Category: Nikon DSLR


Nikon D1

Nikon D1 Review

By | Phil Askey

Nikon’s D1 has been around for over a year now, first officially announced on 15th June 1999, though we’d seen plenty of “behind glass” prototypes before then. I first got my hands on an early product D1 back in September last year.

The D1 was Nikons answer to Kodak’s domination of the professional SLR’s market. It marked an important step in history, the first digital SLR designed and built solely by one of the big manufacturers (“home grown”). It also marked a huge change in expectations over price for this kind of equipment, at the time it was releasd it was at least half (if not a third) the price of it’s nearest Nikon based competitor the Kodak DCS 620. Better stll it soprted a 2.7 megapixel sensor compared to the DCS x20’s 2.0 megapixel allowing the camera to shoot for larger prints and higher quality output.

I’d better explain why it’s taken this long to come out with a review, I did have a loan D1 at the beginning of this year, however my move from Singapore back to the UK interrupted the work on this review. I’m publishing this review to help complete the range of digital SLR reviews (also Canon EOS-D30, Fujifilm S1 Pro, Kodak DCS 520, 620 & 620x).


2.74 megapixel CCD

The D1 features a 2.74 megapixel 23.7 mm x 16.7 mm CCD which outputs 2.62 million pixels (2000 x 1312). This sensor is slightly larger than than that used in Canon’s new D30, although still smaller than APS or 35mm film. This means that, like other digital SLR’s the D1 features a focal length multiplier of 1.5x, thus a 28 mm lens on a D1 has an equiv. focal length of 42 mm

Sensor / Camera Effective pixels
(millions)
Effective ** resolution Imager size (mm) Pixel (unit) size
(�m)
Sony 1/1.8″ CCD * 3.12 2,048 x 1,536 5.52 x 4.14 3.45
Nikon D1 CCD 2.62 2,000 x 1,312 23.6 x 15.5 11.8
Canon EOS-D30 CMOS 3.11 2,160 x 1,440 22.7 x 15.1 10.5
APS negative (C type) n/a n/a 30.2 x 16.7 n/a
35mm negative n/a n/a 35.0 x 23.3 n/a

* As used in Nikon Coolpix 990, Sony DSC-S70, Olympus C-3030Z etc.
** Effective meaning pixels used to produce final image

If you’re new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this review (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Photographs of the camera were taken with a Nikon Coolpix 990 and Canon EOS-D30, images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (normally 1024 x 768 or smaller if cropped) image in a new window.To navigate the review simply use the next / previous page buttons, to jump to a particular section either pick the section from the drop down or select it from the navigation bar at the top.

DPReview calibrate their monitors using Adobe Gamma at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This review is Copyright 2000 Phil Askey and the review in part or in whole may NOT be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author. For information on reproducing any part of this review (or any images) please contact: Phil Askey.

Nikon D1 Specifications

General
Name Nikon D1
Retail price US$5,500 (body only)
Type Lens-interchangeable SLR-type digital camera
Body Magnesium alloy, resistant to penetration by water drops
Imager / Sensor
Imager CCD Sensor
Imager effective pixels 2,000 x 1,312 (2.72 million)
Imager total pixels 2.74 million
Imager ratio 3:2
Imager size 15.6 mm x 23.7 mm
Imager system output 36-bit (12-bits per colour)
Imager filter Primary (RGBG) colour filter
Low-Pass filter
(anti-alias filter)
Ultra-thin lithium niobate (LiNB) Low-Pass Filter (also cuts infrared rays) incorporated just in front of CCD
ISO speed range Equiv to 200, 400, 800 and 1,600
Lenses
Lens compatibility Compatible with virtually any F-mount Nikkor lens, picture angle with D1 is equivalent to 1.5x focal length in 35mm format.
Focal length multiplier 1.5x, therefore a Nikkor 28 mm lens on this camera has a focal length equivalent to 42 mm.
Usable lenses 1) D-type AF Nikkor: All functions possible
2) D-type Manual-Focus Nikkor: All functions except autofocus possible
3) AF Nikkor other than D-type: All functions except 3D Color Matrix Metering and 3D Multi-Sensor Balanced Fill-Flash for D1 possible,
4) AI-P Nikkor: All functions except 3D Colour Matrix Metering, 3D Multi-Sensor Balanced Fill-Flash for D1 and autofocus possible
5) Non-CPU: Usable in [A] or [M] modeCentre-Weighted or Spot Metering; Electronic Rangefinder usable with lens with maximum aperture of f/5.6 or faster

Note: When Non-CPU lenses are used, [A] mode is selected automatically for [P] or [S] mode, also Centre-Weighted Metering is selected for 3D Colour Matrix Metering.

