Home   Donate   New   Search   Gallery   How-To   Books   Links   Workshops   About   Contact

Nikon D3X
24 MP FX, 5 FPS, $5,999.

© 2009-2013 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.
Please help KenRockwell..com

Nikon D3x

Nikon D3X and 50mm f/1.4. enlarge. My biggest source of support is when you use any of these links, especially this link directly to it at Adorama or directly to it at Amazon, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thank you! Ken.

Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear, especially the older D3.

 

March 2013   More Nikon Reviews   Nikon Lenses   All Reviews

March 2013 DEAL: Nikon D3X for $5,999.99.

Nikon D3X Lens Suggestions 12 January 2009

Nikon D3X, D3, D40, and Canon 5D Mark II, 5D and SD700 Sharpness Comparison 13 January 2009

Nikon D3X, D3, and Canon 5D and 5D Mark II ISO 3,200 Comparison 09 January 2009

Nikon D3X, D3, and Canon 5D Mark II ISO 6,400 Comparison 09 January 2009

Nikon D3X versus Canon 5D Mark II Sharpness Comparison 08 January 2009

 

Introduction

Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear.

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

If you're making mural-sized gallery prints, the Nikon D3X has the world's highest image quality of any Oriental digital camera. Not only does it have more resolution than anything else, it has better quality in JPG than Canon's very best shooting in raw.

For normal use, like printing images merely several feet (meters) wide, the D3 is a better camera because it runs twice as fast, allows ISOs four times higher, and costs half as much. Otherwise, the D3 and D3X are identical cameras.

Since I don't shoot sports, I'd love to trade my D3 for a D3X because the D3X gives sharper images at least as clean as the D3 at any resolution and ISO up through ISO 6,400, but since the difference is minor, and the price of the D3X is double, I'll have nothing to do with the D3X.

The $8,000 price of the D3X is a rip off. It's the same camera as the D3, with a slightly different sensor that merely divides the light into a few more buckets more slowly than the D3. It's the same thing, and since the D3X is only worth about $5,200, you won't see me paying $8,000 for it.

The D3X is a total no-big-deal. It's not even 24.4MP; Nikon is playing a psychological ploy by accidentally mis-stating the resolution as 24.5MP. Multiply 6,048 x 4,032 and see how many pixels you get.

The D3X is exactly the same as the Nikon D3, just with more pixels and much slower frame rates and ISOs. Want to know everything else? See my D3 review; I'll spare you from repeating everything again here.

The D3X is exactly as my 2-year-old predicted back in 2007, except that Nikon goofed on the price.

Nikon wants eight grand for this $5,200 camera, based solely on image quality, however the D3X' image quality ought to be about the same as (maybe worse than) the $2,700 Canon 5D Mark II. The D3X ergonomics are far superior to Canon, but the D3 has the same ergonomics as the D3X, but for half the price and with twice the frame rate and four times the ISO of the D3X.

So it goes.

As we all knew a year ago, the old D3 remains the top choice for news, action, low-light and sports, while the D3X is Nikon's first digital camera ever that may have enough resolution to be a suitable camera for serious landscape and nature photography.

Heck, this is the first time since Canon entered the DSLR game behind Nikon that any Nikon has had more pixels than anything from Canon, although we'll wait to see until Nikon can actually start shipping these to real customers.

The only thing new in the D3X, besides more pixels, optional reversed text in the menu system and a slower frame rate and ISO range, is an AUTO position for ADR (Automatic Dynamic Range). With the D3, I simply left ADR set to Normal, but with the D3X, just like the D700, I'd use Auto.

Everything else is exactly the same. Boring!

What really is a big pile of suck is that the ergonomics are left over from 2007. Nothing has been improved over the old D3, as it has on newer cameras like the D90 and D700. The D90 and D700 have dedicated INFO buttons and smarter firmware which let me get to things, like Picture Controls, faster than I can on the D3X. Poo!

Let me reiterate why this is poo. For the past 60 years that Nikon's been making cameras, every time Nikon introduces a new camera, even though it's often a cheaper model than the one before, there are always one or two clever new minor features which add greatly to the usefulness of the new camera.

The dedicated INFO buttons of the D90 and D700 over the older D3 and D300 are the latest examples of this. Today, the D3X offers no improvements over the D3, in fact, it's worse than the D700 and D90 since it still is the same as the older D3. I was at least hoping Nikon would add the better controls of the D90 and D700 in the D3X, but they totally missed this boat.

D3X back

Rear, Nikon D3X. enlarge. (same as D3, with no extra "x" painted on).

Note the same sucky shared-purpose INFO and Lock and "?" button, making it always a gamble trying to get shooting info to pop on the rear screen. The D90 and D700 are years ahead.

Even more underwhelming is that there is no significant pixels-per-second improvement over the old D3. The D3 can crank 12.1MP images at 9FPS, which is 109 megapixels per second. The D3X shoots 24.4MP at "almost 5FPS," or almost 122 MP/s. I don't see any significant computing horsepower added in the D3X.

