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Nikon D1 vs D3X

The Nikon D1 and the Nikon D3X are two professional cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 1999 and December 2008. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D1) and a full frame (D3X) sensor. The D1 has a resolution of 2.6 megapixels, whereas the D3X provides 24.4 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Nikon D1 VS Nikon D3X
Nikon D1 Nikon D3X
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
2.6 MP, APS-C Sensor 24.4 MP, Full Frame Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 200-1600 (200-6400) ISO 100-1600 (50-6400)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.0" LCD, 120k dots 3.0" LCD, 922k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
1.5 shutter flaps per second 5 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
157 x 153 x 85 mm, 1100 g 160 x 157 x 88 mm, 1260 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D1 and the Nikon D3X? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D1 and the Nikon D3X. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Nikon D1 vs Nikon D3X
Compare D1 versus D3X top
Comparison D1 or D3X rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D3X is somewhat larger (5 percent) than the Nikon D1. Moreover, the D3X is markedly heavier (15 percent) than the D1. 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 (as in the D3X) will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, while more compact options are available for the smaller-sensor camera (D1). You can compare the optics available in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

As can be seen in the images above, both cameras have a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, just click on the right or left arrow next to the camera that you would like to inspect. Alternatively, you can also use the CAM-parator to select your camera combination among a larger number of options.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D1» 6.2 in 6.0 in 3.3 in 38.8 oz .. Y Jun 1999 5,499iNikon D1
 
Nikon D3X« 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 44.4 oz 4400 Y Dec 2008 7,999iNikon D3X
 
Nikon D5« » 6.3 in 6.3 in 3.6 in 49.9 oz 3780 Y Jan 2016 6,499iNikon D5
 
Nikon D4S« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.6 oz 3020 Y Feb 2014 6,499iNikon D4S
 
Nikon D750« » 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 26.5 oz 1230 Y Sep 2014 2,299iNikon D750
 
Nikon D4« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.3 oz 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999iNikon D4
 
Nikon D300S« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 33.1 oz 950 Y Jul 2009 1,799iNikon D300S
 
Nikon D3« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 45.9 oz 4300 Y Aug 2007 4,999iNikon D3
 
Nikon D300« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 2.9 in 32.6 oz 1000 Y Aug 2007 1,799iNikon D300
 
Nikon D2Xs« » 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 44.2 oz 3800 Y Jun 2006 4,699iNikon D2Xs
 
Nikon D200« » 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 32.5 oz 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699iNikon D200
 
Nikon D2X« » 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 44.2 oz 3800 Y Sep 2004 4,999iNikon D2X
 
Nikon D2H« » 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 37.7 oz 2900 Y Jul 2003 3,499iNikon D2H
 
Nikon D1H« » 6.2 in 6.0 in 3.3 in 38.8 oz 1200 Y Feb 2001 4,499iNikon D1H
 
Nikon D1X« » 6.2 in 6.0 in 3.3 in 38.8 oz 1200 Y Feb 2001 5,999iNikon D1X
Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.

The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The D1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 31 percent) than the D3X, 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

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 Nikon D1 features an APS-C sensor and the Nikon D3X a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D3X is 133 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Nikon D1 and Nikon D3X sensor measures

With 24.4MP, the D3X offers a higher resolution than the D1 (2.6MP), but the D3X has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 11.93μm for the D1). Yet, the D3X is a much more recent model (by 9 years and 5 months) than the D1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.

The resolution advantage of the Nikon D3X implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D3X for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.2 x 20.2 inch or 76.8 x 51.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.2 x 16.1 inch or 61.4 x 41 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.2 x 13.4 inch or 51.2 x 34.1 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D1 are 10 x 6.6 inch or 25.4 x 16.7 cm for good quality, 8 x 5.2 inch or 20.3 x 13.3 cm for very good quality, and 6.7 x 4.4 inch or 16.9 x 11.1 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Nikon D1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 200-6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D3X are ISO 100 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-6400.

D1 versus D3X MP

Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D1 APS-C 2.6 2000 1312none........Nikon D1
 
Nikon D3X Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032none24.713.7199288Nikon D3X
 
Nikon D5 Full Frame 20.7 5588 37124K/30p25.112.3234388Nikon D5
 
Nikon D4S Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/60p24.413.3307489Nikon D4S
 
Nikon D750 Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/60p24.814.5295693Nikon D750
 
Nikon D4 Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589Nikon D4
 
Nikon D300S APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.512.278770Nikon D300S
 
Nikon D3 Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832none23.512.2229081Nikon D3
 
Nikon D300 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.112.067967Nikon D300
 
Nikon D2Xs APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.210.948959Nikon D2Xs
 
Nikon D200 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.558364Nikon D200
 
Nikon D2X APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.110.947659Nikon D2X
 
Nikon D2H APS-C 4.0 2464 1632none18.910.035240Nikon D2H
 
Nikon D1H APS-C 2.6 2000 1312none........Nikon D1H
 
Nikon D1X APS-C 5.9 3008 1960none........Nikon D1X
The D3X offers Live View, so that it can project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen for framing. The D1 lacks this capability. Both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.
 

