Blistering D3x Review

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by dan_brown|4, Feb 8, 2009.

  1. From a pro-shooter in the B&H user review...
    "I have just completed an overseas shoot in China and have shot about 6,000 images with both the d3x and d3 and can share some thoughts. Overall I found the d3 much more flexible and versatile mainly because its iso capability surpasses the d3x in every aspect even beggining at 1200 .I found the d3x useful only in about a dozen shots out of those thousands when both were in similiar circumstances and those shots were at 24 m pixels. I regret purchasing this camera for 8k and believe that a more correct price is about 2,800 -3,000 especially in view of the new canon 5d mkii."​
  2. Objection your honor - hearsay!
  3. The law of diminishing returns ...
  4. I suspect the camera was the WRONG tool for the guys type of shooting. If I were going to drop 8 grand for a body, I'd darn well make sure what it could and couldn't do before I did ! The D3x seems to be the studio and landscape camera. Using it in other settings would not be it's best use. ( Of course, $8000 is STILL a lot of money and I will never spend that on a camera body ! But, I'm not the one making money with it. )
  5. bmm


    I'm with Jonh. all this confirms for me is that the D3X is a specific use camera, and the reviewer quoted above used it for the wrong specific use.
  6. I have seen a few samples of images taken with both cameras, then the d3x files downresed to d3 size... the d3x seems to have an advantage in high ISO noise in some of those files. If you look at both files at 100% on the computer, though, you'll think the d3x is worse. It really depends on the output you are creating with it. Specific use, sure, but it seems to be better than the D3 in more broad strokes when considering output, not simply digital files at 100%. I could be wrong, as I dont have a d3x, but most other people that have used them seem to think they are worth the money.
  7. To me, this confirms my view of the benefit of high-ISO capability. It is a great luxury to have the ability go up to 1600/3200/6400 when needed. But if you have the light, strobes, whatever, the 24.5 MP would be good too.
  8. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

  9. Well, to each their own.....
    D3x cheaper than the D3..... hummmmmm Did he check out the Canon
    EOS-1Ds Mark III - It's a $ 7999.99 camera & that's where Nikon got the price. Add to that - it's more of a camera than the Canon....
    So to compare it to the 5D II - - really.
    Please - can someone waste their time on helping me find a new printer/copier/scanner/fax instead?
    I'm not getting much help anywhere.... :-(
    Lil :)
  10. For all we know Steve is a trolling Canonite or a KR boycott disciple. Still, for 8K, most would expect a more versatile tool; one could come to Steve's conclusion by clicking on BHPV's specification tab.
  11. Ok, so he gives it a bad review because he bought the wrong tool for the job... He said it himself "Overall I found the d3 much more flexible and versatile" , so it's his own damn fault, he didn't really need 24mp so why did he buy it, it's not as if he didn't know the price when he bought it, or that it offered zero new features... It was also no mystery that the ISO performance would be expected to be a bit worse than the D3. Personally, i take any review of any equipement where no pictures are provided to prove the point in question with a truckload of salt. Not to be mean, but his review points out his ignorance and perhaps his delusion in believing that more megapixels would give him better pictures.
  12. I can empathize with the OP. When I first got my D3 about a year ago, I had some problems with it, some the fault of a minor defect in the camera, most the fault of my lack of understanding of the camera. I returned it. Months later, I came to the realization that I needed some specific features offered only by this camera and in time bought another one. I have come to better understand how to use the D3 to get the shots I need from it and am fully satisfied with it.
    Last week, an avid D40x user friend of mine unknowingly ordered a D90 last week from Amazon by mistake (used their one-click order option). He got it on Thursday, took a few shots with it and proclaimed it was no better than his D40x and told me he was going to return it. I related the above story to him and told him to at least give the camera a try and that he might like it. He had a shoot on Saturday night, decided to use the D90 and to his surprise, he loves the camera. To my pleasant surprise, he claims there is a noticeable improvement in picture quality over his D40x. (Perhaps it is time for me to upgrade my D40!)