This tells me that Nikon easily could have introduced the D3X a year ago if it wanted, but obviously didn't bother since all of use went out and bought the D3, and now we'll all go out and buy a D3X.

The Internet is loaded with stories claiming the sensor in the original D3 is already 24MP, and it's just the firmware that throttles it back to 12MP. This is supported by seeing how the D3X cranks out just a few more megapixels per second because it's not burdened with the interpolation that would have to be done in the D3 if the D3 really already has the 24MP sensor.

Oh yes - Nikon is predicting the D3X will be available this month (December 2008), adding more fuel to the fire that the D3X is nothing new. Nikon usually takes several months to get a camera finished after announcement, but it seems suspicious that the D3X is already here. Hmm.

Hey - hold on! The EXIF data in most of the the official press images for the D3X are mostly dated from back in June, 2007, the same dates the D3's publicity shots were made! The only newer ones are the shots of the D3X with more recently introduced lenses.

I may seem underwhelmed (and I am) but I'll also be honest: obviously the D3X is the best camera Nikon has ever made in its history which spans from before 1917.

With 24MP, it's probably about as good as scanned 35mm film when blown up several feet (m) wide. We'll see; it's pretty funny that the 12MP D3 can't even outdo the resolution of a 50-year old 35mm film camera scanned at a minilab. Maybe the D3X will be as good as 35mm film, while serious landscape artists will still be shooting 4x5" film until I'm long dead.

Nikon D3X

Nikon D3X. enlarge.

 

Specifications

all the same as the D3 specifications, except:

 

Sensor

FX (24x36mm) CMOS, slightly less than 24.4 MP (not 24.5MP as claimed; do the math yourself).

I'm being generous with 24.4 MP. If you count megas the same way hard drive makers do (1k = 1,024), then the D3X really oly has 23.26MP.

 

Sensor Cleaner

None, just like the D3.

 

Formats and Resolution (exactly like D3, just more pixels):

What's new is that the pixel counts are exactly 3:2. Previous Nikons never hit 3:2 exactly, so when I'm editing and rescaling at the pixel level in Photoshop, I had to whip out a calculator more often with the older cameras.

FX (24 x 36mm): 6,048 x 4,032 (L), 4,544 x 3,024 (M) and 3,024 x 2,016 (S).

Pro 5:4 FX Crop (24 x 30mm): 5,056 x 4,032 (L), 3,792 x 3,024 (M), 2,528 x 2,016 (S).

Wimpy DX format (16 x 24mm): 3,968 x 2,640 (L), 2,976 x 1,976 (M), 1,984 x 1,320 (S).

Nikon is gouging on the MP rating. 6,048 x 4,032 pixels = 24,385,536 pixels, or less than 24.4MP, nowhere near the claimed 24.5MP.

Claiming 24.5MP, which is leaving 114,464 pixels missing, is an important psychological ploy. 24.4 sounds like 24, which it is. 24.5 sounds like 25MP, which feels like a lot more pixels than 24MP. I'm serious: where did Nikon get the 24.5MP number? They're lying.

 

ISO

ISO 100 ~ 1,600 in third, half and full stops.

Also ISO 50 ~ 3,200 in third, half and full stops in trick modes.

One noisy ISO 6,400 setting, in a trick mode.

Auto ISO, too.

 

Live View:

Yes, just like my point and shoot and the D3. Whoopee; I've never used it on my D3.

 

Finder

Huge, bright 100% view of the full, fat FX frame. 0.7x magnification with 50mm lens.

 

AF System

Same AF system as the D3.

 

Frame Rates

Specified:

5FPS in FX and 5:4 modes. Since Nikon only claims "approximately 5 FPS," that means "somewhat less than 5 FPS."

7 FPS in DX crop.

Measured:

5.02 FPS with still target, 4.74 FPS in AF-C tracking a slowly moving target in release-priority (not always in focus) mode.

 

 

Flash Sync

Only 1/250, same as D3. (The D40 is twice as good, at 1/500, for less than one-tenth the price, ha ha.)

 

Shutter Death

"Tested to exceed 300,000 cycles." No big deal, the warranty doesn't specify mileage, and even if you can kill a D3X shutter after the warranty dies, it's not that expensive to replace one as a service part.

 

Picture Controls

Same as D300 and D3, etc.

 

ADR (Automatic Dynamic Range)

Same as D700, which means it adds an excellent AUTO setting not in the D3. The settings are Auto, Extra High, High, Normal, Low and Off.

 

Storage

Dual CF slots, same as D3.

 

Lens Compatibility

Same as D3, which means any manual or autofocus lens made since 1977 works great. Of course you'll have to focus the manual lenses yourself, and you'll only have A and M modes, but you'll have full EXIF data and color matrix metering.

Older lenses made from 1959-1976 work just as well, so long as they've been updated to AI.

More at Nikon Lens Compatibility.

 

Lateral Chromatic Aberration Correction

Yes, same as D3. This does an excellent job of eliminating lateral color fringes from just about any lens you can put on the D3X, automatically. It's always on; you can't turn it off. This is superior to Canon, who haven't copied this yet, and on whose cameras you still can see lateral color fringes with many lenses.

 

Vignette Control

Can be turned on to lessen darkened corners due to lens problems.

 

LCD

Same excellent 3" 640x480 LCD as other Nikons like the D90 and D3.

 

Power

EN-EL4a battery, same as D3.

 

Size

Rated 6.3 x 6.2 x 3.4" (159.5 x 157 x 87.5 mm), exactly the same as the D3.

 

Weight

Rated 2 pounds, 11 ounces (1.22 kg or 2.7 pounds), completely stripped

This is 20g (0.7 oz.) less than the D3, which usually means that something that used to be made of metal is now plastic.

 

Environmental

Rated only for operation at between 0~40ºC (32~104ºF), which seems lame since all my Nikons work great in far colder temperatures.

If the D3X really doesn't work below freezing, I'd be surprised.

RH less than 85%.

 

Announced

01 December 2008.

 

Available

Expected December 2008.

 

Price

$5,999, March 2013

$7,500, November 2010.

$7,470, March 2010.

$8,000 at introduction in December 2008.

 

Recommendations

The D3X is the same thing as the D3, and the D3 is the better camera for most shots. The D3X only costs Nikon about $200 extra in parts over the D3, which translates to $1,000 higher price at retail. Someone wake me up when the price of the D3X gets in line with its actual value, but for $8,000, everyone else is boycotting it, too.

Sure you see noted pros in the brochure: that's because Nikon pays them to go shoot and appear in the brochure. None of those guys bought the D3X; it wasn't available when the brochure was printed.

There is very little visible difference when you only double the area pixel count (12 MP vs. 24 MP). There is only a 42% increase in linear resolution with the D3X (6,048 pixels horizontally) over the D3 (4,256 pixels), which is barely visible. This means that, all else being equal, that images from the D3X can be enlarged only 42% more, while the D3X has half the ISO at the same noise level and half the frame rate. (see also the Megapixel Myth.)

Since the D3X will have to be shot at one stop slower ISO for the same clean results, the added blur for real subjects shot one f/stop wider (or one stop slower shutter speed) often can give softer results on the D3X. Whoops!

Do you really want to pay a $3,800 premium over the D3 for a mere 42% improvement in linear resolution? Why not buy a D3 for speed and low light, and buy a Canon 5D Mark II for high-resolution full-frame shots for $2,700, and pocket the leftover $1,100 to go party? Very, very few photographers know what they're doing well enough to get this sort of sharpness at the sensor, so for most guys, D3X images will look the same (or worse) than D3 images.

Buy a D700 instead for speed and ease-of-use, or a Canon 5D Mark II if you need ultimate resolution. I'm serious: the D700 handles much better than the D3 if you don't need the frame rate for sports.

I'll let you know when I get my hands on all these for a run-off, but I've already compared the old 12MP Canon 5D against the 12MP Nikon D3, and the 5D is sharper. I suspect the Canon 5D Mark II, with the same resolution as the D3X (21.1 vs. 24.4 MP, only a 7% difference in linear resolution), may very well be sharper than the D3X. Of course the Nikon should have far superior ergonomics, but weighs about twice as much.

If you have the cash, by all means go get a D3X, but realize that the only time you'll notice the resolution difference is printing 20x30" (50 x 75cm) and larger, and then only if you have almost perfect lenses and really know how to use them.

$8,000 also buys a lot of film if resolution is your only interest.

See "Is It Worth It" for more.

If you don't have the cash, I wouldn't rush out to get a D3X for $8,000. I would if it were priced at correct market value, which is $5,500. I'll bet you prices will drop fast as Canon and Nikon try to eat each other's lunch.

Is the "X-Factor" worth $3,800? Not to me! With unlimited cash I'd get a D3X just because I could, but for most subjects, most situations and most photographers, the D3's superior speed and sensitivity are far more important than adding more pixels. I have great 20x30" (50x75cm) prints sitting here made on my 6MP D40, so no one's going to upsell me for $3,800 just to get more pixels at the expense of ISO and frame rate to do what I already do.

Thank God I'm an American. If you're in Canada, I'm told the price up there is $9,450 Canadian, and $10,680 Canadian after you add in the taxes to cover free health care.

 

Help me help you         top

I support my growing family through this website, as crazy as it might seem.

The biggest help is when you use any of these links when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. It costs you nothing, and is this site's, and thus my family's, biggest source of support. These places have the best prices and service, which is why I've used them since before this website existed. I recommend them all personally.

If you find this page as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to help me continue helping everyone.

If you've gotten your gear through one of my links or helped otherwise, you're family. It's great people like you who allow me to keep adding to this site full-time. Thanks!

If you haven't helped yet, please do, and consider helping me with a gift of $5.00.

As this page is copyrighted and formally registered, it is unlawful to make copies, especially in the form of printouts for personal use. If you wish to make a printout for personal use, you are granted one-time permission only if you PayPal me $5.00 per printout or part thereof. Thank you!

 

Thanks for reading!

 

 

Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

 

Home  Donate  New  Search  Gallery  Reviews  How-To  Books  Links  Workshops  About  Contact

 

 

June 2012, November 2010