D3x roundup

Started Nov 18, 2008 | Discussions thread
Thom Hogan Forum Pro • Posts: 13,660
Re: D3x roundup

Dan Wells wrote:

correct or add to this list .

To ward off all the emails I'd tend to get from a posted list like is, I'm going to respond here and develop a form letter email response ; ).

It'll be a D3x first (whether or not that's the name - it's a big pro
FF body with a vertical grip and a battery that lasts all week), not
a D700x or an MX body (although one or both of those may be coming in
the next year).

Yes. This is what I was told when I initially opined that Nikon might do a 5DII/A900 direct competitor, aka D800. I was very pointedly told "no, D3 type body."

It looks and handles a lot like a D3, and most/all of the usual D3
features are there.

I think that's pretty much a given now. The D2/D200-> D3/D300-> D700 chain has established a solid base set of things that don't change, and the D3/D300/D700 key technologies (focus, metering, etc.) are still way too new to be replaced. Still, we've gotten tweaks at every stage, so we can probably expect some more. The D90's calendar and RETOUCH features probably, the new use of the INFO button (D700/D90), are probably relatively certain. The question is whether there's another new tweak. Probably.

It's going to be announced sometime between this week and 10-December
(who knows if it's immediately available or might be as late as March
before it ships).

This has been the tough one to call. Three times now I've been given a specific date. The current one is 12/1 (or 1/12 for you Europeans). But for some reason the date doesn't seem locked, and it does seem strange that we're talking about a Monday, as that means Sunday in Japan.

It's 24 MP - the persistent rumor of "more than 24 mp" is
contradicted by almost everyone who has seen it.


There's something special/unusual about the imaging pipeline (weak/no
AA, 16 bit processing, both or something else) that should make it
the highest image quality DSLR out there (at modest ISO) by a fair
margin. Several people who have seen the D3x have hinted strongly at

Yep. Something special right there at the sensor.

It has at least a DX crop mode, maybe more crop modes than that.

I think the 5:4 crop would be a given. I sure like it. But you have to wonder if 1:1 is also there (no, not 36x36, but 24x24). Given the target market, "square" ought to be one of the crops.

It has a Nikon sensor, or at least a Nikon modification of the Alpha
900 sensor - see special/unusual imaging pipeline above.

Nikon's proclivity has been to use a derivative. It's been rare that they've actually used the "stock" Sony sensor outside the Coolpix line. In this case, the thing that I'll be looking at is the ADC. As Bobn pointed out a long time ago, the stock Sony sensor's built-in ADC isn't going to support fast 14-bit. I'm not even sure if it supports fast APS.

"Sensor shake" dust removal - added on D700, no reason to subtract on

I agree.

A price tag within $500 either way of $6499

This is the tricky one. To justify > US$4999 Nikon is going to have something special in terms of features or image quality, probably both. Personally, I can't think of anything that justifies a US$1500 over a D3 (actually, much more than that since the D3 is discounted these days). Adding all the things I can think of: sensor VR, 16-bit, removable AA, and electronic shutter for fast flash sync isn't enough.

It's called a D3x - Thom Hogan hints it may not be, while several
people who've seen it say it is.

The last time someone at Nikon who should know said anything to me about the name, it wasn't a "D3x." Thus, my prediction. Now, if the D3 gets updated (the bigger buffer, sensor cleaning, the new INFO button method, etc.), it would likely be called the D3s. So I could, I suppose, imagine a D3sx. It's hard to imagine a D3 and D3x, or a D3s and D3x, though. That sort of breaks Nikon's naming consistency.

Video (if it exists, it's somewhere between 720p and 1080p) - no
reason to bother if it's not HD, and no way it could be "beyond HD" -
the RED is much more expensive and much further out.

Lots of video pixels isn't the problem by itself. It's storage. Even with two card slots holding 16GB cards, it would be difficult to get much really high resolution video recorded. After all, you're talking about a minimum of 36MB a frame for raw.

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Thom Hogan
author, Complete Guides to Nikon bodies (19 and counting)

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