Nikon D3X testing

Saturday, 14 February 2009

I only know of one way to test a camera & that is to get out and use it. Photographers work in different ways so its important to use a camera in the way that I want. Test results on the web can be a useful guide as to how something may perform, but I’m never going to know for sure what I can do with a camera until I use it in real world situations. Shooting

2-D test cards is no substitute for 3-D reality with all its inconsistencies.

My requirements in a camera will also be different to every other photographer so its important to get a comprehensive overview of what it will do with specific lenses in specific situations.

The following are my experiences and observations in the time that I have had my DX3.


Operationally the D3X is second nature to me. I had a D3 until recently & still have a D700 so the minor changes were easy to assimilate. Its a great camera to use and like most Nikons operates in an intuitive way. I like the way that you pick up a new Nikon and can work out what it will do by just looking at it.

Regarding what everybody mentions as an essential missing feature. i.e. a dust reduction system. This i’m not concerned about because if its the same system that is in the D700 then Nikon might as well not bother. My D700 sensor attracts the same amount of dust as my D3 did. It was in fact no better. I change lenses all the time, often outdoors & often in strong winds. The D700 dust reduction system has offered me no advantage. The system in my Canon 5D Mk2 does work. In fact it works very well. If Nikon are going to offer such a system for the D3X sensor in another camera then it definitely needs more work if the D700

system is anything to go by.

Theres not really much else to say. The D3X works superbly, is built superbly and does everything I ask it to do.

Image Quality

Not much change from my initial impressions. Absolutely amazing image quality at the lowest ISO’s. It is much better than I thought it was going to be at the higher ISO’s but for me there is no point in using that. For my stock library work I have it set to 100 ISO. The 3D effect of the images is simply breathtaking & whereas with other cameras I have eased the view up to 100% on my screen with resulting disappointment - with D3X images its an increasing awe at the quality I’m presented with. After a couple of weeks I still gasp out loud at some of the images. The clarity, resolution, colour & detail are all magnificent. A huge step up from my D3 and D700. Compared to my Canon 5D Mk2 there is no difference in sharpness, in fact the Canons image may be slightly sharper. However its the whole package that makes the difference. The D3X’s images “jump out” of the screen at you. They are also incredibly “elastic”. By this I mean that the quality holds up even with some fairly extreme photoshop manipulation. This is completely different to my Canon.

As i mentioned before in a previous entry the Canon has this shadow noise and banding issue, even at low ISO’s. No such problems on the Nikon. I did think that I was getting a “grainy” look on flat areas of my Nikon image, but when I actually looked at what I was photographing I realised that it was actually recording the texture of what was there. This was something I hadn’t seen before & was quite extraordinary.

Whether its medium-format quality is neither here nor there to me. I’ve never used digital MF so can’t really compare. Its a step up from anything I’ve ever used before & probably overkill for the majority of my clients.

Because of using Nikon lenses on my canon I’ve had a unique opportunity to compare the 2 cameras. The Canon 5D Mk2 is a great camera, make no mistake about that. As I have said before if the D3X didn’t exist I’d be perfectly happy with it. But after lots of use with both cameras its the D3X that will be my main camera for some time to come.

There is a significant and easily seen difference between the two in the images I have shot.