Upgrade to D3?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by chris_duim, Jan 13, 2010.

  1. I've always been interested in the D3 but had to settle for the D700 sometime early last year. After months of figuring out how to get the best out of the D700, I would have to say that it's one very good camera. My recent trip to the US and Canada was well covered with the D700 and I did get enough photos to satisfy me for a long time.
    However, there is always this craving for the D3 that never goes away. I have seen reviews by Thom Hogan of the D700 and the D3 and am wondering if I am missing out on anything in sticking out with the D700. As I now have some spare dollars for the upgrade, is it truly worth the effort to go up the ladder (so to speak). I have the 24-70 and the 70-200 f/2.8 VR2 lenses that I think are enough for my needs at the moment and which I know are also perfect for the D3. The only thing that is probably annoying about the D3 is the lack of a built-in flash (the SB900 is a monster with any DSLR) but the 100% viewfinder is something crucial (I did find the less than 100% view on the D700 an issue as I had some photos with unwanted objects and people in the final frame).
    I've seen the review by Thom of the D3s and would have to say that the D3 may be of more use to me than the newer model. In all, could anyone help out?
  2. I would save the money for the next model coming out. The difference between the D700 and D3 is to my opinion too small to justify the big financial difference.
    Or you off course really need that 100% viewfinder.... ;-)
  3. I thought the D700 and D3 shared some image making components like same sensor and AF module. If this is true, and I expect is is then the major differences between the D3 and D700 are feature driven like dual card slots, 100% viewfinder and built in vertical grip etc.
    I don't think you will squeeze any image quality from a D3 over the D700. If you need the extra features then by all means go for it.
    Ignore what might come around the corner next - model wise, if you need to take photos today.
    If you can't fault the image quality from the D700 then it sounds like NAS and I'd recommend you keep your $$ in your pocket as your stated lens line up is just as perfect for the D700 as it is for the D3.
    If someone handed me the extra dollars I'd need to upgrade to a D3 from my D700 and I just had to spend it, then I'd look at glass. But, then, I don't need all those great extra features the D3 has..... :)
  4. Thanks for the advise. My fear, though, is that the next one may be priced too far out (as is the case of the D3s which was priced too much with little advantage over the D3). But then again, I do not have a sense of just how much better the next model will be, given the not so favorable reviews I've seen for the newest FF model from Nikon.
    I'm wondering if the D3 will last with me as long as the F5 I've had for years (no upgrade despite newer models coming in). It just seems that the digital age has made technology improvements over even the flagship cameras come in faster than we fill up our wallets to save for the next significant purchase. There's that perpetual itch I've never experienced before.
  5. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I've seen the review by Thom of the D3s and would have to say that the D3 may be of more use to me than the newer model.​
    How so? Could you provide a reference to what Thom Hogan wrote? I don't think he has officially reviewed the D3S yet.
    To me, the D3S is clearly a superior DSLR. It has very useable ISO 12800 that comes in handy, so is the video mode. If you shoot sports/action, the much deeper memory buffer is also a plus. The only reason to favor the D3 is that you can now get it at a discount.
    Unless you accidentally damage it, a D3, D3S or D700 should last as long as you are willing to use it. Any one of them is far far superior to any Nikon film SLR I have ever used in the 30 years prior.
  6. For argument's sake :-
    Techincally speaking the D700 should last you 100,00 shutter actuations. Only you can work out how long it's going to take you reach 100,000 actuations- apply the same logic to the D3 and you get an extra 50,000 actuations on top of that.
    As for the "perptual itch" it's Nikon who has dropped that itch into your pocket- only you can stop it itching. My itch stopped as soon as I got the results I was looking for with my D700. I'm one of those who has gone on record on p.net saying the D700 will see me through a lot longer than the precvious models I've purchased and used before (in my case D70 > D200 > D300) The itch might return but I'm going to want a lot more dynamic range in a similar priced package to the D700 before I scratch that itch.......
  7. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Techincally speaking the D700 should last you 100,00 shutter actuations.​
    Make that 150,000 actuations.