Focus
Auto focus High-speed AF system including Dynamic AF operation (same performance as F5 and F100) TTL phase detection, Nikon Multi-CAM1300 autofocus module; Detection range: EV -1 to EV 19 (ISO 100 equivalent, at normal temperature)
Focus points One of five focus areas can be selected
Focus point selection Via rear 4-way controller
Focus lock Focus is locked by pressing AE-L/AF-L button or lightly pressing shutter release button in (S) AF
AF Area Mode 1) Single Area AF
2) Dynamic AF (Dynamic AF Mode with Closest Subject Priority is available)
Lens servo 1) Single Servo AF (S)
2) Continuous Servo AF (C)
3) Manual focus (M)
Focus Tracking automatically activated by subject’s status in (S) or (C) AF
Lens aperture Instant-return type, with depth-of-field preview button
Metering / White balance
Metering modes 1) 3D Colour Matrix Metering with 1,005-pixel CCD EV 0-20
2) Centre-Weighted Metering (75% of the meter’s sensitivity concentrated on the 8mm dia. circle) EV 0-20
3) Spot (4mm dia. circle, approx. 2% of entire frame) EV 2-20
Exposure modes 1) Programmed Auto [P] (flexible programming possible)
2) Shutter-Priority Auto [S]
3) Aperture-Priority Auto [A]
4) Manual [M]
Exposure compensation +/- 5 EV range, in 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps
AE Lock 1) Auto AE lock
2) Manual AE lock button
Exposure metering coupling CPU and AI combined
Exposure / Shooting
Shutter Single-blade mechanical shutter provided for smear prevention
Shutter speed BULB, 30 secs to 1/16,000 sec
Drive modes Single, Continuous full frame (1.5 fps), Continuous 1/16 size
Exposure metering 3 mode TTL metering:
256-segment Matrix, Center-weighted, Spot
Self-Timer Custom 2 – 20 seconds
Bracketing Auto Exposure Bracketing available for two or three shots in 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, or 1 step
Burst shooting 4.5 fps shooting speed for up to 21 consecutive shots
Speed Quick startup and 0.058 sec. shutter time lag
Image storage
Storage media CompactFlash type I or II
Uncompressed formats
12-bit Raw*, 8-bit YCbCr-TIFF*, 8-bit RGB-TIFF.
(Black & White / Colour modes)
* Optional software is needed to reproduce Raw or YCbCr-TIFF images; “Nikon Capture” for Raw images, “Nikon View DX” for YCbCr-TIFF images
JPEG image modes Three: JPEG Baseline (approx. 1/4, 1/8, 1/16 compressed),
Colourspace NTSC (1953)
LCD / Viewfinder
LCD 2″ 120,000-dot low-temperature polysilicon TFT LCD with histogram indication. Backlight and brightness adjustable.
Top-Panel LCD Exposure value (shutter speed/aperture), exposure mode, exposure compensation, exposure compensation value, aperture/shutter speed lock, flash sync mode, focus area, exposure bracketing information, electronic analogue display, battery power, CF Card confirmation, number of shots taken, number of shots remaining, frame number at playback battery power for built-in clock, date/time
Rear-Panel LCD Number of shots remaining, sensitivity, white balance mode, image quality mode, monochrome mode, CF Card status, LCD monitor status, Custom function
Viewfinder TTL Optical (pentaprism) viewfinder with frame coverage of approx. 96%, Dioptre adjustment (-3 to +1 DP), High eyepoint (higher than 22mm), Eyepiece shutter provided
Focus screen B-type BriteView clear Matte Screen III; Interchangeable focusing screen (compatible with focusing screen for F100)
Viewfinder Magnification Approx. 0.8x with 50mm lens set to infinity and -1.0 DP
Viewfinder Information Focus indications, shutter speed, aperture, exposure mode, metering system, shutter speed lock, aperture lock, AE lock, electronic analogue display, frame counter, ready-light, five sets of focus brackets (area)
Flash
Internal Flash None
Flash synch Up to 1/500 sec
Sync contact X-contact only
Flash sensor 3D Multi-Sensor Balanced Fill-Flash for D1 controlled by five-segment TTL Multi Sensor with new Speedlight SB-28DX
Flash control 1) Automatic Balanced Fill-Flash controlled by five-segment TTL Multi Sensor: o 3D Multi-Sensor Balanced Fill-Flash for D1 when used with SB-28DX and D-type Nikkor lens o Multi-Sensor Balanced Fill-Flash when used with SB-28DX and AF Nikkor other than D-type, AI-P Nikkor lens
2) AA (Auto Aperture)-type Flash available when used with SB-28DX and lens with built-in CPU
3) Non-TTL Auto Flash with a Speedlight such as SB-28DX, 28, 27, 22s, etc.
Flash synch modes 1) Front-Curtain Sync (normal sync)
2) Red-Eye Reduction
3) Red-Eye Reduction with Slow Sync
4) Slow Sync
5) Rear-Curtain Sync
Playback
Playback modes 1) 1 frame
2) Thumbnail (9 segments)
3) Slide show
4) Histogram indication
Playback erase 1) Single
2) All (except protected)
Battery / Power
Batteries Interchangeable Ni-MH battery pack EN-4 and dedicated Quick Charger MH-16 (compatible with battery charger MH-15 for F100) (all optional)
Battery charge time 90 minutes
Communications / I/O
Communication Interface IEEE 1394 (FireWire)
Video Output Switchable NTSC or PAL
Remote control Via 10-pin remote terminal
Standard Accessories
Software “Nikon View DX” Browser Software
Standard Neck Strap, Video Cable
Optional Accessories
Optional “Nikon Capture” Control Software (req. for RAW format)
Ni-MH Battery Pack EN-4, Quick Charger MH-16, AC Adaptor EH-4, CompactFlash� Cards, Speedlight SB-28DX, IEEE1394 Cable SC-D1, Antifog Finder Eyepiece DK-15, “Nikon View DX” Browser Software, “Nikon Capture” Control Software
Physical specifications
Dimensions 157 x 153 x 85mm (6.1 x 6.1 x 3.4 in.)
Weight (no batteries) 1.1kg (2.5 lbs.)
Operating temperature 0oC to 40oC (32oF to 104oF)
Operating humidity 85% or lower


