Conclusion - Pros
- High Quality, clean, detailed images
- Supreme build quality, unrivalled, all metal body, weatherproof seals
- The way it feels in your hand, "solid mass"
- All rubber foot plate
- Instant startup time
- Built around two of the best film SLR's around, the F5 and F100
- In-built portrait grip
- Ultra fast AF (especially when combined with AF-S lens)
- Excellent (if slightly conservative) matrix metering
- Good low light, long exposure performance
- Fastest (so far) burst mode, large buffer (21 images in JPEG mode)
- Extremely flexible controls, lots of options for the photographer
- Most controls can be locked (true pro feature)
- Wide range of custom functions
- Interchangeable focus screen
- Good, large (2") LCD, anti-reflective coated
- Firewire connectivity
- Good battery life
- CF Type II support (though some problems with 1GB Microdrive)
- RAW mode support (the "digital negative")
- Remote capture software for studio work
- Nikkor Lens compatibility
- All Nikon Digital SLR, built as such from the ground up
Conclusion - Cons
- JPEG/TIFF artifacts thanks to poor in-camera sharpening algorithm (must use Low sharpening to get the most out of JPEG/TIFF)
- Pattern noise at higher ISO's more difficult to remove than random noise
- Lacking lower sensitivity (ISO 100?)
- D1's colour set up still causes confusion (should be better documented)
- Nikon Capture lacks batch mode, shows poor vertical resolution
- Nikon Capture as an optional extra, it SHOULD be included with the camera
- Custom functions should be in menu system not as cryptic number combinations
- Unnecessary PLAY mode, should be entered by pressing the MONITOR button
- Unnecessary second LCD, should have been doubled onto top display or rear LCD
- Un-buffered Single Shot drive mode (having to wait between single frames)
- No review in Continuous drive mode (should at least show last image of burst)
- Battery charger could be neater (drop-in style charger)
- Requires optional AC adapter (battery charger cannot be used as power supply)
- Requires positive exposure compensation at higher ISO's
- Image browsing in playback should be controlled by the command wheel not arrow keys (too slow)
- No firmware updates yet
The D1 is everything the professional photographer could need and a whole lot more, build quality is second to none, image quality is excellent with a few funnies which, as long as you know, you can work around.
Cast your mind back to when the D1 was first released. Consider the market back then, as a professional the only digital's you would be considering would be the 2 megapixel, $12,000+ Kodak DCS series, Nikon hit the headlines with a 2.7 megapixel, all one brand, $5,000 professional SLR which offered features, build quality and a smaller size not previously seen in the pro market. An amazing feat.
Remember also that the D1 was the first digital SLR to shoot JPEG, extremely important to many professional photographers. Not long after Kodak released firmware which could convert the proprietary TIFF files to JPEG (but it's simply NOT the same). It's interesting to note just how many firmware updates their have been for the Kodak DCS cameras since Nikon released the D1 (Kodak trying to play catch-up?).
I can remember talking to someone from Kodak Professional back in early 1999 when the D1 was rumour, back then they really weren't worried with a particularly blasé attitude about their products and their continued success in the professional market. I wonder what they make of the D1 now.
Without doubt the D1 was the camera which changed the face of the digital SLR market, since then we've seen products and announcements from other manufacturers but still nothing to compete with the D1. Kodak have also slash the price of their pro cameras in an attempt to win back some of the lost ground.
The D1 is, at the time of writing this review, the digital tool for professional photographers, absolutely no doubt about it.
So which one should I buy? A question I get asked several times a day, and I wouldn't like to say. In a new addition to my reviews (after the amount of feedback I normally get) I've added a link to a specific forum in which you can discuss the review or ask me specific questions which I've not answered in these pages.