Nikon D3 Review

Consider the following thought-provoking information: The body only of the Canon EOS 1Ds Mk III will be available for a price of £6,000. For that price, you may get a body for the Nikon D3, one of the brand-new Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 N-series lenses, as well as Nikon’s excellent 14-24mm N-series wide-angle zoom lens. Remember that the D3 is a full-frame SLR camera; hence, the 14mm zoom is so vast that keeping your ears out of the image when using it will be challenging.

These are both professional lenses, complete with that designation’s construction and optical qualities. Because of this evaluation, we had the opportunity to test out the Nikon D3 in conjunction with these two lenses, making an incredible package together.

The 1Ds Mk III has a resolution of 21 million individual pixels. The D3 has a resolution of 12 million pixels, which is lower than that of the D4 but is still quite a lot. Some customers may want files with a resolution of 21 megapixels, but how many? You need to consider this in light of the far lower price of the D3 (a difference of £2,500) and several other features that the Canon lacks.

Among these is that the 1Ds Mk III can shoot at five frames per second, but the D3 can shoot at nine frames per second. The dynamic range of the 1Ds Mk III is 100-1600, whereas the dynamic range of the D3 is 200-6400. (yes, 6400). Are you stuck with a collection of lenses with an APS-C format from lower-end cameras in the range?

If you have a 1D Mk III camera, you are out of luck because this model is incompatible with Canon’s EF-S lenses. However, if you have a D3 and insert one of your older DX lenses, the camera will immediately recognize the lens. It will transition to a ‘cropped’ mode, producing photographs with a resolution of 5 megapixels. Admittedly, it’s not much, but it’s a lot better than nothing, and because of the 1.5x focal factor, it can be used to make long telephotos even longer.

This is not meant to be a criticism of the 1D Mk III; instead, it is essential to have a solid understanding of Nikon’s accomplishments with its newest professional flagship camera. Of course, the Canon has a higher resolution, and purchasing one of these cameras is an obvious choice if you already own a lot of Canon equipment. But what Nikon has created is a camera that is excellent enough for fashion shots in the West End and the frenetic activity at the goal mouth at three o’clock on a sleet-soaked afternoon in January.

Control and maneuverability

Build quality is one of the things you’re paying for when you purchase a professional camera, and the D3 doesn’t let you down in this regard. This camera has the same solid, well-built feel as the new Nikon D300, which we praised in a previous review. Everything from the polish to how the panels join together to how the controls feel is of the highest quality.

You receive the same 920,000-pixel LCD found on the D300 on the back of the camera, which means the display’s quality is relatively high. Below is a ‘tertiary’ panel (a secondary panel on the top), which shows ISO, quality, and white balance settings, with buttons beneath for altering them. Unfortunately, the white balance icons are too tiny and can be challenging to read in low-light conditions.

Memory cards are inserted into a camera through a door on the device’s rear. This door features a double-catch mechanism to prevent it from being opened inadvertently. On the inside are two CF card slots; please refer to the camera annotation to explain how these components interact.

The user handbook states that the battery may take up to 4,300 pictures before recharging. The battery can be inserted into the bottom of the camera. The camera comes with a dual charger, allowing you to charge both the primary battery and the backup battery at the same time.

This camera, despite its size, is quite convenient to take everywhere. Because of the additional height, you can wrap all your fingers around the grip, and the camera is still manageable even when one of Nikon’s exotic new N-series lenses is attached to it. The controls are laid out in the typical Nikon fashion, prioritizing ergonomic efficiency over rapid identification. However, if you’ve just upgraded from a D200 or D2x, you won’t have any problem getting used to the new layout. However, it would have been wonderful if the various Picture Controls (such as Standard, Vivid, and so on) had been easier to get to, as they are hidden deep inside the menus.

There were a few additional somewhat insignificant operational concerns as well. For example, the sound stopped working during the trial run; it is likely that the wrong button was clicked or that a menu setting was missed, but we could never figure out how to turn it back on. And as I was switching lenses, the Focus Mode switch, located directly next to the button that releases the lens, was accidentally moved from Single Shot to Continuous shooting twice.