Design

Someone once told me “once you’ve held the D1 you won’t want any other digital SLR”, and I have to agree it’s probably the first thing you notice, super solid construction.Formed from what feels like a solid slab of magnesium alloy it weighs in at a hefty 1.1 kg (2.5 lbs) without a lens or batteries. That weight though is reassuring, you know you’re using a professional tool which was designed and built to be used in a wide variety of environments.

Many parts of the D1 bear more than a passing resemblance to other members of the Nikon SLR family such as the F5 and F100. Indeed when I was first introduced to the D1 I was told that its design was half F5 and half F100 (it’s difficult to see which halves, but sufficient to say strength wise it’s closer to the F5).

The hand grip is chunky and well shaped, hugging the inside of your palm and with enough depth to grip well right up to your fingertips, almost the entire front of the camera is covered in rubber as well as the rear compact flash compartment door which doubles as a thumb grip. As the D1 has a portrait grip built into it there’s a second shutter release and command wheel on the base of the camera. This makes the whole camera appear almost square from head-on and, probably, adds to its overall resistance to knocks.

In your hand it feels like the ultimate photography tool. Balanced perfectly and with that excellent grip it’s unlikely that you could ever really complain about the job Nikon have done with the D1’s build and design. Construction Quality is second to none, there’s simply no other digital SLR on the market (at the time of writing this review) which can rival the D1’s design, balance and build quality.

Here’s a size comparison of the D1 beside the only other “own brand” digital SLR currently available, Canon’s EOS-D30 (at the time of writing this review).


