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Nikon D1 vs Pentax 645Z

The Nikon D1 and the Pentax 645Z are two professional cameras that were announced, respectively, in June 1999 and April 2014. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D1) and a medium format (645Z) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 2.6 megapixels, whereas the Pentax provides 51.1 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.

Headline Specifications
Nikon D1   Pentax 645Z
Nikon D1 Pentax 645Z
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses Pentax 645 mount lenses
2.6 MP, APS-C Sensor 51.1 MP, Medium Format Sensor
no Video 1080/60i Video
ISO 200-1600 (200-6400) ISO 100-204800
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.0" LCD, 120k dots 3.2" LCD, 1037k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)
1.5 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
157 x 153 x 85 mm, 1100 g 156 x 117 x 123 mm, 1550 g

Body comparison: Nikon D1 vs Pentax 645Z

The physical size and weight of the Nikon D1 and the Pentax 645Z are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. 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.

Compare Nikon D1 and Pentax 645Z
Compare D1 versus 645Z top
Compare D1 or 645Z rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Pentax 645Z is notably smaller (24 percent) than the Nikon D1. However, the 645Z is substantially heavier (41 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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

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 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.

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)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D1» 6.2 in 6.0 in 3.3 in 38.8 oz .. Y Jun 1999 5,499- i Nikon D1
 
Pentax 645Z« 6.1 in 4.6 in 4.8 in 54.7 oz 650 Y Apr 2014 8,499 i i Pentax 645Z
 
Canon 5DS« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS
 
Canon 5DS R« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS R
 
Hasselblad X1D« » 5.9 in 3.9 in 2.8 in 25.6 oz .. Y Jun 2016 8,995 i i Hasselblad X1D
 
Leica SL« » 5.8 in 4.1 in 1.5 in 29.9 oz 400 Y Oct 2015 7,450 i i Leica SL
 
Nikon D4« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.3 oz 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999- i Nikon D4
 
Nikon D300S« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 33.1 oz 950 Y Jul 2009 1,799- i Nikon D300S
 
Nikon D3« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 45.9 oz 4300 Y Aug 2007 4,999- i Nikon D3
 
Nikon D300« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 2.9 in 32.6 oz 1000 Y Aug 2007 1,799- i Nikon D300
 
Nikon D2Xs« » 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 44.2 oz 3800 Y Jun 2006 4,699- i Nikon D2Xs
 
Nikon D200« » 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 32.5 oz 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699- i Nikon D200
 
Nikon D2X« » 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 44.2 oz 3800 Y Sep 2004 4,999- i Nikon D2X
 
Nikon D2H« » 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 37.7 oz 2900 Y Jul 2003 3,499- i Nikon D2H
 
Nikon D1H« » 6.2 in 6.0 in 3.3 in 38.8 oz 1200 Y Feb 2001 4,499- i Nikon D1H
 
Nikon D1X« » 6.2 in 6.0 in 3.3 in 38.8 oz 1200 Y Feb 2001 5,999- i Nikon D1X
 
Pentax 645D« » 6.1 in 4.6 in 4.7 in 52.2 oz 800 Y Mar 2010 9,995- i Pentax 645D

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 35 percent) than the 645Z, 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Nikon D1 vs Pentax 645Z

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. 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 Pentax 645Z a medium format sensor. The sensor area in the 645Z is 288 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 0.79. The sensor in the D1 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the 645Z offers a 4:3 aspect.

Nikon D1 and Pentax 645Z sensor measures

With 51.1MP, the 645Z offers a higher resolution than the D1 (2.6MP), but the 645Z has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.30μm versus 11.93μm for the D1). Yet, the 645Z is a much more recent model (by 14 years and 10 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. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the 645Z has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

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 Pentax 645Z are ISO 100 to ISO 204800 (no boost).

D1 versus 645Z MP

For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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.

