Compared to the Nikon D1x

Nikon D1x (left), Canon EOS-D60 (right) shown with optional BG-ED3 battery pack / portrait grip

On February 21st Nikon announced its D100 six megapixel digital SLR, the very next day Canon announced the D60. This has set the scene for the biggest Canon vs Nikon showdown for quite some time. During PMA this showdown took the form of a mini price war, not long after PMA Canon made its $2199/$1999 price official.

At the time of writing this review Nikon has still not revealed its price for the D100, but we expect it to be competitive with the D60. Also at the time of writing this review there are no 'reviewable' D100's available and so I've chosen to compare the D60 to the D100's "bigger brother" the $5000 D1x. I will of also course be using the D60 for direct comparison in my upcoming Nikon D100 review.

Bear in mind that the D1x is a much more robust, professional camera than the D60 (if you want the ultimate in robust and waterproof bodies look no further than the EOS-1D). The D1x's auto focus alone is much better than the D60 as well as the additional features and custom functions such as: third-stop ISO sensitivity (which can be boosted up to ISO 3200), Nikon matrix metering, fine-tunable white balance, selectable colour space, adjustable metering system etc. Some people may say I'm comparing apples to oranges, but without a D100 both of these cameras are the current 'top megapixel' from their respective manufacturers.

Square vs. Rectangular pixel layout

What makes this comparison even more interesting is the way that the D1x captures its six megapixel image. The D1x has sensor whose pixel layout is rectangular rather than the traditional square, the sensor captures 4028 horizontal and 1324 vertical RAW pixels which are then 'translated' into the final 3008 x 1960 pixel image. This gives the D1x a horizontal resolution advantage of around 900 (raw) pixels over the D60 but a vertical deficit of over 700 pixels. More about the D1x sensor on the first page of my review.


The samples below of a GretagMacbeth ColorChecker Chart were taken in normal daylight with manual white balance taken from the neutral 6.5 patch (no. 21). Roll your mouse over the image to see the differences between the D60 and the D1x.

The D1x image was shot in sRGB colour space, as you can see it produces far more saturated looking image, most notably reds. Although the D1x does allow you to adjust tone and sharpening you can not alter colour saturation. That said the D1x has a definite advantage in being able to shoot in either sRGB or Adobe RGB colour spaces.

(Roll your mouse over image to see D1x sample)
Download originals: EOS-D60 795 KB / D1x 1,141 KB

Outdoor scene comparison

The following shots of Tower Bridge, London were taken on a typically hazy Spring day. I had to shoot the D60 first and then walk forward before taking the D1x shot to compensate in the difference between the D60's 1.6x multiplier and the D1x's 1.5x. Crops magnified 200%.

  • Nikon D1x: Tone: Normal, Sharpening: Normal, Colour space: sRGB, White Balance: Sunny,
    Manual Exposure, Auto Focus, Nikkor 50 mm F1.4D lens, Large/Fine JPEG
  • Canon EOS-D60: Parameters: Standard, White Balance: Sunny, Manual Exposure,
    Auto Focus, Canon EF 50 mm F1.4 lens, Large/Fine JPEG
Nikon D1x Canon EOS-D60
ISO 125, F9.0, 1/250 sec ISO 100, F9.0, 1/250 sec

A careful examination of the crops above (and the entire images) shows that although the D1x can occasionally pull out more horizontal detail, overall the D60 appears to have the advantage. The extra vertical pixels and the fact that the pixels are in a square orientation means that the D60 simply has a greater ability to resolve detail at a particular pixel location.

Indeed, taking time to look over the D1x image and you can see areas where its lack of vertical resolution becomes apparent (diagonal wires, curves, finer details). Considering the price difference between these two cameras the results from the D60 are even more impressive.