Nikon had originally promised me a "loaner" D1 back in October of 1999 but supply and demand prohibited this until a few weeks ago. Impatience got the better of me so I bought my own and wouldn't you know it, about three days after it was delivered I get an email from Nikon's PR folks telling me that they were finally sending me one. So for a couple of weeks I actually had two of them at my disposal along with one of the new Nikkor 28-70mm F2.8 AF-S lenses. My personal lens is the Nikkor 24-120mm F3.5 zoom, taking the D1's lens multiplier into consideration it becomes a 36-180mm lens and covers the most-used focal lengths in one lens. It's also compact and lightweight compared to the newer lenses which are quite heavy.
In the past Nikon had collaborated with Kodak to make their professional digital cameras but that all changed in late 1999 with the introduction of the D1. This is the first "all Nikon" pro digicam and it is based on their hugely successful F100 pro 35mm SLR camera and includes most of its features. The D1 uses all existing Nikkor F mount lenses, especially the newer AF-D lenses with the builtin CPU and the latest generation of AF-S "Silent Wave" lenses. This allows professionals and other photographers already using Nikon 35mm film cameras to migrate into the digital world without investing in new lenses. Because the D1 looks and operates like its film counterpart the learning curve is very short indeed.
No other camera has been so eagerly anticipated and immediately accepted by the professional community as the Nikon D1. The world of professional photo journalism has been going digital for several years now. The most popular cameras in use were the Kodak DCS series (based on Nikon pro 35mm SLR bodies) but these cameras cost between $12-18K. Their reliability proved to be as good as the film cameras and instant access of the images is the key to a newspaper's ability to stay ahead of their competition. As the resolution of the pro digital cameras surpassed the 3 megapixel mark they even became accepted by the magazine photographers too.
This was all well and fine for the big outfits that could afford to equip their photographers with $20-30 worth of gear but it definitely left the little guys out of the loop. With an MSRP of $5850 the Nikon D1 can now fill the bill even for the smaller newspapers and independant photographers on limited budgets. Working photographers must have at least two camera bodies, two flash units, a multitude of lenses and two or three large capacity storage devices. No matter how reliable the equipment is the key to success in the professional world is redundancy. It was this way with film cameras and it's even more important now with the modern electronic digital equipment.
Photographers using the Nikon F100 or F5 film cameras will be instantly at home with the D1. There are very few things different between the F100 and the D1, the most noticeable is that instead of the entire back opening up to change the film cartridge you simply open a small door and drop in a CompactFlash memory card. Compared to the current consumer and even prosumer digicams, the Nikon D1 will leave you speechless with its incredible autofocus speed. It can even track moving objects and maintain the focus right up to when you fully push the shutter button.
And the autofocus isn't the only thing fast about the D1 ... put the camera into Continuous mode and fire away at 4.5 frames per second ... up to 21 full resolution shots can be stored in the large internal buffer before it needs to write to the CF card. If that's not enough then how about a camera-ready from turn on time of less than one half a second and a shutter lag time of approximately 58 milliseconds, almost identical to the F5 film camera.
The most expensive part of a professional digicam is the CCD imager. The D1's CCD is nearly the same size as an APS film frame and measures 23.7 x 15.6 mm. It captures 2,000 x 1,312 pixel images at a color depth of 12 bits per pixel. In front of the CCD is a special lithium niobate "low-pass" filter that prevents penetration of infrared light, and works as a color anti-aliasing filter too. This means that unlike some of the pro cameras (Kodak DC315), the D1 can use regular photographic lenses without the need of expensive hot mirror (infrared) filters.
You really begin to appreciate the power of the D1 when you attach the SB-28DX Speedlight to the hot shoe. The D1's exposure system uses a pre-flash that is reflected off of a grey curtain behind the mirror. The curtain clears the imaging plane _after_ the mirror is up so the actual calculation is as near to the instant of exposure as possible. The SB-28DX was specifically designed for use with the D1 and offers Nikon's exclusive 3D Color Matrix Balanced Fill-flash which yields some of the most natural looking photographs I've ever seen.