    I don't know anything about the Dan but perhaps he, like me, my D40/D90 friend and many other photographers blame the gear first and the photographer last for photographic 'problems'. It can takes months of shooting and thousands of shots to learn how to properly use a camera. Perhaps Dan should take the time discover what this incredible camera can do when used properly and learn the techniques necessary to operate it correctly to maximize its abilities and maximize the quality of his photos.
    And Dan, if you really no longer want your camera, sell it! You don't have to keep it.
  13. Elliot, It wasn't Dan that bought the camera, he was just relaying the story ;-)
  14. If the short review of a fellow user makes any difference - I have been using my D3x now for about a week and am very happy with it, both in terms of image quality and ergonomics. Just as my D2x, it is geared for landscapes and studio: tripod mounted, low ISO, slow and deliberate technique (think several minutes to set up a shot). I don't think it is best used handheld or in rapid-fire mode.
    So far I have only had time to learn the controls and settings and take a few simple flower macros in my spare time after my regular job. I intend to test more thoroughly in Shenandoah NP this coming long weekend.
  15. @Kuryan
    I was surprised to find you don't have a web site - so I presume you are a serious amateur (rather than a pro). You must be the only hobbyist who owns a D3X I guess (assuming my assumptions are right) :)
  16. Oppss... Sorry Dan. Didn't realize that. Oh well! At least it makes for an interesting discussion!
    Kuryan, looking forward to your comments. Perhaps you can post a review on B&H to follow the one review there.
  17. I am not a professional in that photography is not a source of income for me, merely a source of mental healing.
    I'm happy to post my thoughts on the system here if requested; however,'s review is likely to be much more thorough than anything I could come up with. Another good ongoing review is at Lloyd Chambers's site,, but an annual subscription is required.
  18. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Thom Hogan already has an on-going review on the D3X:
    I don't think has a review sample from Nikon yet, and I am not about to spend $8000 myself. Personally, I am quite happy with the D700. To some degree I agree with Steve, the reviewer who posted to B&H, that I would rather have 12MP with better high ISO results than 24MP. And since I shoot a fair amount of sports and wildlife, the DX D300 is a better choice in many cases for me anyway.
    Having said that, almost anybody can post a review to B&H just like they can post to's forums. There is not much quality control and it is up to the readers to decide how valuable the information is.
    Kuryan, if you can share some of your thoughts, I am sure a lot of us will appreciate it.
  19. Sounds like the reviewer would have been better off with a D700, Mamiya 7, 2 rolls of 120, and $8000 in the bank. That said I'd take the D3x off his hands, trade for a D2x?
  20. I shot a coupl of thousand frames with the D3x in all sorts of very challenging light conditions (Ask Tom Meyer) since getting one last December. I don't know what the B&H poster quoted in the OP is disappointed about (beyond high ISo performance not matching the D3) and without seeing what he thinks are sub par photos from the D3X, probably never will.
    So yes it has more noise than the D3 at ISO 1200 and above, but that is a pretty high bar to start with, and in reality it isn't that objectionable. If I need an extremely clean extremely high ISO camera I'll use the D3 or D700.
    If he has serious regrets I'll gladly buy it from him for $3,000.
  21. Oh man, somebody gets surprised that the D3X has worse high ISO performance than the D3. It seems that people's faith in camera makers being able to change the laws of physics is limitless...
    As far as the price goes, only those complain who can't afford to buy it. Me, I will check what the market has to offer in a year or two, I have no hurry for upgrading.
  22. Hmm, let's see.
    Dave Black raves about his D3x. John Shaw seems to be pretty impressed this his D3x after taking it on the road for a while. Joe McNally seems to like the camera. The Luminous Landscape guy thought the D3x was somewhat overpriced but raves about its image quality.
    Yet some no-name dude gripes about the camera on B&H's feedback page, and HIS comments are the ones that get posted here! How about some balance?
