EV 19 (ISO 100 equivalent, at normal temperature)
Focus pointsOne of five focus areas can be selected
Focus point selectionVia rear 4-way controller
Focus lockFocus is locked by pressing AE-L/AF-L button or lightly pressing shutter release button in (S) AF
AF Area Mode1) Single Area AF
2) Dynamic AF (Dynamic AF Mode with Closest Subject Priority is available)
Lens servo1) Single Servo AF (S)
2) Continuous Servo AF (C)
3) Manual focus (M)
Focus Tracking automatically activated by subject’s status in (S) or (C) AF
Lens apertureInstant-return type, with depth-of-field preview button
Metering / White balance
Metering modes1) 3D Colour Matrix Metering with 1,005-pixel CCD EV 0-20
2) Centre-Weighted Metering (75% of the meter’s sensitivity concentrated on the 8mm dia. circle) EV 0-20
3) Spot (4mm dia. circle, approx. 2% of entire frame) EV 2-20
Exposure modes1) Programmed Auto [P] (flexible programming possible)
2) Shutter-Priority Auto [S]
3) Aperture-Priority Auto [A]
4) Manual [M]
Exposure compensation+/- 5 EV range, in 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps
AE Lock1) Auto AE lock
2) Manual AE lock button
Exposure metering couplingCPU and AI combined
Exposure / Shooting
ShutterSingle-blade mechanical shutter provided for smear prevention
Shutter speedBULB, 30 secs to 1/16,000 sec
Drive modesSingle, Continuous full frame (1.5 fps), Continuous 1/16 size
Exposure metering3 mode TTL metering:
256-segment Matrix, Center-weighted, Spot
Self-TimerCustom 2 – 20 seconds
BracketingAuto Exposure Bracketing available for two or three shots in 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, or 1 step
Burst shooting4.5 fps shooting speed for up to 21 consecutive shots
SpeedQuick startup and 0.058 sec. shutter time lag
Image storage
Storage mediaCompactFlash type I or II
Uncompressed formats12-bit Raw*, 8-bit YCbCr-TIFF*, 8-bit RGB-TIFF.
(Black & White / Colour modes)
* Optional software is needed to reproduce Raw or YCbCr-TIFF images; “Nikon Capture” for Raw images, “Nikon View DX” for YCbCr-TIFF images
JPEG image modesThree: JPEG Baseline (approx. 1/4, 1/8, 1/16 compressed),
ColourspaceNTSC (1953)
LCD / Viewfinder
LCD2″ 120,000-dot low-temperature polysilicon TFT LCD with histogram indication. Backlight and brightness adjustable.
Top-Panel LCDExposure value (shutter speed/aperture), exposure mode, exposure compensation, exposure compensation value, aperture/shutter speed lock, flash sync mode, focus area, exposure bracketing information, electronic analogue display, battery power, CF Card confirmation, number of shots taken, number of shots remaining, frame number at playback battery power for built-in clock, date/time
Rear-Panel LCDNumber of shots remaining, sensitivity, white balance mode, image quality mode, monochrome mode, CF Card status, LCD monitor status, Custom function
ViewfinderTTL Optical (pentaprism) viewfinder with frame coverage of approx. 96%, Dioptre adjustment (-3 to +1 DP), High eyepoint (higher than 22mm), Eyepiece shutter provided
Focus screenB-type BriteView clear Matte Screen III; Interchangeable focusing screen (compatible with focusing screen for F100)
Viewfinder MagnificationApprox. 0.8x with 50mm lens set to infinity and -1.0 DP
Viewfinder InformationFocus indications, shutter speed, aperture, exposure mode, metering system, shutter speed lock, aperture lock, AE lock, electronic analogue display, frame counter, ready-light, five sets of focus brackets (area)
Internal FlashNone
Flash synchUp to 1/500 sec
Sync contactX-contact only
Flash sensor3D Multi-Sensor Balanced Fill-Flash for D1 controlled by five-segment TTL Multi Sensor with new Speedlight SB-28DX
Flash control1) Automatic Balanced Fill-Flash controlled by five-segment TTL Multi Sensor: o 3D Multi-Sensor Balanced Fill-Flash for D1 when used with SB-28DX and D-type Nikkor lens o Multi-Sensor Balanced Fill-Flash when used with SB-28DX and AF Nikkor other than D-type, AI-P Nikkor lens
2) AA (Auto Aperture)-type Flash available when used with SB-28DX and lens with built-in CPU
3) Non-TTL Auto Flash with a Speedlight such as SB-28DX, 28, 27, 22s, etc.
Flash synch modes1) Front-Curtain Sync (normal sync)
2) Red-Eye Reduction
3) Red-Eye Reduction with Slow Sync
4) Slow Sync
5) Rear-Curtain Sync
Playback modes1) 1 frame
2) Thumbnail (9 segments)
3) Slide show
4) Histogram indication
Playback erase1) Single
2) All (except protected)
Battery / Power
BatteriesInterchangeable Ni-MH battery pack EN-4 and dedicated Quick Charger MH-16 (compatible with battery charger MH-15 for F100) (all optional)
Battery charge time90 minutes
Communications / I/O
Communication InterfaceIEEE 1394 (FireWire)
Video OutputSwitchable NTSC or PAL
Remote controlVia 10-pin remote terminal
Standard Accessories
Software“Nikon View DX” Browser Software
StandardNeck Strap, Video Cable
Optional Accessories
Optional“Nikon Capture” Control Software (req. for RAW format)
Ni-MH Battery Pack EN-4, Quick Charger MH-16, AC Adaptor EH-4, CompactFlash� Cards, Speedlight SB-28DX, IEEE1394 Cable SC-D1, Antifog Finder Eyepiece DK-15, “Nikon View DX” Browser Software, “Nikon Capture” Control Software
Physical specifications
Dimensions157 x 153 x 85mm (6.1 x 6.1 x 3.4 in.)
Weight (no batteries)1.1kg (2.5 lbs.)
Operating temperature0oC to 40oC (32oF to 104oF)
Operating humidity85% or lower

About Author


Freelance journalist Corey has been writing about digital photography since 2006, first as a deputy editor and then as the editor of a variety of photographic journals. Featuring expert product reviews and in-depth features

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