NIKON D1x

It's big; it's beautiful; and today it's almost completely useless. The 5.3 megapixel D1x was Nikon's second DSLR, introduced in 2001 to replace the original 2.7 megapixel D1 of 1999. It's built like like a buffet breton (Google it -- similar to a Welsh dresser but more elaborate) and is very nearly as big.


Yet again, like the five Leicas and the Linhof wreck, this one belonged to my late chum Senggye. As far as I know, he never used it, because he bought it without a (working) battery or charger. That was in maybe 2010 or 2012. Today you can buy third-party replacements for both, at maybe 50€ (£45, $60) the pair. 

The question is why you'd want to. First, you have to assume that if you did, the camera would work. This is by no means certain. Second, even if it did, it's probably less use than a Nikon D70, which has a similar-sized crop sensor (16x24mm) and a similar megapixel count (6.1) and can be found for under 100€ complete with battery and charger. 

Even 15 years later, the screen appeared improbably tiny; and surprisingly many of the controls and ports are hidden under trapdoors and flaps. While these look elegant, they add significantly to the cost of making the camera and arguably detract from its usefulness.


Yes, the D1x is far better built than the D70: as Nikon's flagship DSLR it was very popular with news photographers, for whom 5.3 megapixels was perfectly adequate and to whom the almost $5000 price tag was acceptable. The ergonomics aren't too bad either. But it's still a 5.3 megapixel crop-sensor camera. 

In other words, it's of more interest to a collector than to a user; and it's one of the very few series-production digital cameras of which this can be said. Its predecessor the D1 (even fewer megapixels, even more expensive) would be even more collectible, as the very first Nikon DSLR, and the huge, gruesome, wildly expensive Nikon-based Kodak DSLRs which preceded the D1 would arguably be more collectible still, though not as good looking: the original 1.3 megapixel DCS of 1991 had a separate data storage unit, and although the DCS 200- and 400- series managed to integrate storage and camera body, they were still pretty awful; and with prices of well over $20,000, they were also pretty rare. 

Even so, my very strong suspicion is that a D1x with no guarantee that it's working is currently worth rather less than the price of a new battery and charger; and from what I've read, you'd probably need more than one battery, because apparently the D1x doesn't give that many pictures per charge. 

The enormous EN4 battery was apparently good for only just over 200 shots, though apparently later third-party batteries improved upon this.


Alternatively, for 30-40€ (£25-35, $40-50) I could buy a mains adapter. You can't use a universal adapter, though, because the connector (hidden under a flap on the front of the body) appears to be a unique fitting. This is naughty: there's really no reason why it shouldn't have had the usual sort of concentric fitting that is susceptible to a universal charger. 

The best thing to do with the D1x, therefore, is probably to stick it in a drawer somewhere, preferably in a Ziploc bag with some silica gel, and wait for it to become not only collectible, but worth the effort of selling. If I should live so long.


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Words and pictures copyright (c) Roger Hicks 2017