The result is that the autofocus squares in the viewfinder will no longer light up, and the camera will take pictures before the focus has been accomplished. If this happens, you may have to spend a considerable amount of time poring over the manual to discover why this is happening. It would be remiss not to highlight the Active D-Lighting customization option while we’re here. D-Lighting is a software developed by Nikon that may be used to brighten shadows in photographs that have already been captured.

When using the Active D-Lighting mode, the camera will first adjust the exposure to capture the highlight detail and then apply the D-Lighting adjustment. So even though it functions well, why is it so buried in the menus? It isn’t easy to access something that has the potential to be of such great benefit, yet at the same time, it is not something that you would want to have running all the time.

Image quality

Putting aside some minor complaints, the D3 has outstanding maneuverability. The camera is remarkably silent for a full-frame model when shooting at nine frames per second. However, what truly sticks out is the high quality of the images. It is interesting to note that in tests conducted side-by-side, the D3 appears to be only slightly crisper than the D300 at low ISOs. This suggests that the pixel count restricts the resolution and that, ideally, higher-resolution versions will be developed that are even better in the future.

However, the D3 has a significant edge when working at higher ISOs. For example, at an ISO setting of 1600, the D300 shines brighter than its competitors. However, the D3 completely dominates in this category. Furthermore, the image quality produced by the D3 at ISO 6400 is comparable to that produced by the D300 at ISO 1600. Fantastic.

The D3 provides you with more of everything that makes the D300 such an outstanding camera. More color, reduced noise, quicker frame rates. It is an exceptionally high-quality camera. Because it is so fantastic, we must reiterate our only reservation regarding the D300.

Even while the less expensive model is quite good, we have a feeling that you will always be wondering whether or not the D3 would not have been the wiser purchase for a professional.

