A new digital era developed with the "D1"
The digital SLR camera that led imaging innovations
Two-stage development method
In the early 1990s, although various digital cameras had already been introduced, they had gained only slight popularity among the general public compared to film cameras in the market. Under such circumstances, the TOP01 Project to pursue the development of advanced digital cameras was launched in July 1996.
The order from Nikon's top management was to accomplish the development of a digital camera that deserves a flagship model within two years, with insufficiently accumulated digital technologies to work with. To achieve this difficult task, Mr. Tomino, leader of the project, decided to adopt a two-stage development method, releasing a compact digital camera first, and shortly after that, introducing a digital SLR camera. During the development, several professional photographers cooperated on the project to offer users' viewpoints.
In April 1998, the COOLPIX 900, the first stage of the development, was launched. The "NIKKOR" designation was applied to its lens and "Nikon quality" was also demonstrated in promotional materials such as the product brochure. Employing a swivel structure that allowed the section containing the lens, optical viewfinder, and speedlight to be rotated 360°, it could be stored in a compact and flat shape while featuring an optical zoom lens. This camera design was inherited by the subsequent COOLPIX 910/950/990/995 models as a series, playing an important role in the first stage of digital compact cameras.
The D1 made a name for itself in world camera history
And in September 1999, the main stage of the development, the D1, was launched as a flagship digital SLR.
The D1 was awarded the "Best Digital Professional Product 2000-2001" by the Technical Image Press Association (TIPA) and the "European Professional Digital Camera of the Year 2000-2001" by the Expert Imaging and Sound Association (EISA). While in Japan, it was selected as the Historical Camera of 1999 (Historical camera judging committee of the Japan Camera Industry Institute) and received the Mono magazine editorial department special prize of "Super Goods of the Year". Furthermore, in 2006, Mr. Tomino received the "2006 Technical Achievement Award" from the PMDA of the U.S.A., an association consisting of camera manufacturers and sales companies playing a central role in the activities of the photographic industry. Every year, it selects and honors persons for superior achievements and contributions in a wide variety of fields relating to photographic products, services and activities. Mr. Tomino commented at the interview, "I receive this award as a representative of the team." With these words, he wanted to convey his feelings that he was a representative of not only Nikon staff but also the many people including those of partner companies who had been involved in the development of the D1.
Paradigm shift provided by the D1
The D1 released in 1999 triggered a full-scale penetration of the market by digital SLR cameras, and by 2004, regarding the total number of shipped SLRs, the ratio of film cameras to digital cameras had reversed*1. The D1 greatly accelerated the shift from film to digital and created a firm basis for the success of digital cameras not only among professionals and the press but also the general public. Since the introduction of the D1, while many manufacturers including Nikon have released diverse models, the ways of shooting and enjoyment of photography have also remarkably changed with the improvement of cameras as well as the environments of peripheral equipment such as personal computers and various networks. Taken images can be viewed on a camera's LCD monitor or a personal computer, and a huge number of shots can be captured with no more film changing involved. The D1 was the first camera that adopted file formats such as RAW and NEF that are still utilized even at now. Also, the F-mount system was employed for the D series to take full advantage of the characteristics of conventional NIKKOR lenses. Following the D1, a powerful lineup was established for a wide range of customers from professional photographers to general users. The D1, as a point of origin, is a historical product that triggered a massive revolution in the status of cameras and the style of imaging enjoyment, developing a new digital era of cameras.
*1: Based on CIPA (Camera & Imaging Products Association) statistics
View a movie "The History of D"