Rear LCD Display

The review LCD on the D1 is a clear, large 2″ 120,000 pixel device with a special anti-reflective coating. The LCD itself protrudes from the rear of the camera by about 8mm, while I’m sure this was necessary to the design of the D1 it does mean that the LCD is more prone to “nose smear”, plus the anti-reflective coating makes grease more visible.That said, Kudos to Nikon for using the anti-reflective coating.


Rear LCD Cover

The D1 comes supplied with a plastic clip-on cover to protect the surface of the LCD from scratches. An intelligent decision which begs the question “why wasn’t it clear?”. Never fear, after market products are here! The Hoodcap from Hoodman is a clear replacement for Nikon’s standard cover, and appears to work quite well.


Top Information LCD

The top LCD on the D1 provides a multitude of information from camera exposure details and settings to storage card, battery and connectivity information. Many of the elements of the display are reused in different modes (eg. for displaying simple text messages).Details of display below.

Logically, all of the details (apart from current frame and card activity) on the top information LCD are related with the photographic features of the camera (exposure modes etc.), details of “digital” settings are found on the rear control panel LCD (below).


Rear Control Panel LCD

The second “control panel” LCD on the rear of the camera is located next to the menu / digital control buttons. This display is used to review and set the values of the more “digital” side of the camera such as ISO sensitivity, white balance mode, image quality and custom settings.Details of this display below.

Multi-Function Display, depending on mode and buttons pressed this read-out may display: Number of Exposures Remaining / ISO Sensitivity / File Type / Custom Setting number & value

Viewfinder

The D1’s viewfinder bears more than a passing resemblance to that on the F5, about the only difference being that the D1’s viewfinder can’t be removed. Otherwise it is very, very similar, made from the same strong magnesium alloy as the rest of the body with a round rubber eyepiece, eyeglass wearers can set a dioptre adjustment by a dial on the right side, on the back there’s a lever for the eyepiece shutter, a cover which comes down inside the viewfinder for use in long exposures (to stop stray light from entering through the viewfinder). Note also that the metering system selector is on the side of the viewfinder (detailed later).

The view through the eyepiece is clear enough, the frame view feels very slightly cropped compared to a film SLR (although not as much as on Kodak DCS digital SLR’s). Manual focusing using the ground glass focusing screen (which can be changed) was easy enough and there’s plenty of information repeated on the status bar in the viewfinder.

with the D1 the focus area brackets glow red when selecting a focus point or triggering autofocus (half-pressing the shutter release for example). I particularly like this feature, found in many high-end film SLR’s it’s a useful visual reminder of just which focus area you have selected.

Note to Nikon R&D: Next time can we have a display of the currently selected ISO sensitivity? I (stupidly, I admit) did occasionally select an inappropriate sensitivity only later wishing I’d had some visual cue in the viewfinder.


Battery Compartment

The battery compartment on the D1 takes up about three quarters of the base of the camera, the compartment door is incorporated into the battery, with a flush fittingmetal catch holding the whole battery and door into place, removing the battery is a simple case of flipping and turning the catch then sliding the battery out. The EN-4 battery for the D1 is rated as 7.2V 2000 mAh (14.4 Wh), by far one of the most powerful rechargeable battery we’ve seen in any digital camera / SLR.


Battery Charger

Charging the D1’s battery is a case of plugging it into the supplied charger (MH-16). I was a little surprised that Nikon didn’t go for the docking style charger, especially for a professional product. One other disappointment was that you can’t use the charger as an AC adapter, that’s an optional extra (and a requirement if you wish to clean the CCD in the manner described in the manual).

Using this charger a full charge takes around 90 minutes (though we often experienced quicker charges). It is noted that the MH-15 battery charger (for the F100) can be used to charge D1 batteries, and it has the bonus of two connectors.


CompactFlash Compartment

The D1’s CompactFlash compartment is in the rear of the hand grip, to open it you need to lift a small flap (slip your thumb under it) and press a release button, the spring loaded door will then pop open revealing the CompactFlash slot.

It’s worth noting the rubber grommet around the seal of the compartment door, offering further dust and water resistance. There’s plenty of space inside to eject and remove the card, the door itself is cunningly designed so you can pop a new card in, put your hand on the grip which will close the door and flip over the eject lever in one movement.