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The D1 and the D3X 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 viewfinder in the D3X offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the D1 (96%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. In addition, the viewfinder of the D3X has a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.53x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D1, the Nikon D3X, and comparable cameras.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D1optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 1.5 n n Nikon D1
 
Nikon D3Xoptical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n Nikon D3X
 
Nikon D5optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 1/8000s 14.0 n n Nikon D5
 
Nikon D4Soptical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n Nikon D4S
 
Nikon D750optical Y 3.2 1229 tilting n 1/4000s 6.0 Y n Nikon D750
 
Nikon D4optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n Nikon D4
 
Nikon D300Soptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 7.0 Y n Nikon D300S
 
Nikon D3optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n Nikon D3
 
Nikon D300optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n Nikon D300
 
Nikon D2Xsoptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n Nikon D2Xs
 
Nikon D200optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n Nikon D200
 
Nikon D2Xoptical Y 2.5 235 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n Nikon D2X
 
Nikon D2Hoptical Y 2.5 211 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0 n n Nikon D2H
 
Nikon D1Hoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 5.0 n n Nikon D1H
 
Nikon D1Xoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 3.0 n n Nikon D1X

The Nikon D3X has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the D1 and the D3X write their files to Compact Flash cards. The D3X features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the D1 only has one slot.

 

Connectivity comparison

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 Nikon D1 and Nikon D3X and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D1Ynonenone--noneFW---Nikon D1
 
Nikon D3XYnonenone--mini2.0---Nikon D3X
 
Nikon D5YstereomonoYYmini3.0---Nikon D5
 
Nikon D4SYmonomonoYYmini2.0---Nikon D4S
 
Nikon D750YstereomonoYYmini2.0Y--Nikon D750
 
Nikon D4YmonomonoYYmicro2.0---Nikon D4
 
Nikon D300SYstereomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D300S
 
Nikon D3Ynonenone--mini2.0---Nikon D3
 
Nikon D300Ynonenone--mini2.0---Nikon D300
 
Nikon D2XsYnonenone--none2.0---Nikon D2Xs
 
Nikon D200Ynonenone--none2.0---Nikon D200
 
Nikon D2XYnonenone--none2.0---Nikon D2X
 
Nikon D2HYnonenone--none2.0---Nikon D2H
 
Nikon D1HYnonenone--noneFW---Nikon D1H
 
Nikon D1XYnonenone--noneFW---Nikon D1X

Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.

Both the D1 and the D3X have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D1 was replaced by the Nikon D1X, while the D3X does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon website.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D1 or the Nikon D3X – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Arguments in favor of the Nikon D1:

  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/16000s vs 1/8000s) to freeze action.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 160g or 13 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (31 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 1999).


Reasons to prefer the Nikon D3X:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24.4 vs 2.6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 204%.
  • Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced sensor.
  • Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 96%).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.53x).
  • 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 (922k vs 120k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (5 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More modern: Reflects 9 years and 5 months of technical progress since the D1 launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D3X is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 4 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. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

D1 04:13 D3X

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D1 and the Nikon D3X place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D1 or the D3X perform in practice. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cam
era
  labs  
dp
re
  view  
e
photo
  zine  
ima
ging
resource
photo
graphy
  blog  
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D1..+ +...... Jun 1999 5,499iNikon D1
 
Nikon D3X..86/1004/55/55/5 Dec 2008 7,999iNikon D3X
 
Nikon D5..89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 6,499iNikon D5
 
Nikon D4S....4.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2014 6,499iNikon D4S
 
Nikon D750+ +90/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2014 2,299iNikon D750
 
Nikon D4....4.5/5..4.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999iNikon D4
 
Nikon D300S+ +82/1004/55/54.5/5 Jul 2009 1,799iNikon D300S
 
Nikon D3..+ +5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 4,999iNikon D3
 
Nikon D300+ ++ +5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,799iNikon D300
 
Nikon D2Xs......o.. Jun 2006 4,699iNikon D2Xs
 
Nikon D200+ ++ +o5/5.. Nov 2005 1,699iNikon D200
 
Nikon D2X..+ +..o.. Sep 2004 4,999iNikon D2X
 
Nikon D2H..+ +..o.. Jul 2003 3,499iNikon D2H
 
Nikon D1H..+ +..o.. Feb 2001 4,499iNikon D1H
 
Nikon D1X..+ +..o.. Feb 2001 5,999iNikon D1X
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The above review scores should be interpreted 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, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.

Nikon D1:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D3X:
Check Ebay offers

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Nikon D1 vs Nikon D3X

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Nikon D1 Nikon D3X
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date June 1999 December 2008
    Launch Price USD 5499 USD 7999
    Sensor Specs Nikon D1 Nikon D3X
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.6 mm 35.9 x 24.0 mm
    Sensor Area 369.72 mm2 861.6 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 43.2 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 2.6 Megapixels 24.4 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 2000 x 1312 pixels 6048 x 4032 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 11.93 μm 5.94 μm
    Pixel Density 0.71 MP/cm2 2.83 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 200-1600 ISO 100-1600 ISO
    ISO Boost 200-6400 ISO 50-6400 ISO
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 88
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 24.7
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 13.7
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 1992
    Screen Specs Nikon D1 Nikon D3X
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 96% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.53x 0.70x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.0 inch 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 120k dots 922k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D1 Nikon D3X
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 1.5 shutter flaps/s 5 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse Photographyno IntervalometerIntervalometer built-in
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D1 Nikon D3X
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector Firewire USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D1 Nikon D3X
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type EN-4 EN-EL4a
    Body Dimensions 157 x 153 x 85 mm
    (6.2 x 6.0 x 3.3 in)
    160 x 157 x 88 mm
    (6.3 x 6.2 x 3.5 in)
    Camera Weight 1100 g (38.8 oz) 1260 g (44.4 oz)

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