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The D1H will probably remain the world's most sensitive digital camera ever made due to its huge pixel size due to the low pixel count and huge sensor. Otherwise these cameras are completely obsolete as of 2004. This review was written in 2002 - 2003 so take it accordingly. The D1X does indeed make GREAT images, even printed at 20 x 30." On with the review:
You people are so silly. Why waste your time reading all this drivel about trivial performance minutiae when I think I've made it perfectly clear that as of March 2003 this camera is still the one to get if you need a pro level digital SLR for action? It will pay for itself before you know it! Honestly, I never wasted my time reading all the reviews on the Internet before I bought mine; I just played with a friend's and loved it so much I just bought one. If you're smart just buy yours, and advance directly to the "Operational Secrets" section to learn how to get the best out of yours when it arrives. I never saw printed literature for this camera before I bought it. If you are still curious about performance, just borrow or rent one and you'll see immediately what it does for you much better than reading strangers' opinions on the Internet
OK, here goes if you insist:
Speed is the primary reason to blow four grand on one of these cameras instead of a consumer digicam. It is FAST.
Until you try one of these you won't comprehend just how far digital has come. It is FAST. By fast I mean that it's ready to shoot the instant you turn on the power. You won't miss your shot waiting 10 seconds for some bogus amateur camera to boot up. The D1X is about as fast as the D100 and Canon 1Ds and 10D, and the D1H is faster than anything except the Canon 1D. They are all faster than the Fuji S2 or non-existent Kodak 14N.
You may blast away and the camera just keeps working. There is no delay from when you press the shutter release to when the image is made, just like a real film camera. This is completely different from amateur digital cameras that have long delays from when the shutter is pressed to when it releases. These delays guarantee awful photos of action, and the D1x/D1H have none of this problem.
If the best camera you've ever used is an amateur camera like the F100 then this D1x/D1H is actually faster at everything, especially autofocus. You won't want to put it down. It makes you want to go out and create great photographs.
The only thing that takes any time is a 4 second wake-up every time to display a stored image from a microdrive. If the camera is still writing the images to the microdrive they are available immediately. Everything else is immediate, and everything is immediate with Compact Flash memory. The only thing that takes any time is a microdrive takes 4 seconds (which seems like forever) each time to wake the drive back up after it goes to sleep each time you want to see an image. There is no delay for anything when making (recording) images, even with the microdrive, since the camera's huge internal memory just stores your images while you shoot away and the camera writes them at the same time. The camera has multiple processing ability to do all this at once, another reason you pay so much.
Yes, even with a microdrive you can shoot away like a wanton maniac and the cameras write to the cards as they see fit. You can shoot a burst and shoot another burst immediately without having to wait for anything, even if the camera is still in the middle of writing to the media! Even if you can fill up the 9/40 frame buffer, as soon as the first image is written to the card or microdrive you may make more images. Even with the smaller 9 frame buffer of the D1X I have never been able to outrun the camera. Read more about these drives and cards here.
Let me say that again: you can go nuts with this camera and it will never hold you back, unlike all the other digi cams. Heck, try this with a film camera and you have to reload every 36 images; the D1H has a bigger buffer than an entire roll of film, and that is even giving film the benefit of starting from the beginning of a roll! Unlike the foolish Contax, you have a full 40 image buffer in the D1H even for big formats like TIFF. If you insist on the 12-bit deep NEF format then the buffer is reduced to (8/12) of 40, or 27 images. Of course the D1x has a much smaller buffer.
AF speed is brutally fast. Make sure you are not using crappy discount lenses like Sigma, because its AF motor is so powerful it may rip your dime-store lens to shreds just as the F5 will.
It works great with traditional mechanically-focussed AF lenses as well as the newest electronically-focussed AF-S lenses.
It also works fine with manual focus lenses, the same as the pro film cameras. See here for more.
The IEEE 1394 Firewire port allows you to get your images out of the camera pronto. To be honest, with today's fastest CF cards running at only 2.8MB/s I'm unsure what advantage the firewire has over regular USB. You get much faster downloading with any external card reader or PCMCIA adapter.
Firewire is the standard high-speed connection on the standard Apple Macintosh computers used in professional digital photography and publishing. If you are an amateur trying to use a Windows PC for photography you may need to add a firewire (IEEE 1394 or iLink) card. Better still, if you have the cash to step up to a D1 series in the first place, for Christ's sake please just go buy an Apple iMac (complete systems with calibrated monitors start at $799) and start working like a pro. You will be much happier. Everything works better on the Apple computers; that's why the real pros all use them. Leave your Windows PC for your tax return, games and email.
