Nikon D1 vs Panasonic G5
The Nikon D1 and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in June 1999 and July 2012. The D1 is a DSLR, while the G5 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on an APS-C (D1) and a Four Thirds (G5) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 2.6 megapixels, whereas the Panasonic provides 15.9 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5? 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 physical size and weight of the Nikon D1 and the Panasonic G5 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
The G5 can be obtained in two different colors (black, silver), while the D1 is only available in black.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Panasonic G5 is considerably smaller (59 percent) than the Nikon D1. Moreover, the G5 is substantially lighter (64 percent) than the D1. It is worth mentioning in this context that the D1 is splash and dust resistant, while the G5 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 Nikon Lens Catalog (D1) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (G5). Mirrorless cameras, such as the G5, have moreover the advantage that they can use many lenses from other systems via adapters, as they have a relatively short flange to focal plane distance.
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.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Nikon D1||157 mm||153 mm||85 mm||1100 g||..||Y||Jun 1999||5,499||ebay.com|
|2.||Panasonic G5||120 mm||83 mm||71 mm||396 g||320||n||Jul 2012||599||ebay.com|
|3.||Nikon D4||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999||ebay.com|
|4.||Nikon D3S||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1240 g||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199||ebay.com|
|5.||Nikon D300S||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799||ebay.com|
|6.||Nikon D3||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999||ebay.com|
|7.||Nikon D300||147 mm||114 mm||74 mm||925 g||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799||ebay.com|
|8.||Nikon D2Xs||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Jun 2006||4,699||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon D200||147 mm||113 mm||74 mm||920 g||400||Y||Nov 2005||1,699||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon D2X||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Sep 2004||4,999||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D1H||157 mm||153 mm||85 mm||1100 g||1200||Y||Feb 2001||4,499||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D1X||157 mm||153 mm||85 mm||1100 g||1200||Y||Feb 2001||5,999||ebay.com|
|13.||Panasonic G7||125 mm||86 mm||77 mm||410 g||350||n||May 2015||649||ebay.com|
|14.||Panasonic G6||122 mm||85 mm||71 mm||390 g||340||n||Apr 2013||599||ebay.com|
|15.||Panasonic GF6||111 mm||65 mm||38 mm||323 g||340||n||Apr 2013||499||ebay.com|
|16.||Panasonic G3||115 mm||84 mm||47 mm||336 g||270||n||May 2011||599||ebay.com|
|17.||Panasonic GX1||116 mm||68 mm||39 mm||318 g||320||n||Nov 2011||699||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
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 G5 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 89 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.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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 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 Panasonic G5 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the G5 is 39 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.0. The sensor in the D1 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the G5 offers a 4:3 aspect.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the G5 offers a higher resolution of 15.9 megapixels, compared with 2.6 MP of the D1. 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 3.76μm versus 11.93μm for the D1). However, it should be noted that the G5 is much more recent (by 13 years and 1 month) than the D1, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.
The resolution advantage of the Panasonic G5 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the G5 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 23 x 17.3 inches or 58.5 x 43.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 18.4 x 13.8 inches or 46.8 x 35.1 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 15.4 x 11.5 inches or 39 x 29.3 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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 are ISO 160 to ISO 12800 (no boost).
In terms of underlying technology, the D1 is build around a CCD sensor, while the G5 uses a CMOS imager. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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.
|2.||Panasonic G5||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||22.3||11.9||643||66|
|3.||Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|4.||Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|6.||Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
|13.||Panasonic G7||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.8||12.4||904||71|
|14.||Panasonic G6||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||21.3||11.5||639||61|
|15.||Panasonic GF6||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||20.7||10.6||622||54|
|16.||Panasonic G3||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60i||21.0||10.6||667||56|
|17.||Panasonic GX1||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||1080/60p||20.8||10.6||703||55|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The G5 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D1 does not. The highest resolution format that the G5 can use is 1080/60p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the G5 has an electronic viewfinder (1440k dots), while the D1 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinder in the G5 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 G5 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 Panasonic G5, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Nikon D1||optical||Y||2.0 / 120||fixed||n||1/16000s||1.5/s||n||n|
|2.||Panasonic G5||1440||n||3.0 / 920||swivel||Y||1/4000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|3.||Nikon D4||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|4.||Nikon D3S||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|5.||Nikon D300S||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0/s||Y||n|
|6.||Nikon D3||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|7.||Nikon D300||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Nikon D2Xs||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|9.||Nikon D200||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|10.||Nikon D2X||optical||Y||2.5 / 235||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|11.||Nikon D1H||optical||Y||2.0 / 120||fixed||n||1/16000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|12.||Nikon D1X||optical||Y||2.0 / 120||fixed||n||1/16000s||3.0/s||n||n|
|13.||Panasonic G7||2360||n||3.0 / 1040||swivel||Y||1/4000s||7.0/s||Y||n|
|14.||Panasonic G6||1440||n||3.0 / 1036||swivel||Y||1/4000s||7.0/s||Y||n|
|15.||Panasonic GF6||none||n||3.0 / 1040||tilting||Y||1/4000s||4.2/s||Y||n|
|16.||Panasonic G3||1440||n||3.0 / 460||swivel||Y||1/4000s||4.0/s||Y||n|
|17.||Panasonic GX1||optional||n||3.0 / 460||fixed||Y||1/4000s||4.2/s||Y||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
One feature that is present on the D1, but is missing on the G5 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.The G5 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the D1 does not have a selfie-screen.
