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Nikon to D1 users: no firmware upgrade  
Sunday, February 11, 2001 | by
D1 users anticipating a firmware update for their camera, take note: Nikon's VP of SLR Camera Systems has definitively ruled out the active development by Nikon of new firmware for the company's 15-month-old digital SLR.

Richard Lopinto says that Nikon in Japan continues to study the technical and logistical feasibility of a firmware update to the D1, as well as what, if anything, could actually be improved in the camera by modifying the firmware or other camera software routines. He emphasizes, however, that this does not mean that changes to the D1, firmware or otherwise, are being pursued by Nikon engineers at this time. In fact, says Lopinto, key engineering and software staff are not attending the PMA trade show this year because they are hard at work, both in Japan and in Melville, NY, on the D1H and D1X.

This obviously rules out changes in the colour of D1 JPEG and TIFF photos. It's also unlikely, say various Nikon technical representatives, that the announced colour quality improvements in the D1H and D1X will trickle down to the D1's RAW .NEF format, even when files are processed through the upcoming Nikon Capture 2.0. That's because the new-look colour processing, in JPEG, TIFF and RAW format files, depends in part on data resulting from a complex analysis of the scene, as interpreted by the D1H and D1X's 1005 pixel exposure/colour CCD. Though the D1 contains the same 1005 pixel CCD, it does not crunch the information from that CCD in the same way as the D1H and D1X. This makes it unlikely, if not impossible, for Nikon Capture 2.0 to pull D1H/D1X colour out of D1 files.

While Nikon technical staff took this to mean that the D1H and D1X only would see improved colour, they do not completely rule out the new Nikon Capture improving the D1's colour too, but by other, unspecified means. Like the new cameras, Nikon Capture 2.0 is several months from release, and its planned feature set may well change during that time. So, the D1's colour could be retuned somehow. Or not; only time will tell. It is expected, however, that Nikon Capture 2.0 will, at minimum, support the D1's RAW format using the same colour processing as version 1.x.

Representatives of both Nikon USA and Nikon Europe indicated that no decisions have been made about whether to charge owners of Capture 1.x for an upgrade to 2.0, or what the price will be for new purchasers of 2.0.

Nikon also has not set a date for the discontinuation of the D1. Quite the opposite: last week's D1 price drop in the US and other regions prompted a D1 buying spree, says Lopinto. Once both the D1H and D1X are shipping, however, it's expected that demand for the D1 will plummet. And, at the current price Nikon is charging to dealers, the company is probably secretly hoping that's the case, given that Nikon's profit margin on the D1 must now be slim or non-existent. Look for Nikon to pull the plug on the D1 as soon as comfortably possible after both new cameras are shipping in volume.

While Nikon will not officially reveal the number of D1 cameras that have shipped to date, Richard Lopinto said in press briefing this morning that more units of the camera have been sold than all of their competitors combined. In an apparent reference to the 10 years that Kodak has been producing digital SLR cameras, he also said that the D1's sales lead over all competitors was accomplished in 1/10th of the time that competing models have been on the market.

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