Nikon D3 Specifications

Body materialMagnesium alloy
Sensor• 36 x 23.9 mm CMOS sensor
• FX format
• RGB Color Filter Array
• Built-in fixed low-pass filter
• 12.9 million total pixels
• 12.1 million effective pixels
• 3:2 aspect ratio
Image processorNikon EXPEED
A/D conversion14 bit
Image sizes
(FX format)
• 4256 x 2832 [L; 12.1 MP]
• 3184 x 2120 [M; 6.8 MP]
• 2128 x 1416 [S; 3.0 MP]
Image sizes
(DX format)
• 2784 x 1848 [L; 5.1 MP]
• 2080 x 1384 [M; 2.9 MP]
• 1392 x 920 [S; 1.3 MP]]
Image sizes
(5:4 format)
• 3552 x 2832 [L; 10.0 MP]
• 2656 x 2120 [M; 5.6 MP]
• 1776 x 1416 [S; 2.5 MP]
File formats• NEF (12-bit or 14-bit, compressed or lossless compressed RAW)
• JPEG (EXIF 2.21)
NEF compression• Compressed 12/14-bit NEF (RAW, Lossless compressed): approx. 60-80%
• Compressed 12/14-bit NEF (RAW, Compressed): approx. 45-60%
Lens mount• Nikon F mount with AF coupling and AF contacts
• No field of view crop (full-frame)
• When using DX lenses / DX mode, 1.5x FOV crop
Usable lenses• Type G or D AF NIKKOR: All functions supported
• DX AF NIKKOR: All functions supported except FX-format (36×24)/5:4 (30×24) image size
• AF NIKKOR other than type G or D: All functions supported except 3D Color Matrix Metering II
• AI-P NIKKOR: All functions supported except autofocus and 3D Color Matrix Metering II
• Non-CPU AI NIKKOR: Can be used in exposure modes A and M; electronic rangefinder can be used if maximum aperture is f/5.6 or faster; Color Matrix Metering and aperture value display supported if the user provides lens data
* IX NIKKOR lenses cannot be used
* Excluding lenses for F3AF
Auto Focus• 51 focus points (15 cross-type sensors)
• Multi-CAM 3500FX
• AF working range: -1 to +19 EV (ISO 100, normal temperature)
• Contrast Detect in Live View (Tripod) mode
Lens Servo• Single Servo AF [S]
• Continuous Servo AF [C]
• Manual focus [M]
• Focus Tracking is automatically activated by the subject’s status in [S] or [C] AF
Focus Point• Single point from 51 or 11 focus points
• Liveview (Tripod mode): Contrast AF on a desired point anywhere within the frame
AF Area Mode• Single-point AF
• Dynamic Area AF [9 points, 21 points, 51 points, 51 points (3D-tracking)]
• Automatic-area AF
Focus LockFocus can be locked by pressing the shutter-release button halfway (single-servo AF) or by pressing the AE-L/AF-L button
AF assistExternal Speedlite only
Exposure modes• Program Auto [P] with flexible program
• Shutter-Priority Auto [S]
• Aperture-Priority Auto [A]
• Manual [M]
MeteringTTL full-aperture exposure metering using a 1005-pixel RGB sensor
• 3D Color Matrix Metering II (type G and D lenses); color matrix metering II (other CPU lenses); color matrix metering (non-CPU lenses if the user provides lens data; metering performed)
• Center-weighted: Weight of 75% given to 8, 15, or 20 mm dia. circle in the center of frame or weighting based on the average of the entire structure (default 12 mm)
• Spot: Meters approx. 4 mm dia. circle (about 1.5% of frame) centered on selected focus point (on center focus point when the non-CPU lens is used)
Metering range• 3D Color Matrix Metering: 0 to 20 EV
• Center-Weighted Metering: 0 to 20 EV
• Spot Metering: 2 to 20 EV
• At normal temperature (20°C/68°F), ISO 100 equivalent, f/1.4 lens
Meter couplingCPU and AI
Exposure lockLocked using the AE-L/AF-L button
Exposure bracketing• 2 to 9 frames
• 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 or 1 EV steps
Exposure compen.• +/-5.0 EV
• 1/3, 1/2, or 1 EV step
Sensitivity• Default: ISO 200 – 6400 in 1/3, 1/2 or 1.0 EV steps
• Boost: 100 – 12800 in 1/3, 1/2 or 1.0 EV steps, HI2 = ISO 25600
Shutter• Electronically-controlled vertical-travel focal plane shutter
• 30 to 1/8000 sec (1/3, 1/2 or 1.0 EV steps)
• Flash X-Sync: 1/250 sec
• Bulb
DOF Preview• Stop-down lens aperture by pressing the button
• Activates modeling flash
White balance• Auto (1005-pixel CCD, image sensor)
• Presets (seven) with fine-tuning
• Manual presets (four)
• Color temperature in Kelvin (2500 – 10000 K, 31 steps)
• White balance bracketing (2 to 9 frames, 10,20,30 MIRED steps)
