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Archive 2009 · My Nikon D3 review


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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · My Nikon D3 review


[bThis review is dedicated to the death of my Nikon D2H, which died at the 487 231th actuation. R.I.P

The Nikon D3.

1. Ergonomics:
Everyone that has held and used a professional camera will know what I am talking about here. The Camera is made out of magnesium and aluminum alloy, while being technically lightweight themselves, this camera doesn't quite follow this logic, it is a heavy one, just like its predecessors were and like its competition is. I held this camera at a local event couple days ago, I used it with the 24-70, 14-24 and 70-200. Whatever the lens, it was a heavy combo, and got chronic aches after about 5 hours of continuous shooting. But again, would I trade this ever-lasting body design for lightness - Hell no! With environmental seals, good rubbers, oversized control buttons and switches it is clear that this was made with the professionals in mind, and thankfully because that's what it will be mostly used by. For any previous D# series owner, like myself with both the D2H and D2X, the overall look of the camera may look very similar, in fact it is, until you actually start using it. The Larger, brighter, sharper viewfinder has a rounder shape, but beyond that, the new FX sensor brings to former 35MM film shooters the same viewfinder size that was used in older cameras and that, trust me, is a good thing. The larger LCD actually pushes the controls further apart from the middle and in my opinion, it is now even more comfortable to use. The AF-on button has been moved a bit to the right so that it is more easily accessible to the thumb. The AE-L/AF-L button, which, nobody uses, has been move to a more subtile spot and can now be assigned with different functions, just like a FN button, thus making it useful. The new multi-selector rocker has now been equipped with a center button (finally!) which is less cumbersome to use than the older version and has a more stiff feel to is. The front and back wheel have been installed with a slight angle, which at first may look like the engineers were a bit drunk, but in fact is very nice, has it follows the motion of the fingers. Both of these wheels have the same loved rubbery feel to it. On both the D3 and the older version(D2X), there is a "thumb-rest", basically a rubber bulge, that while offering great stability coupled with amazingly sticky rubbers unlike its rival(1DMKIII), got a bit annoying and even painful when using with large and heavy lenses. Well fortunately on this newer version, the bulge has been a bit reduced, thus offering a similar comfort to the canon 1D, without being as slippery. There is still a curve on the grip, although on this version it has been thicken and curved a bit more, I didn't mind the older D2X's grip, but this one is even better. Only downside I would say, would be the slicker rubbers, between the D2X which was very, very sticky, and the 1D that, while being comfortable, is almost plastic-like and thus being very slippery.

2. Speed and AF:
How could we go by without talking about the blazing speed of this new monster. If I had to compare its speed to a car, I would compare it to a twin turbo dodge viper. The drive at 9FPS is blazing, as the 8.3FPS of the first 1D was when it came out. The response time is even better than the infamous, almighty nikon D2X/D2H, the blackout time is good at 9FPS but at 11FPS, you can't see what you're shooting, but in single drive mode, it is even better than the "what-I-thought-was-perfect" nikon D2X's blackout time. while 9FPS is useable with all lenses, and is good for about anything, 11FPS is available in DX crop mode which brings the D3's 12.1MP files to a 5.1MP. So basically, it gives you the same kind of speed(even faster, way faster) than the D2H, D2X resolution and better handling - so far. The new CAM-3500FX autofocus chip is simply mind-blowing, the speed to which it focuses is amazing, similar to the canon 1D-MKIII's AF, which in my opinion was better than the nikon one. But the Nikon is now a bit faster, has a better tracking system and even a similar AF-dots display. While shooting a Hockey match recently, I had the AF set on AUTO-3D 51pts mode, and it just kept following my subject. With a 40 images burst, only two were out of focus, still not being perfect, its still a bit better than the Canon 1DIII with 5 out of focus images. Now, two things I do not like about this new AF module. The cross-type mode, that was on the D200, D2H, D2Hs, D2X, D2Xs, was the mode I used to most, it was a reliable, fast focussing mode, that weirdly isn't on the newer D300, D3, D3X and D700. This to me is a good loss, but again, I am sure Nikon had a reason to remove it. Now, I like the D300's AF-dot pattern even more than the D3, it is a bit more spread out, less clustered in one big spot, but again, the D3 was developed with professionals' demands, and when it comes to sport, most photographers will use the new 51PTS 3D tracking system, if the spots were spread out more, the camera would have even more out of focus shots. It sounds good to me but again when i'm not shooting sports, I would like to have a wider spread.

3. ISO and noise levels:
We all heard about the D3's infamous capacity to deliver great shots in low light and still keeping it almost noise-free but how good is it really. Well simply put - even better than on paper. Before the D300 was announced, the best high-iso camera in nikon's line was the D2Hs, it would be noiseless up to 640. When the D300 came out, it was noise-less up to iso 1000. Thats really when Nikon understood about the incredible capacities in low-light of the CMOS sensors, but it wasn't until the D3 came out couple days later, that we could actually think of using a camera at iso 1600 and still be noise-less and to have good results at 3200, hell, even 6400. The noise level of iso 1600 on a D3 is similar to 640 on a D2Hs, 800 on a D300 and 400 on a D2X(s). The new EXpeed CPU in the D3 has an on-board noise processing utility that instantaneously cleans out the noise without removing much details, only drawback is that even in raw, this noise-removing thingy is still on and cannot be turned off, so if you want absolute image quality, get a D2X, without a low-pass filter and it will blow your mind out. Below are some examples of how good the D3 is at high-iso, these pictures were shot with the 24-70 at F/8, iso 200, raw, at 50MM and are 100% crops.