Wanna know why the pros all use Apple? Many reasons, and among the biggest are that the colors on the screen and the camera and your printer just match, and that you never have to screw around with upgrades or finding drivers or reloading operating systems or configuring anything. Macs just work, and adding hard drives or scanners happen instantly without having to waste all the time windows users waste for granted. Also required browsing programs like iView are only available for Mac.
Shutter and Flash Sync
Flash sync is up to 1/500, making this better than any 35mm SLR for use with fill flash in daylight. This seemingly minor spec is actually very, very important for daylight action photography and is one of the biggest things that sets the D1 series apart from amateur cameras like the not yet available Contax N Digital and Nikon D100.
Flash sync speed is extremely important for the photography for which 35mm and these digital cameras are intended. It is the fastest shutter speed you can use with flash, period. Since you should be using fill flash in daylight, that means it is the fastest speed you can use in daylight, period. Now do you understand why this is so critical? 1/200 is the fastest speed you can use in daylight with flash with the $7,000 Contax, which is very limiting. The 1/500 sync speed of the D1 series lets you get great shots.
I usually shoot between 1/250 and 1/500 with fill for most of my daylight shots. This high speed sync is a key feature I use all the time.
Without flash the shutter goes up to some idiotic speed like 1/16,000. This is pointless, 1/500 to 1/1,000 is all you need and ought to be using for even the fastest action. If your shutter speeds get to above 1/1,000 then you should select a slower equivalent film speed for a cleaner image, not run up to 1/8,000 in daylight at EI 400.
The fact that the D1x/D1H goes up to 1/16,000 without flash is commendable. Just don't use it unless you have some legitimate scientific nuclear fusion research to do with the camera. The 1/500 sync is extremely important.
Here's a secret: with shoe-mount Nikon speedlights the D1 series limits you to 1/500. On the other hand, if you're using studio strobes with the PC terminal you can set speeds up to the full 1/16,000 with flash. You lose light, but it works fine. You don't need these speeds, but it is a clever way to use larger apertures at close distances with powerful strobes. You can do this with the D1 series because they use an electronic shutter at those speeds, so the usual 1/250 limitation all focal plane film SLRs and amateur cameras like the $7,000 Contax N Digital does not apply. Heck, the only real reason the D1 series sync is limited to 1/500 is because you'll start to loose some of your light with some strobes at full output since the strobe duration can be longer than 1/1,000.
Equivalent Film Speeds
Another advantage for we chrome shooters is that the effective speed starts at EI 200 (EI 125 for D1x). Whoo Hoo! I usually shoot EI 50 Velvia, so for me EI 200 or even 125 is hot stuff.
Effective speeds go up to EI 1,600 (only EI 800 for D1x) and can be pushed 2 stops from there. Nikon is too honest here: the data sheet and camera only mention EI 1,600 or 800 maximum, but look in the custom menu and you'll find a one and a two-stop push setting, getting you to EI 3200 and 6,400! (EI 1,600 and 3,200 for D1x) Sure, it's grainy, but it seems about the same or better than film as fast. This is too cool!
The images at EI 1,600 (800 in D1x) are clean and much better than film at these speeds. The D1H and D1x are unique here, the older D1 and the amateur Canon 1D/D30/D60 are apparently worse. The D1H as of June 2002 is the high speed champion for clean images in digital cameras.
Even better, one can change EI rating from shot to shot. Try that with film!
You even can change the contrast and color balance settings and change from color to B/W from shot to shot!
You used to have to shoot large format and develop each sheet separately to do that!
There are also automatic contrast settings that allow the camera's matrix meter to set the contrast before the image is made. This is so cool and so significant that Nikon's non-photographer ad copy writers completely forgot to promote this. This means that unlike film, the camera can to some degree correct for poor lighting! Personally I find the auto contrast mode unpredictable and don't use it.
I see no setting for automatic film speed setting. I'd like the camera to be able to figure out that if it's really dark that I want a faster speed setting without me having to tell it. Today I have to spin the film speed dial up and down if I am pointing in and out of the shade, for instance. The D100 seems to add this.
You can blast away at 5 FPS (3 FPS for D1x) for up to 40 frames (9 frames with D1x). This is 8 seconds (3 seconds with D1x) of continuous full speed shooting.. The frame counter in the viewfinder counts down from 40 (9 in D1x) as you fire away, and counts back up as the images are written to the card if you keep your finger pressed lightly on the release. Otherwise the frame counter counts the total number of images in the folder on the memory card plus one, lust like a film camera. It counts up to 999, which is the maximum you may put in one folder. If your media can hold more than 999 images you need to create a new folder when you get to 999. See the "secrets" section if you need details. Honestly, I forget if the camera will make its own new folder if you throw that many in one folder.
