Expert Recommendation

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Best Digital SLR Camera Overall
By Fotoguy
Expert (27 Recommendations and 7 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
March 20, 2009 Updated: March 30, 2009
Overview

With an effective 24.5 megapixel image sensor, tank-like durability, robust reliability, abundance of features, and phenomenal image quality, the Nikon D3x is the apogee of high-end professional DSLRs. And even with its high price and some caveats, it’s still my Best-in-Class pick.

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My Best In Class Pick
Nikon D3x (Body Only)

In December 2008, Nikon debuted the next incarnation of their high-end, professional level D-series cameras, the D3x. And even though externally it has all the appearance of a D3 with the same body, controls, menus and basic components, it is more than a just souped-up clone. The hardware that really makes this camera is brand new! Its full-frame 24.5 megapixel CMOS image sensor produces amazingly detailed, sharp images even at maximum ISO.

But the new sensor does come with a downside or two. Because of the smaller photoreceptors needed to fit 24 million of them on it–read less light gathering ability, maximum default ISO is 1600. Although with boost, 3200 and 6400 are possible and usable, but only for the web and smaller print sizes. Further, due to the huge file sizes even in JPEG, frame rates are limited to a maximum of 5 per second. So, if you require higher ISOs and/or higher frame rates, the 12.1 megapixel D3 might be a better choice.

Rounding out the hardware are the excellent 51-point multi-CAM 3500FX AF system, 1005 pixel metering sensor, 300,000 actuation Kevlar/carbon fiber shutter, EXPEED image processor with 14-bit A/D conversion, 100% coverage Pentaprism viewfinder, and the 3” hi-res 922,000 dot LCD with Live View.

Additionally, with its plethora of settings and configurations, the Nikon D3x can be fully customized to suit the requirements of the job or the photographer’s particular preferences or can just be left at the defaults, which should be good enough for general shooting. One word of caution, though: The D3x is designed for professional production and as such, it is assumed that the images will be finalized in post processing. So, if you need right-out-of-the-camera ready pictures, the camera is capable of delivering, but you’ll just need to adjust the image settings.

So, if only the best will do and you have pockets deep enough, the Nikon D3x is the camera for you.

Comparison with Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III (Body Only)

With its comparable size, weight, features, and performance, the Canon 1Ds Mark III is the D3x’s nearest competitor. Actually, its only competitor. And at ISOs of 400 and less, images from both cameras are virtually identical. Where the D3x betters the Mark III is at ISOs of 800 and greater. And the differences are readily noticeable with the D3x’s images being sharper with more fine image detail and what little noise there is having a very acceptable film grain-like appearance.

Pros
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    24.5 megapixel full-frame CMOS image sensor
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    EXPEED processor
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    Active D-Lighting
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    Phenomenal image quality
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    Image vignetting correction
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    Super fast power up and operation
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    300,000 actuation Kevlar/carbon fiber shutter
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    Compatible with F-mount lenses, including AI and DX
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    Weather sealed
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    3" Hi-res 922,000 dot LCD
Cons
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    Price!!!
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    Size
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    Weight
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    No built-in image sensor cleaning
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    Too many features?
Nikon D3x (Body Only) is the Best Digital SLR Camera Overall
Where to buy
Nikon D3x (Body Only)
  • Best Price: $7996
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Resolution: 24.5MP
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Nikon D3x (Body Only)
2
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III (Body Only)
Customer Rating
Price $7996.95
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Sensor Type
CMOS CMOS
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Sensor Size
35.9 x 24.0 mm 36 x 24 mm
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Effective Sensor Resolution
24.5 megapixels 21.1 megapixels
Min ISO Setting 50 50
Max ISO Setting 6400 3200
Anti-Dust Technology No Sensor vibration
Max Shooting Speed (continuous) 5.0 frames/sec 5.0 frames/sec
Compatible Lenses Nikon F Canon EF only
Viewfinder Type Optical Pentaprism Optical Pentaprism
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LCD Screen Size
3.0 in. 3.0 in.
LCD Screen Resolution 922,000 dots 230,000 dots
Weatherproof Yes Yes
Size (W x H x D) 6.3 x 6.2 x 3.4 in. 6.3 x 6.2 x 3.1 in.
Weight (without batteries) 43.0 oz 43.2 oz
Weight (with batteries) 44.4 oz 49.6 oz
2
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III (Body Only)

The Canon 1Ds Mark III caused quite a stir when it hit the market in August 2007. It set a new standard for high-end, professional level DSLRs with its 21.1 megapixel image sensor with vibration cleaning, dual DIGIC III image processors, 14-bit A/D conversion, image vignetting correction, LiveView, and more features, settings and configurations than anyone would ever need.

So, if you need the best that Canon offers, the 1Ds Mark III is it.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III (Body Only) is one of the Best Digital SLR Cameras Overall
Where to buy
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III (Body Only)
Specifications
  • Resolution: 21.1MP
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Highly Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Spectacular by CNET.com

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