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Nikon D1

The D1 WonderCam!

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Page 1:Intro and Highlights

Review First Posted: May 12, 2000

True Nikon pro SLR that just happens to be digital
2.66 megapixel CCD, 2012 x 1312 pixel images
ISO of 200, 400, 800, 1600
4.5 frames per second, super-fast shutter delay!
Part of Nikon "Total Imaging System" - Compatible with 90% of all Nikon F-mount lenses ever made!

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Manufacturer Overview
Nikon is one of the names that literally needs no introduction in the world of photography. Long a leader in the film world, they offer cameras for both the serious amateur and working professional. Their professional line contains cameras like the legendary F3, continuously produced for over 20 years now, and new "legends in the making" like the F5 and F100, renowned for their toughness and advanced features. In the digital world, Nikon has developed a commanding presence in the "prosumer" market with their Coolpix series. They broke new ground for usability and features with their Coolpix 900 a couple of years back, building on that success with the 2 megapixel 950, and now the 3 megapixel 990. The "Nikon Total Imaging System" also includes the hugely successful LS-2000 and LS-30 Coolscan film scanners, which we've reviewed previously.

About a year ago (in early 1999), Nikon announced their first all-digital professional SLR, the D1. At the time, the specifications and projected price point (2.7 megapixels and a list price of $5850 for the body) rocked the pro camera world, and left many wondering whether Nikon could actually do it. Well, it's now a year later, and Nikon's production is finally starting to catch up with demand. (At least to the point that they were willing to spring loose an evaluation unit for our testing.) Did Nikon hit the mark? We think the answer is a resounding "yes": The D1 looks, works, and feels like a Nikon SLR in every respect, and the image quality matches its performance in other areas. But we're getting ahead of ourselves: Read on for all our findings about this remarkable camera.

The all-Nikon, all-digital studio!
Nikon announced two other products at the same time as the D1, which combine with it to bring new capabilities to studio photographers. The first is an exceptional tilt/shift macro lens, the PC (for perspective correction) Micro Nikkor 85mm 1:2.8 D. This amazing lens provides greater tilt and shift capabilities than any other lens currently on the market for the 35mm format. The result is to convey to the D1 (and other Nikon SLRs) many of the perspective and depth-of-field controls traditionally associated with large-format view cameras. The second announcement was a special version of their SB-28 speedlight, the SB-28DX. This new unit was designed specifically to work with the D1 in TTL (through the lens) metering mode. The SB-28DX is also impressive because it offers the capability to combine multiple speedlights into a single system, all controlled by the camera through its TTL flash metering.

The net result is a remarkably capable digital photography system for studio work, all available from a single manufacturer. The small size of the SB-28DX units makes them ideal for location work as well. For product photography, the tilt/shift capabilities of the new PC Micro Nikkor mean you can finally gain control over the perspective distortions typical in tabletop photography setups. (Caused by the need to tilt the camera down on the subject, causing converging parallels.) Likewise, the tilt capability can drastically increase or decrease the effective depth of field, making it a cinch to get all of the product into focus. We saw these related developments as so significant that we imposed upon Nikon to lend us not only the D1, but one of the first units of the PC Micro Nikkor released for review anywhere, as well as a pair of SB-28DX speedlights, and the miscellaneous cabling and adapters necessary to tie them together into an integrated system with the D1. The results were very impressive, and are detailed in separate "All-Nikon All-Digital Studio" report. (Sorry, that report's not quite ready yet, but coming soon!)


  • 2.7 megapixel, 23.7 x 15.6 mm, 12 bit RGB CCD delivering 2000 x 1312 pixel images.

  • Single-lens reflex digital camera with interchangeable lenses (Supports essentially all standard Nikon F mount lenses).

  • Variable ISO (200, 400, 800 and 1600, 3200 and 6400 in "sensitivity up" modes).

  • TTL optical viewfinder with detailed information display.

  • 2 inch, low temperature polysilicon TFT LCD with 114,000 pixels.

  • Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority and Manual exposure modes.

  • Continuous Shooting mode capturing up to 21 images at up to 4.5 frames per second.

  • Variable white balance with Auto, Preset, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Direct Sunlight, Flash, Overcast and Shade

  • Plus/Minus fine adjustment (arbitrary units) on white balance settings.

  • TTL autofocus with Single-Area or Dynamic-Area options.

  • Topside hot shoe for external flash connection of Nikon Speedlight SB-28DX flash as well as a second flash sync socket.

  • TTL Matrix flash exposure, independent of ambient-light exposure computation

  • Front-Curtain Sync, Red-Eye Reduction, Red-Eye Reduction with Slow-Sync, Slow Sync and Rear-Curtain Sync flash sync modes. (With compatible external speedlight.)

  • 3D Color Matrix, Center-Weighted and Spot metering options.

  • Adjustable exposure compensation from -5 to +5 EV(!) in 1/3 EV increments in all exposure modes.

  • Shutter speeds from 30 to 1/16,000 seconds in 1/3 increments, and a Bulb setting for longer exposures.

  • Self-timer with a duration from two to 20 seconds.

  • Secondary shutter release with lock for vertical-format shooting.

  • Image storage on CompactFlash Type I or II.

  • JPEG, uncompressed TIFF (RGB-TIFF and YCbCr-TIFF) and RAW data file formats.

  • DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) compliant.

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