The American Photo Editor’s Choice 2009 For Pro DSLRs Cameras


Nikon D3X

Among new digital SLRs, the 24.4-megapixel Nikon D3X is simply in a class by itself—and it costs at least $5,000 more than the full-frame cameras in our new semi-pro D-SLR category. So what do you get for its breathtaking premium? At the moment, the best D-SLR money can buy.

Essentially a higher-megapixel twin of the fast D3, the D3X offers nearly infinite configurability, not to mention the best autofocus and overall responsiveness of any full-frame D-SLR. Its built-in vertical grip makes it larger and heavier than other full-frame models this year, but that weight is offset by superb ergonomics. The D3X’s traditional control logic, distilled from three generations of Nikon pro D-SLRs, easily bests any competitors’. Dozens of gaskets seal it against the dust and moisture that threaten sophisticated electronics out in the real world of photography.

At 100 percent magnification in Lightroom, the Nikon’s RAW files appeared only slightly sharper than those we shot with the 21.1-megapixel Canon EOS 5D Mark II, despite its three-megapixel advantage. (See D-SLR Shootout, May/June.) But the D3X’s superb JPEGs were nearly identical in fine detail to its RAW files, while the Canon’s were slightly soft. And while comparisons also showed no significant differences in noise up to ISO 400 among our full-frame sensor D-SLRs, the Nikon exhibited superior shadow detail that could be further brightened with much cleaner results than the others.At higher ISOs, the D3X is no match for the Nikon D3, which owes its low-light performance in part to fewer and therefore bigger pixels. The EOS 5D Mark II also bests the D3X in that respect. But we found D3X’s tighter, film-like “grain” more pleasing than the blotchier noise and linear banding sometimes visible in the EOS 5D Mark II’s deep shadow areas.

Current full-frame D-SLRs are less than ideal for action photography, trading off speed for a massive file size. That said, the Nikon D3X can move its RAW files more quickly than any of its full-frame competitors—about 23 RAW frames at 12 bits-per-color. To keep pace, the D3X has lightning- fast, supersmart AF, with 51 points and 3D focus tracking that uses subject color information.

Quick Stats:

  • 1.0X FOV CROP (full frame)
  • 3.0-INCH LCD SCREEN (920K dots)
  • 5FPS (7FPS in DX mode)
  • TOP ISO: 6,400
  • VIDEO: No
  • ABOUT $8,000

Nikon D3X Image Quality is Best in Class, According to Latest DxOMark Sensor Rankings


Nikon D3X INFO

  • FX-format, 24.5-megapixel (6048 x 4032) CMOS sensor
  • Five FPS at full resolution
  • 12 and 14-bit capability
  • Dual card slots (CompactFlash)
  • 5:4 Crop Mode for 8 x 10 shooting
  • 7 FPS using DX-format lenses at 10.5 megapixels
  • ISO 100-1,600, expandable to 50 and 6,400
  • .12 seconds start-up time
  • 3D Color Matrix Metering II
  • Multi-CAM 3500FX focus module, with 51 AF points
  • Up to nine available customizable presets
  • Tested to exceed 300,000 cycles for maximum durability and longevity
  • Viewfinder offers 100 percent coverage with 0.7x magnification
  • Up to 4400* shots per single charge of the camera’s Lithium ion battery
  • Shoots tethered or using the WT-4a wireless transmitter to eschew writing to cards
  • Available right now for $7,995
  • Nikon D3X with a 24.5MP DSLR Image Sensor

    The new Nikon D3X with a 24.5MP DSLR image sensors claims that it has the best image quality on the market — by a considerable margin.

    According to DxO Labs which launched its DxOMark testing service last year, the D3X “takes the lead on the DxOMark Sensor scale with a 6-point gain above all other camera bodies currently evaluated on the website.” The D3X scored an 88 out of 100 for its image quality which is first out of 54 cameras tested on the site.

    DxOMark is run by DxO Labs, a software company which produces RAW image conversion, processing, and correction software. DxOMark was created as a free online resource designed to objectively test sensor performance based on RAW image evaluation of leading digital SLRs.

    According to DxOMark’s testing, thhe Nikon D3x is “the first camera which actually achieves more than 12-bit depth of effective image information and thus is able to take full advantage of its 14-bit Analog/Digital (A/D) converter.”

    Interestingly, the top three cameras in DxOMark’s Image Quality Database are all made by Nikon. In second place, for image quality, is the Nikon D3, which scored an 80.6 out of 100. In third place is the Nikon D700, which scored an 80.5. The top ranked camera from Canon is the 1Ds Mark III which is in fourth place in the Image Quality Database with a score of 80.3.

    Best Form and Function
    Engineered for real-world functionality, the D3X retains a rugged shell with moisture, dust and shock resistance that has become a hallmark of flagship Nikon D-SLRs, while preserving the usability and ergonomics that allow the camera to remain an extension of the photographer’s vision. Attention to detail goes so far as to include a self-diagnostic shutter system that is tested to exceed 300,000 cycles for maximum durability and longevity. The camera’s body also maintains the resilient magnesium alloy construction and form factor of the D3, promoting consistent Nikon system synergy.

    A bright and accurate viewfinder offers 100 percent coverage with 0.7x magnification. The body also houses Nikon’s acclaimed 3.0-inch super density LCD screen, now relied upon by so many photographers. The high-resolution 920,000-dot screen is viewable at wide angles up to 170 degrees, and will allow photographers to quickly zoom in to confirm critical focus. Users can also output the video signal to an external display via HDMI to allow client viewing. Thanks to incredibly efficient internal circuitry, the D3X can capture up to 4400* shots per single charge of the camera’s Lithium ion battery.


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