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White Balance

The D1 offers an excellent range of preset white balances along with manual preset (shoot a gray card or white wall) along with fine tuning of any of the presets +/- 3 levels. The ability to fine tune each white balance is excellent and means it's normally easy to get a good white balance even without a manual preset.

Daylight: Auto WB Daylight: Sunny WB Daylight: Cloudy WB
Incan. light: Auto WB Incan. light: Incan. WB Incan. light: Incan. WB -3
Incan. light: Incan. WB +3 Incan. light: Manual preset WB  
Fluoresc. light: Auto WB Fluoresc. light: Fluoresc. WB Fluoresc. light: Fluoresc. WB -3
Fluoresc. light: Fluoresc. WB +3    

Incan. = Incandescent
Flouresc. = Flourescent

In our experience the auto white balance on the D1 doesn't work well indoors, under incandescent or fluorescent light, thus it's necessary to use either one of the D1's presets or manual preset.

Artifacts in JPEG/TIFF images

I mentioned this briefly in the features section of this review where we examined the in-camera sharpening custom setting. After using the D1 for a short time it became apparent that there is a problem with the cameras internal sharpening algorithm, this leads to artifacts in both JPEG and TIFF images with sharpening set to Normal or High.

These artifacts were visible as noise speckles in what should be plain, flat areas, crossover pixels between dark pixels one pixel apart and halos around dark or light contrasted detail. The only way around this problem is to either always shoot RAW or use CSM 23-1 (Low Sharpening).

Quite clear artifacts in the sample above, sharpening set to High, noise enhanced so that it's visible, a white halo around text and crossover pixels visible in the (c) of copyright and the s of Eastman.

Test shot Normal Sharpening (CSM 23-0)
High Sharpening (CSM 23-2) Low Sharpening (CSM 23-1)

Here we've provided a test shot (ISO 200) with differing sharpening levels, as you can see the blue around the IBM logo has some visible speckles, using Low Sharpening seems to almost eliminate them (though still not perfect). Of course these visible noise artifacts also get worse at higher ISO's.

Red channel (Blue sky) noise

The next set of samples were taken of a blue sky (amazing, I found some in November in the UK) at ISO 200, 400, 800 and 1600. Often digital cameras exhibit a certain amount of noise in the red channel, this is especially visible in blue skies and so we introduced this test. The samples below are 120 x 120 crops from the sky in each image broken down into their red, green and blue channel components.

ISO 200, 1/500s, F5.6
ISO 400, 1/1000s, F5.6
ISO 800, 1/2000s, F5.6
ISO 1600, 1/4000s, F5.6
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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.

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