Retro Evaluation: 23 years in the past, Nikon’s groundbreaking D1 DSLR modified every part: Digital Pictures Evaluation


After a short hiatus, Gordon Laing of Cameralabs is again with a brand new Retro Evaluation, this time centered on Nikon’s landmark DSLR, the Nikon D1. First launched in 1999, the D1 was the primary DSLR Nikon designed and constructed by itself, following prior Nikon digital cameras constructed round Fujifilm our bodies, just like the Nikon E2 and E2S.

As Laing factors out, the D1 additionally wasn’t the primary DSLR in the marketplace usually, nor the primary to incorporate a Nikon F-mount. Kodak launched DSLRs utilizing modified Nikon movie SLR cameras, just like the Kodak DCS 460, which has an industry-leading 6.2MP picture sensor that had solely a 1.3x crop, a minimal crop issue on the time. Granted, when that digital camera hit retailer cabinets in 1995, it got here with a $35,600 price ticket, which is sort of $70,000 when adjusted for inflation.

The Kodak DSC 460 might not have been a Nikon digital camera, however it set in movement plans inside Nikon headquarters to launch a DSLR of its personal, one at a way more inexpensive value level. Nikon’s E2-series, which had Fujifilm guts and smaller picture sensors, weren’t fairly satisfying professional customers both. Nikon’s consumer-oriented Coolpix cameras, just like the Coolpix 900 launched in 1998, afforded Nikon an opportunity to refine its digital imaging applied sciences earlier than it introduced the D1 in September 1999. Nonetheless, the D1 wasn’t available till 2000.

Nikon D1 picture, straight from the digital camera. Picture credit score: Gordon Laing / Cameralabs

At $5,500 – almost $10,000 in at present’s {dollars} – the D1 wasn’t low cost, however it was inside attain for skilled photographers. The worth additionally considerably undercut its competitors on the time, the 2MP Kodak DSC sequence, which value at the least $12,000. In our overview, we wrote, ‘The D1 is every part the skilled photographer may need and a complete lot extra, construct high quality is second to none, picture high quality is superb with a couple of funnies which, so long as you already know, you’ll be able to work round.’

Nikon D1 picture, straight from the digital camera. Picture credit score: Gordon Laing / Cameralabs

The Nikon D1 was undoubtedly good on the flip of the twenty first century, however Laing desires to know, is it nonetheless good now, 23 years later? Whereas the two.7MP CCD sensor produces dated-looking photos today and delivers considerably odd colours resulting from an absence of standardized colour areas and unusual colour processing, Laing was ‘struck by simply how good it nonetheless felt and the way rapidly I might get capturing.’ Contemplating it was Nikon’s first in-house DSLR, the D1 was surprisingly refined by way of design and operability. When doing his Retro Critiques, Laing usually should take care of archaic controls and usefulness, however the D1 nonetheless feels decidedly Nikon.

Nikon D1 picture, straight from the digital camera. Picture credit score: Gordon Laing / Cameralabs

The D1 broke numerous new floor when it launched. The digital camera captured JPEG photos at 4.5 frames per second with a 20-shot buffer, which was supremely fast on the time. It additionally shot 12-bit uncooked photos. Contemplating its efficiency, value, design, and the wealthy catalog of F-mount lenses it used, the D1 wasn’t only a triumph for Nikon, it set into movement a major change within the DSLR market. Together with Canon DSLRs just like the 1D and D30, which had been launched after the Nikon D1, Kodak’s undisputed place on the prime of the professional DSLR market was shaken. Kodak ultimately pulled out of the DSLR market in 2004, and it is not possible to not see the function the Nikon D1 performed.

To learn Laing’s full ideas on the Nikon D1, learn his Nikon D1 Retro Evaluation. There you may discover extra photographs and plenty of extra particulars concerning the D1. You too can see extra of Laing’s movies on his YouTube channel, Dino Bytes.


All photos courtesy of Gordon Laing / Cameralabs

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