H2H review : D3X vs 1ds mk III -weird conclusion

Started Aug 21, 2009 | Discussions thread
Shop cameras & lenses ▾
ForumParentFirstPreviousNextNext unread
Flat view
Veteran MemberPosts: 3,434
H2H review : D3X vs 1ds mk III -weird conclusion
Aug 21, 2009


In a comparison review, the expected conclusion identifies the better camera. But not in this case. The most compelling aspects of both the Canon 1Ds Mark III and the Nikon D3X are their drawbacks. 1.8 frames-per-second burst rate! Dynamic range no better than their $1,300 stablemates! Live View that overheats and screws image quality before shutting down the camera to avoid trashing the sensor! And remember, in the D3X's Live View, it can seem as though the camera has taken a shot when it hasn't.

These failures pale in comparison to the major disappointment: neither camera brings anything new beyond pixel count to the market. Though they are explicitly targeted to commercial shooting – where medium- and large-format film used to reign – they're no more adapted for that style of shooting than their lower-resolution counterparts. To recap points from sections of the review: commercial shooters would be better served by cameras that had more robust, useable live view systems; autofocus that helped optimize depth of field; better in-camera features to evaluate exposure and image quality; and finally, industry-leading color, noise and dynamic range – not just resolution.

The Canon 1D Mark III and Nikon D3 are great cameras for photojournalism and similar styles of photography. They really are much better than their competition. Unfortunately, the 1Ds and the D3X are nothing more than those cameras with their pixel counts doubled. The 1D Mark III isn't full-frame, but other than that, the differences are essentially the ways in which the higher-res cameras are less convenient or functional.


With all that out of the way, here's our comparison: the Canon 1Ds Mark III beat the Nikon D3X in most measures of image quality – detail, color accuracy, noise and dynamic range. Usually not by much, but with convincing consistency. The Nikon, however, has much better autofocus and mechanics. The D3x’s ability to focus via the Live View data stream is a significant distinction, depending on how problematic heat buildup is. The comparison of Nikon and Canon user interfaces is subjective in the end. We like Nikon's variations in controls.

Our recommendation is simple. If you already have a Canon, buy the Canon 1Ds Mark III. If you have a Nikon, buy the Nikon D3X. Neither should be your first DSLR, and neither should be expected to provide an upgrade in image quality over their lines’ respective counterparts. The vertical grip, robust frame, and superior mechanics offer clear advantages, but hardly enough to justify the leap in price for very many shooters. Having said that, those comfortable investing $7,999 in a single DSLR body aren’t likely to be disappointed in either one.

ForumParentFirstPreviousNextNext unread
Flat view
Post (hide subjects)Posted by
ForumParentFirstPreviousNextNext unread
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark post MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow