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Nikon D3 Sales Features
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Nikon D3

The Nikon D3 with 50mm f/1.4 AF-D. enlarge. I got mine from Ritz. Just as well I'd get another from Adorama, Amazon or B&H Photo Video. It helps me keep adding to this site when you use these links to get yours, thanks! Ken.


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January 2008

These are features Nikon pushes in their publicity and ads. I don't find them relevant to my photography, so I don't mention them elsewhere.

Nikon uses these things to help sell more cameras, and since people rightfully ask, I'll mention them on thins page.

I covered what ids relevant to me on the very first page of my Nikon D3 Review.

Live View Mode    

Nikon D3 back

Nikon D3. (fake photo from my Canon 5D) enlarge

The D3's Live View system appears identical to the D300's.

Unlike Canon's Live View, Nikon's easy to use. Just spin the advance mode dial on the top left. It's the same dial that chooses frame rate or self timer.

Nikon has outdone Canon at Live View because Nikon's AF system works two different ways while in Live View, while Canon's does not work at all. Canon requires you use a custom function and press a button to flip up the mirror and interrupt Live View to do a spot AF setting, while the Nikon D3's AF system works while in Live View. The Canon system has to take the camera out of Live View for a moment to autofocus.

You may select the on-screen area on which to focus, too.

I haven't used this. People who do have noticed that they can use the HDMI output; I don't know if that makes this an HDTV camera.

Nikon cautions that the sensor heats up when you use Live View, and cautions against using it for more than a half hour at a time.

Top LCD    Top 

Nikon D3 Top

Nikon D3. enlarge

I hate top LCDs. They are a throwback to mechanical film cameras when the controls had to go on top because the film ran along the back.

Unless I'm shooting from waist level (which I don't), it's stupid to have to flip the camera to see the settings.

Thank goodness there is an INFO button on the rear of the D3, which is copied from my D40, which puts the information from the top LCD on the rear LCD where I can see it!

Styled by Giugiaro    Top 

Nikon D3 Side Grip

Nikon D3 - ciao bella!

OK, I love this part.

Look at this work of art. Does Nikon even need to say "Giugiaro?" The genius is obvious. I want to pick it up and start feeling it all over.

In case you've been dead for the past several decades, Giorgetto Giugiaro also has designed Ferraris and loads of other beautiful things.

You could pay a whole lot more for a piece of sculpture much less functional than a D3. Brava Italia!

Nikon D3 Lens Mount

Nikon D3. enlarge.

Scene Recognition System    Top 

The Scene Recognition System appears identical to the Nikon D300. It's gobbeldygook in sales literature, but it really works!

Nikon has used a unique 1,005-pixel RGB sensor for light meters in its top cameras since the Nikon F5 of 1998. Today this sensor's rough image is interpreted by the D3's computer to try to figure out what you are photographing, and based on this knowledge, adjust not only the exposure, but now also adjust the AF and white balance.

Proper exposure has always been predicated on knowing what you're photographing, and how then you want it to look. For instance, dark things need to be left dark, and light things need to be left bright. A brilliant orange dot in the frame might be the disc of the sun, or might be an orange. You need to know which to expose correctly. The 1,005 pixel sensor feeds its data to the computer, the computer makes a good guess about the subject, and then calculates the exposure. This is similar to the way our eyes see. Our eyes see little; they merely fed data to our brains in which all seeing occurs.

For example, 3D AF tracking locates a moving subject and automatically shifts AF points to track it. This system also tells the exposure computer the subject's location in the frame so it can be weighted accordingly. By knowing the distance, it's another way the computer can guess if it's the sun or an orange.

Like our eyes and brain, this system is far more than its hardware. What will make the Nikon D3 wonderful (or not) is how much genius and wisdom has been programmed into it by its creators.

Nikon 1,005 Pixel RGB Sensor

Nikon 1,005 Pixel RGB Sensor.

HDMI Video Output    Top 

Nikon D3 Video and Data Connections

Nikon D3 Video, Data and Power Inputs and Outputs.

The Nikon D3 has a traditional analog NTSC and PAL video output. The D3's monitor works at the same time you use the analog output, but of course the analog video output looks crappy.

It also has a digital HDTV HDMI output, which plugs into most modern flat panel TVs and HDTVs. The only catch is that the D3's monitor goes blank when you use the HDMI output.


"EXPEED – Nikon’s image processing concept embodied." What?    Top 

Nikon D3 Printed Circuit Board

Nikon D3 Printed Circuit Board.

"EXPEED – Nikon’s image processing concept embodied" is marketing fluff. It's Nikon's fluff for the fact that the insides of their digital cameras contain signal processing, as every digital camera and CD player has for decades. It's like Canon's DIGIC: meaningless to users.

Call me immature, but who peed? EXPEED. Hee hee. DSP is important, but even Nikon hasn't figured out a brilliant phrase to communicate it as they have in "FX" and "Matrix."

Who cares about 12 vs 14 bits in the new Nikons? More bits means the ability to split brightness levels in each RGB channel more ways. Each extra bit means we can split the same range into twice as many levels.

The number of bits has nothing to do with the range itself.

12 bits allows 4,096 shades in each color (R, G and B).

14 bits allows 16,384 shades in each.

Our eyes see 100 shades at best in each channel; even 8 bits is more than enough. 20 years ago when I made A/D and D/A converters for a living, we discovered we couldn't see more than 5 bits. LCD displays only work in 6 bits, inkjet printers only in 5! LCDs and inkjets make up for this with dithering.

The reason for more bits is marketing. If I stretched for an engineering reason, it is because these bits are used for linear capture, before the application of curves. In darker areas, more bits for the initial capture lets you stretch the curves a little bit more.

A/D converter pinout is just one tiny piece of a much larger design puzzle. Far more important is how well everything works together as a whole. That depends on the wisdom of the designers.


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