  8. About the 100% viewfinder on the D3, I agree that is probably the most desiderable feature as a D700 user. Anyway, I can live with it. The D700 is way more "usable" to me with its smaller size (&weight).
    My experience is the same as Matthew, no itch since the release of the D700. (In my case D200>D300>D3>D300>D700).
    Check the difference between a 100% viewfinder (D3) and a a 90% viewfinder (actually I think the D700 is not as low in percentage. It must be somewhere between the red and black lines). Do you really think you cannot live with it? If so, you really need a D3-D3S (be prepared to carry the bulk and load... too much to my taste!).
  9. 100% vs 90% viewfinder.
  10. Shun said,
    Make that 150,000 actuations.​
    Thanks Shun, I stand corrected. Another tick for the D700.
  11. "Any one of them is far far superior to any Nikon film SLR I have ever used in the 30 years prior."
    I would agree to far more advanced, but not to superior.
  12. For me the D300's 100% viewfinder was a big, big plus over the D200. You really must have worked with both to appreciate the difference. Think of exact framing with lines running obliquely into corners.

    On FX, I think the upgrade path is definitely to the D3s, not to the D3. The big difference is sensor cleaning. You have it on the D700, you'll miss it on the D3.

    In my thinking, the D3s is a D700 with even better sensor, a 100% viewfinder, bigger size, more weight and much higher costs. If the first two don't make the deal for you, the latter three ought to break it.
  13. The D-3 is a watershed camera, in my view.
    It will be replaced, I guess it already has, but it is going to provide superb photographs for years to come and represents a huge improvement over the D-2 series. I predict that the difference between the D-3 and the D-3s or D-4 even will not be as great as D-1X to D-2X, or D-2X to D-3.
    The nomenclature weenies are free to say that the D-3 is not being "replaceced" by the D-3s, only "updated," or that the proper comparison would be the D-1H to the D-2H, or D2H to D-3. Whatev.
    I bought the D-3 mainly for the 100 percent viewfinder and the redundant memory cards -- and the ruggedness. I have been very happy with it. At $5,000 it was a little pricey, but you can get a floor model for $3,200 today. It's a bargain.
  14. Just for the record, my progression was D2Xs, Canon 5D, D2Xs, D3, Leica M8, Canon 5DMkII ..., D700. I mention this to illustrate my GAS syndrome.
    I would love to add a D3 to my D700, but can't justify the cost difference to replace my D700 with a D3. IMO, it isn't worth the cost. Image quality is the same.
    Techincally speaking the D700 should last you 100,00 shutter actuations. Only you can work out how long it's going to take you reach 100,000 actuations- apply the same logic to the D3 and you get an extra 50,000 actuations on top of that.​
    Shun corrected the D700 numbers. The D3 is rated for 300,000 activations.
  15. The D3 (and the D700) has outstanding high-ISO performance, and the D3s is an order of magnitude better. Unless you need the flexibility and power of the SB900, one of the smaller flash units would probably suffice. I've never owned a camera, other than a P&S, with a built-in flash, and can't say I've missed that feature.
    In sort of a perverted NAS sense, I associate built-in flash with P&S cameras. I am loathe to replace my D2x with a D700 (or D300) for that reason, and can't justify the price of a D3x. I'm working on a cure ;-)
  16. Edward: The best cure for your built-in-flash allergy is to actually live, for a little while, with one of those better bodies that has one. It's nothing like P&S-land. I very rarely use the D300's pop-up as meaningful source of light on its own - though it has nicely filled in some shadows on occasion, when shooting backlit subjects outdoors. But I use it all the time as a quick way to trigger off-camera speedlights in the CLS system. It all comes down to shooting style, of course, but that is an incredibly useful feature. I'd miss it on the D3 series, and would have to pack along an SU-800.
  17. The D3 is a 100% viewfinder while the D700 is quoted at 90% but that is the total area. You get 95% of the X and Y dimensions but .95 * .95 = .9025 or 90% of the overall area. I think it's silly to upgrade just for that but everyone has different priorities.
