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- Photography using Digital SLRs


 

Nikon D1X Experience Report

A review by Uwe Steinmueller @Digital Outback Photo

Also photos by Bettina Steinmueller

 

Last Updated (07/08/2001)

 
Review methodology (or lack of :-)) here.
 
Here you find the popular digital SLRs compared
 
Sample Portfolio : these are large files (JPG 10 in Photoshop) and use sRGB profiles. If you want to judge color you need a calibrated monitor. Please understand that we only publish here photos which we are not planning to license elsewhere. Still all photos remain copyright Bettina + Uwe Steinmueller but you can download these photos for your personal technical evaluation.
 
Introduction
 
Since Friday 6/22/2001 we have our own D1x which we bought at National Graphic Supply (ask for Sheila) as we don't know where we are on the long list of reviewers at Nikon.
 

Somehow we really feel qualified for judging this new camera as we use now over 1 year the D1 (own two and you can find our D1 portfolios here) and also have recently reviewed the Kodak DCS 760. The 760 is currently the closest competitor to the Nikon D1x.

About one year ago we first published our D1 Experience report.

 
We only photograph in NEF (uncompressed RAW) format. At this point in time the US D1x customers have to wait for the official release of Nikon Capture 2 (costs $199 with a $100 rebate if buying a D1x, while the European customers get the US version free and delivered right now). At this point in time we only can use Bibble 2.99e and/or Qimage 2001 V2.1 to decode the D1X uncompressed NEF files. Fortunately Bibble/Qimage do a very good job here. To use uncompressed NEF files not only has the advantage that we can use Bibble/Qimage but also that the uncompressed NEF files (although double the size of the compressed version) store much faster onto the CF cards/Microdrives.
 
06/23/2001 The first 24 hours with the D1X
 
Some photos (out of a total of 300 NEF files) of our first 24 hour experience are shown in "First 24 hours with the D1X".
 

As we are longtime D1 users we of course looked intensively for some improvements of the D1x compared to the D1. Here is a list of some findings:

Positive

  • Very short learning curve for D1 users
  • D1X uncompressed NEF files write faster to the Microdrive than the smaller NEFs on the D1
  • The image preview and histogram (which we watch permanently) is very fast displayed even if the camera writes multiple files from the buffer to the Microdrive
  • ISO is from 125-800 and can be selected in 1/3 f-stops
  • Bjorn Rorslet reported short battery life. We cannot second his findings as we got over 120 photos (using AF-S lenses) and still had about 1/2 battery capacity.

Problems:

  • Dust remains a major problem. The dust is also more visible due to the much higher resolution. Nikon should support cleaning which does not require sending in the camera. Just using a blower is often not enough.
  • The file counter was reset twice to 1 although we have set CSM 29 properly(we still have to find out why) and at the same time the language was set to Japanese.

Minor things:

  • The transparent LCD hood is not as transparent as the Hoodman Hoodcap which I will use from now on.

Image processing:

  • Files are double size this results in:
    • 2x CDs
    • need more memory
    • need more processing power
    • need more hard disk space.
 
These are just findings during the first 24 hours.
 
Score after day 1: D1x looks right now like a very positive surprise
 
We will gain much more experience with the D1x during our trip to the Eastern Sierra (Bodie, Mono Lake, Mammoth) in the first week of July.
 
06/24/2001 D1X meets White Pelicans
 
Our beloved White Pelicans returned to Baylands and the D1X did well.
 
06/26/2001 D1X at High ISO
 
Two photos of Snowy Egrets illustrate the D1X behavior at higher ISO settings.
 
06/29 - 07/07 D1x in the Eastern Sierra
 
We share some of our first impressions from our Eastern Sierra trip in the "Eastern Sierra Diary".
 
07/07/2001 Eastern Sierra Experience
 
After more than 1000 D1x NEF photos we now get knowing the D1x much better. The "Eastern Sierra Experience" will show some lessons learned.
 
Conclusion
 
We made about 1500 real world outdoor NEF photos during the last two weeks and think to know the D1x much better now (also we used two D1 for over 15 months).
 

The D1x is really a very impressive camera and builds on the strength of the D1 while removing some of its weaknesses. Resolution is there and the discussion about the strange CCD layout is mute if you look at the convincing results. Some other digital cameras provide more "punch" with the resulting photos. In our opinion the color rendering of the D1x is very accurate but some might like a bit more saturation which can be added in the digital darkroom.

Here are the known issues:

  • There is this strange D1x bug which changes the menu language to Japanese and also resets the image counter to 1.
  • As of now the only serious problem we found was again dealing with dust on the CCD. In the news groups there exists a whole subculture dealing with hot recipes how to clean a D1/D1x CCD. Would be nice if Nikon came up with a more reasonable solution than sending in the camera.
 
 
You can order the Nikon D1x here
 
 

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