I’ve heard a suggestion from users that they feel there should be a custom function to stop the camera from shooting when there’s no card inserted, sounds like a good idea.


Connections

Firewire (IEEE1394) port for image transfer and camera control Video out and DC-IN (for use with Nikon proprietary AC adapter)
Remote control and Sync flash terminals.

The D1 is well endowed with connectors, if any criticism were due it would be that they are not all concentrated in one place, although their location is logical enough when you consider using the D1 tethered or with accessory equipment.

Camera Base / Tripod Mount

Look at that lovely big pad of rubber… Isn’t that a joy to behold? Why can’t other manufacturers go the few dollars that this must cost, it makes both holding and resting the camera a much more sure-footed proposal, on a tripod head the nice metal lens & focal plane aligned tripod mount double up with the rubber base to ensure a strong grip with almost no axial movement.


Flash Hot-shoe

The D1’s accessory shoe (Hot-shoe) will accept the following Nikon Speedlights without a sync cable: SB-28DX, SB-28, SB-27, SB-26, SB-25, SB-24, SB-23, SB-22s, and SB-29.


Lens Mount

The D1 has a Nikon F lens mount, it can accept almost any Nikkor F mount lens the manual states “CPU lenses are recommended for use in the D1. D-Type lenses are particularly recommended, as you will have access to the complete range of camera functions only when a D-Type lens is attached.”Lens compatibility table is on the next page of this review.


Supplied In the Box

Masters of packaging? I think so. Just unpacking the D1 is a treat, inside the large “retail box” are four smaller silver boxes (it’s like Christmas any time of the year), the larger one contains the D1 and manuals, the two smaller the battery and charger and one more containing NikonView DX.

The total contents of the retail box are:

  • Nikon D1 Digital SLR
    • Neck Strap
    • Video Cable
    • Body Cap (lens-mount cap)
    • LCD monitor cover
    • Warranty card & “read me first”
    • Manual
    • Cheat-sheet mini reference card
  • EN-4 NiMH Battery (7.2V 2000mAh)
  • MH-16 Battery Charger
    • Power cable
  • FotoStation 4.0 CD-ROM

Top of camera controls (left)

Top of the camera on the left side of the viewfinder is situated the mode dial and three mode control buttons: Bracketing, Flash and AF area.The mode dial itself is “self locking” meaning that you have to press the small button at the top left of the dial before it will rotate, these type of locking controls are found commonly on professional cameras (and again echo back to the D1’s F5 inheritance).

Mode Dial

Symbol
Mode
PC Computer Connect

Camera must be switched to this mode to activate Firewire (IEEE1394) port and allow remote computer control and image transfer.
PLAY Playback

Switches camera to playback mode, images taken are reviewed on the main LCD screen.
S Single frame shooting

One frame is taken when shutter release is pressed, next shot cannot be taken until that image has been flushed away to the storage card. I have no idea why the D1 doesn’t use the memory buffer for single frame shooting, that way you’d never have to wait for the camera whatever the shooting mode (maybe this should be a custom function?)
C Continuous shooting

Frames are taken at the predefined burst rate (max of 4.5 fps, this can be set via a custom function), maximum number of frames in a burst (for all image quality) is 21. When shutter release is half-pressed the maximum number of images which can be taken in a burst is displayed on the viewfinder status bar and top LCD screen (“rXX” where XX is the number).
Self-timer shooting

Camera takes a shot after a predefined delay, this delay can be set through a custom function.

One thing I never really understood here is the need for a specific PLAY mode, pressing the monitor button puts the camera in a “semi-playback” mode, the only difference being that the control panel buttons don’t operate in play mode (and I’m sure that’s an easy hack). It would have been simpler to do away with play mode and have the camera enter play mode when the monitor button is pressed (shooting still takes priority though).

Note: it is possible to effect a “buffered single frame mode” by switching to continuous shooting mode and setting custom function 26 to 1 (“only buffer one image in continuous mode”), of course that leaves you without continuous shooting and you don’t get an image review like you do in non-buffered single frame.

Mode Dial Buttons

The three mode buttons in the center of the mode dial only change a setting when held and combined with a turn of the main command or sub command dials. Detailed below.