Fill-flash is also fully useable in the Center-Weighted and Spot metering modes as well as the manual modes too. When used with the Nikkor AF-D or AF-S lenses, the SB- 28DX automatically zooms the flash head according to the focal length of the lens. It offers full bounce, tilt and swivel of the head and very fast recycle times. To own a D1 without the SB-28DX would be a crime.
The D1 has a multitude of in-camera finished image formats. The most common being the standard uncompressed RGB TIFF and three different compression levels of JPG. There are also the proprietary YCbCr and "raw" formats that yield the full 12 bits per pixel color depth. The last two formats can only be interpeted by the optional Nikon Capture software, but allow optimum use of all the CCD's captured image data.
Nikon Capture NEF AlternativesMike Chaney's Qimage Pro now reads in and converts the D1's raw NEF format. Using Qimage Pro you can print the NEF files or convert them to TIFF or JPG and then save them to disk. His program has many special filters, one is specifically tuned to reduce noise in D1 high ISO images. Mike's $30 program is one of the best printing programs currently available for PC/Windows users.
Another excellent program is Bibble.
It reads in the Nikon NEF and JPEG files, lets you
adjust all the usual image parameters plus sharpness, save as 16-bit TIF, white
balance adjust with one mouse click, auto levels, image resize and Unsharp masking.
A PhotoShop plugin is included and a superior demosaicing algorithm for
more detail and less fringing and a window to visually browse NEF and JPG files as
thumbnails. This program has been rapidly improving lately and is approaching the
functionality of the Kodak DCS Host software. Bibble can now download directly
from the D1 using the FireWire IEEE1394 port.
Just released is the PowerMac version MacBibble v1.0.
Nikon Capture and NikonView DX UpdatesNikon just released (June 2000) updates for the D1 software to make it more compatible with a wider range of IEEE1394 devices. There are also other software fixes you'll find documented at the links below:
PhotoShop Fix For Nikon D1 "Magenta" Shots
We all know that the Nikon D1 is a great camera and we also know that it has been plagued since day one by magenta skin tones and other color irregularities. John Cowley has come up with a simple, two-stage process using PhotoShop (full version). The process is detailed on the main page of his LoneStar Digital web site.
The Bottom LineRight now (Q2 2000) the Nikon D1 represents the best bang for the buck in the professional and prosumer digicam market. If you're tired of the limitations of the consumer digicams then maybe it's time to step up to the D1.
The D1 is not for everyone -- it's large, heavy and expensive by current digicam
standards but it offers total creative control and freedom not found with lesser
digital cameras. Nikon has dramatically reduced the price point for a
professional digital camera and hopefully others will follow their lead. Fuji now
has the FinePix S1 Pro and Canon their
D30, both are ~$4000 digital SLRs. Who knows what 2001 will bring?
If the D1 is the shape of things to come then I say bring it on brother!
Sensor Swab -N for D1 Series
Photographic Solutions, Inc. is pleased to announce the release of Sensor Swab -N on 08 January 2002. This latest addition to our unique digital cleaning product line is designed for cleaning the Nikon ® digital camera models D1 / D1h / D1x when used with our Eclipse ® Optic Cleaner.
Sensor Swab -N is easily distinguished from our regular sized Sensor Swab (for Kodak DCS and Fuji S1 digital cameras) by the designation within the white star on the front panel which states : Designed for Nikon D1 / D1h / D1x
While the Sensor Swab -N differs from our regular Sensor Swab in size only, this new Nikon version has not yet been officially approved by Nikon.
Like Sensor Swab , Sensor Swab -N is available in boxes of 12, and is priced at $48. per box.
For detailed information see your professional photographic supplier or visit our web site at www.photosol.com and check our What's New? page.
John Cowley's D1 Review
Mike Berceanu's Nikon D1 Review
Imaging-Resource's Nikon D1 User Review
John Henshall's Nikon D1 User Review
Mike Chaney's Nikon D1 User Review
Uwe Steinmueller's Nikon D1 "The Brick" Experience
Jay Maisel goes 100% digital with the D1
The "Art" of NEF Conversion
Moose Peterson's Nikon D1 User Review
Moose's other Nikon D1 User Review
Bjørn Rørslett's First Impressions of Nikon D1
DP Review's Nikon D1 User Review
Nelson Tan's excellent lens reviews:
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