iso 400:
1- [url]http://img401.imageshack.us/img401/8499/isotest11of7.jpg[/url]
2- [url]http://img110.imageshack.us/img110/2996/isotest21of7.jpg[/url]
iso 800:
1- [url]http://img401.imageshack.us/img401/2107/isotest12of7.jpg[/url]
2- [url]http://img160.imageshack.us/img160/339/isotest22of7.jpg[/url]
iso 1600
1- [url]http://img401.imageshack.us/img401/6042/isotest13of7.jpg[/url]
2- [url]http://img126.imageshack.us/img126/6330/isotest23of7.jpg[/url]
iso 3200
1- [url]http://img228.imageshack.us/img228/7729/isotest14of7.jpg[/url]
2- [url]http://img238.imageshack.us/img238/1589/isotest24of7.jpg[/url]
iso 6400
1- [url]http://img401.imageshack.us/img401/6038/isotest15of7.jpg[/url]
2- [url]http://img126.imageshack.us/img126/2493/isotest25of7.jpg[/url]
iso 12 800
1- [url]http://img262.imageshack.us/img262/7104/isotest16of7.jpg[/url]
2- [url]http://img126.imageshack.us/img126/2011/isotest26of7.jpg[/url]
iso 25 600
1- [url]http://img58.imageshack.us/img58/2935/isotest17of7.jpg[/url]
2- [url]http://img126.imageshack.us/img126/4265/isotest27of7.jpg[/url]

4. Odds and ends
-I'll start out with the LCD at the back, long story made short - it's amazing; amazingly bright, amazingly sharp, amazingly big. It is made out of glass, so is virtually indestructible/unscratchable, very similar to the screen on an Iphone or Ipod touch, nothing to say here, except that it blows its closest rival, the 1dmkIII away on this. White balance sensor, well, everything looks like it's getting better than the older version, it is.
-The new WB sensor is always, always spot on. I used to shoot raw on the D2X because it's WB was always, always off on Auto, now with the D3, I don't have to preset my WB, it's dead-on even on auto. Even under harsh conditions such as weddings were mercury, phosphate, tungsten and fluorite is everywhere, it has a very small effect on it's outcomes.
-The new battery charger is just as good as the older one, charges plenty fast, but this new one has a cooler feature, you can now put two batteries on the charger at the same time. But that doesn't mean that it will charge both at the same time either, and thats why I am a bit disappointed, I would have liked to have a charger that can simultaneously charge two batteries at one, and they could've made it like that.
-The Nikon D3 camera strap, will not talk about it very much but I thought I might as well mention it. It is basically the same, rock-hard, cheap, camera strap that nikon give out with all of their camera. This one has Nikon D3 written on it, but compared to my D2X one, it is a bit more shiny, stretchy, wider and looks like it has some kind of spandex feel to it, but again, I could not care less.

5. Pros and cons:

-Great ergonomics
-Great Viewfinder
-Great autofocus
-Great LCD
-Blazing speed
-Good WB sensor
-Noise goddess
-Dual CF slot

-Battery Charger
-Sport-oriented AF-dots pattern
-More slippery rubbers

-Heavy and bulky
-Pricy** although, it is meant to be, by all means it is a pro camera with a pro price.
-thicker than the older D2Xs


Hope my review is better written than on video. If there is anything, please PM me. I will try to update this review as I use this camera more and more. Please note that this text contains my opinions and that it might vary from photographers to photographers.

Edited on Apr 21, 2009 at 07:48 AM · View previous versions

Apr 20, 2009 at 07:44 PM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · My Nikon D3 review

This review is dedicated to the death of my Nikon D2H, which died at the 487 231th actuation. R.I.P

<does his best Matt Hooper imitation> "I got that beat. I got that beat"

Apr 20, 2009 at 10:13 PM
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · My Nikon D3 review

btw, you know the D3 camera has been on the street for a few years, right? Maybe you don't get dpreview or robgalbraith or bythom in Canada, si? Non? Just wondering.

Apr 20, 2009 at 10:19 PM

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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · My Nikon D3 review

Yes I know, still wanted to post my own review, guess I wasted time but heh

Apr 20, 2009 at 10:45 PM
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · My Nikon D3 review

Wow @ almost 500k actuations....

Apr 20, 2009 at 11:54 PM

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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · My Nikon D3 review

Great review!

Edited on Jan 23, 2010 at 10:41 PM · View previous versions

Apr 21, 2009 at 12:09 AM
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · My Nikon D3 review

Can't read reviews with broken code... edit that bad boy.

Apr 21, 2009 at 05:48 AM
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · My Nikon D3 review

Don't quit your day job, Mike.

Apr 21, 2009 at 06:35 AM
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · My Nikon D3 review

spot on Trench lol

Apr 21, 2009 at 06:44 AM

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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · My Nikon D3 review

ohh no, trust me I wont.

I guess we simpy have too much time on our hands in the military :P

Apr 21, 2009 at 07:49 AM

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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · My Nikon D3 review

Mike -

I appreciate a real user's review of equipment. Insight is of more value to me than polish.



Apr 21, 2009 at 08:09 AM
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · My Nikon D3 review

it was a very good user review.

Apr 21, 2009 at 10:48 AM
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · My Nikon D3 review

trenchmonkey wrote:
Don't quit your day job, Mike.


At least until you figure out what a paragraph break is and why we need them

Apr 21, 2009 at 01:37 PM
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · My Nikon D3 review

I love this review, it's great and very importantly it's personal. You've come a long way with your D2H and you know that camera very well. So you "really" know what it's like to move on to another camera.

Great stuff! Thank you.


Apr 21, 2009 at 03:12 PM

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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · My Nikon D3 review

thanks guys!

I got some...different replies on another forum

Apr 21, 2009 at 03:35 PM

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