  23. You may also want to note that Dan Brown does not claim to own or even having used a D3X! He only read about a (short) review of it at B&H's Web site. Hearsay, indeed!
  24. Aren't we being somewhat harsh on Dan, who is just reporting a bad review? He hasn't stated whether he agrees with the review or not.
  25. No problem. I saw this while looking around, and it struck me as an interesting point of view since the guy was reporting after pretty extensive use of both the D3 and D3x. Like a said above, it confirms my view on the benefit of wide ISO performance over higher resolution. On the other hand, if I was doing commercial work and wanted to capture the rich detail of a linen garment, the resolution of the D3x might make all the difference, but it comes at the price of needing a lot of light.
  26. I'm not sure I agree with everyone else's "uses" for the D3X. To be sure, the D3 is a PJ dream, but the D3X's specs remind me of a scaled-up D2X. Same frame speed, same body build, great color rendition. D3X has better ISO range and DR and higher MPix's obviously. I feel that Nikon's own marketing is trying to separate it from the ultimate PJ machine (D3) and make it more of an all-rounder (remember D2H vs D2X?).
    I personally wouldn't hesitate to use it on assignment in the wild. It does NOT need to be babied like a studio queen (see MF rigs and backs for that). It looks like it could do some damage if dropped on a foot, or swung in a semi-arc about the upper body to fend off an assailant. Joel Sartore did some great work in NG with his D2X (and he's not the only one, of course), and in 2004/2005 the D2X was megapixel overload (compared to the D1X and D2H). Let's see...much better DR than a D2X, same full-frame rate, same or faster DX frame rate, top-notch color rendition, and LOTS of room to crop. I've shot fast events with a D2x, and 5- or 8-fps is very fast!
    D3X doesn't isn't crippled into a studio niche. It just does THAT well, too. I think users may be buying into the pretty marketing brochures a bit too literally and forgetting what it was made for. It's a tough-as-nails pro camera that can, now with a big jump in pixels, shoot pretty much anything.
    Just one guy's opinion.
  27. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I re-formatted Dan Brown's original post a bit so that hopefully it is now clearer that he is merely quoting a review from this "Steve" on B&H's web site.
    This person may indeed be a great professional photographer. However, anybody who may or may not actually own a D3X can post to B&H or for that matter to this forum. In particular, when there is no real name, we have no idea how good a particular reviewer is.
    I happened to have spent a week with John Shaw last October/November, about a month before the D3X announcement. We discussed a potential 24MP Nikon DSLR back then, and Shaw told me that he didn't think he really needed more pixels. He had two D3 bodies at that time. I have also mentioned Shaw told me that Nikon is one of his four major clients. While Shaw is a great guy, you typically expect all of those famous professional photographers who have a strong financial relationship with Nikon to rave about their products every time.
  28. Yes, different needs for different applications. Fewer than 5% of my D2x images are shot at an ISO greater than 100. Ultimate quality at 100 is more important to me than excellent quality at 1600 or more. But I can definitely see where someone else would need high ISO capability over resolution. In fact, I myself was torn between the D3 and D3x for a long time, and it took me some careful research of weighted criteria before I decided.
  29. By the way, the frame rate is the same as the D2x only in 12-bit mode. In 14-bit mode, it slows to about 2 fps.
    Many of the features that I love most about it are also available on the D3 - and for that matter, on the D700 and D300. Live View is just great for me with my myopia plus presbyopia.
    The build quality is the same as the D2x and D3. I have not handled a D300.
    My understanding is that the only differences between the D3 and D3x are the sensor and the price. So the resolution and image quality criteria need to be weighted extremely heavily in your selection matrix in order to justify going to a D3x over a D3. Conversely, price has to be weighted pretty low.
    When I get home from work this evening, I'll try to collect my thoughts on how I went about the selection process and post something to this forum.
