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Canon 5D Mark IV versus Nikon D1

The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV and the Nikon D1 are two professional cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in August 2016 and June 1999. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (5D Mark IV) and an APS-C (D1) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 30.1 megapixel, whereas the Nikon provides 2.6 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Canon 5D Mark IV vs Nikon D1

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Canon 5D Mark IV and the Nikon D1. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the 5D Mark IV – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Canon 5D Mark IV vs Nikon D1
5D Mark IV versus D1 top view
5D Mark IV and D1 rear side

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D1 is notably larger (37 percent) than the Canon 5D Mark IV. Moreover, the D1 is markedly heavier (24 percent) than the 5D Mark IV. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.

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 find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (5D Mark IV) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D1).

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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.

Camera Body Specifications
Camera Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(y/n)
Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Canon 5D Mark IV (⇒ rgt) 5.9 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 31.4 oz 900 YES 2016 3,499 latest check
Nikon D1 (⇒ lft) 6.2 in 6.0 in 3.3 in 38.8 oz .. YES 1999 5,499discont. check
Canon 6D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 27.0 oz 1200 YES 2017 1,999 latest check
Canon 1D X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.0 oz 1210 YES 2016 5,999 latest check
Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 YES 2015 3,699 latest check
Canon 5DS (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 YES 2015 3,699 latest check
Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 33.5 oz 950 YES 2012 3,499discont. check
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.0 in 4.5 in 3.0 in 30.0 oz 850 YES 2008 3,499discont. check
Canon 5D (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.0 in 4.4 in 3.0 in 31.6 oz 400 YES 2005 3,299discont. check
Nikon D850 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 4.9 in 3.1 in 35.5 oz 1840 YES 2017 3,299 latest check
Nikon D4 (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.3 oz 2600 YES 2012 5,999discont. check
Nikon D800 (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 35.3 oz 900 YES 2012 2,999discont. check
Nikon D800E (⇒ lft | rgt) 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 35.3 oz 900 YES 2012 3,299discont. check
Nikon D2Xs (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 44.2 oz 3800 YES 2006 4,699discont. check
Nikon D2X (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 44.2 oz 3800 YES 2004 4,999discont. check
Nikon D1H (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.2 in 6.0 in 3.3 in 38.8 oz 1200 YES 2001 4,499discont. check
Nikon D1X (⇒ lft | rgt) 6.2 in 6.0 in 3.3 in 38.8 oz 1200 YES 2001 5,999discont. check

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 5D Mark IV was launched at a markedly lower price (by 36 percent) than the D1, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Sensor comparison: Canon 5D Mark IV vs Nikon D1

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 5D Mark IV features a full frame sensor and the Nikon D1 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the D1 is 57 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Canon 5D Mark IV and Nikon D1 sensor measures

With 30.1MP, the 5D Mark IV offers a higher resolution than the D1 (2.6MP), but the 5D Mark IV has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.36μm versus 11.93μm for the D1). However, the 5D Mark IV is a somewhat more recent model (by 17 years and 2 months) than the D1, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

5D Mark IV versus D1 MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(Megapixel)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Canon 5D Mark IV (⇒ rgt) Full Frame 30.1 6720 4480 4K/30p 24.8 13.6 2995 91
Nikon D1 (⇒ lft) APS-C 2.6 2000 1312 no - - - -
Canon 6D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 26.0 6240 4160 1080/60p 24.4 11.9 2862 85
Canon 1D X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 20.0 5472 3648 4K/60p 24.1 13.5 3207 88
Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 50.3 8688 5792 1080/60p 24.6 12.4 2308 86
Canon 5DS (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 50.3 8688 5792 1080/60p 24.7 12.4 2381 87
Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 22.1 5760 3840 1080/30p 24 11.7 2293 81
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 21.0 5616 3744 1080/30p 23.7 11.9 1815 79
Canon 5D (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 12.7 4368 2912 no 22.9 11.1 1368 71
Nikon D850 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 45.4 8256 5504 4K/30p 26.4 14.8 2660 100
Nikon D4 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280 1080/30p 24.7 13.1 2965 89
Nikon D800 (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 36.2 7360 4912 1080/30p 25.3 14.4 2853 95
Nikon D800E (⇒ lft | rgt) Full Frame 36.2 7360 4912 1080/30p 25.6 14.3 2979 96
Nikon D2Xs (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 12.2 4288 2848 no 22.2 10.9 489 59
Nikon D2X (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 12.2 4288 2848 no 22.1 10.9 476 59
Nikon D1H (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 2.6 2000 1312 no - - - -
Nikon D1X (⇒ lft | rgt) APS-C 5.9 3008 1960 no - - - -

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The 5D Mark IV indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the D1 does not. The highest resolution format that the 5D Mark IV can use is 4K/30p.