The D1H and D1x easily flip through all the images on your memory card. Even though they are fat files a couple of megs apiece you can rip right through them. (You will have to wait 4 seconds for a microdrive to spin up first; the Compact Flash is instant.) As I've been saying, this is a killer camera for journalists on a deadline; hobbyists probably won't notice.
EASE OF USE
This is the most complex still camera ever sold to the public, and the good news is that it's also very simple to use. In fact, it's so easy to use you won't even need to read the big fat instruction manual.
It's much easier to use than most amateur cameras! For instance, I was never able to figure out how to get a certain Kodak digital camera to turn on or do much of anything, and likewise I was not able to figure out an Olympus digital camera.
I was at my buddy's house one day, he says "Hey Rock, check out my new D1x!," puts it in my hand and I just started blasting away.
The D1H and D1x are obvious. It is also very easy to see the image you just shot, review the images and delete the duds. Everything works very fast and very easily. By all means go try one.
Unlike the cryptic custom settings of other Nikon cameras (or the original D1) that requires carrying a printed card deciphering the digital codes, all the custom settings for the D1H and D1x are in English on the color LCD. Things like setting the 2-stop push and contrast settings are obvious.
Film Loading, Rewinding and Free 250 Exposure backs
Here are more reasons the D1H and D1x are better than film cameras.
In spite of the F5's blazing speed, it takes at most a 36 exposure roll of film. Once the film is done you or your assistant has to have to wait for it to rewind, then unload and reload it by hand. You have to do this every 36 exposures, whether or not those exposures are keepers. There aren't even any 250 exposure backs made for the F5 even if you did want them. I never did figure out where people got their film processed when they shot those loads anyway on earlier cameras.
Depending on the size of the memory card you'll get hundreds or thousands of images without a stop for anything. Then you can stop, dump the duds, and keep blasting away.
For instance, with a 512MB card you'll get 700 images at the Normal JPEG setting (350 images with D1X at 2k x 3k rez and Normal JPEG setting.) Your battery is the limit here, not film or memory.
Just think about this: you'll probably never be at the end of a roll just when you need it most. You can get away without an assistant loading your cameras at a heavy shoot. This alone can pay for the camera. If you are not used to assistants handing you freshly loaded cameras you'll flip at being freed from the drudgery of loading and transporting all those rolls of film.
That's right: At first I was afraid that the D1 series are big fat pigs and I didn't want to deal with them compared to my light F100. I forgot that I no longer have to run around with pockets full of dozens of rolls of film, so overall, it's much less to carry.
You'll be shooting a lot more than you ever thought. If you do this for a living, start with cards of 256 or 512 MB.
At the Airport
No film to hand check!
Just drop your cameras and memory cards on the x-ray belt and enjoy watching the naive amateur next to you wait around for a half hour while some lady fingers each of 150 rolls of Velvia.
If you are afraid of losing the memory cards (the x-ray and metal detectors can't hurt them) then you may want to stick them in your pocket, hide them in your shoes or have them hand inspected. Of course you should already have mailed CD ROMs or FTPd them back home already, so again why worry? Film was such a pain, just like LP records and carburetors.
Image quality is stellar for a digital camera. If you are new to digital let me warn you of the biggest differences between it and scanned film:
1.) See the "Film vs. Digital" section for the fundamentals of the huge differences in the "look" of film and digital. They are NOT the same by any means! If you are too lazy to read it here are the two biggest issues: A.) These cameras, like all digital cameras, can have serious problems when highlights overload, since there is no shoulder in the characteristic curve. B.) Color rendition of digital cameras is limited by the narrower range of colors represented on computer monitors than you see on film. For instance, the deepest red on your monitor is really only a reddish - orange. This is no problem for flesh tones and can be problematic for flowers. Yes, you can make great images with digital cameras, but you ask yourself after looking at chromes on a light table "what was I thinking?"
2.) You may see CCD dirt in your images. This is not a problem for professional journalism, but is always a worry since a spec of dirt can and will show up embedded on your images, especially at small apertures. See more under the "Pitfalls" section at the end.
