Canon 1D vs Nikon D90
The Canon EOS-1D and the Nikon D90 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2001 and August 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-H (1D) and an APS-C (D90) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 4.1 megapixels, whereas the Nikon provides 12.2 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their sensors, their features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
|Canon 1D||Nikon D90|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|4.1 MP, APS-H Sensor||12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|no Video||720/24p Video|
|ISO 200-1600 (100-3200)||ISO 200-3200 (200-6400)|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|2.0" LCD, 120k dots||3.0" LCD, 920k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|8 shutter flaps per second||4.5 shutter flaps per second|
|Weathersealed body||Not weather sealed|
|500 shots per battery charge||850 shots per battery charge|
|156 x 158 x 80 mm, 1585 g||132 x 103 x 77 mm, 703 g|
Body comparison: Canon 1D vs Nikon D90
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 1D and the Nikon D90. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D90 is considerably smaller (45 percent) than the Canon 1D. Moreover, the D90 is substantially lighter (56 percent) than the 1D. It is worth mentioning in this context that the 1D is splash and dust resistant, while the D90 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (1D) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D90).
Concerning battery life, the 1D gets 500 shots out of its NP-E3 battery, while the D90 can take 850 images on a single charge of its EN-EL3e power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the 1D has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the D90, Nikon provides the MB-D80 vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Canon 1D»||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||55.9 oz||500||Y||Sep 2001||6,499||-||Canon 1D|
|Nikon D90«||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||24.8 oz||850||n||Aug 2008||1,299||-||Nikon D90|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||6.2 in||6.6 in||3.3 in||54.0 oz||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||5.9 in||4.6 in||3.0 in||31.4 oz||900||Y||Aug 2016||3,499||Canon 5D Mark IV|
|Canon 1D C« »||6.2 in||6.5 in||3.3 in||54.5 oz||1120||Y||Apr 2012||14,999||-||Canon 1D C|
|Canon 1D X« »||6.2 in||6.6 in||3.3 in||54.7 oz||1120||Y||Oct 2011||6,799||-||Canon 1D X|
|Canon 1D Mark IV« »||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||43.4 oz||1500||Y||Oct 2009||4,999||-||Canon 1D Mark IV|
|Canon 1D Mark III« »||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||40.7 oz||2200||Y||Feb 2007||4,499||-||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III« »||5.9 in||6.3 in||3.1 in||48.9 oz||1800||Y||Aug 2007||7,999||-||Canon 1Ds Mark III|
|Canon 40D« »||5.7 in||4.3 in||2.9 in||29.0 oz||750||n||Aug 2007||1,299||-||Canon 40D|
|Canon 1D Mark II N« »||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||55.2 oz||1200||Y||Aug 2005||3,999||-||Canon 1D Mark II N|
|Canon 1D Mark II« »||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||54.1 oz||1200||Y||Jan 2004||4,499||-||Canon 1D Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds« »||6.1 in||6.2 in||3.1 in||44.6 oz||600||Y||Sep 2002||8,999||-||Canon 1Ds|
|Nikon D7000« »||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||27.5 oz||1050||Y||Sep 2010||1,499||-||Nikon D7000|
|Nikon D300S« »||5.8 in||4.5 in||3.2 in||33.1 oz||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799||-||Nikon D300S|
|Nikon D5000« »||5.0 in||4.1 in||3.1 in||20.8 oz||510||n||Apr 2009||749||-||Nikon D5000|
|Nikon D80« »||5.2 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||23.6 oz||600||n||Aug 2006||999||-||Nikon D80|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The D90 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 80 percent) than the 1D, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
Sensor comparison: Canon 1D vs Nikon D90
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 1D features an APS-H sensor and the Nikon D90 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D90 is 32 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.3 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the D90 offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 4.1 MP of the 1D. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.53μm versus 11.56μm for the 1D). However, it should be noted that the D90 is much more recent (by 6 years and 11 months) than the 1D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The Canon EOS-1D has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D90 are ISO 200 to ISO 3200, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 200-6400..