Picture Control• Standard
• Neutral
• Vivid
• Monochrome
Image parameters• Sharpening: Auto, seven levels
• Contrast: Auto, five levels, Custom tone curve
• Brightness: 3 levels
• Saturation: Auto, five levels
• Hue: 5 levels
Color space• sRGB (Standard and Vivid modes)
• Adobe RGB (Neutral mode)
Viewfinder• Optical-type fixed eye-level pentaprism
• Built-in diopter adjustment (-3 to +1m-1)
• Eyepoint: 18 mm (at -1.0m-1)
• Focusing screen: Type B BriteView Clear Matte VI screen
• Frame coverage 100%
• Viewfinder magnification approx 0.7x with 50 mm f/1.4 lens
Focusing screen• B-type BrightView Clear Matte Screen II
• Superimposed focus brackets
• On-demand grid lines
LCD monitor• 3.0 ” TFT LCD
• 922,000 pixels (VGA; 640 x 480 x 3 colors)
• 170° viewing angle
• Brightness adjustment
LCD Liveview• Handheld mode: TLL phase-difference AF with 51 focus areas (15 cross-type sensors)
• Tripod mode: focal-plane contrast AF on a desired point within a specific area
Shooting modes• Single frame
• Continuous Low [CL]: 1 – 9 fps
• Continuous High [CH]: 9 fps (9 – 11 fps with DX format)
• Liveview [LV]
• Self-Timer (programmable)
• Mirror-up mode
Continuous buffer• JPEG Large/Normal: 64 shots (at nine fps)
• RAW: no data yet
Self-timer• 2 to 20-sec custom
Flash control•TTL flash control with 1,005-pixel RGB sensor; i-TTL balanced fill-flash and standard i-TTL fill-flash available with SB-800, 600 or 400
• AA (Auto Aperture-type) flash: Available with SB-800 used with CPU lens
• Non-TTL Auto: Available with Speedlights such as SB-800, 28, 27, and 22S
• Range-priority manual flash; available with SB-800
Flash Sync Mode• Front-curtain Sync (normal)
• Red-Eye Reduction
• Red-Eye Reduction with Slow Sync
• Slow Sync
• Rear-curtain Sync
Flash Accessory ShoeISO 518 standard-type hot shoe contact; Safety lock mechanism provided
Flash Sync TerminalISO 519 standard terminal, lock screw provided
Flash compensation• -3 to +1 EV
• 1/3, 1/2, or 1 EV step
Creative Lighting SystemSpeedlights such as SB-800, SB-600, SB-400, and SB-R200 support Advanced Wireless Lighting, Auto FP High-Speed Sync, Flash Color Information Communication, modeling flash, and FV lock
Orientation sensorTags images with camera orientation
Playback mode• Full frame
• Thumbnail (4 or 9 images)
• One-touch zoom
• Slideshow
• RGB histogram
• Shooting data
• Highlight point
• Auto image rotation
Languages• Chinese (Simplified and Traditional)
• Dutch
• English
• Finnish
• French
• German
• Italian
• Japanese
• Korean
• Polish
• Portuguese
• Russian
• Spanish
• Swedish
Custom functions48 custom functions
Connectivity• USB 2.0 (Hi-Speed) Mini-B connector
• HDMI video out (version 1.3a, Type A connector)
• Remote control 10-pin terminal
• PC Sync flash terminal
10-pin terminal• GPS: NMEA 0183 (Ver. 2.01 and 3.01) interface standard supported with 9-pin D-sub cable and GPS Cable MC-35 (optional)
• Remote control: via 10-pin terminal
CommunicationsFTP and PTP/IP file transfer with optional Wireless Transmitter WT-3 (IEEE 802.11 b/g)
Storage• Dual Compact Flash Type I or II
• UDMA, Microdrive, and FAT32 supported
• 36 characters of text can be input and stored in the EXIF header
Power• Lithium-Ion EN-EL4a/EL4
• Included dual battery charger MH-22
• Optional AC adapter EH-6
Battery monitoringThe LCD monitor on the camera back displays the following information
about the EN-EL3e battery:
• Remaining charge (%)
• No. Of shots taken since the last charge
• Battery life (5 stages)
Dimensions160 x 157 x 88 mm (6.3 x 6.2 x 3.4 in)
Weight (no batt)1240 g (2.7 lb)
Operating environmentTemperature: 0 – 40 °C / 32 – 104 °F, Humidity: under 85% (no condensation)
Box contentsRechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL4a, Quick Charger MH-22, USB Cable UC-E4, Audio Video Cable EG-D2, Camera Strap AN-D3, Body Cap BF-1A, Accessory Shoe Cap BS-2, Eyepiece DK-17, Battery Chamber Cover BL-4, USB Cable Clip, Software Suite CD-ROM
Optional accessoriesWireless Transmitter WT-4, Magnifying Eyepiece DK-17M, AC Adapter EH-6, Capture NX Software, Camera Control Pro 2 Software, Image Authentication Software