With those caveats related to today's state-of-the-art in digital, image quality is stellar for a digital camera due to the much larger CCD used compared to amateur digital cameras. These larger pixels allow each pixel to receive more photons of light than a smaller pixel, and therefore there is much less noise or electronic grain in the image. This subtle effect is identical to the significantly improved but subtle tonal quality one sees when shooting larger film formats.
The image files, when downloaded through the included Nikon View software either from a card reader or directly from the camera, include all the technical data with each shot when viewed in the camera or with the appropriate software. Just go to FILE > FILE INFO in Photoshop and all the data is there; even from the .JPG files. The info won't be there if you just copy JPEGs directly off cards with a card reader, you need to download through the Nikon software which then inserts the data. The Nikon software also can be set once and then will add your copyright and contact info to each and every image file from then on, too! It has the time, date, lens used, focal length setting, exposure compensation, metering mode, color mode (good because the files are not tagged properly) and more.
No, Rockwell Labs has not wasted its time shooting star targets and resolution charts. Do you really care? The important part of the images, the tones, colors and clarity, are obviously spectacular. Only a soulless engineer cares just exactly how may pixels really turn on. An artist would rather be turning on his girlfriend in the shower. If you're more interested in pixels, go have a look at the same for-profit websites I do made by non-photographers who never make any decent pictures but do post plenty of photos of test charts to impress the innocent.
The color balance in low contrast mode looks great for people; better than the Velvia I usually shoot and more like Reala. Personally I prefer the look of scanned Velvia for the nature and landscapes I photograph, but for those subjects film is still the better choice. The color balance with the SB-28DX flash is also great.
The D1H and D1x like all digital cameras have serious problems with highlights compared to film. It has NO shoulder in its characteristic curve, unlike film. This means that large, light areas may take on a weird, uneven color tinge just before it completely washes out. You will see this most obviously on a large area of light color that washes to full white, like a stucco wall in afternoon light. As the area gets lighter and lighter the colors may do screwy things before they turn completely white. On film the wall would just get lighter and go white as it got overexposed. On the D1 series, as many digital cameras, it gets lighter, then turns a funny color as soon as one R, G or B channel clips, and eventually goes white when the last color channel clips. Specifically, the hue as you approach full overload, unlike film which lowers saturation (with constant hue) as it overloads.
The histogram display in the D1H and D1X is pretty much useless for colorful images. It only shows the green channel, and therefore you can have nasty overloads and color shift issues if you believe it for anything other than black-and-white shots. You are far better off not using the histogram or blinking highlight feature and just looking at the image itself on the LCD for overload issues!
I need to play with the Nikon Capture software and see if I can program in a filmlike shoulder. $100,000 HDTV cameras have these same problems although they do provide some control over a shoulder curve. These $5,000 Nikon cameras may not be able to do this. Film is superior for this. The D1 series can give awful color for a lot of what I like to do in the setting sun. I'm unsure if other digicam makers have this same problem or not, but it doesn't matter since the D1 series has no real competition. The amateur Canon 1D for instance has a serious problem with noise banding at EI1600 and also lacks any zoom on the image preview, so as you see your only choices are D1x or D1H. Maybe I'm too picky as an artist; I can see these highlight issues in newspapers and magazine shot on the D1 series, maybe you won't notice it.
One way around this is to shoot a stop or two underexposed and change the gamma in Photoshop to make the image look correct. In doing this you'll create that shoulder.
Film and digital are very different media requiring very different techniques. If you are an artist as opposed to a journalist you know that you will never be able to duplicate the look of one medium in the other, although you can try and get close. Then again, for photos of people I prefer the look I get on digital over film. Try for yourself.
Only the D1x bothers you with a choice between two resolutions: 1,960 x 3,008 ("high") and 1,312 x 2,000 ("medium"). The D1 and D1H are fixed at 1,312 x 2,000 pixels.
To see if there was much difference between the two modes on the D1x I shot some tests of the same subjects at both settings. I upsampled the shots at the lower setting to see if I could see any differences.
As one might expect, there was little difference, since the resolution was only 50% different horizontally and the real resolution was identical vertically. You really had to look hard to see any difference, and it was only slightly visible if you deliberately shot tests to look for it.
The real vertical resolution of the D1x is still only 1,312 pixels: the camera creates phony filler pixels to pad the vertical resolution from the 1,312 real vertical pixels up to the 2,000 it outputs.
Therefore if you are short on storage space you may as well use the lower resolution.
If you are worrying about irrelevant minutiae of lines of resolution then refer to the other boring websites by people who don't make pictures.
