Nikon D1 (1999)

Announced 1999-06-15, the Nikon D1 was one of the most anticipated cameras of the last century. Nikon chose the one digit model name very intentionally as it was to mark the beginning of a new DSLR line. It was not only the first of the 'D' series but also the first DSLR entirely made by Nikon. Since most DSLR's at that time were piggy-backed 35mm SLR cameras, Nikon saw a fair chance of gaining a big marketshare if they were able to develop a DSLR made entirely under one company in one body. Up until 1998, Nikon had always been just a "supplier", on one hand with Fuji, on the other hand with Kodak. All Nikon had was an obsolete digital camera line. Having helped Kodak put together the Kodak DCS620 they quickly realized that the market was to be dominated by Canon and Kodak. So Nikon had to react fast in order to get some marketshare in the near future.

R&D on this camera began back in 1998. Nikon embarked on an ambitious journey as they wanted to use large sensors that could still be powered by regular battery packs while mainting continious shooting mode for journalistic use. Having had troubles finding a sensor supplier from the major companies, Nikon finally ended up with the now famous 2.74MP sensor. The imaging sensor was a very secret and special development. Until now, people can only speculate as to what company manufactured it. More than that, each pixel consisted of four subpixels, each equipped with a micro-lens on top. So in fact, with a little tampering, the read-out could have been four times higher. This would have resulted in a 10MP DSLR in 1999! To retain image quality and signal-to-noise ratio, Nikon left the CCD readout at 2.7MP by grouping the four subpixels together.

The camera also featured the world's fastest shutter speed with 1/16,000s. A truly innovative camera which featured also the world's fastest continuous shooting speed with 4.5 frames per second in bursts of up to 21 shots in a continuous sequence. The D1 eventually ended Kodak's reign over the professional DSLR market because of it's compact design, it's innovative features andit's low price (Kodak and Canon DSLR's of that year were easily four to five times more expensive). Above you can see a marketing shot of the Nikon D1 and a heavily used and battered Nikon D1 that is still working today (try that with one of those plastic tiny new age digicams).

Sidenote: the CCD was adopted for the Nikon Coolpix 950


  • Brand: Nikon
  • Model: D1
  • First mentioned: 1999
  • Marketed: yes
  • MSRP: $4,999
  • Imager Type: 2.74 MP CCD
  • Resolution: 1324x2012
  • Internal Storage: -
  • External Storage: Compact Flash
  • Lens: various AF-Nikkor lenses
  • Shutter: 30s - 1/16,000s
  • Aperture Range: lens dependent
  • LCD screen size: 2" TFT
  • Size: 157 x 153 x 86mm
  • Weight: 1,100 gr.
  • Remarks: Magnesium alloy body

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