  30. I just shot an annual report last week primarily using a D3X. three quarters of it was location shooting and 1/4 studio-on-location shooting. . On the coldest day it was 19 degrees and the windchill officially had it pegged near zero although since I was set up outside in the deep shade at dawn in a steel fabricator it was probably colder than that. I froze my A$$ off but the D3X did absolutely fine.
  31. Good to see you on the job Ellis :)
  32. Gents,
    It looks very simple to me... When technology will again evolves and Mpx equivalent of the D3x will have the perormance at high ISO of the D3/D700 couple, then this camera will be my dream camera.
    For the present time, I may sound prejudiced or old fashioned, but with the standard in defintion set by the D3 and D700 cameras which equals or better any 35mm film camera using a medium speed emulsion but beating anything on the market today at high ISO, either digital or film, I consider most of the tasks once traditionnally performed with a film small format camera within the limits of the D3 and D700 cameras and beyond ! ...
    I guess some specialites may truly beneficiate of the increased pixel count of the D3x, but I'm not convinced the specialists of these kinds of photography have a fair trade at $ 8000 plus the cost of the lenses versus the cost of a good digital back on an MF camera for which they have already plenty of lenses, just because the D3x is more compact and automated (to which extent if the MF is relatively recent ?)...
    To try to be objective, it seems to be true in the US the wedding photographers are still making money enough in the average to envisage using such a camera with some profit, but here, in France, I know but a few wedding photographers who - nowadays - can justify such an expense. And wealthy fashion photographers working outdoors are not so numerous on this planet :) .
    This camera (the D3x) is far above in terms of retail price what an average advanced amateur will spend despite most of the time he or she will find more useful an increased definition than very high ISO performance most of the time.
    I still considered this - apprently excellent - camera as a technical demonstrator for which the main interest is to serve as a flagship to Nikon and answer the arch-rival Canon performance in pixel count.
    For me, the (relatively) affordable D3 and quite affordable (considering its performance) D700 remain the really useful top level cameras of Nikon today. Their definition may appear a tad backward on the paper, but are for most use sufficient and their ability to allow a picture to be taken in "available darkness" remains unequaled to this day.
    So, even if the statement of the unknown professional on B&H site may appear a bit blunt, I think he is generally in accordance with the facts when you consider the things on a practical everyday shooting point of view with a small format DSLR.
    I guess the sales of the D3x will never reach the level reached by the D3 not to speak of the one reached by the D700. Not only because of a price which appears to many as outrageous (though Im' not sure it is in fact) but because few people will really need it.
  33. Ellis - just a technical point you feel the effect of wind chill as you lose heat faster, the camera however does not. The camera only feels the effect of the actual temperature - this is true of all objacts that do not generate heat. This is why -35C windscreen washer does not freeze when it is -30C but -42C with the windchill.
  34. Hey Dan, here are two quotes from one of the great masters in photography.
    You don't take a photograph , you make it.- ANSEL ADAMS
    There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs- ANSEL ADAMS
    There are many more quotes like these, not just for you but for any one who thinks that equipment matters, (well it sure does) but not as much as your own asthetics, regardless of what kind of photography they are into. One can make wonders on a hotshot camera { Guess thats when you call him a PRO} Personally i think D3x is a Good camera well like all the camera,s it has its pros and cons.
  35. Oh what is that saying? “Opinions are like...A*******...Everyone has one and they all stink!” :) I really never understand why we get into these long threads where nothing is ever proven to be the deciding factor; we just throw verbal punches of everyone’s opinion on the matter.
    Everyone swings from one extreme to the other, and none of us are better for it.
    If you have the cash, and you want it. Buy it.
    Mine Stinks too... :)
  36. A landscape photographer using ISO 1200 and beyond might look into a purchasing a tripod...
  37. So far the D3X has been an eye opener, maybe noise is "worse" than on the D3, however, for me its very acceptable thru 1600, and as I tend to shoot with Iso set as low as possible anyway it doesnt bother me. Have used it for action and landscapes, and am thrilled. If you havent already seen this, check out
    then follow link from the image.
    some more shots at

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