The 3D color matrix meter of the D1H and D1x works as well as the 3D black-and white matrix meter in my F100.
This means it works almost perfectly, except that it can't correct for poor lighting. The D1H and D1x do have automatic tone curves (contrast adjustment) so it does try to correct overly contrasty light if you want it to.
Also, just like the F100, it requires manual compensation of bright gray or white backgrounds, behind a dark flying bird for instance. This is OK for the D1H and D1x since when it underexposes those scenes you can correct this easily with the LEVELS command in Photoshop if you have to. No, there is no visible loss of quality, just a loss of your time screwing with it. In other words, unless your white object is in full sun, the meter still requires additional exposure to keep the white white.
The exposure is not always right-on as it is on my F100. If I just said the metering was as good, what do I mean? Simple: there is no exposure latitude in digital. Even 1/3 of a stop makes a huge difference, unlike in film where 1/3 of a stop is very subtle. The fact that the meter is right on as often as it is is very good. You will have to twiddle with it more often than with a film camera, unless of course you plan on twiddling the file later.
Flash Metering is poor on my D1H. It is inconsistent, meaning you'll always have to make test shots anytime anything changes. You'll have to dial in exposure compensations unique for every situation by trial and error.
The TTL mode is so iffy that Nikon has suggested trying the ancient non-TTL A mode instead! The A mode is thirty year old technology. In other words, newspapermen: dust off your Vivitar 283 which may give better results than a new $350 SB-80DX! Unfortunately I sold my 283 years ago when I got my F100 so I no longer have it around to compare. Of course you can use the A mode on the SB-80DX, but why?
Why is the TTL flash exposure control so awful? As I mentioned earlier, all exposure needs to be tighter on digital than film, and the D1 series has more limited flash exposure ability than film cameras do. Here's why.
The D1 series cannot measure the flash output during the actual exposure, as even the cheapest modern film SLRs do.
Because the D1 series can't measure the actual exposure it only guesses the exposure with a weak pre-flash instead. Film SLRs use this small preflash to help add a little accuracy to the actual during-exposure measurement. For the D1 series this minor measurement is the only way it has to guess exposure.
This preflash guessing could be perfectly OK, but has one huge flaw: because it is an additional flash firing not related to the actual exposure, it obviously can't fire at anywhere near full power, because if it did there would be no power left for your photo!
Therefore, the useful TTL flash exposure measurement range of the D1 series is a small fraction of the range at which you ordinarily shoot. This is why most of your flash exposures will vary.
I usually have to add a stop or two of compensation on the camera if the flash is the main light. This is bad enough, but the bigger problem is that the compensation required is inconsistent and requires constant adjusting. People hate having to wait for me to shoot several tests when I'm making indoor people photos with camera-mounted flash. I look like a clown having them wait while I preview and eventually set the right compensation! They think each flash pop is a useable photo, guess again! Manual flash is the only way I've found for consistent results for still subjects. This is primitive hundred-year old technology. On the good side, once I have the camera set up for a situation, like covering a party, I can use the TTL mode for everything.
The SB-28DX is based on the for-film SB-28, and only has +1 to -3 stops compensation range on the flash. Because the D1 series requires so many huge compensations Nikon had to extend the flash exposure compensation range for the new SB-80DX.
Worse, most film cameras claim about a five-zone TTL flash meter. I see no such claim for the D1 series; for all I know it may only have a single TTL flash sensor, which could be another reason it's so awful.
Unlike film cameras, the D1 series depend a lot on having the D signal from D series lenses. Also unlike film cameras, I get different results with D and non-D lenses, and the results are all about as inconsistent.
Think this is bad? It gets worse: because of this bogus TTL preflash guestimation fiasco there is NO TTL flash capability for multiple flashes!! It's right on page 115 of the D1H manual! If you want to use two or more flashes you have to do it in MANUAL mode. This is because one needs to disable the preflashes to do multiple flash, and since the D1 series guestimates the entire flash exposure based only on this wimpy preflash, it can't measure anything if there is no preflash.
No, smartguy, you can't cheat and use the SU-7 wireless sensor for TTL either. It works fine in primitive manual mode. Yes, the SU-7 will fire a slave as controlled by the main flash, but since the SU-7 also cannot work with any preflash the system won't work correctly as you SU-7 users know. Even if you got the D1 series to magically guess the exposure without the preflash so you could use the SU-7, since the camera is not measuring the exposure off the CCD during the exposure you'd get way too much exposure due to the added light of the extra flashes.
