Image Size / File Quality Options

The D1 offers a variety of image quality settings; two TIFF, RAW and three JPEG modes plus B&W, resolution wise you can only shoot at the native 2000 x 1312 pixel resolution.

Standard Test Scene

Below is a sample table of each image quality setting. For the RAW samples we converted the RAW image to both TIFF and JPEG using three different applications: Nikon Capture, Bibble and QImage Pro. Please don't download the TIFF images unless you really need to, try to conserve (yours and our) bandwidth.

Camera settings for these samples: ISO 200, Manual Exposure: 1/2s, F7.1, Self-Timer: 5 seconds. Sharpening (CSM 23): Normal, Tone (CSM 24): Auto.

Crops below are of the same 240 x 120 area of each image nearest neighbour magnified 200%.

2000 x 1312

7,747 KB

5,184 KB

NEF: 3,861 KB / TIF: 7,746 KB / JPEG: 1,398 KB
(RAW converted using Nikon Capture*)

NEF: 3,861 KB / TIF: 7,689 KB / JPEG: 1,990 KB
(RAW converted using Bibble v2.02*)

NEF: 3,861 KB / TIF: 7,768 KB / JPEG: 1,451 KB
(RAW converted using Qimage Pro v10*)

1,198 KB

1,044 KB

612 KB

319 KB

    Nikon Capture, Adobe RGB (1998)
    Bibble v2.02, Gamma: 2.2, Tone: Low, Sharpening: Low, Adobe RGB (1998)
       All other options disabled or zero.
    QImage Pro v10, Default settings
    Black & White mode is also available for RGB & YCBCR TIFF

If you're shooting in the studio or have plenty of storage space RAW seems to be the way to go, having said that if you understand how to get the best out of the JPEG format it's a good second.

Quite a few D1 owners use third party RAW conversion products such as QImage Pro or Bibble (or MacBibble), these applications have more flexible, offer different quality results than Nikon capture and, importantly, are both capable of batch processing RAW files. It's a shame Nikon chose to charge for Nikon Capture, and it's a shame we've not seen any significant updates to that application (such as the addition of batch conversion).

Using the in-camera JPEG FINE mode requires a few 'tweaks' to get the most out of it, first of all turn sharpening down to Low (CSM 23 - 1), this will reduce the visibility of sharpening / noise artifacts and also insert a colour correction step into your workflow (we found NTSC (1953) -> Your working space profile conversion worked about the best, though there are other methods) - more on this in the Image Quality section of this review.

ISO (Sensitivity) Adjustment

The D1 has four standard ISO sensitivities: 200, 400, 800 and 1600 which can be selected by holding the ISO button and rolling the main command dial, additionally there are two additional sensitivities accessible through the "gain up" custom settings which are equivalent to ISO 3200 and 6400.

ISO 200, 1/8s, F8
ISO 400, 1/15s, F8
ISO 800, 1/30s, F8
ISO 1600, 1/60s, F8
ISO 3200 (HI-1), 1/60s, F8
ISO 6400 (HI-2), 1/60s, F8

ISO 200 produces clean, clear and smooth images with only the very slightest hint of noise. ISO 400 being almost as clean as ISO 200. At ISO 800 and 1600 both have visible "banding noise", the degree to which this is visible depends on the subject matter and shutter speed (obviously, more at slower shutter speeds). ISO 3200 is just about usable assuming you're going to do some heavy noise removal or reduce the image size. ISO 6400 is only for the brave.

The unfortunate thing about the D1's "type of noise" (banding vs. random) is that it's more difficult to remove, your eyes see a regular noise pattern more easily than random noise which is more like film grain. There are however several third party tools for removing the noise (indeed both Bibble and QImage Pro mentioned earlier have noise reduction features).The earlier tip about using the low sharpening setting when shooting JPEG also helps to make the noise less apparent.