Nikon D3X References

First published on: Tuesday, 18 November 2008

The Nikon D3X is a 24.5MP (megapixel) digital SLR camera aimed at professionals who demand the highest resolution currently available in Nikon’s lineup, and who demand image quality that is equivalent to MF (medium format).

ISO range is from 100 to 1600, and 50 to 6400 with boost.

The camera is expected to retail for no more than $8,000 USD when it hits the streets.

To process RAW / NEF files from the D3X, you’ll need to install version 2.1.1 of Nikon Capture NX 2. A free 60-day fully functional trial is available. Get the details in the post on Nikon Capture NX 2.

Nikon D3X

The main question being asked is whether the sensor in the D3X is the same as that in the Sony A900. The answer is in Thom Hogan’s D3X commentary. In essence:

  • There’s a story going around in Japan that one of Sony’s newer fabs was being leased tp a company that makes CMOS sensors, and that company is Nikon.
  • It’s also know that Nikon engineers their own microlenses and Bayer filtration on top of Sony sensors.
  • It’s clear that the low pass filter is handled differently on the Nikon version of the sensor, so the RAW files that come from both cameras are going to be very different.

Key features and specs

Shutter life: 300,000 actuations.

Viewfinder: 100% coverage, 0.7x magnification, which makes it slightly smaller than cameras by Sony and Canon in the same class.

Resources and downloads

You can download the 4.13MB Nikon D3X brochure from the download section of the D3 / D3X Microsite — here’s a direct link.

Nikon D3X brochure

Official Nikon D3X sites

Nikon Imaging

Nikon Finland

Nikon Japan

Nikon UK

List of Nikon D3X announcements and press releases
The format used here makes the press release easier to read than on NikonUSA.

There’s also an extensive D3X product photo gallery.
A Japanese camera site.

In the beginning …

1-December-2008 updates

The Nikon D3X was formally announced around 4 a.m. GMT.

Marianne Oelund speculates on how Nikon might achieve near-medium format image quality if the D3X uses the Sony A900 sensor:

What if the cells themselves are the same, but a narrower pass-band CFA has been selected for better color separation? Seems to me this would combine very well with the new AA filter, for IQ never seen in FX format before. Nikon are apparently targeting the strengths of medium format, and such quality improvements would be important in that effort.

Just a little humor: 26 features missing on the D3X, plus another seven.

30-November 2008 updates

Today, we have Julia Borg (who is related to Iliah Borg — remember that Iliah had seen the D3X files, mentioned further down below) commenting on the pixel acuity of the D3X, saying that it looks better than on the Nikon D2X.

More comments from Julia:

full well capacity between a900 and D3X seems to be the same within the experimental error margin. what seems completely different going by the comparison of noise spectra is the read-out circuitry.

CFA is different (from the Sony A900), that’s for sure.

downsized to 1DMk3 it has visibly less noise at ISO 3200 plus noise structure is much finer.

some CFAs (Color Filter Array) are more transparent then others. CFAs that are very transparent often result in famous plastic look. some companies prefer to use preamplification to get higher ISO specs, but noise is the penalty.

On whether the D3X sensor and other image processing components are the same as that on the Sony A900, Thom Hogan speculates that with respect to the 16-bit EXPEED processor:

Actually, it is in the sensor. In the Sony sensor part of the ADC system is integrated into the sensor, which restricts the bit depth to what the sensor can output. From what we know so far, we can guess a lot of differences in the two sensors. The sensels (light sensing areas) may be the same, but it looks as if the support circuitry for the sensel is different between the two. How significantly, it’s a little difficult to tell without real equipment in hand, but Nikon’s rhetoric, both public and private, seems to indicate that there is much more going on than slapping a different AA and outboard imaging ASIC (EXPEED) on a stock Sony sensor.

… and on the subject of the AA (anti-aliasing) filter …

Correct (that the sensor is separate from the AA filter). But there’s long been a conjecture that Nikon has been doing something different on all layers on top of the Sony sensors (AA, microlens, and Bayer filtration). Given that we’re talking about resolution here, the stuff that happens just above the sensel is actually part of the optical system and ultimately impacts real resolution.

28-Nov-2008 updates

RcDP says:

Official: D3x…. Nikon Pro Magazine just dropped through the door.

You can view the magazine pages scans here, extracted text here, and Seb Rogers has a photo of how the magazine cover looks like.


  • Sensor size: 35.9 x 24mm
  • Sensor format: FX / Full Frame
  • The sensor sports a unique Optical Low Pass Filter (OLPF).
  • Resolution: 24.5 MP
  • Approximate TIFF (see how Jeff-C deduces it to be an 8-bit TIFF) file size: 75MB
  • ISO range: 100 — 1600 (Jeff-C speculates on why the ISO range is different to the ISO 200 — 3200 on the Sony A900), with boost to ISO 50 and 6400.
  • 5:4 mode and 10 MP DX crop mode
  • EXPEED 16-bit data path processor (same as that in the Nikon D3). It does not mean the ADC (analog-to-digital converter) is 16-bit.
  • Burst speed: 5 fps (frames per second), 7 fps in DX crop mode
  • Startup time: 120ms
  • Shutter release lag time: 41ms (CIPA standard)
  • File write speed: About 35MB per second
  • Rear LCD monitor: 3 inch, 922,000 dots, 170-degree viewing angle.
  • No dust removal feature, no HD video recording capability and no sensor-based image stabilization.

27-Nov-2008 updates posts two photos of the D3X — front and back — which were subsequently yanked from the site approximately 45 minutes after they were posted.
Nikon D3X -- Here?

Read for the details. Some related points and discussions:

  • Looks like there won’t be any movie / video recording capabilities as there is no recording microphone.
  • For now, the images look like nothing more than an edit of the Nikon D3 body. also has the scoop on the official web page for the Nikon D3X, which remains but an empty placeholder, for now. The URL is a giveaway for the product number / ID of the D3X: 25442. Sebastián Oszlak has more to comment on the URL.

21-Nov-2008 updates

Iliah Borg of, in his response to the question on how he knew that there will be a new camera, said:

Because I was sent raw files to process them.

20-Nov-2008 updates

European Camera Specialists ran the following news piece, could it be the D3X?
Something big on December 1st, 2008 -- but could it be the Nikon D3X?

All is anticipation about Nikon Australia’s “most exclusive event of the year” on December 1st. They aren’t saying what it is as usual but WE ALL KNOW IT’S THE DBIG!!! (Look out for our “Inclusive” announcement on our website December 2nd).

18-Nov-2008 updates

Miancu’s (a DPReview forum member whose posts I trust (he contributed this tip on the Nikon D80, which I blogged about here) latest forum thread on the Nikon D3X is here. He’s actually touched the camera and played with it. A summary follows:

Miancu says:

… the camera is awesome ! The detail rendition is incredible.

… and …

I think that those of you who waited for a high res FF from Nikon will ABSOLUTELY won’t be disappointed.

You can read his first post on the D3X here.

More exciting confirmation from Jeff-C came a day after Miancu’s post, that the announcement of the D3X will be on December 1st, 2008, Japan time. If you’re in the US, you should read about the announcement some time in the late morning or early evening on November 30th. Jeff based his information on a leaked photo (to see the photo, copy this link and paste it in a new browser window as direct linking is prohibited, read a translation of the invitation) of a press event invitation that was posted in a Chinese photography forum thread (Google translation). reported about receiving a press invitation (Google translation) too.

Nikon cameras – Main page.

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