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Canon 1D»||APS-H||4.1||2496||1662||-||-||-||-||-||Canon 1D|
|Nikon D90«||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/24p||22.7||12.5||977||73||Nikon D90|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||Full Frame||30.1||6720||4480||4K/30p||24.8||13.6||2995||91||Canon 5D Mark IV|
|Canon 1D C« »||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||4K/24p||-||-||-||-||Canon 1D C|
|Canon 1D X« »||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||23.8||11.8||2786||82||Canon 1D X|
|Canon 1D Mark IV« »||APS-H||16.0||4896||3264||1080/30p||22.8||12.0||1320||74||Canon 1D Mark IV|
|Canon 1D Mark III« »||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||-||22.7||11.7||1078||71||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III« »||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||-||24.0||12.0||1663||80||Canon 1Ds Mark III|
|Canon 40D« »||APS-C||10.1||3888||2592||-||22.1||11.3||703||64||Canon 40D|
|Canon 1D Mark II N« »||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||-||22.3||11.2||975||66||Canon 1D Mark II N|
|Canon 1D Mark II« »||APS-H||8.2||3504||2336||-||22.3||11.1||1003||66||Canon 1D Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds« »||Full Frame||11.0||4064||2704||-||21.8||11.0||954||63||Canon 1Ds|
|Nikon D7000« »||APS-C||16.1||4928||3264||10800/24p||23.5||13.9||1167||80||Nikon D7000|
|Nikon D300S« »||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/24p||22.5||12.2||787||70||Nikon D300S|
|Nikon D5000« »||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/24p||22.7||12.5||868||72||Nikon D5000|
|Nikon D80« »||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||-||22.1||11.2||524||61||Nikon D80|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The D90 indeed provides for movie recording, while the 1D does not. The highest resolution format that the D90 can use is 720/24p.
Feature comparison: Canon 1D vs Nikon D90
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The 1D and the D90 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 1D and Nikon D90 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Canon 1D»||optical||Y||2.0||120||fixed||n||16000||8.0||n||n||Canon 1D|
|Nikon D90«||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||4000||4.5||Y||n||Nikon D90|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||8000||16.0||n||n||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||8000||7.0||n||n||Canon 5D Mark IV|
|Canon 1D C« »||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||8000||14.0||n||n||Canon 1D C|
|Canon 1D X« »||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||8000||14.0||n||n||Canon 1D X|
|Canon 1D Mark IV« »||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||8000||10.0||n||n||Canon 1D Mark IV|
|Canon 1D Mark III« »||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||8000||10.0||n||n||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III« »||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||8000||5.0||n||n||Canon 1Ds Mark III|
|Canon 40D« »||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||8000||6.5||Y||n||Canon 40D|
|Canon 1D Mark II N« »||optical||Y||2.5||230||fixed||n||8000||8.5||n||n||Canon 1D Mark II N|
|Canon 1D Mark II« »||optical||Y||2.0||230||fixed||n||8000||8.3||n||n||Canon 1D Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds« »||optical||Y||2.0||120||fixed||n||8000||3.0||n||n||Canon 1Ds|
|Nikon D7000« »||optical||Y||3.0||921||fixed||n||8000||6.0||Y||n||Nikon D7000|
|Nikon D300S« »||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||8000||7.0||Y||n||Nikon D300S|
|Nikon D5000« »||optical||n||2.7||230||full-flex||n||4000||4.0||Y||n||Nikon D5000|
|Nikon D80« »||optical||n||2.5||230||fixed||n||4000||3.0||Y||n||Nikon D80|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D90 has one, while the 1D does not. While the built-in flash of the D90 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The 1D writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the D90 uses SDHC cards. The 1D features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the D90 only has one slot.
Connectivity comparison: Canon 1D vs Nikon D90
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Canon EOS-1D and Nikon D90 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Canon 1D»||Y||-||-||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-||Canon 1D|
|Nikon D90«||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D90|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||-||Canon 5D Mark IV|
|Canon 1D C« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1D C|
|Canon 1D X« »||Y||mono||-||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1D X|
|Canon 1D Mark IV« »||Y||stereo||-||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1D Mark IV|
|Canon 1D Mark III« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 1Ds Mark III|
|Canon 40D« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Canon 40D|
|Canon 1D Mark II N« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-||Canon 1D Mark II N|
|Canon 1D Mark II« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||1.1||-||-||-||Canon 1D Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-||Canon 1Ds|
|Nikon D7000« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D7000|
|Nikon D300S« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D300S|
|Nikon D5000« »||Y||mono||mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D5000|
|Nikon D80« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D80|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Canon 1D (unlike the D90) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the 1D and the D90 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 1D was replaced by the Canon 1D Mark II, while the D90 was followed by the Nikon D7000.