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 1312-----Nikon D1
 
Pentax 645Z« Medium Format 51.1 8256 61921080/60i26.014.74505101Pentax 645Z
 
Canon 5DS« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.712.4238187Canon 5DS
 
Canon 5DS R« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.612.4230886Canon 5DS R
 
Hasselblad X1D« » Medium Format 51.3 8272 62001080/25p26.214.84489102Hasselblad X1D
 
Leica SL« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.013.4182188Leica SL
 
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 2832-23.512.2229081Nikon D3
 
Nikon D300« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848-22.112.067967Nikon D300
 
Nikon D2Xs« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848-22.210.948959Nikon D2Xs
 
Nikon D200« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.311.558364Nikon D200
 
Nikon D2X« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848-22.110.947659Nikon D2X
 
Nikon D2H« » APS-C 4.0 2464 1632-18.910.035240Nikon D2H
 
Nikon D1H« » APS-C 2.6 2000 1312-----Nikon D1H
 
Nikon D1X« » APS-C 5.9 3008 1960-----Nikon D1X
 
Pentax 645D« » Medium Format 39.5 7264 5440-24.612.6126282Pentax 645D

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The 645Z indeed provides for movie recording, while the D1 does not. The highest resolution format that the 645Z can use is 1080/60i.

 

Feature comparison: Nikon D1 vs Pentax 645Z

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D1 and the 645Z 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 645Z offers a wider field of view (98%) 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 645Z has a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.53x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D1 and Pentax 645Z in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar 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)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D1»optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 16000 1.5 n n Nikon D1
 
Pentax 645Z«optical Y 3.2 1037 tilting n 4000 3.0 n n Pentax 645Z
 
Canon 5DS« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Canon 5DS
 
Canon 5DS R« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Canon 5DS R
 
Hasselblad X1D« »2360 n 3.0 920 fixed Y 2000 2.3 n n Hasselblad X1D
 
Leica SL« »4400 Y 3.0 1040 fixed Y 8000 11.0 n n Leica SL
 
Nikon D4« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n Nikon D4
 
Nikon D300S« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 7.0 Y n Nikon D300S
 
Nikon D3« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n Nikon D3
 
Nikon D300« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 6.0 Y n Nikon D300
 
Nikon D2Xs« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Nikon D2Xs
 
Nikon D200« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n Nikon D200
 
Nikon D2X« »optical Y 2.5 235 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Nikon D2X
 
Nikon D2H« »optical Y 2.5 211 fixed n 8000 8.0 n n Nikon D2H
 
Nikon D1H« »optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 16000 5.0 n n Nikon D1H
 
Nikon D1X« »optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 16000 3.0 n n Nikon D1X
 
Pentax 645D« »optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 4000 1.1 n n Pentax 645D

The D1 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the 645Z uses SDXC cards. The 645Z 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: Nikon D1 vs Pentax 645Z

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 Pentax 645Z 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
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D1»Y-----FW---Nikon D1
 
Pentax 645Z«YstereomonoY-mini3.0---Pentax 645Z
 
Canon 5DS« »YmonomonoY-mini3.0---Canon 5DS
 
Canon 5DS R« »YmonomonoY-mini3.0---Canon 5DS R
 
Hasselblad X1D« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0Y--Hasselblad X1D
 
Leica SL« »YstereomonoYYfull3.0Y--Leica SL
 
Nikon D4« »Ymonomono--micro2.0---Nikon D4
 
Nikon D300S« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D300S
 
Nikon D3« »Y----mini2.0---Nikon D3
 
Nikon D300« »Y----mini2.0---Nikon D300
 
Nikon D2Xs« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D2Xs
 
Nikon D200« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D200
 
Nikon D2X« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D2X
 
Nikon D2H« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D2H
 
Nikon D1H« »Y-----FW---Nikon D1H
 
Nikon D1X« »Y-----FW---Nikon D1X
 
Pentax 645D« »Ystereo----2.0---Pentax 645D

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

The 645Z is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Pentax. 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. Further information on the two cameras, as well as related accessories, can be found on the Nikon and Pentax websites.


Review summary: Nikon D1 vs Pentax 645Z

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D1 or the Pentax 645Z – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Advantages 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 (16000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 450g or 29 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (35 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 1999).

