Nikon D3 D3 v D3x

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Where do you start on this camera - Having owned the previous generations together with digital Hasselblad it followed a natural progression, however, in doing so it opened a question of D3 v D3x both being full frame. The first of the two to be introduced was the D3 acompanied by a lot of publicity as to its ability to work over an extended ISO range without showing significant noise. Being a bit synical I took one on loan to prove if it was hype which I am pleased to say it was not.

The body has a good build quality in the main, the same basic layout as the D2x enhanced by the upgraded autofocus, larger screen and of course the full frane chip as well as no more fiddly little caps to unscrew and replace when using the flash socket or release socket as they now have a more durable cover which remains attached, also gone is the troublesome rubber that everlastingly came detached from the compact flash cover .  The only problem is that if your first digitals were the last generation you will probably have DX lenses which are incompatable, however, if you started with the previous models such ad the D100 or D1x or are moving  from film the non DX lenses will be in your possesion and if you have the f2.8 you have a highly usefull camera.

A few points worth thinking about

The new VR lenses are good but remember they are not as well built as the old f2.8 and when on max zoom are f5.6 but the choice is yours.

If you are cosidering the D700 also add on the cost of the grip which will give you the usefull battery life and once you compare the price it is not that great especially when you consider the features missing , the best of which being the dual compact flash slots of which I use a to record raw and the b slot to record  jpegs.

I also borrowed the D3x and found that in the studio environment and outside it came to life, however, the extra pixel count came at the cost of smaller pixel/diodes and once above 400 asa was just as noisy as the D2x and as I use the cameras inside churches the D3 came out as winner and ended up buying a couple. As to the D3x once looking at the price tag decided to pay another £1000 and invest in CFV backs for Hasselblad and latterly in a Hasselblad H series with the 60 mega pixel magazine. I know the first combination may not be for evceryone as they may prefer auto functions to manual focus and the latter is an expensive option at over 6 times the cost of the D3x.

The problems I have encountered which I would not have expected is that despite not changing lenses I have had to have several sensor cleans the first being at sub 500 exposures and my camera repairer commented  'more oil on the chip' which he informs me is a common fault on these models.

The software provided for working with raw is not that usefull and capture is another exoense to be added on, however, I have capture but personally prefer to use the alternative marketed on ebay by Todd at Oxford eye called tone up which beats both CS3 raw and capture hands down for speed and ease of use.

The viewing screen at the back is a good preview but under no circumstance should it be used as a definative guide to exposure as it certainly is not and would be better set to -1 to give a better guide. In the old pre digital days you did not have a display and used your skill and judgement so why become compacent and stop trusting all have have done over the years and start  correcting for what is only a guide screen.  It might be a good idea to get one of the fold away screen covers sold on ebay firstly to protect the 3" screen, secondly to make it possible to view in sunlight without heading for the trees on going under your coat and it also stops you being inclined to look at it after every exposure.

In conclusion it lives up to its description and more with a few reservations but both the D3 and the D3x have certainly given a tonal range nearer to film than any other I have previously used.

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