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Nikon D1X vs Olympus E-1

The Nikon D1X and the Olympus E-1 are two professional cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in February 2001 and June 2003. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D1X) and a Four Thirds (E-1) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 5.9 megapixels, whereas the Olympus provides 4.9 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Nikon D1X versus Olympus E-1
Nikon D1X Olympus E-1
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
5.9 MP, APS-C Sensor 4.9 MP, Four Thirds Sensor
no Video no Video
ISO 125-800 (125 - 3,200) ISO 100-800 (100 - 3,200)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.0 LCD, 120k dots 1.8 LCD, 134k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
3 shutter flaps per second 3 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
1200 shots per battery charge750 shots per battery charge
157 x 153 x 85 mm, 1100 g 141 x 104 x 81 mm, 738 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D1X and the Olympus E-1? 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

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon D1X and the Olympus E-1 is provided in the side-by-side display below. 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.

Size Nikon D1X vs Olympus E-1
Compare D1X versus E-1 top
Comparison D1X or E-1 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-1 is considerably smaller (39 percent) than the Nikon D1X. Moreover, the E-1 is markedly lighter (33 percent) than the D1X. 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 compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Nikon Lens Catalog (D1X) and the Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-1).

Concerning battery life, the D1X gets 1200 shots out of its EN-4 battery, while the E-1 can take 750 images on a single charge of its BLM-1 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D1X 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 E-1, Olympus provides the SHLD-2 vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Nikon D1X 6.2 in 6.0 in 3.3 in 38.8 oz 1200 Y Feb 2001 5,999i
 
Olympus E-1 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.2 in 26.0 oz 750 Y Jun 2003 1,699i
 
Leica Digilux 3 5.7 in 3.4 in 3.0 in 21.4 oz 750 n Sep 2006 1,499i
 
Nikon D4 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.3 oz 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999i
 
Nikon D300S 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 33.1 oz 950 Y Jul 2009 1,799i
 
Nikon D300 5.8 in 4.5 in 2.9 in 32.6 oz 1000 Y Aug 2007 1,799i
 
Nikon D2Xs 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 44.2 oz 3800 Y Jun 2006 4,699i
 
Nikon D200 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 32.5 oz 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699i
 
Nikon D2X 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 44.2 oz 3800 Y Sep 2004 4,999i
 
Nikon D2H 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 37.7 oz 2900 Y Jul 2003 3,499i
 
Nikon D100 5.7 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 27.5 oz 370 n Feb 2002 1,999i
 
Nikon D1H 6.2 in 6.0 in 3.3 in 38.8 oz 1200 Y Feb 2001 4,499i
 
Nikon D1 6.2 in 6.0 in 3.3 in 38.8 oz .. Y Jun 1999 5,499i
 
Olympus E-5 5.6 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 30.8 oz 750 Y Sep 2010 1,699i
 
Olympus E-3 5.6 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 30.9 oz 750 Y Oct 2007 1,699i
 
Olympus E-330 5.5 in 3.4 in 2.8 in 22.5 oz 750 n Jan 2006 999i
 
Olympus E-300 5.8 in 3.3 in 2.5 in 22.0 oz 750 n Sep 2004 799i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

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 E-1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 72 percent) than the D1X, 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

The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. 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 D1X features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-1 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-1 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 D1X has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-1 offers a 4:3 aspect.

Nikon D1X and Olympus E-1 sensor measures

With 5.9MP, the D1X offers a higher resolution than the E-1 (4.9MP), but the D1X nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 7.92μm versus 6.78μm for the E-1) due to its larger sensor. However, the E-1 is a much more recent model (by 2 years and 4 months) than the D1X, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

The resolution advantage of the Nikon D1X implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D1X for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 15 x 9.8 inches or 38.2 x 24.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 12 x 7.8 inches or 30.6 x 19.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 10 x 6.5 inches or 25.5 x 16.6 cm. The corresponding values for the Olympus E-1 are 12.8 x 9.6 inches or 32.5 x 24.4 cm for good quality, 10.2 x 7.7 inches or 26 x 19.5 cm for very good quality, and 8.5 x 6.4 inches or 21.7 x 16.3 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Nikon D1X has a native sensitivity range from ISO 125 to ISO 800, which can be extended to ISO 125-3200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Olympus E-1 are ISO 100 to ISO 800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-3200.

