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Nikon D4 vs Canon 1D

The Nikon D4 and the Canon EOS-1D are two professional cameras that were announced, respectively, in January 2012 and September 2001. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on a full frame (D4) and an APS-H (1D) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 16.2 megapixels, whereas the Canon provides 4.1 MP.

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

Headline Specifications
Nikon D4 versus Canon 1D
Nikon D4 Canon 1D
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
16.2 MP, Full Frame Sensor 4.1 MP, APS-H Sensor
1080/30p Video no Video
ISO 100-12,800 (50 - 204,800) ISO 200-1,600 (100 - 3,200)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.2 LCD, 921k dots 2.0 LCD, 120k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
11 shutter flaps per second 8 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
2600 shots per battery charge500 shots per battery charge
160 x 157 x 91 mm, 1340 g 156 x 158 x 80 mm, 1585 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D4 and the Canon EOS-1D? 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 physical size and weight of the Nikon D4 and the Canon 1D 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 size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Nikon D4 vs Canon 1D
Compare D4 versus 1D top
Comparison D4 or 1D rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Canon 1D is somewhat smaller (2 percent) than the Nikon D4. However, the 1D is markedly heavier (18 percent) than the D4. 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 (D4) and the Canon EF Lens Catalog (1D).

Concerning battery life, the D4 gets 2600 shots out of its EN-EL18 battery, while the 1D can take 500 images on a single charge of its NP-E3 power pack. 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 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.

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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 D4 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.3 oz 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999i
 
Canon 1D 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 55.9 oz 500 Y Sep 2001 6,499i
 
Canon 1D X Mark III 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 50.8 oz 2850 Y Jan 2020 6,499 i
 
Canon 1D X Mark II 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.0 oz 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999i
 
Canon 1D C 6.2 in 6.5 in 3.3 in 54.5 oz 1120 Y Apr 2012 14,999i
 
Canon 1D X 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.7 oz 1120 Y Oct 2011 6,799i
 
Canon 1D Mark II 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 54.1 oz 1200 Y Jan 2004 4,499i
 
Nikon D5 6.3 in 6.3 in 3.6 in 49.9 oz 3780 Y Jan 2016 6,499i
 
Nikon D4S 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.6 oz 3020 Y Feb 2014 6,499i
 
Nikon Df 5.7 in 4.3 in 2.6 in 26.8 oz 1400 Y Nov 2013 2,749i
 
Nikon D600 5.6 in 4.4 in 3.2 in 30.0 oz 900 Y Sep 2012 2,099i
 
Nikon D800 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 35.3 oz 900 Y Feb 2012 2,999i
 
Nikon D800E 5.7 in 4.8 in 3.2 in 35.3 oz 900 Y Feb 2012 3,299i
 
Nikon D3S 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 43.7 oz 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199i
 
Nikon D3X 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 44.4 oz 4400 Y Dec 2008 7,999i
 
Nikon D3 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 45.9 oz 4300 Y Aug 2007 4,999i
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 obviously take relative prices into account. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D4 was somewhat cheaper (by 8 percent) than the 1D at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.

Sensor comparison

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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the 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 D4 features a full frame sensor and the Canon 1D an APS-H sensor. The sensor area in the 1D is 36 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.3. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Nikon D4 and Canon 1D sensor measures

With 16.2MP, the D4 offers a higher resolution than the 1D (4.1MP), but the D4 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 7.29μm versus 11.56μm for the 1D). However, the D4 is a much more recent model (by 10 years and 3 months) than the 1D, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.

The resolution advantage of the Nikon D4 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D4 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 24.6 x 16.4 inches or 62.6 x 41.7 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.3 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.8 cm. The corresponding values for the Canon 1D are 12.5 x 8.3 inches or 31.7 x 21.1 cm for good quality, 10 x 6.6 inches or 25.4 x 16.9 cm for very good quality, and 8.3 x 5.5 inches or 21.1 x 14.1 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Nikon D4 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 50-204800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Canon EOS-1D are ISO 200 to ISO 1600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-3200.

D4 versus 1D 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.

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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 D4 Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589
 
Canon 1D APS-H 4.1 2496 1662none........
 
Canon 1D X Mark III Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.214.5324891
 
Canon 1D X Mark II Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788
 
Canon 1D C Full Frame 17.9 5184 34564K/24p........
 
Canon 1D X Full Frame 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.811.8278682
 
Canon 1D Mark II APS-H 8.2 3504 2336none22.311.1100366
 
Nikon D5 Full Frame 20.7 5588 37124K/30p25.112.3234388
 
Nikon D4S Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/60p24.413.3307489
 
Nikon Df Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280none24.613.1327989
 
Nikon D600 Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.2298094
 
Nikon D800 Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/30p25.314.4285395
 
Nikon D800E Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/30p25.614.3297996
 
Nikon D3S Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382
 
Nikon D3X Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032none24.713.7199288
 
Nikon D3 Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832none23.512.2229081

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The D4 indeed provides movie recording capabilities, while the 1D does not. The highest resolution format that the D4 can use is 1080/30p.

