Previous page Next page

Compared to...

Most camera manufacturers make the bulk of their money (if they make any at all these days) from consumer grade products (on sheer volume) and therefore it's no surprise that there's currently a fairly a large number of entry-level DSLRs available to potential buyers. Inevitably, the further you move up the DSLR pyramid the fewer cameras you've got to choose from. The D3X is no doubt located at the very top of the tree where it has got only one real competitor in terms of spec, features and price - namely the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III.

Both the Nikon D3X and the EOS-1Ds Mark III offer 20+ megapixels, making the cameras the ideal tools for resolution-hungry applications such as high-end studio work or landscape photography (for sports and newspaper photography there are the Nikon D3 and Canon EOS-1D Mark III, which offer similar bodies and build quality but lower resolution and are optimized for speed).

However, while the EOS-1Ds Mark III is the only other camera currently on the market that combines a high resolution full-frame sensor with a professional grade body, it's also been around for close to two years, which almost makes it - at least in the digital age - an old product and it's therefore no surprise that it lags slightly behind the D3X in some areas. The EOS-1Ds Mark III offers slightly less sensor resolution, has got a narrower ISO range, a lower resolution screen and no HDMI output to name but a few. We'd be very surprised if the next generation 1Ds didn't make up for most (if not all) of these 'shortcomings', but for now the D3X sits at the top of the DSLR tree.

The recently launched EOS 5D Mark II already shows some of the new features that we can expect from the eventual successor to the EOS-1Ds Mark III. It offers the same 21Mp resolution but a higher ISO range (up to ISO 25600), higher res screen and of course HD video capture. However despite the fact that Canon's new 'prosumer' full-frame model is in some respects better specified than the current brand flagship it is, because of its body and level of customization, not really a direct competitor to the Nikon D3X.

For our studio comparisons we've therefore stuck with the high resolution pro bodies and have also included the Sony DSLR-A900. Again, in terms of spec and price it is not a direct competitor to the D3X, but it is Sony's flagship model and offers the same resolution as the Nikon (and a sensor that, whilst not the same, is certainly 'related'). For the purpose of our High ISO comparison we have also included the new Canon EOS 5D Mark II, which at lower sensitivities produces output that is virtually identical to the 1Ds Mark III's, but comes with improved noise reduction at higher ISOs.

Positives versus the competition

  • Auto DX crop mode with 7ps top speed (compatible with DX lenses)
  • Dual CF card slots
  • 12-bit and 14-bit RAW modes (plus compression options)
  • Both passive (mirror-down) and contrast-detect auto-focus in Live View
  • Full 1:1 magnified view in Live View
  • 51 point AF with wide range of selection / grouping options and intelligent tracking
  • Arguably the best metering of the bunch (1005 pixel RGB sensor)
  • Fully flexible Auto ISO function (max ISO and min shutter speed configurable)
  • In-camera RAW developing
  • Intervalometer
  • High definition HDMI video output
  • Built-in speaker for playback of audio notes

Negatives versus the competition

  • No sensor-based anti-shake (vs Sony A900)
  • Price
 



Nikon D3X



Canon EOS1-Ds Mark III



Sony A900

Price (body only) $8000 [check] $6550 [check] $2999 [check]
Dust removal • Dust-off image • Self-cleaning filter
• Anti-static coating
• Dust delete data
• Static-resistant anti-dust coating
• CCD-shift dust reduction mechanism
Environmental sealing • Splash proof
• Dust proof
• Sealed lenses available

• Environmentally sealed
• O-rings around controls
• Sealed lenses available

• Splash proof
• Dust proof
Sensor type CMOS CMOS CMOS
Sensor size 35.9 x 24 mm 36 x 24 mm 35.9 x 24 mm
Sensor area 861 mm² 864 mm² 861 mm²
Image Stabilization Lenses only Lenses only Sensor-Shift
Effective pixels 24.5 million 21.1 million 24.6 million
Aspect ratio 3:2 3:2 3:2
FOV crop 1x 1x 1x
Image size 6048 x 4032 5616 x 3744 6048 x 4032
Live View

• Yes
• Up to 1:1 pixel view
• Handheld mode: TTL phase-detection AF
• Tripod mode: Contrast-detect AF

