Digital imaging has progressed dramatically in six years.
Accumulated technologies have supported this growth.
Your hard work was rewarded by the great sensation that the D1 created. Did your substantial expansion of the product lineup following release of the D1 mean that you had no time to rest?
Absolutely. The first big challenge we had to tackle after release of the D1 was improving image-processing technology developed for video cameras for use in still-image processing. We initially applied video camera image circuitry and image processing technologies to still cameras without any change. This resulted in images that looked like a single frame from a movie rather than an actual photograph. We found that for still camera image processing, we had to develop parameters and algorithms different from those used for movies. Actually, we had received many comments and requests regarding the quality of images captured with the Nikon D1, which utilized image processing that was based on the technology used in movies. For example, we received indications that faithful color reproduction was very difficult with the D1, which utilized the NTSC*1 color space standard used primarily in video.
- *1National Television Standards Committee; a television broadcasting image signal system generally used in the U.S. and Japan
I thought that the Nikon D1 had a good reputation for its wide color gamut.
It did. Professional photographers especially appreciated it. But honestly, we cannot say that it was user-friendly, since there isn't much in the way of digital imaging equipment or software that supports the NTSC video standard. Still, I think that the adoption of the NTSC color space was worthwhile because it helped spread awareness regarding color space (laughter). Until release of the D1, few people understood the difficulties involved in faithfully reproducing colors with RGB data, the data used for color images. After the release of the D1, people began to recognize the importance of specifying RGB type for faithful color reproduction. Discussion regarding color space was widespread throughout the market until the launch of the D1H and the D1X.
It seems that there was a great deal of trial and error just in dealing with color reproduction.
- The expressive power of digital photography grows with each advance in Nikon technology.
Yes. It was not easy to develop something new. But the result of our trials and errors is that more and more of the world can be expressed with digital still cameras. For example, we often hear mountains described as being blue in literature. This comes from a phenomenon in which the atmosphere's spectro-penetrating characteristics cause tall mountains to appear more blue the farther away they are. Precise tuning of imaging parameters now makes it possible for digital cameras to express this phenomenon. I feel a great reward for all of our struggles whenever we realize such achievements.
Digital expression. That sounds exciting.
Numerous possibilities are emerging, not only in color reproduction, but in other areas, as well. For example, a well-known photographer took a picture of a snow-covered mounted with the Nikon D2X. The main feature of the image is the remarkable contrast, very difficult to capture with a film camera, between the sunlit snow and the shadows of the trees. The D2X, though, did an excellent job of capturing this contrast. It even managed to reproduce light reflected off of individual snowflakes! This photograph is one of my personal favorites, but the photographer's comment regarding the picture made me feel truly proud to be a developer of Nikon digital-SLR cameras; “It would have been impossible to take this picture with a film camera. Only the D2X digital camera could inspire me to attempt this photo.”
Has the image quality available with current digital-SLR cameras advanced significantly since the Nikon D1?
Most definitely. The Nikon D2X captures portraits so sharp that you can see the camera's Nikon logo reflected in the subject's eye when the image is enlarged! It has been six years since the D1 was released. The difference in quality of images taken with the D1 and the D2X is patently obvious with side-by-side comparisons. I think it is clear that our six-year accumulation of technology has definitely advanced the possibilities available with digital imaging.