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Reasons to prefer the Pentax 645Z:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (51.1 vs 2.6MP), which boosts linear resolution by 331%.
  • 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: Larger sensor generates images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Capable of capturing a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Can be used in poorly lit environments and still produce good images.
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60i video.
  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (98% vs 96%).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.78x 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 (1037k vs 120k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (3 vs 1.5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (156x117mm vs 157x153mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More modern: Reflects 14 years and 10 months of technical progress since the D1 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the 645Z is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 6 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision.

D1 06:16 645Z

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the D1 and the 645Z 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.

Expert reviews: Nikon D1 vs Pentax 645Z

This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog).

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
 
Nikon D1»-++--- Jun 1999 5,499- i Nikon D1
 
Pentax 645Z«--4.5/55/55/5 Apr 2014 8,499 i i Pentax 645Z
 
Canon 5DS« »+83/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS
 
Canon 5DS R« »+83/1005/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS R
 
Hasselblad X1D« »o81/100--4/5 Jun 2016 8,995 i i Hasselblad X1D
 
Leica SL« »-84/1004.5/54/54/5 Oct 2015 7,450 i i Leica SL
 
Nikon D4« »--4.5/5-4.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999- i Nikon D4
 
Nikon D300S« »++82/1004/55/54.5/5 Jul 2009 1,799- i Nikon D300S
 
Nikon D3« »-++5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 4,999- i Nikon D3
 
Nikon D300« »++++5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,799- i Nikon D300
 
Nikon D2Xs« »---o- Jun 2006 4,699- i Nikon D2Xs
 
Nikon D200« »++++o5/5- Nov 2005 1,699- i Nikon D200
 
Nikon D2X« »-++-o- Sep 2004 4,999- i Nikon D2X
 
Nikon D2H« »-++-o- Jul 2003 3,499- i Nikon D2H
 
Nikon D1H« »-++-o- Feb 2001 4,499- i Nikon D1H
 
Nikon D1X« »-++-o- Feb 2001 5,999- i Nikon D1X
 
Pentax 645D« »---4.5/5- Mar 2010 9,995- i Pentax 645D
Notes: ++) highly recommended; +) recommended; o) reviewed; -) not available.

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 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.

Nikon D1:
Check Ebay offers
Pentax 645Z:
Check Amazon price

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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Nikon D1 vs Pentax 645Z

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Nikon D1 Pentax 645Z
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Pentax 645 mount lenses
    Launch Date June 1999 April 2014
    Launch Price USD 5499 USD 8499
    Sensor Specs Nikon D1 Pentax 645Z
    Sensor Technology CCD CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Medium Format Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.6 mm 43.8 x 15.6 mm
    Sensor Area 369.72 mm2 1436.64 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 54.7 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5x 0.79x
    Sensor Resolution 2.6 Megapixels 51.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 2000 x 1312 pixels 8256 x 6192 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 11.93 μm 5.30 μm
    Pixel Density 0.71 MP/cm2 3.56 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter no AA filter
    Movie Capability no Video 1080/60i Video
    ISO Setting 200-1600 ISO 100-204800 ISO
    ISO Boost 200-6400 ISO no Enhancement
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) .. 101
    DXO Color Depth (bits) .. 26.0
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) .. 14.7
    DXO Low Light (ISO) .. 4505
    Screen Specs Nikon D1 Pentax 645Z
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 96% 98%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.53x 0.78x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 2.0 inch 3.2 inch
    LCD Resolution 120k dots 1037k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Tilting screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D1 Pentax 645Z
    Autofocus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/16000s 1/4000s
    Continuous Shooting 1.5 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards SDXC cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D1 Pentax 645Z
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    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
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D1 Pentax 645Z
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type EN-4 power pack D-LI90 power pack
    Body Dimensions 157 x 153 x 85 mm
    (6.2 x 6.0 x 3.3 in)
    156 x 117 x 123 mm
    (6.1 x 4.6 x 4.8 in)
    Camera Weight 1100 g (38.8 oz) 1550 g (54.7 oz)

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