Feature comparison

Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D4 and the 1D 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the D4 has a higher magnification than the one of the 1D (0.70x vs 0.55x), 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 D4 and Canon 1D in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar 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 D4optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
 
Canon 1Doptical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 1/16000s 8.0 n n
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIIoptical Y 3.2 2100 fixed Y 1/8000s 20.0 n n
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIoptical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 1/8000s 16.0 n n
 
Canon 1D Coptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 14.0 n n
 
Canon 1D Xoptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 14.0 n n
 
Canon 1D Mark IIoptical Y 2.0 230 fixed n 1/8000s 8.3 n n
 
Nikon D5optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 1/8000s 14.0 n n
 
Nikon D4Soptical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
 
Nikon Dfoptical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5 n n
 
Nikon D600optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5 Y n
 
Nikon D800optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 Y n
 
Nikon D800Eoptical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 Y n
 
Nikon D3Soptical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
 
Nikon D3Xoptical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
 
Nikon D3optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n

The Nikon D4 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 D4 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or XQD cards, while the 1D uses Compact Flash cards. The D4 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the 1D 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 D4 and Canon EOS-1D 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 D4YmonomonoYYmicro2.0---
 
Canon 1DY-----FW---
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIIYmonomonoYYmini3.1Y-Y
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIYmonomonoYYmini3.0---
 
Canon 1D CYmonomonoYYmini2.0---
 
Canon 1D XYmono-Y-mini2.0---
 
Canon 1D Mark IIY-----1.1---
 
Nikon D5YstereomonoYYmini3.0---
 
Nikon D4SYmonomonoYYmini2.0---
 
Nikon DfY----mini2.0---
 
Nikon D600YmonomonoYYmini2.0---
 
Nikon D800YmonomonoYYmini3.0---
 
Nikon D800EYmonomonoYYmini3.0---
 
Nikon D3SYstereo---mini2.0---
 
Nikon D3XY----mini2.0---
 
Nikon D3Y----mini2.0---

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

Both the D4 and the 1D have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The 1D was replaced by the Canon 1D Mark II, while the D4 was followed by the Nikon D4S. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Canon websites.

Review summary

So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D4 or the Canon 1D – 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.

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Advantages of the Nikon D4:

  • More detail: Offers more megapixels (16.2 vs 4.1MP) with a 97% higher linear resolution.
  • Better image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging 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 record not only still images but also 1080/30p movies.
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.55x).
  • 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 (921k vs 120k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 8 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
  • Less heavy: Is lighter (by 245g or 15 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (2600 versus 500) on a single battery charge.
  • Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
  • More modern: Reflects 10 years and 3 months of technical progress since the 1D launch.

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Reasons to prefer the Canon EOS-1D:

  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/16000s vs 1/8000s) to freeze action.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2001).

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D4 is the clear winner of the match-up (15 : 2 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. 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.

D4 15:02 1D

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D4 and the Canon 1D 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the D4 and the 1D 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

This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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 D4....4.5/5..4.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999i
 
Canon 1D..+ +...... Sep 2001 6,499i
 
Canon 1D X Mark III+ +........ Jan 2020 6,499 i
 
Canon 1D X Mark II..89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999i
 
Canon 1D C.......... Apr 2012 14,999i
 
Canon 1D X....4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2011 6,799i
 
Canon 1D Mark II..+ +..o.. Jan 2004 4,499i
 
Nikon D5..89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 6,499i
 
Nikon D4S....4.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2014 6,499i
 
Nikon Df..81/1004/54/54/5 Nov 2013 2,749i
 
Nikon D600+ +87/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099i
 
Nikon D800+ +82/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2012 2,999i
 
Nikon D800E..84/1005/54.5/55/5 Feb 2012 3,299i
 
Nikon D3S..89/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199i
 
Nikon D3X..86/1004/55/55/5 Dec 2008 7,999i
 
Nikon D3..+ +5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 4,999i
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 D4:
Check Ebay offers
Canon 1D:
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. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.

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    Specifications: Nikon D4 vs Canon 1D

    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 D4 Canon 1D
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Canon EF mount lenses
    Launch Date January 2012 September 2001
    Launch Price USD 5,999 USD 6,499
    Sensor Specs Nikon D4 Canon 1D
    Sensor Technology CMOS CCD
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor APS-H Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 23.9 mm 28.7 x 19.1 mm
    Sensor Area 860.4 mm2 548.17 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.2 mm 34.5 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.3x
    Sensor Resolution 16.2 Megapixels 4.1 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4928 x 3280 pixels 2496 x 1662 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.29 μm 11.56 μm
    Pixel Density 1.88 MP/cm2 0.76 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video no Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 12,800 ISO 200 - 1,600 ISO
    ISO Boost 50 - 204,800 ISO 100 - 3,200 ISO
    Image Processor EXPEED 3 DIGIC
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 89 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 24.7 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 13.1 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 2965 ..
    Screen Specs Nikon D4 Canon 1D
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.70x 0.55x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.2inch 2.0inch
    LCD Resolution 921k dots 120k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D4 Canon 1D
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Continuous Shooting 11 shutter flaps/s 8 shutter flaps/s
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inno Intervalometer
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF or XQD cards CF cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Single card slot
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D4 Canon 1D
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 Firewire
    HDMI Port micro HDMI no HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port no MIC socket
    Headphone Socket Headphone port no Headphone port
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs Nikon D4 Canon 1D
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type EN-EL18 NP-E3
    Battery Life (CIPA)2600 shots per charge500 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 160 x 157 x 91 mm
    (6.3 x 6.2 x 3.6 in)
    156 x 158 x 80 mm
    (6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 in)
    Camera Weight 1340 g (47.3 oz) 1585 g (55.9 oz)

    Did you notice an error on this page? If so, please get in touch, so that we can correct the information.

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