Button
Main command dial (rear)

Sub command dial (front)
BKT Auto Bracketing: Shots / EV

Choose any combination of:
• 2 or 3 shots of
• 0.3, 0.7, 1.0, 1.3, 1.7, 2.0 steps (1/3 EV)
Auto Bracketing: Enable/Disable

• On
• Off
Flash sync mode

• Front-curtain sync (normal flash)
• Slow sync
• Rear-curtain sync
• Red-eye reduction
• Red-eye reduction with slow sync
No action
AF Area Mode *

• Single Area AF
• Dynamic AF
• Dynamic AF with closest subject priority
No action

Autofocus modes

Focus mode AF area mode Closest subject priority Focus area selection Top LCD display Focus area show in viewfinder?
Single
Servo AF
Single area AF N/A Manual
Dynamic area AF On (default) Automatic
Off (CSM 9) Manual
Continuous Servo AF Single area AF N/A Manual
Dynamic area AF Off (default) Manual
On (CSM 10) Automatic


Top of camera controls (right)

Top of the camera on the right side are the two command dials (front and back), the power & LCD illumination switch, shutter release and several other buttons for camera exposure settings.Note that all the controls here relate to the photographic parts of the camera.

Power dial

Symbol
Mode
OFF Camera Off

Powers camera off. Here’s a niggle: if you have images in the buffer the D1 will only save the image it is currently writing to the card and discard the rest. This is annoying to say the least. The camera should continue writing (with some kind of flashing warning on the top / rear LCD) until all images in the buffer have been written to the storage card, OR images should be held in the buffer until you turn the camera back on at which time the camera would prompt you to continue writing.
ON Camera On

Switches camera on, this is virtually instant, there’s no perceptible delay between turning the dial to the On position and being able to shoot.. Kudos.
Illuminate

Spring loaded position, automatically returns to On. This illuminates the top and rear LCD’s with a green backlight for 5 seconds (or as long as you hold the switch in this position).

Buttons

Button
Main command dial (rear)

Sub command dial (front)
MODE Exposure Mode * described below

• Programmed auto
• Shutter-Priority auto
• Aperture-Priority auto
• Manual
No action
Exposure Compensation

• +/-5EV in 1/3EV or 1/2EV steps
No action

Exposure Modes

Icon
Mode
P Programmed Auto (Flexible)

The Program AE on the D1 is flexible, that means that you can select one of a variety of equal exposures by rolling the main command dial (rear of camera) left or right.Example:
• 1/50 F5.6 (roll left a click) P*
• 1/60 F5 (roll left a click) P*
1/80 F4.5 (metered) P
• 1/100 F4 (roll right a click) P*
• 1/125 F3.5 (roll right a click) P*

The D1 remembers the selected offset from default metering, the only way to reset this is to perform a two-button reset or quickly turn the camera off and on again. Hopefully next time there’ll be a simple way to reset the exposure back to the default (maybe a custom setting?)

S Shutter Priority Auto

In this mode you select the shutter speed and the camera will calculate the correct aperture for the exposure (based on the reading of the current metering mode). Shutter speed is displayed on the viewfinder status bar and on the top LCD, roll the main command dial (rear) to select different shutter speeds. A half-press of the shutter release causes the cameras exposure system to calculate the aperture, if it’s outside of the cameras exposure range (for instance trying to take a shot at 1/500s in darkness) the aperture will show ‘Lo’ or ‘Hi’.• 30 seconds – 1/16,000 sec (in 1/3 or 1/2 EV steps)

Shutter speed in this mode can be locked by pressing the button and rotating the main command dial.

A Aperture Priority Auto

In this mode you select the aperture and the camera will calculate the correct shutter speed for the exposure (based on the reading of the current metering mode). Aperture is displayed on the viewfinder status bar and on the top LCD, roll the sub-command (front) dial to select different apertures. A half-press of the shutter release causes the cameras exposure system to calculate the shutter speed, if it’s outside of the cameras exposure range the shutter speed will show ‘Lo’ or ‘Hi’.• Range depends on lens maximum and minimum apertures (in 1/3 or 1/2 EV steps)

Aperture in this mode can be locked by pressing the button and rotating the sub-command dial.

