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.
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.
- +24.5 megapixel full-frame CMOS image sensor
- +EXPEED processor
- +Active D-Lighting
- +Phenomenal image quality
- +Image vignetting correction
- +Super fast power up and operation
- +300,000 actuation Kevlar/carbon fiber shutter
- +Compatible with F-mount lenses, including AI and DX
- +Weather sealed
- +3" Hi-res 922,000 dot LCD
- -No built-in image sensor cleaning
- -Too many features?
Where to buy
Nikon D3x (Body Only)
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Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices
|Product||Nikon D3x (Body Only)||Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III (Body Only)|
Close Sensor Type The image sensor converts the captured light into electrical signals. There are two main types of image sensors, CCD (charge-coupled device) and CMOS (complimentary metal-oxide semiconductor). Neither technology has a clear advantage in image quality. CMOS can potentially be implemented with fewer components, use less power and provide data faster than CCDs. CCD is a more mature technology and is in most respects the equal of CMOS.
Close Sensor Size Most digital cameras, even most digital SLRs, have sensors that are smaller than a standard frame of 35 mm film (36 x 24 mm). These smaller sensors have a number of effects on the captured image and the use of the camera, including an increased depth of field, decreased light sensitivity, increased pixel noise, and increased degree of enlargement.
|35.9 x 24.0 mm||36 x 24 mm|
Close Effective Sensor Resolution The Effective Sensor Resolution tells you the total number of pixels that are recorded when you take a picture. The units are MP, which stands for megapixels or millions of pixels. For outstanding fine compression prints, 3MP is required for 5x7's, 7.1MP for 8x10's, and 10.9MP for 11x14's. The effective sensor resolution is only one of many important factors that will determine the quality of the photograph when displayed or printed at different sizes.
|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|
Close LCD Screen Size The LCD Screen Size is the length of the miniature LCD monitor measured diagonally.
|3.0 in.||3.0 in.|
|LCD Screen Resolution||922,000 dots||230,000 dots|
|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|
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.
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