PC Watch and their professional photographer Yamada post a preview of the new Nikon D1 Digital SLR. Most of the notes in their preview seem to be based around the Nikon Japan launch.
Pictures courtesy of PC Watch.

Read my Nikon D1 Information Sheet

My own interpretation of Yamada's comments (from Japanese article):

Yamada notes that Nikon are treating this camera as a very high class machine as the single digit designation (F5 etc.) is only given to their top-of-the-range cameras. He also states that this camera will probably be seen as the digital SLR which will have a huge impact on the photography market.

All of this for only 650,000 YEN (US$5,330)

The point which gets the most attention is the "height of cost performance" (his words, read value for money).. Reasons? The price is only 650,000 YEN which when compared to the Canon D2000 (Kodak DC520) which only has a 2 megapixel CCD weighs in at 1,980,000 YEN (US$16,000) also compare the price of the D1 to the price of a 300mm F2.8 super-telephoto lens which would cost around 500,000 YEN (US$4,100) and you can see that the D1 is very competitively priced.

Huge CCD which can take a very "Deep picture"

At the launch detailed specifications were given out, the first item which caught many peoples attention was the very large CCD and very high speed performance. Yamada notes that even though the camera has a high resolution it is still not VERY MUCH higher than the 2 megapixel cameras, however the important word used at the launch was "Deep Picture", Nikon means by this the CCDs ability to capture even very slight variations of colour and shade, making images appear much "deeper" than the sometimes "flat" images produced by current digicams (that is the camera has a very large dynamic range).

The area of the CCD is about 12 times bigger than that of the 1/2" 2 megapixel CCDs, each pixel of the CCD in the D1 is 11.8 microns in size, compare that to 1/2" CCDs whose pixel size is about 4 microns at this comparison. This makes the CCD very sensitive (and thus the very high ISO ratings of the camera). The CCD is about the same size as an APS camera frame and slightly smaller than a 35mm frame, meaning that lenses used with the body must have their focal length multiplied by 1.5 to find the true focal length of the lens.

Also noteworthy is the fact that the CCD records a 12-bit value for each pixel and thus is able to better produce detail from shadows and brightness without overexposure (another way of saying better dynamic range). The ability to record as RAW 12-bits is also a boon as it allows for small file sizes but capturing at the best possible quality (a RAW CCD image).

Basic performance which equals the F5

A statement not to be taken lightly, the F5 is seen by many professionals as simply the best 35mm SLR available, the size of the camera almost the same as the F5 with the base being more like the traditional professional SLR's (Yamada compares the base to the EOS D2000; Kodak DCS520).

The high performance of the camera is related also in it's ability to take a burst of 21 shots at 4.5fps (by the fact that the camera has a large internal buffer). Yamada also makes note that the top shutter speed of 1/16,000s is top-class for a digital SLR (and even a 35mm SLR). And 1/500s for flash.

He also makes note of: Five point auto-focus, the excellent optics adopted for the viewfinder (96% view), dustproofing to the same level as the F5 (the ability to be used in severe conditions), the ability to take Compact Flash type II cards (such as the 340MB IBM Microdrive and other large solid state devices), the large battery pack which is supposed to last for about 1,000 shots on a full charge, the cameras lightweight (at least compared to other Pro Digital SLRs).

Super high picture quality

A4 sized images were handed out at the launch and were seen to be of extremely high quality, other images were also shown at A4 and A3 sizes "the finish level of which was obviously different than the 2 megapixel class of cameras".

He notes the natural colour reproduction, the excellent detail brought out in every element of the image and the noticeably better distant object sharpness (something digital cameras are known to have difficulty reproducing).

Unfortunately at the moment there were not usable cameras or sample originals made available by Nikon (in time...).

His last words are that this camera will undoubtedly force other manufacturers to bring out similarly priced digital SLR (DSLR?) cameras which can only be a good thing for the digital camera market as a whole.

[apologies for any inaccuracies in this interpretation of the original Japanese article]

Read my Nikon D1 Information Sheet