Updated! Nikon D1X/H - Prices, Further Details!|
(Monday, February 5, 2001 - 17:45 EST)
As mentioned in our earlier coverage of the "leaks" in the Nikon D1X/H announcement, we were under NDA on the details of those cameras, so couldnt comment on the information floating around. As it turns out, the leaked specs were accurate (no surprise, since it was Nikon France who inadvertently first let them out), but some details were missing.
The first key detail was the US pricing: Nikon USA today announced that the D1X (the 5.47 megapixel model) will be available later this Spring, at a projected street price of $5,500. The D1H (the high-speed 2.74 megapixel unit) is scheduled to be available this summer, at an anticipated price of $4,500.
There are a number of changes in the D1X and D1H that may not leap out at you from the published specs. Here are some that we feel are particularly significant:
- New color space enhancements: The original D1 output files in NTSC color space, a choice that perplexed many users, but one that was made due to the greater gamut of the NTSC space relative to some other RGB spaces. In the new models, the cameras electronics have been tweaked to result in two color modes, one optimized for sRGB, the other for Adobe RGB. What other reporters have missed about these options is that these arent just choices made as the output file is being generated, but involve changes in the cameras capture electronics, that optimize the raw data to maximize image quality in whatever color space is chosen.
- All-new "Advanced Image Processing System", with a new algorithm for 3-D Digital Matrix Image Control (Nikon's nonpareil matrix metering system. Changes include improvements to the 3-D color matrix metering, TTL white balance, and tone compensation and unsharp masking. In our conversations with them, Nikon was keen to point out their focus on "Total Image Quality", which eschews the usual approach of focusing on image characteristics piecemeal (eg, resolution color balance, etc), and adopts a more holistic approach. These new models are the first full embodiments of this approach.
- Advanced noise reduction system.We won't know the impact of this until we get our hands on test units, but Nikon's apparently made a major effort in this are, including a brand new, ground-up redesign of the basic camera electronics. A picture here is obviously worth more than a thousand words, but in our conversation with them, Nikon described their approach as "very aggressive." We view this as particularly important for the D1X, as it's pixels will definitely be smaller than the prior D1's, making it all the more susceptible to noise issues. At the same time, the commercial-photographer market it's aimed at is one that will be particularly sensitive to image noise.
- MicroDrive support! Based on reports on the internet (see Rob Galbraith's site for more info), the D1 appeared to always be a bit of an unhappy match for the original 340 MB MicroDrive from IBM. The new cameras will officially support the newer 1 GB MicroDrives, although still not the original 340 MB units. This is great good news for pro photographers, particularly in light of the D1X's file size.
- New TTL flash approach. We don't know the details of this, but both new cameras apparently have entirely new internal hardware for TTL (through the lens) flash control. We had good results in our own testing of the D1 with the SB-28DX strobe designed for it, but there were a number of reports on the 'net of TTL exposure problems. More on this important topic as additional details become available...
All in all, these new cameras look to be very significant developments for pro shooters, both commercial and sports-oriented alike. While the price of the D1H doesn't quite match that of Canon's D30, the higher speed, Nikon's superb autofocus technology, and the built-like-a-tank ruggedness we noted in the original D1 seem to easily justify the price premium. On the higher-resolution front, the D1X dramatically exceeds the resolution of anything on the market for even twice its price. Very impressive! - Stay tuned for more details as soon as we're able to obtain full-spec units for testing!