M Full Manual Exposure

In this mode you select the aperture and the shutter speed from any combination of the above (plus BULB for shutter speed, apertures limited by the lens used). Main command dial selects shutter speed, sub-command dial selects aperture. The meter on the viewfinder status bar and top LCD will immediately reflect the exposure level compared to the calculated ideal exposure, if it’s outside of +/- 2EV the indicator bar will add an arrow ‘<‘ or ‘>’ on the end of the meter.

Nikon D700

Add to:
Nikon D700
Highly Recommended
Reviewed: Oct 2008
User reviews (61)
4.64
12.1 megapixels | 3″ screen | Full frame sensor

Essentially a D3 shrunk down and squeezed into a body roughly the same size as a D300, the D700 shares the acclaimed 12.1MP full frame (‘FX’) sensor as the D3 and has the same processing engine, so we would presume output to be almost identical. The main differences (aside from being considerably smaller) are physical; there’s a different shutter (good for 150,000 exposures rather than 300,000 on the D3), different viewfinder prism (with 95% coverage) and a slower burst rate.

You also lose the rear LCD info panel (there’s no room for it) and one of the D3’s two CF card slots, but you do get a couple of extra features to soften the blow slightly; most notably a self-cleaning sensor and a built-in flash. Unsurprisingly the D700 produces excellent output that is very similar to the D3’s. The D700 offers an enormous, almost five stop RAW headroom that allows you to even pull back highlight detail that has been blown out beyond recognition. The D700’s most obvious strength though is its high ISO performance. It’s the combination of the huge photosites on the full frame sensor and Nikon’s very sensible approach to noise reduction (heavy-handed on chroma noise and much more lenient on luminance noise) that lets you (within limits) take usable pictures up to a sensitivity of ISO 12800.

Quick links: Announcement | Review | Sample gallery | Forum
Announced: Jul 1, 2008

Specifications

Body type
Body type Mid-size SLR
Sensor
Max resolution 4256 x 2832 ?
Other resolutions 3184 x 2120, 2128 x 1416 ?
Image ratio w:h 3:2 ?
Effective pixels 12.1 megapixels ?
Sensor photo detectors 12.9 megapixels ?
Sensor size Full frame (36 x 24 mm) ?
Sensor type CMOS ?
Processor Expeed
Image
ISO 200 – 6400 in 1, 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps (100 – 25600 with boost) ?
White balance presets 12 ?
Custom white balance Yes (5) ?
Image stabilization No ?
Uncompressed format RAW
JPEG quality levels Fine, Normal, Basic ?
Optics & Focus
Autofocus
  • Phase Detect
  • Multi-area
  • Selective single-point
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Live View
?
Digital zoom No
Manual focus Yes ?
Number of focus points 51
Lens mount Nikon F mount
Focal length multiplier ?
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCD No ?
Screen size 3″ ?
Screen dots 922,000 ?
Touch screen No
Screen type TFT Color LCD with wide-viewing angle
Live view Yes ?
Viewfinder type Optical (pentaprism) ?
Viewfinder coverage 95 % ?
Viewfinder magnification 0.72× ?
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed 30 sec ?
Maximum shutter speed 1/8000 sec ?
Aperture priority Yes ?
Shutter priority Yes ?
Manual exposure mode Yes
Subject / scene modes No
Built-in flash Yes (pop-up)
External flash Yes (Hot-shoe, Wireless plus sync connector)
Flash modes Auto, On, Off, Red-eye, Slow sync, Rear curtain
Continuous drive Yes (5, 8 fps) ?
Self-timer Yes (2 to 20 sec)
Metering modes
  • Multi
  • Center-weighted
  • Average
  • Spot
Exposure compensation ±5 EV (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps) ?
AE Bracketing (2, 3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)
WB Bracketing Yes ?
Videography features
Microphone None
Speaker None
Storage
Storage types Compact Flash (Type I) ?
Storage included None ?
Connectivity
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec) ?
HDMI Yes (Mini Type C) ?
Wireless None ?
Remote control Yes
Physical
Environmentally sealed Yes (Water and dust resistant)
Battery Battery Pack ?
Battery description Lithium-Ion EN-EL3e rechargeable battery & charger ?
Battery Life (CIPA) 1000 ?
Weight (inc. batteries) 1074 g (2.37 lb / 37.88 oz)
Dimensions 147 x 123 x 77 mm (5.79 x 4.84 x 3.03″)
Other features
Orientation sensor Yes
Timelapse recording Yes ?
GPS Optional
GPS notes GP-1