D1X versus E-1 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Nikon D1X APS-C 5.9 3008 1960none........
 
Olympus E-1 Four Thirds 4.9 2560 1920none........
 
Leica Digilux 3 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none........
 
Nikon D4 Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589
 
Nikon D300S APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.512.278770
 
Nikon D300 APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.112.067967
 
Nikon D2Xs APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.210.948959
 
Nikon D200 APS-C 10.0 3872 2592none22.311.558364
 
Nikon D2X APS-C 12.2 4288 2848none22.110.947659
 
Nikon D2H APS-C 4.0 2464 1632none18.910.035240
 
Nikon D100 APS-C 6.0 3008 2000none........
 
Nikon D1H APS-C 2.6 2000 1312none........
 
Nikon D1 APS-C 2.6 2000 1312none........
 
Olympus E-5 Four Thirds 12.2 4032 3024720/30p21.610.551956
 
Olympus E-3 Four Thirds 10.0 3648 2736none21.610.557156
 
Olympus E-330 Four Thirds 7.4 3136 2352none........
 
Olympus E-300 Four Thirds 8.0 3264 2448none........
Neither the D1X nor the E-1 offer Live View, so that they cannot project the live image that the sensor receives onto the rear screen. Moreover, both cameras are still-image focused and cannot record videos.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D1X and the E-1 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 E-1 offers a wider field of view (100%) than the one in the D1X (96%), so that a larger proportion of the captured image is visible in the finder. On the other hand, the viewfinder of the D1X has a higher magnification (0.53x vs 0.48x), 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 D1X, the Olympus E-1, and comparable cameras.

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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
 
Nikon D1Xoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 3.0 n n
 
Olympus E-1optical Y 1.8 134 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 n n
 
Leica Digilux 3optical n 2.5 207 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D4optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
 
Nikon D300Soptical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 1/8000s 7.0 Y n
 
Nikon D300optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 6.0 Y n
 
Nikon D2Xsoptical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
 
Nikon D200optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 Y n
 
Nikon D2Xoptical Y 2.5 235 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
 
Nikon D2Hoptical Y 2.5 211 fixed n 1/8000s 8.0 n n
 
Nikon D100optical Y 1.8 118 fixed n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Nikon D1Hoptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 5.0 n n
 
Nikon D1optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 1.5 n n
 
Olympus E-5optical Y 3.0 920 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-3optical Y 2.5 230 swivel n 1/8000s 5.0 Y Y
 
Olympus E-330optical n 2.5 215 tilting n 1/4000s 3.0 Y n
 
Olympus E-300optical n 1.8 134 fixed n 1/4000s 2.5 Y n

The D1X writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the E-1 uses Compact Flash or xD Picture cards. The E-1 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the D1X 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 D1X and Olympus E-1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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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
 
Nikon D1XY-----FW---
 
Olympus E-1Y-----2.0---
 
Leica Digilux 3Ystereomono---2.0---
 
Nikon D4YmonomonoYYmicro2.0---
 
Nikon D300SYstereomonoY-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D300Y----mini2.0---
 
Nikon D2XsY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D200Y-----2.0---
 
Nikon D2XY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D2HY-----2.0---
 
Nikon D100Y-----1.1---
 
Nikon D1HY-----FW---
 
Nikon D1Y-----FW---
 
Olympus E-5Ystereo---mini2.0---
 
Olympus E-3Y-----2.0---
 
Olympus E-330Y-----2.0---
 
Olympus E-300Y-----2.0---

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

Both the D1X and the E-1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D1X was replaced by the Nikon D2X, while the E-1 was followed by the Olympus E-3. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Olympus websites.