    As for flash, if the SB-900 is too big then don't use it. I have both an SB-800 and the tiny SB-400. When I use my D3 I rarely need flash anyway and when I do I use the SB-400. My SB-800 hasn't been used in months. I think the SB-400 cannot be used as a CLS trigger but I will say that I have zero use for the CLS remote triggering stuff. Obviously someone else will think this is the greatest thing in the world.
    On my D200/D90 I've been impressed with how well the popup flash works as fill outdoors but again I rarely ever need it. I think it is far more capable than a point and shoot flash.
  18. I have shot with the D3 for 2 years and continue to be amazed. I shoot sports for a local Paper and H.S. sports magazine and am sometimes called on because of the D3's ability in low light. I also have a D700 that I use for backup. As many have stated, I do not see a difference in the image quality between the D3 & D700. There are a few features on the D3 which I really like. One I never see mentioned is the ability to record a memo with a photo. I use this all of the time. I am sure it is a small thing to most, but very handy to me. I originally purchased the D3 because the D700 was not out yet. If purchasing today, I would probably go with the D700 because of the cost. As a sports photog I never use a flash, so this is not an issue for me.
    Last week however I rented a D3S and was blown away. I could not bring myself to push the ISO level above 12,800, but the pictures at 10,000 and 12,800 were simply stunning. There are gyms that I shoot in regularly which I can not get my standard f2.8, 1/500 at ISO6400 on my D3 because the light is so poor. The extra stop for sports photogs will make a big difference.
  19. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    If one wants to upgrade now, it makes a lot more sense to move from the D700 to the D3S. Most likely the D700 will be replaced within 2010, as it is already over 1.5 years old now. You can wait a few weeks to see what Nikon has to announce for the PMA.
    However, I think the better approach is to stick with the D700 and see what the D4 will be like, most likely in 2011. One thing I am not happy about the Multi-CAM 3500 on any FX body is that the AF points are too close to the center of the frame. Hopefully that problem will be corrected, at least to some degree, on the D4.
    I think it makes little sense to upgrade from the D700 to D3. You are merely setting yourself up for yet another upgrade in another year, year and half.
  20. I fully agree with Shun Cheung. Otherwise you'll be moving to a new camera every 1.5 years...
    And agreed, the AF points are too close. But it's good exercise for the body! I rarely use the AF point anymore, I just push exposure lock and move the camera to focus... Got used to it if points are out of the area. ;-)
  21. You can get a lightly used D3 for about $3000 making it very affordable to many and an affordable/easy upgrade path from the D700. If the 100% viewfinder is that important and the funds are available, should Chris upgrade? Well yes, of course!
  22. I hope someone will tell Chris he will not get better pictures from upgrading. But he will get more tired dragging that extra weight.
  23. Chris,
    I bought a D3 when they came out originally and then subsequently bought a D700. Pretty much from that moment onwards I never used the D3 again and eventually sold it. There is nothing that the D3 does that the D700 can't handle well. The 95% viewfinder is a trivial compromise even for a landscaper like me, the D700 has amazing water sealing as a month ago I had mine sitting totally unprotected on a tripod in a torrential downpour in one of the wettest places on the planet (Fiordland in NZ) and if you need a vertical grip the one you can get for the D700 is very good. I really, really would not succumb to this temptation. D3S? That's another story.
  24. I own a D700 and have used a friend of mine's D3 for comparison's sake. The D700 is about as much camera you could ever need. They have the same sensor and most of the same features. About the biggest difference is the D700 shows 95% of the frame and the D3 100%.
    Although I am very used to dragging around heavy cameras; Hasselblads and F2's with the motor drive, the D-700 is lighter than the D3 by a little bit, which is welcome. I have reasonably small hands and the D700 fits them as well as my F2's do. I found it more comfortable to hold than the D3 in all honesty.
    Save the money and work on technique rather than upgrading. That will make better images, not a hardware upgrade. Always remember, it's not so much the equipment you have, but what you do with it.