Feature comparison: Canon 5D Mark IV vs Nikon D1

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 5D Mark IV and the D1 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 table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Canon 5D Mark IV and Nikon D1 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
Camera Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(Y/n)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(Y/n)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec))
Build-in
Flash
(GN)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Canon 5D Mark IV (⇒ rgt) optical YES 3.2 1620 fixed YES 8000 7.0 no no
Nikon D1 (⇒ lft) optical YES 2.0 120 fixed no 16000 1.5 no no
Canon 6D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 1040 swivel YES 4000 6.5 no no
Canon 1D X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1620 fixed YES 8000 16.0 no no
Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1040 fixed no 8000 5.0 no no
Canon 5DS (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1040 fixed no 8000 5.0 no no
Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 1040 fixed no 8000 6.0 no no
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.0 920 fixed no 8000 3.9 no no
Canon 5D (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.5 230 fixed no 8000 3.0 no no
Nikon D850 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 2359 tilting YES 8000 9.0 no no
Nikon D4 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 921 fixed no 8000 11.0 no no
Nikon D800 (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 921 fixed no 8000 4.0 12 no
Nikon D800E (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 3.2 921 fixed no 8000 4.0 12 no
Nikon D2Xs (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.5 230 fixed no 8000 5.0 no no
Nikon D2X (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.5 235 fixed no 8000 5.0 no no
Nikon D1H (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.0 120 fixed no 16000 5.0 no no
Nikon D1X (⇒ lft | rgt) optical YES 2.0 120 fixed no 16000 3.0 no no

The 5D Mark IV is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the D1 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the D1 was succeeded by the Nikon D1X.

Review summary: Canon 5D Mark IV vs Nikon D1

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Canon 5D Mark IV and the Nikon D1? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.


Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (30.1 vs 2.6MP) with a 238% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging sensor.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can record not only still images but also 4K/30p movies.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1620k vs 120k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (7 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (151x116mm vs 157x153mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 210g or 19 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (36 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 17 years and 2 months of technical progress since the D1 launch.

Advantages of the Nikon D1:

  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (16000/sec vs 8000/sec) to freeze action.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in June 1999).

If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the 5D Mark IV is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 2 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera.

5D Mark IV 11:02 D1

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the 5D Mark IV and the D1 in practical situations. 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. This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review scores
Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(year)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(amazon)
Used
Price
(ebay)
Canon 5D Mark IV (⇒ rgt) HiRec 87/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2016 3,499 latest check
Nikon D1 (⇒ lft) - HiRec - - - 1999 5,499discont. check
Canon 6D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 80/100 4.5/5 4/5 4/5 2017 1,999 latest check
Canon 1D X Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) - 89/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2016 5,999 latest check
Canon 5DS R (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 83/100 Silver 5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2015 3,699 latest check
Canon 5DS (⇒ lft | rgt) Rec 83/100 Silver 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2015 3,699 latest check
Canon 5D Mark III (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 4.5/5 2012 3,499discont. check
Canon 5D Mark II (⇒ lft | rgt) 91/100 79/100 HiRec 4/5 5/5 - 2008 3,499discont. check
Canon 5D (⇒ lft | rgt) 88/100 HiRec reviewed reviewed - 2005 3,299discont. check
Nikon D850 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 89/100 Gold 4.5/5 5/5 5/5 2017 3,299 latest check
Nikon D4 (⇒ lft | rgt) - - 4.5/5 - 4.5/5 2012 5,999discont. check
Nikon D800 (⇒ lft | rgt) HiRec 82/100 Gold 5/5 5/5 5/5 2012 2,999discont. check
Nikon D800E (⇒ lft | rgt) - 84/100 Gold 5/5 4.5/5 5/5 2012 3,299discont. check
Nikon D2Xs (⇒ lft | rgt) - - - reviewed - 2006 4,699discont. check
Nikon D2X (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec - reviewed - 2004 4,999discont. check
Nikon D1H (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec - reviewed - 2001 4,499discont. check
Nikon D1X (⇒ lft | rgt) - HiRec - reviewed - 2001 5,999discont. check

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, 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. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to locate and add the respective data to the application.

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