Review summary: Canon 1D vs Nikon D90
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Canon 1D or the Nikon D90 – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS-1D:
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (16000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (8 vs 4.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2001).
Advantages of the Nikon D90:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (12.2 vs 4.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 72%.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/24p video.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (920k vs 120k dots).
- More compact: Is smaller (132x103mm vs 156x158mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 882g or 56 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (850 versus 500) out of a single battery charge.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (80 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 11 months of technical progress since the 1D launch.
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D90 emerges as the winner of the match-up (10 : 7 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 1D or the D90. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
Expert reviews: Canon 1D vs Nikon D90
This is where reviews by experts come in. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.
|Canon 1D»||-||HiRec||-||-||-||Sep 2001||6,499||-||Canon 1D|
|Nikon D90«||HiRec||HiRec||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299||-||Nikon D90|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||-||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||5,999||Canon 1D X Mark II|
|Canon 5D Mark IV« »||HiRec||87/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2016||3,499||Canon 5D Mark IV|
|Canon 1D C« »||-||-||-||-||-||Apr 2012||14,999||-||Canon 1D C|
|Canon 1D X« »||-||-||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2011||6,799||-||Canon 1D X|
|Canon 1D Mark IV« »||-||89/100||-||5/5||-||Oct 2009||4,999||-||Canon 1D Mark IV|
|Canon 1D Mark III« »||-||-||-||rev||-||Feb 2007||4,499||-||Canon 1D Mark III|
|Canon 1Ds Mark III« »||-||HiRec||4.5/5||-||-||Aug 2007||7,999||-||Canon 1Ds Mark III|
|Canon 40D« »||HiRec||HiRec||4.5/5||rev||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,299||-||Canon 40D|
|Canon 1D Mark II N« »||-||-||-||-||-||Aug 2005||3,999||-||Canon 1D Mark II N|
|Canon 1D Mark II« »||-||HiRec||-||rev||-||Jan 2004||4,499||-||Canon 1D Mark II|
|Canon 1Ds« »||-||HiRec||-||-||-||Sep 2002||8,999||-||Canon 1Ds|
|Nikon D7000« »||-||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2010||1,499||-||Nikon D7000|
|Nikon D300S« »||HiRec||82/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799||-||Nikon D300S|
|Nikon D5000« »||HiRec||75/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2009||749||-||Nikon D5000|
|Nikon D80« »||Rec||HiRec||rev||4.5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2006||999||-||Nikon D80|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
- Canon 1D Mark III vs Sony A7
- Canon 60D vs Sony A7R
- Canon 7D II vs Nikon D7200
- Canon 7D vs Nikon D750
- Canon T6i vs Olympus E-1
- Canon XT vs Canon T6s
- Fujifilm X-T100 vs Leica V-LUX Typ 114
- Olympus E-PM2 vs Olympus E-PL7
- Olympus TG-5 vs Panasonic G85
- Panasonic GH5 vs Pentax Q
- Panasonic GX7 vs Panasonic GX800
- Panasonic LX100 vs Panasonic G6
Specifications: Canon 1D vs Nikon D90
|Camera Model||Canon 1D||Nikon D90|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Canon EF mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2001||August 2008|
|Launch Price||USD 6499||USD 1299|
|Sensor Format||APS-H Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||28.7 x 19.1 mm||23.6 x 19.1 mm|
|Sensor Area||548.17 mm2||372.88 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||34.5 mm||28.4 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||4.1 Megapixels||12.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||2496 x 1662 pixels||4288 x 2848 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||11.56 μm||5.53 μm|
|Pixel Density||0.76 MP/cm2||3.28 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||720/24p Video|
|ISO Setting||200-1600 ISO||200-3200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100-3200 ISO||200-6400 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||73|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||22.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||12.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||977|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||96%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||n/a||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.0 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||120k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Autofocus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Maximum Shutter Speed||1/16000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||8 shutter flaps/s||4.5 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||SDHC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||Firewire||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Not weather sealed|
|Battery Type||NP-E3 power pack||EN-EL3e power pack|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||500 shots per charge||850 shots per charge|
156 x 158 x 80 mm
(6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 in)
132 x 103 x 77 mm
(5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in)
|Camera Weight||1585 g (55.9 oz)||703 g (24.8 oz)|
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