Review summary

So what is the bottom line? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D1X and the Olympus E-1? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.

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Arguments in favor of the Nikon D1X:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (5.9 vs 4.9MP) with a 12% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Features bigger pixels on a larger sensor for higher quality imaging.
  • Richer colors: The pixel size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
  • More dynamic range: Larger pixels capture a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
  • Better low-light sensitivity: Larger pixels means good image quality even under poor lighting.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.53x vs 0.48x).
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (2.0" vs 1.8") for image review and settings control.
  • 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.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (1200 versus 750) on a single battery charge.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in February 2001).

ilogo

Reasons to prefer the Olympus E-1:

  • More complete view: Has a viewfinder with a larger field of view (100% vs 96%).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (134k vs 120k dots).
  • More compact: Is smaller (141x104mm vs 157x153mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 362g or 33 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • 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 (72 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Reflects 2 years and 4 months of technical progress since the D1X launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D1X is the clear winner of the match-up (11 : 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 sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

D1X 11:07 E-1

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D1X and the Olympus E-1 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 the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D1X or the E-1. 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

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera 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.

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Nikon D1X..+ +..o.. Feb 2001 5,999i
 
Olympus E-1..+oo.. Jun 2003 1,699i
 
Leica Digilux 3.......... Sep 2006 1,499i
 
Nikon D4....4.5/5..4.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999i
 
Nikon D300S+ +82/1004/55/54.5/5 Jul 2009 1,799i
 
Nikon D300+ ++ +5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,799i
 
Nikon D2Xs......o.. Jun 2006 4,699i
 
Nikon D200+ ++ +o5/5.. Nov 2005 1,699i
 
Nikon D2X..+ +..o.. Sep 2004 4,999i
 
Nikon D2H..+ +..o.. Jul 2003 3,499i
 
Nikon D100..+ +oo.. Feb 2002 1,999i
 
Nikon D1H..+ +..o.. Feb 2001 4,499i
 
Nikon D1..+ +...... Jun 1999 5,499i
 
Olympus E-5..75/1004/5..4.5/5 Sep 2010 1,699i
 
Olympus E-388/100+ +oo4/5 Oct 2007 1,699i
 
Olympus E-330..+o3.5/5.. Jan 2006 999i
 
Olympus E-300..+oo4.5/5 Sep 2004 799i
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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Nikon D1X:
Check Ebay offers
Olympus E-1:
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 make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Nikon D1X vs Olympus E-1

    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 D1X Olympus E-1
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Four Thirds lenses
    Launch Date February 2001 June 2003
    Launch Price USD 5,999 USD 1,699
    Sensor Specs Nikon D1X Olympus E-1
    Sensor Technology CCD CCD
    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
    Crop Factor 1.5x 2.0x
    Sensor Resolution 5.9 Megapixels 4.9 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 3008 x 1960 pixels 2560 x 1920 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.92 μm 6.78 μm
    Pixel Density 1.59 MP/cm2 2.19 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability no Video no Video
    ISO Setting 125 - 800 ISO 100 - 800 ISO
    ISO Boost 125 - 3,200 ISO 100 - 3,200 ISO
    Screen Specs Nikon D1X Olympus E-1
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 96% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.53x 0.48x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    Rear LCD Size 2.0inch 1.8inch
    LCD Resolution 120k dots 134k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D1X Olympus E-1
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 3 shutter flaps/s 3 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF or XD cards
    Second Storage Option Single card slot Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D1X Olympus E-1
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector Firewire USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI no HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D1X Olympus E-1
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type EN-4 BLM-1
    Battery Life (CIPA)1200 shots per charge750 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 157 x 153 x 85 mm
    (6.2 x 6.0 x 3.3 in)
    141 x 104 x 81 mm
    (5.6 x 4.1 x 3.2 in)
    Camera Weight 1100 g (38.8 oz) 738 g (26.0 oz)

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