So why doesn't Nikon measure the flash off the CCD and get the results we demand? I presume because a CCD looks a bit like a black mirror, making measuring the light that bounces off of it very difficult. I'm sure Nikon tried and is trying long and hard on this. Remember that film by comparison is a nice diffuse grayish surface from which it is easy to measure the light hitting it.
(More at the Pitfalls page.)
Nikon needs to fix this in the D2. Nikon's film cameras have such extraordinarily good flash control that we'll be happy with nothing less in our digital cameras.
The good news is that the manual white balance controls can take the place of a case of blue and amber conversion and trimming filters. They replace a case full of filters, saving you from both having to tote a dozen filters around, AND that you lose no light when dialing in the various warming filters as opposed to screwing them on top of the lens.
To set yourself back as primitive as a film camera just set the camera to daylight to duplicate regular daylight film, and indoor for 3200K tungsten.
Watch the automatic white balance; I find it unpredictable. See my operating secrets section for suggestions and explanations.
In other words, by resetting the WB control you can warm or cool your image without needing all the specialized filters we have to use with film cameras.
Battery life seems quite good. Make sure to have a spare charged battery with you at all times.
The D1H is a little tougher on the batteries. Typically I get 250-350 JPGs including plenty of image playback on a charge. This is hours of continuous shooting.
Since the battery charges in an hour, with just one spare battery and reasonable proximity to a charger you never are without power.
The battery meter is useless. It's just a primitive voltage meter with no hysterysis. It will vary up and down with time, just as the voltage under load varies. Half the time your gauge will say LOW, but don't take out the battery yet! You need to keep on shooting till it dies, and then change the battery.
I suspect Nikon was too cheap or ethnocentric to design in the superior American Benchmarq Ni-MH battery gauges into their packs that would fix this. I don't know that the Japanese have mastered this battery technology yet.
See more about battery care at the secrets pages.
Like all digital cameras, it's invisible in daylight unless you buy the great Hoodman hooded cover.
The resolution is poorer than many cheap consumer digicams. The pixels are huge.
The glass (not plastic) covering it is anti-reflection coated, increasing the visibility and contrast over most digicams that just have an uncoated plastic cover. Of course this glass would break every day in pro use, so Nikon includes a prophylactic, disposable milky Tupperware cover to put over the glass of the LCD at all times. Unfortunately this cover makes it almost impossible to see the LCD, so throw it away and at least buy the cheapest Hoodman cover which really is clear.
The color and contrast is surprisingly good. With practice you can get a pretty good idea of the final colors, which is far more important than anything else. Again, hats off to Nikon for getting the important colors correct instead of bowing to pressure to look impressive at an amateur camera store's sales counter with a display with better resolution but less accurate color.
NIKON VIEW 4 SOFTWARE more here
If you prefer to jam the memory card into your computer you may not even need to load any of the Nikon software. You need to use the Nikon software if you want shooting data included with your files or if you want to rotate the vertical JPEGs as they are loaded into your Mac; you can forget it if you don't care.
This software is included with the camera and can be downloaded off the Internet. I never bother to open my CDs since the Internet always has the newest version anyway.
It is a very handy piece of software. It works very well. It allows you to download photos as they were shot, or at smaller sizes, too.
Actually, the NV 4.3.1 software runs much better on my Windows 2000 PC than it does on my OS 9.2.2 Mac. The Mac version is much slower for some odd reason. Feel free to download on your Windows machine and then pop the CDs into your Mac, just beware that if you download on Windows there are no thumbnail images included. Maybe that what takes the Mac version longer.
I use Nikon View 4.3.1. A version 5 of NV is coming soon, however I still can't figure out how to download only a portion of my card on the Windows version. The Mac version of NV 5 was not out last time I checked.
Downloading through this software means all your JPGs will have all your shooting data embedded in them, and that the downloaded JPGs will be correctly rotated if you tell it so beforehand.
If you just use a card reader and just copy the JPGs straight off the card to your hard drive or CDR you will loose the shooting data, and your vertical photos will always need to be rotated later in Photoshop.
DEFECT: A bug screws up NEF files if you rotate them in Nikon View 4 on both Mac and Windows. You have to remember NOT to rotate them in NV4 and instead rotate them later in Photoshop. If you do what normally I would do, which is to rotate them in NV4 before downloading, your images will have their aspect ratio changed in nasty ways probably destroying your images unless you know how to change aspect ratios in Photoshop.
To download a 256M flash card with a USB reader takes 7 minutes through Nikon View 4 on my Mac and 4 minutes on a Windows PC, copying directly as files.
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