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Nikon D1 Review

November 2000 | By Phil Askey

Nikon's D1 has been around for over a year now, first officially announced on 15th June 1999, though we'd seen plenty of "behind glass" prototypes before then. I first got my hands on an early product D1 back in September last year.

The D1 was Nikons answer to Kodak's domination of the professional SLR's market. It marked an important step in history, the first digital SLR designed and built solely by one of the big manufacturers ("home grown"). It also marked a huge change in expectations over price for this kind of equipment, at the time it was releasd it was at least half (if not a third) the price of it's nearest Nikon based competitor the Kodak DCS 620. Better stll it soprted a 2.7 megapixel sensor compared to the DCS x20's 2.0 megapixel allowing the camera to shoot for larger prints and higher quality output.

I'd better explain why it's taken this long to come out with a review, I did have a loan D1 at the beginning of this year, however my move from Singapore back to the UK interrupted the work on this review. I'm publishing this review to help complete the range of digital SLR reviews (also Canon EOS-D30, Fujifilm S1 Pro, Kodak DCS 520, 620 & 620x).

2.74 megapixel CCD

The D1 features a 2.74 megapixel 23.7 mm x 16.7 mm CCD which outputs 2.62 million pixels (2000 x 1312). This sensor is slightly larger than than that used in Canon's new D30, although still smaller than APS or 35mm film. This means that, like other digital SLR's the D1 features a focal length multiplier of 1.5x, thus a 28 mm lens on a D1 has an equiv. focal length of 42 mm

Sensor / Camera Effective pixels
Effective ** resolution Imager size (mm) Pixel (unit) size
Sony 1/1.8" CCD *
3.12 2,048 x 1,536 5.52 x 4.14 3.45
Nikon D1 CCD 2.62 2,000 x 1,312 23.6 x 15.5 11.8
Canon EOS-D30 CMOS 3.11 2,160 x 1,440 22.7 x 15.1 10.5
APS negative (C type) n/a n/a 30.2 x 16.7 n/a
35mm negative n/a n/a 35.0 x 23.3 n/a

* As used in Nikon Coolpix 990, Sony DSC-S70, Olympus C-3030Z etc.
** Effective meaning pixels used to produce final image

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X, Y, and Z and ideally A, B, and C.

This article is Copyright 1998 - 2015 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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I used one of these in 2002 when I worked as a reporter/photographer for a community newspaper. It was, for its time, a pretty incredible machine even three years after it was introduced.

Compared to the Canon PowerShot A40 that I had just received quite excitedly as a college graduation gift, the D1 I used at work was like something out of a science fiction movie. It was lightning fast to focus and shoot, it had crazy low-light ability (ISO 1600), and the f2.8 AF-S zoom lenses that the newspaper had to go along with it were stellar.

Today with the improvements in sensor technology, you can get similar image quality in a smart phone (with a lot more resolution), and the professional DSLRs are just leaps and bounds ahead.

It's impossible to overstate just how significant a camera the D1 was for photojournalism and photography in general. Total game changer.

Comment edited 7 minutes after posting