Nikon D300S

Add to:
82%
Highly Recommended
Reviewed: Nov 2009
User reviews (31)
4.52
Amazon reviews (115)
4.50
12.3 megapixels | 3″ screen | APS-C sensor

The Nikon D300S is a relatively minor update to the D300 – the leading APS-C DSLR of its day. It’s based around an updated, video-capable version of the 12MP CMOS sensor used in its predecessor. It offers a very slightly revised control layout and improved continuous shooting rate. The biggest change is the addition of the ability to shoot 720p24 HD movies (MJPEG). Beyond that it retains the rugged build, excellent 51-point AF system and 100% coverage viewfinder that made the D300 such a pleasure to work with. Improvements in sensor technology and Nikon’s re-jigging of its lineup mean it is no longer the stand-out camera it once was.

Quick links: Announcement | Review | Sample gallery | Forum
Announced: Jul 30, 2009

Specifications

Body type
Body type Mid-size SLR
Sensor
Max resolution 4288 x 2848 ?
Other resolutions 3216 x 2136, 2144 x 1424 ?
Image ratio w:h 3:2 ?
Effective pixels 12.3 megapixels ?
Sensor photo detectors 13.1 megapixels ?
Sensor size APS-C (23.6 x 15.8 mm) ?
Sensor type CMOS ?
Processor Expeed
Image
ISO 200 – 3200 in 1, 1/2 or 1/3 EV steps (100 – 6400 with boost) ?
White balance presets 12 ?
Custom white balance Yes (5) ?
Image stabilization No ?
Uncompressed format RAW + TIFF
JPEG quality levels Fine, Normal, Basic ?
Optics & Focus
Autofocus
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Phase Detect
  • Multi-area
  • Selective single-point
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
?
Digital zoom No
Manual focus Yes ?
Number of focus points 51
Lens mount Nikon F mount
Focal length multiplier 1.5× ?
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCD Fixed ?
Screen size 3″ ?
Screen dots 920,000 ?
Touch screen No
Screen type Super Density TFT color LCD with wide-viewing angle
Live view Yes ?
Viewfinder type Optical (pentaprism) ?
Viewfinder coverage 100 % ?
Viewfinder magnification 0.94× ?
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed 30 sec ?
Maximum shutter speed 1/8000 sec ?
Aperture priority Yes ?
Shutter priority Yes ?
Manual exposure mode Yes
Subject / scene modes No
Built-in flash Yes (Pop-up)
Flash range 12 m (at ISO 100)
External flash Yes (Hot-shoe, Wireless plus sync connector)
Flash modes Auto, On, Off, Red-eye, Slow sync, Rear curtain
Continuous drive Yes (7 fps) ?
Self-timer Yes (2, 5, 10 or 20 sec)
Metering modes
  • Multi
  • Center-weighted
  • Spot
Exposure compensation ±5 EV (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps) ?
AE Bracketing ±5 (2, 3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)
WB Bracketing Yes (2 or 9 frames in steps of 1, 2 or 3 mired) ?
Videography features
Format
  • Motion JPEG
Microphone Stereo
Resolutions 1280 x 720 (24 fps), 640 x 480 (24 fps), 320 x 240 (24 fps)
Storage
Storage types Compact Flash Type I/SD/SDHC ?
Storage included None ?
Connectivity
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec) ?
HDMI Yes (Mini Type C) ?
Wireless EyeFi ?
Remote control Yes (Optional, wired or wireless )
Physical
Environmentally sealed Yes (Water and dust resistant)
Battery Battery Pack ?
Battery description Lithium-Ion EN-EL3e rechargeable battery & charger ?
Battery Life (CIPA) 950 ?
Weight (inc. batteries) 938 g (2.07 lb / 33.09 oz)
Dimensions 147 x 114 x 74 mm (5.79 x 4.49 x 2.91″)
Other features
Orientation sensor Yes
Timelapse recording Yes ?
GPS Optional
GPS notes GP-1