The D1 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the G5 uses SDXC cards.
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 Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Nikon D1||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
|2.||Panasonic G5||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Nikon D4||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Nikon D3S||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Nikon D300S||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Nikon D3||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Nikon D300||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Nikon D2Xs||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Nikon D200||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D2X||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D1H||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D1X||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
|13.||Panasonic G7||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-|
|14.||Panasonic G6||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|15.||Panasonic GF6||-||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|16.||Panasonic G3||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|17.||Panasonic GX1||Y||stereo / mono||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D1 (unlike the G5) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the D1 and the G5 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The D1 was replaced by the Nikon D1X, while the G5 was followed by the Panasonic G6. Further information on the features and operation of the D1 and G5 can be found, respectively, in the Nikon D1 Manual (free pdf) or the online Panasonic G5 Manual.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D1 or the Panasonic G5 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D1:
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/16000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- 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.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 1999).
Arguments in favor of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G5:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (15.9 vs 2.6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 141%.
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p video.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- 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 (920k vs 120k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (6 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (120x83mm vs 157x153mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 704g or 64 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (89 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 13 years and 1 month of technical progress since the D1 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the G5 is the clear winner of the contest (17 : 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. 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 Panasonic G5 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D1 or the G5. 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.
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 (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], 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||ebay.com|
|2.||Panasonic G5||3/5||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2012||599||ebay.com|
|3.||Nikon D4||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999||ebay.com|
|4.||Nikon D3S||5/5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199||ebay.com|
|5.||Nikon D300S||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799||ebay.com|
|6.||Nikon D3||..||..||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999||ebay.com|
|7.||Nikon D300||..||+ +||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799||ebay.com|
|8.||Nikon D2Xs||..||..||..||..||..||..||Jun 2006||4,699||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon D200||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||..||Nov 2005||1,699||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon D2X||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2004||4,999||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D1H||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Feb 2001||4,499||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D1X||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Feb 2001||5,999||ebay.com|
|13.||Panasonic G7||4/5||+ +||..||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||May 2015||649||ebay.com|
|14.||Panasonic G6||4/5||+ +||..||..||5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||599||ebay.com|
|15.||Panasonic GF6||..||+ +||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2013||499||ebay.com|
|16.||Panasonic G3||3/5||+ +||..||75/100||4.5/5||5/5||May 2011||599||ebay.com|
|17.||Panasonic GX1||3/5||+||..||77/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Nov 2011||699||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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 comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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 a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon XT vs Nikon D1
- Canon XTi vs Panasonic G5
- Leica V-LUX Typ 114 vs Panasonic G5
- Leica X-U Typ 113 vs Panasonic G5
- Nikon D1 vs Olympus XZ-2
- Nikon D1 vs Panasonic LX100 II
- Nikon D1 vs Panasonic TZ90
- Nikon D1 vs Sigma fp L
- Nikon D1 vs Sony HX90V
- Panasonic G5 vs Samsung NX1
- Panasonic G5 vs Sony A5000
- Panasonic G5 vs Sony RX100 III
Specifications: Nikon D1 vs Panasonic G5
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||Panasonic G5|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Micro Four Thirds lenses|
|Launch Date||June 1999||July 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 5,499||USD 599|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D1||Panasonic G5|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Four Thirds Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.7 x 15.6 mm||17.3 x 13.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||369.72 mm2||224.9 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||21.6 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||2.6 Megapixels||15.9 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||2000 x 1312 pixels||4608 x 3456 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||11.93 μm||3.76 μm|
|Pixel Density||0.71 MP/cm2||7.08 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 1,600 ISO||160 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||200 - 6,400 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D1||Panasonic G5|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||96%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||1440k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||120k dots||920k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Swivel screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D1||Panasonic G5|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Contrast-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||1.5 shutter flaps/s||6 shutter flaps/s|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D1||Panasonic G5|
|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|
|Body Specs||Nikon D1||Panasonic G5|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
157 x 153 x 85 mm
(6.2 x 6.0 x 3.3 in)
120 x 83 x 71 mm
(4.7 x 3.3 x 2.8 in)
|Camera Weight||1100 g (38.8 oz)||396 g (14.0 oz)|
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