When we first saw the D3, before it was officially announced, I’ll confess that there were some raised eyebrows, and the first question that sprang to mind was, “is this a successor for the D2Hs, the D2X, both or neither?”

The reality is that it’s not that easy, and Nikon’s long-awaited maiden excursion into the realm of the full-frame sensor is practically in a class all by itself. Nevertheless, this has been a long-awaited camera for Nikon.

To begin, there is no question that it was developed with speed in mind, and I mean that in the broadest possible sense.

The D3 always seems to be one step ahead of you, from the almost twitchy responsiveness (brush the shutter, and before you know it, you’ve taken half a dozen shots) to the excellent image pipeline that can pull vast amounts of data off the sensor and process, buffer, and write it to the card at up to 9 frames per second, to the quick, accurate focus. These features contribute to the feeling that the D3 is always one step ahead of you.

Add to this the class-leading high ISO performance (due to a boldly low-density sensor), and you have a camera that is uniquely capable of keeping up with the action even when light levels start to drop precipitously.

Because of this, the D3 is an excellent advance to the D2H whether used in the DX crop mode or the full frame mode (for cropping afterward) (or D2Hs if you prefer). You receive a little more excellent resolution (5.1MP vs. 4.0MP), much improved high ISO performance, significantly quicker continuous drive, enhanced buffering, and all the other enhancements you would anticipate after waiting for two years.

But of course, you also get a lot more than that; this full-frame camera gives D2X quality and has a larger, far better sensor than other cameras in its class. As a result, a single camera may replace the D2H for high-speed telephoto work and the D2X for high-resolution work at closer quarters, which also has the additional advantage of allowing all of your wide lenses to function once again as wide-angle lenses.

Because of this, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn that the D3 has been embraced by the Nikon professional photography community in the roughly six months since its release. Additionally, it has caused a lot of Canon shooters to do some serious soul-searching and consider the unthinkable: moving (back in many cases) to Nikon.

Nikon D3 Price

Nikon D3 FAQs

Is Nikon D3 still worth buying?

Even though the Nikon D3 is an outdated model, it might still be worthwhile to purchase one if it is in decent condition and you can get it for a price that is within your budget. In addition, it has a sturdy construction and superior ergonomics, generating above-average image clarity.

Is the D3 still a good camera?

Yes, the Nikon D3 is still a decent camera, particularly for those individuals who place a premium on its dependable performance, full-frame sensor, and rugged construction. However, more recent versions have advanced features and technological advancements that may be more suited to the needs of particular photographers.

How old is the Nikon D3?

Since the announcement of the Nikon D3 took place in August of 2007, the camera is now over 15 years old.

What is the Nikon D3 used for?

The Nikon D3 is a flexible, professional camera that can be used for various photography, including portraiture, event, sports, and wildlife photography. Because of its high-performance autofocus system and full-frame sensor, this camera is appropriate for multiple shooting situations.

Does Nikon D3 have WIFI?

There is no Wi-Fi connectivity integrated into the Nikon D3. However, to add Wi-Fi functionality to the camera, you must use an additional wireless transceiver, such as the Nikon WT-4.

Is Nikon D3S a full-frame camera?

There is a full-frame sensor inside the Nikon D3S camera. In addition, it includes a 12.1-megapixel FX-format CMOS camera.

Is Nikon D3 weather sealed?

The Nikon D3 does have a weather-sealing mechanism. However, because of its sturdy construction and weatherproofing, it is appropriate for use in challenging environments, such as when it is raining or when there is grit.

Does Nikon D3 have a live view?

Live-view functionality is not included with the Nikon D3 camera. However, the Nikon D3S, the replacement for the D3, was upgraded with this function after it was released.

Is Nikon D3 a DSLR?

The Nikon D3 is a type of camera known as a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex). A mirror component is utilized to direct light from the lens to the viewfinder and the camera’s picture sensor.

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