• Yes
• Up to 10x magnify
• Manual focus
• Remote live view over USB or Wi-Fi/Ethernet
No Live View
Lens support • Nikon F mount
• Compatible with DX lenses; automatically switches to crop mode
• Canon EF
• Incompatible with EF-S lenses(crop)
• Sony Alpha lenses & Minolta A-type bayonet mount
• Compatible with DT lenses in APS-C mode
File formats • JPEG
• TIFF
• RAW (NEF 12-bit / NEF 14-bit)
• JPEG (10 compression options),
• RAW (CR2, 14-bit)
• JPEG
• RAW
• Compressed or uncompressed RAW option
Auto focus • 51 point
• 15 cross-type
• -1 to 19 EV
• 45 point
• 19 cross-type
• -1.0 to 18 EV
• 9-points
• Center dual cross types
• 0 to 18 EV
• 10 Assist AF points
AF illuminator External speedlite only External speedlite only • Yes (built-in LED lamp)
• Range approx 1m - 7m
Metering sensor 1005 pixel RGB 63 zone 40 zone
Metering range 0 to 20 EV 0 to 20 EV 0 to 20 EV
Metering modes • 3D Color Matrix
• CWA
• Spot
• Evaluative
• Partial
• Spot
• CWA
• Multi-segment
•CWA
• Spot
Exp. comp. +/- 5.0 EV +/- 3.0 EV +/- 3.0 EV
Exp. comp. EV steps 0.3, 0.5 or 1.0 EV 0.3 or 0.5 EV 0.3, 0.5 EV
Sensitivity range (boost setting) (50), 100 - 1600 (6400) (50), 100 - 1600, (3200) (100), 200 - 3200 (6400)
Shutter speed 30 - 1/8000 sec 30 - 1/8000 sec 30 - 1/8000 sec
Continuous rate (high) 5 fps (7 fps in DX crop mode) 5 fps 5 fps
Continuous buffer • 130 JPEG Norm
• 17 RAW
• 56 JPEG
• 12 RAW
• 100 JPEG
• 17 RAW
White balance • 7 presets + fine tune
• Color temp (K)
• Manual (7 mem.)
• WB Bracketing
• 6 presets + fine tune
• Color temp (K)
• Manual (5 mem)
• WB Bracketing
• 7 presets + fine tune
• Color temp (K)
• WB Bracketing
Image parameters • 4 presets
• Saturation +/- 3, A
• Contrast +/- 3, A
• Brightness +/- 1
• Hue +/- 3
• Sharpness 0-9, A
• Quick adjust +/- 2
• B&W filter
• B&W tone

• 6 presets
• 3 user presets
• Sharpness: 0 to 7
• Contrast:+/- 4
• Saturation:+/- 4
• Color tone: +/- 4
• B&W filter: N, Ye, Or, R, G
• B&W tone: N, S, B, P, G

• 13 presets
• Contrast:+/- 3
• Saturation: +/- 3
• Sharpness: +/- 3
• Zone Matching : -1 to +2
• Brightness +/- 3 steps
Noise reduction control 4 levels 1 additional level 4 levels
DR / Shadow adjust. Active D-Lighting (4 levels) Highlight Tone Priority D-Range Optimizer (4 levels)
Built-in flash None None None
External flash • Hot-shoe
• PC sync terminal
• Wireless flash
• Hot-shoe
• PC sync terminal
• Wireless flash
• Hot-shoe
• PC sync terminal
• Wireless flash
Flash sync speed • 1/250 sec • 1/250 sec
1/250 sec
Storage • CF (inc. UDMA) x2 slots
• Microdrives
• CF (inc. UDMA)
• SD / SDHC
• CF (inc. UDMA)
• Memory Stick DUO
Viewfinder • 100% coverage
• 0.7x magnification
• 100% coverage
• 0.76x magnification
• 100% coverage
• 0.74x magnification
LCD monitor • 3.0" TFT LCD
• 922,000 dots
• 3.0" TFT LCD
• 230,000 dots
• 3.0" TFT LCD
• 921,600 dots
Top panel LCD Yes (plus rear info panel below screen) Yes (plus rear info panel below screen) Yes
Vertical grip Built in Built in Yes, VG-C90AM
Mirror lock-up • Yes (drive mode)
• Exposure delay
Yes, custom function Exposure delay only
Video output HDMI (up to 1080i) Composite HDMI (up to 1080i)
Dimensions 160 x 157 x 88 mm
(6.3 x 6.2 x 3.4 in)
150 x 160 x 80 mm
(6.1 x 6.2 x 3.1 in)
147 x 114 x 74 mm
(5.8 x 4.5 x 2.9 in)
Weight (no batt) 1220 g (2.7 lb) 1205 g (2.7 lb) 850 g (1.8 lb)
Weight (inc batt) 1380g (3.1 lb) 1385 g (3.1 lb) 895 g (2.0 lb)
Previous page Next page
52
I own it
54
I want it
16
I had it
Discuss in the forums

Comments