Nikon D1 vs D810
The Nikon D1 and the Nikon D810 are two professional cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in June 1999 and June 2014. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D1) and a full frame (D810) sensor. The D1 has a resolution of 2.6 megapixels, whereas the D810 provides 36.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D1 and the Nikon D810? 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.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D1 and the Nikon D810. 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 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 D810 is notably smaller (25 percent) than the Nikon D1. Moreover, the D810 is markedly lighter (11 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 D810) 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, the D1 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 D810, Nikon provides the MB-D12 vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).
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, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Nikon D1||157 mm||153 mm||85 mm||1100 g||..||Y||Jun 1999||5,499|
|2.||Nikon D810||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||980 g||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299|
|3.||Canon 5DS||152 mm||116 mm||76 mm||930 g||700||Y||Feb 2015||3,699|
|4.||Nikon D850||146 mm||124 mm||79 mm||1005 g||1840||Y||Jul 2017||3,299|
|5.||Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|6.||Nikon D4||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999|
|7.||Nikon D800||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||2,999|
|8.||Nikon D800E||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||3,299|
|9.||Nikon D300S||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799|
|10.||Nikon D3||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999|
|11.||Nikon D300||147 mm||114 mm||74 mm||925 g||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799|
|12.||Nikon D2Xs||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Jun 2006||4,699|
|13.||Nikon D200||147 mm||113 mm||74 mm||920 g||400||Y||Nov 2005||1,699|
|14.||Nikon D2X||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Sep 2004||4,999|
|15.||Nikon D2H||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1070 g||2900||Y||Jul 2003||3,499|
|16.||Nikon D1H||157 mm||153 mm||85 mm||1100 g||1200||Y||Feb 2001||4,499|
|17.||Nikon D1X||157 mm||153 mm||85 mm||1100 g||1200||Y||Feb 2001||5,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. 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 D810 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 40 percent) than the D1, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better 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 Nikon D1 features an APS-C sensor and the Nikon D810 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D810 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.
With 36.2MP, the D810 offers a higher resolution than the D1 (2.6MP), but the D810 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.88μm versus 11.93μm for the D1). Yet, the D810 is a much more recent model (by 15 years) 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. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the D810 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D810 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D810 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 36.8 x 24.6 inches or 93.5 x 62.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 29.4 x 19.6 inches or 74.8 x 49.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 24.5 x 16.4 inches or 62.3 x 41.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D1 are 10 x 6.6 inches or 25.4 x 16.7 cm for good quality, 8 x 5.2 inches or 20.3 x 13.3 cm for very good quality, and 6.7 x 4.4 inches 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 D810 are ISO 64 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 32-51200.
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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|2.||Nikon D810||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97|
|3.||Canon 5DS||Full Frame||50.3||8688||5792||1080/30p||24.7||12.4||2381||87|
|4.||Nikon D850||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100|
|5.||Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|6.||Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|7.||Nikon D800||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.3||14.4||2853||95|
|8.||Nikon D800E||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.6||14.3||2979||96|
|10.||Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The D810 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D1 does not. The highest resolution format that the D810 can use is 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The D1 and the D810 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 D810 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 D810 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 D810, and comparable cameras.
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D810 has one, while the D1 does not. While the built-in flash of the D810 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The Nikon D810 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.
The D1 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the D810 uses Compact Flash or SDXC cards. The D810 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the D1 only has one slot.
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 D810 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
It is notable that the D810 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the D1 does not provide wifi capability.
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Both the D1 and the D810 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D1 was replaced by the Nikon D1X, while the D810 was followed by the Nikon D850. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon website.
So how do things add up? Is the Nikon D1 better than the Nikon D810 or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D1:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/16000s vs 1/8000s) to freeze action.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 1999).
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D810:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (36.2 vs 2.6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 270%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- 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.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p video.
- 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 (3.2" vs 2.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k 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.
- More compact: Is smaller (146x123mm vs 157x153mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 120g or 11 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (40 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 15 years of technical progress since the D1 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D810 is the clear winner of the contest (20 : 4 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. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D1 and the Nikon D810 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 partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D1 or the D810. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). 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.
|1.||Nikon D1||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jun 1999||5,499|
|2.||Nikon D810||5/5||..||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299|
|3.||Canon 5DS||..||+||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||3,699|
|4.||Nikon D850||4.5/5||+ +||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2017||3,299|
|5.||Nikon D610||4/5||+ +||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|6.||Nikon D4||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999|
|7.||Nikon D800||5/5||+ +||82/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||2,999|
|8.||Nikon D800E||..||..||84/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||3,299|
|9.||Nikon D300S||5/5||+ +||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799|
|10.||Nikon D3||..||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999|
|11.||Nikon D300||..||+ +||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799|
|12.||Nikon D2Xs||..||..||..||..||..||Jun 2006||4,699|
|13.||Nikon D200||..||+ +||+ +||o||..||Nov 2005||1,699|
|14.||Nikon D2X||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2004||4,999|
|15.||Nikon D2H||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jul 2003||3,499|
|16.||Nikon D1H||..||..||+ +||..||..||Feb 2001||4,499|
|17.||Nikon D1X||..||..||+ +||..||..||Feb 2001||5,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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 would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Nikon D1 vs Nikon D810
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 Model||Nikon D1||Nikon D810|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||June 1999||June 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 5,499||USD 3,299|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D1||Nikon D810|
|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|
|Sensor Resolution||2.6 Megapixels||36.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||2000 x 1312 pixels||7360 x 4912 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||11.93 μm||4.88 μm|
|Pixel Density||0.71 MP/cm2||4.20 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 1,600 ISO||64 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||200 - 6,400 ISO||32 - 51,200 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||97|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||25.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||14.8|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||2853|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D1||Nikon D810|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||96%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.0inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||120k dots||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D1||Nikon D810|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||1.5 shutter flaps/s||5 shutter flaps/s|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||CF or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D1||Nikon D810|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||Firewire||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D1||Nikon D810|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
157 x 153 x 85 mm
(6.2 x 6.0 x 3.3 in)
146 x 123 x 82 mm
(5.7 x 4.8 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||1100 g (38.8 oz)||980 g (34.6 oz)|
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