Last update (Apr 23, 2009): User review of the Nikon D3 by MikeCorleone.
This post is a compilation of annotated links to Nikon D3 professional reviews, user opinions and experiences, tests, ratings, feedback and conclusions that I’ve come across in forums, online communities, blogs and related websites.
Full attribution is given by linking to the source and where available, the author’s homepage or photo gallery.
Well, the D3 has been out for some time, but it’s still nice to read reviews by actual owners of the camera.
MikeCorleone dedicated his Nikon D3 review to the death of his D2H.
The D2H has been, of course, replaced by the D3, and Mike sums up the pros and cons of the D3 thus:
-Good WB sensor
-Dual CF slot
-Sport-oriented AF-dots pattern
-More slippery rubbers
-Heavy and bulky
-Pricy** although, it is meant to be, by all means it is a pro camera with a pro price.
-thicker than the older D2Xs
A Nikon D3 user opinion and review by Andy Rouse, a former Canon shooter
Andy Rouse is a highly-acclaimed wildlife photographer who used Canon equipment in the past, but made the jump to Nikon, sold off all his Canon equipment in the process, and bought the Nikon D3.
Read the interview conducted by Lightroom-News.com, where Andy says:
Simply because the D3 is the tool that I need to do the job. It’s autofocus is reliable, high ISO performance incredible and the images are ready to go almost straight from the camera. In fact my workflow time has been reduced and I feel that my work is now of a slightly higher quality. So it was a pure business decision that was incredibly hard to make and has so far cost me 15k in new gear. Contrary to the silly rumours on the internet, Nikon have not paid me to change and they have not given me any discount on gear, they have played it cool and I think that was the right thing to do.
One of his most talked-about shoot with the D3 was on the mountain gorillas in Rwanda.
Do visit his blog to view more of his photos and read about his work.
Yah Manh’s Nikon D3 review and impressions
Yah Manh was one of the privileged accredited press photographers who were invited to the the Nikon D3 roll-out party at the Dojima Hotel In Osaka.
He was able to shoot the D3 for all the 17 sessions of the 2007 IAAF World Athletics Championships in Osaka. He shot JPEG only, using ISO 3200, 4000, 5000 and ISO 6400 during the night sessions, while ISO 400 was used during the day.
Unfortunately, he couldn’t share any of his 30,000-plus photos as Nikon had instructed that D3 photos were not to be indicated as such, and EXIF had to be stripped. He also photographed using the Canon EOS 1D Mark III, which he owns, and the Nikon D2X / D2Xs.
A summary of his impressions follow:
- Nikon D3 vs Canon 1D Mark III: ISO 6400 on the D3 was approximately equal to ISO 3200 on the Mark 3, or in other words, is one stop better than the 1D3.
- Compared to the D2X, high ISO noise levels in the D3 are improved by approximately 3 stops, with none of the backfocus problems encountered in the D2X camera. In fact, Yah Manh describes the D3’s AF (autofocus) as spot-on, with no issues.
- ISO 6400 images were as good as noise free, and he’s glad that Nikon listened to user feedback and increased the shutter lifespan rating to 300,000 releases, and is confident that the shutter won’t fail like they did in the Nikon D1.
- Photos shot with the D3 plus the new Nikkor 400mm f/2.8 VR lens showed good detail at ISO 6400, and many thought that the D2X’s ISO 800 is now ISO 6400 on the D3.
- Yah Manh is looking forward to mating the D3 with the Nikkor 200mm f/2 G AF-S VR lens to shoot indoor sports when he gets the camera.
- At the Osaka games, the Nikon employees were visibly beaming with pride as the D3 was highly praised by accredited press photographers.
Reviews and opinions on the D3 by Canon switchers / owners
- Reza Maziat’s extensive body handling comparison between the Nikon D3 vs Canon 1D Mark III / 1Ds Mark III. His switch to the D3 was mainly due to these issues with the 1Ds3 and 1D3.
- Joost Assink lists the features and advantages of the Nikon D3 vs the Canon 1D Mark III and also found the photos shot with the SB-800 flash to be superior in terms of exposure and white balance to the pictures produced with the 1D Mark III plus 580 EX II combination. He provides more information on the differences between the Nikon’s vs Canon’s flash systems.
- Octane shares his reasons for upgrading to the Nikon D3 from the Canon EOS 5D, rather than to the 1Ds Mark III.
- John Sheehy started this very interesting forum thread on the noise characteristics of the Nikon D3 — specifically, with the D3, Nikon has managed to implement high QE (quantum efficiency) while keeping read noise at very low levels, something Canon could not with their digital SLR sensors.
- Emil Martinec, the poster referred to by John Sheehy, made several posts on his findings on the D3’s sensor efficiency. Some of the posts are:
- The D3’s sensor is slightly more efficient than the Canon 1Ds Mark III’s
- Per-pixel and per-area photon collection efficiency of the D3 vs 1Ds Mark III and 1D Mark III
- A detailed explanation on the three components of image noise — electronic noise in the readout and amplification circuitry, thermal (or dark current) noise in those same circuits and photon shot noise. Importantly, Emil sees no evidence of detail-smearing noise reduction algorithms in th raw files from the D3.
- Here’s an example of how Emil performs image noise analysis.
- This is one long thread discussing the efficiency of the Nikon D3’s sensor.
- Emil’s take on Luminous Landscape’s Nikon D3 vs Canon 1Ds Mark III noise test
- Emil presents DR (dynamic range) figures (based on crude measurements) for the D3, which are identical to the Canon 1D Mark III’s.
- Phil Tower relates his experience of switching to the Nikon D3 from the Canon 1D Mark III, and his first impressions of the camera and Nikon 24-70mm Nikkor lens
He was hugely impressed by the responsive autofocus on the D3 in lousy lighting conditions, but what was even more interesting was Joe McNally’s presentation of the D3 at the show, where he showed richly-saturated ISO 6400 prints that were virtually noise-free. Joe shot most of the photos that will be used in the D3 brochure, a list of which is given here.
Black clipping on the D3
Marianne Oelund provides some figures on truncation performed in the D3.
CF Performance Test
E-fotografija.si performed an excellent CF performance test on buffer flushing speed and number of shots that can be taken before the Nikon D3 slowed down. The test was done with various CompactFlash (CF) memory cards. Interestingly, the tabled results show that the SanDisk Extreme IV was consistently the best performer, while the SanDisk Extreme III was the worst of the bunch.
- A very positive D3 buffer upgrade report.
- Rod Mar of The Seattle Times, a Canon user says … “The D3, quite frankly, is a wonderful camera”. He brought both Canon and Nikon gear to the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics. He’s posted up quite a number of photos shot with the D3 (here, here, and here) — his lenses of choice seems to be the Nikon 600mm f/4G and 200-400mm f/4G.
- Preston Mack, a Florida-based sports photographer, switches to the Nikon D3 and D300 from the 1D Mark III.