Nikon d1h iso overrated?


No longer a newbie, moving up!
May 4, 2008
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Seattle, WA
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I know this camera is over a decade old, but i happened upon a mint d1h for $125 and couldnt pass on it. So far i'm impressed with this camera, the iso performance is better then my old d200, and it uses every bit of its 2.7mp--better actual resolution then some 10mp p&s cameras ive owned!

The problem is: it seems that the cameras iso is overrated by about one stop. Compared to my d700, with all the same settings the results come out one stop darker. Is this typical for the d1 cameras? Ive seen some posts online that claim the camera under exposes due to the limited dynamic range, and the unrecoverability of highlights. Im just curious if this is the case, or perhaps this camera has degraded due to age.

My plan is to give it to my 95yo grandfather, who's a "nikon guy" who thinks his f2 is "high tech." Lately he's been been eyeing my d700, and he cant really afford to shoot film anymore, so i wanted to get him a cheap digital that would accept his ais lenses he uses on his f2, the d1h fit the bill. Strangely he's never been able to figure out a p&s digital, but he can take great photos on my d700 in manual mode because its closer to what he's used to.
I shot the D1h for many newspaper sports assignments. What's weird about the D1 series is that, after they were obsoleted, Nikon itself stated that the sensor was actually a 10 million pixel sensor!!!. It's all in the historical record for those willing to dig. My recollection is that what Nikon was doing was using three pixels' worth of data to collect light and color and then binning the results--as a way to get more "signal" and lower noise. Whatever they were doing in the D1-series, the D1h was the second camera in the series, and was actually a very good performer for lower light/action work. Prices have dropped quite low...I saw a pair at $160 each a few months back...and YES, for your grandfather, if he has an F2A or F2As or F2As-b (meaning that he's using AI-Nikkor lenses), then the D1h would be a fantastic camera for him!!! It can, as you might or might not know, be set up to use the aperture ring on the LENS as the way to input the f/stop, which a lot of us geezers prefer...and which will maintain the "F2-era way of shooting photos".

I do not have a D1h any longer, so I cannot compare the ISO rating with anything else...there is a very GOOD book, called The D1 Generation, written by Moose Peterson and some other guy, dedicated exclusively to the D1 and D1h cameras. Well,well worth the money. I would set the Tone Curve on it to AUTO. It shoots very nice JPEGS, BTW, and the Medium sized JPEG looks quite,quite good.
Thanks Derrell, you're a wealth of information as always. ;)

His camera is the older F2, but he purchased most of his lenses later. His 105mm may be pre-ai, but the rest of his kit is definiately ai.

I've been using the camera some more, and it does clip the highlights out badly when I increase exposure to achieve something closer to what my d700 delivers. So I think there's something to be said for the theory that nikon deliberately lowers the exposure on the d1 to avoid highlight clipping.

Anybody on a shoe-string budget that wants a dslr should consider a d1h or d1x. I see them sell for $200 or less all the time, and that low price mixed with the fact that they work with AI lenses means you could build a respectable kit dirt cheap. Most you find online will probably need a new battery ($20, but you'll want two so $40), luckily mine came with two brand new batteries that seem to hold a charge really well.

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