  25. Dear Chris. The one thing I have an opposite opinion on your craving for the D3,
    " The only thing that is probably annoying about the D3 is the lack of a built-in flash "
    For me, it is annoying, the D700 has a build flash. I real life it is amateurish and almost useless. Plus, it weaken the rigidity of a camera, the camera, almost a pro body. (many pros using the D700 anyway) I never using the "pop-up" flash. I always cary in my packet a small SB-400 with is much more powerful and usable flash, then the stupid pop-up flash. Plus, it head is tiltable. The D700 and the D3 is technically the same quality camera, producing same quality images. My friend has the big D3, and comparison we cant find any difference between this two camera. The plus for the D3 it is more rigid, stronger pro camera body, with more powerful battery and no "pop-up flash". Oh. Yes. D3, 100 % view finder. Big del. I have two of the D700 and a D300, and if I need a heavier body, I always can attach a extra battery pack, witch I have. Save your money, and never mind, just go out and shot.
  26. put a battery grip on your D700 and pretend it's a D3. and when you don't want the extra weight and bulk, you can remove it and instantly go back from the sedan to your sport model...
  27. Stick with the D700 and wait for the next "real" upgrade. Nikon prices are too high for the marketplace and they have to correct. Prices are always falling now anyway. They can charge more for an "s" since it is based on an existing camera body.
  28. As was already mentioned, the pop-up flash on the D700 is a fantastic feature because you can use it as a wireless trigger multiple off camera flashes. You'd almost never want to use it as your only light, or even fill light, but using it was a trigger is great.
  29. As you said Pete! The D700 "pop-up flash" good only, and only, for a trigger unit, so, you safe a couple of dollars to by a trigger unit. Big deal. Yes. the pop-up flash on the D700 good for a trigger and nothing else. I would rather bay a trigger unit then having this useless, "popcorn flash" on my camera.
  30. Thanks guys. As I had to be sure of any major investment, I had to consult the experts in the forum to have some sense of whether this all just the itch for the next thing or I am making good sense of (any) significant difference in getting the D3. From the opinion of most everyone, it seems the more prudent thing is wait for the next major offering from Nikon and see if there is any big jump in either quality or feature afforded by the new model.
    As to Thom's review, he did come out with his official review of the D3s and it was actually his second review already. His first review was based on a first body that he bought and which he concluded was a sample variability (or something like that). His second body (which formed the basis for his second review) produced better shots but overall his rating was still lower than that for the D3. I think he had some issues with the ISO handling being a little better for the D3 than the D3s, but that overall the D3s still handled higher ISOs nicely (you can check out his website). His conclusion was that the value afforded by the D3s could not be justified by the stiff price tag. I might be mistaken but this is my take of his review.
    I will have to back off from getting the D3 at this time, considering that there is no added benefit to it over the D700. I agree that working on my technique at this time might be the better idea and wait for the next "better" FF camera from Nikon.
    THanks a lot guys and you have been very helpful (I'm not one to easily ignore an itch but your expert advise did make a lot of practical, technical and financial sense).
  31. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Chris, as I asked last time, could you post a link to Thom Hogan's D3S review you are referring to?
    I am not aware that he has reviewed the D3S yet. By any chance you are referring to his D3 or D3X review?
  32. He didn't review the D3S yet, only D3 and D3X.
  33. D3S in action:
  34. depends if you are a photographer or a camera enthusiast. going to a d3 will have no impact on the quality of prints hanging on your wall. sounds like you are on the Digital Gravy Train, and enjoying the ride.
  35. My mistake. It's the D3x (I had to take a second look).
    Made up my mind to stay put and wait for the next big thing.
  36. Save the money for the D4.
    OK, just read your above comment....looks like you agree ;)
  37. Probably good to wait for the D4...but the D3s certainly does sound promising. Now I have a D300 and a D700 so really can't justify the expense after getting a 200 f2 Nikkor and a 100mm f2 Zeiss makroplanar T. I have kind of always felt that the investment in glass just makes more sense because a great lens can conceivably be used for a lifetime and camera bodies may be obsoleted in what two years? It kind of gets to where it is smart to wait for the second product cycle just to sidestep the endless updates. And besides, since I am just an amateur I really cannot justify repeatedly spending several thousands of dollars every other year like that.

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