My opinion of Mark III vs D3

Started Mar 19, 2008 | Discussions thread
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joseph papa
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My opinion of Mark III vs D3
Mar 19, 2008

For those interested in knowing my experience with the two contenders...

I couldn't resist the idea of a camera that does what it claims and performs as it should so I took the oportunity to by a D3. I figured if it was a bunch of hype, or really not all that much different I would return it within B&H's return policy. I can tell you surely that it is not going back. Initially, when I opened the box, I felt pretty overwhelmed. The Mark III being my 5th Canon SLR is a "cleaner" layout. There are less buttons and I had no clue what anything did or where to start with the D3. The manual is like 400 pages so not exactly a quick start guide. The purpose of this comparison has nothing to do with side by side photos as there are plenty of others who have beaten this to death an proved the two are with in 1/2 to 1 stop of each other noise wise in favor of the Nikon. Anyway, I clicked off a few photos with the D3 and my first impression was clear. This LCD in the D3 is stunning. If you zoom in as far as you can, you don't see fuzz or wonder if its sharp. Its like a computer monitor. You go far enough and you see pixels almost. There is NO QUESTION if your photo is sharp. In fact, with the canon, I would always rely on the histogram for exposure and wait till I got to a computer to judge critical focus. Those days are over. Simply amazing advancement and one that will clearly set the stage for which others will have to live up to. This makes the LCD on the Mark II and 1Ds Mark II look plain useless. Second thing I noticed was the focus itself. It works. Not only does it "feel" solid and locked on target, but it is 100% of the pics I took. But it goes beyond this. If you take the Mark III and select the center point only and focus on something small, say something in your viewfinder that the AF red square just covers, the Mark III acts like the AF sensor is bigger than the red indicator, and will often focus on something completely different that may be just touching the very top of the red indicator. I don't know if this makes sense. The D3 doesn't do this at all. I feel like I could focus on a needle hanging by a thread with the D3. My mark III wouldn't even see the needle, forget focus on it. ISO 6400 is pretty amazing but I still feel that the noise reduction in both cameras sacrifices some detail compared to the lower ISO settings. In favor of the Mark III goes the ergonomics. I like the clean layout, much prefer the simple menu (D3 has like 3x as many menus and things to play with to the point I will need to write down notes) I prefer the electronic method of changing from one shot to servo of the Canon vs Nikon switch (stupid complaint) same issue for metering and some AF mode settings. I just have to get used to the Nikon really.

So whats the bottom line? You want my honest opinion? The Nikon D3 is a tool that does exactly what you want it to. I can not believe how refined its operation is and how much I have been trying to make myself believe that the Mark III's AF performance was great. I feel like the speed of the two AF capabilities are similar, but the D3 gets it right every time. If you rely on your camera for a living and have been wrestling with the idea of selling it all, I can tell you that you won't be sorry. When I am shooting a wedding, I can't worry about my equipment not performing. I want a tool that will do its job and do it right.

If you hate upgrading and try to get years and years out of your equipment, this review may bother you. Sorry if it does. I just speak my experience. The D3 is the finest photographic tool I have ever used. I highly recommend trying one and seeing for yourself.

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