forthcoming D3X pro review

Started Feb 5, 2009 | Discussions thread
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dchphoto Regular Member • Posts: 381
forthcoming D3X pro review

This forum has been a great help to me over the years. As a "thank you" to Dpreview, I am going to post my review of the D3x I have had for two weeks from the perspective of a portrait/wedding photographer. I have discovered some surprising findings not mentioned in other reviews. I will post my findings first and then follow up with posting the relevant files. Can anyone recommend the best free hosting site that I could post NEF and 100% crops and such?

First, about me. I am a full time wedding/portrait photographer who was happy using an S5 until clients started wanting huge images. My site is at http://www.harrislightcraft.com . The s5 cannot keep up past 24x30 with perfect technique at base iso. I bought a d700 in October but was skeptical I would see any real improvement since people on the s5 forum were warm to the d700 and a couple even went back to the s5. When I got the d700, I loaded up "portrait" mode and shot some tests. The difference in the quality of the files is simply shocking. Retouching at 100% at any ISO over 200 on the S5 is no fun and quite a challenge. With the d700 it is simple even at 200%. I do not see any practical difference in DR between the two cameras.

Things were just fine in d700 land when Nikon introduced the D3x. I was again a bit skeptical, especially of the price. Yet, the D3 body is something that I can really take advantage of with the dual card slots. Instant back-up is a gigantic sales tool when booking brides. Since I already had the d700, I did not want to get a D3. Clients on the portrait end began ordering 30x40-40x60 inch prints and extra resolution was welcome. I decided to try the D3x to see if it was really worth the bloated price. I upgraded my lens line first and then got a call from Roberts Imaging that they had one for me two weeks ago for $7499. I was going to wait until April but we have had no "slow" season this year so I laid out the cash and got it.

I did some casual images of my daughter with the D3x and the D700 and the differences were so great, I thought I had made a mistake. I am now in the middle of some very careful testing and will make the results, data, and conclusions available here. I had been frustrated that there were very few proper studio samples with good lighting with the camera before I bought it. I have taken care of that. It will take awhile to finish the testing but I think it will be a worthwhile review from the portrait/wedding perspective. The reviews so far have been from landscape guys primarily- which is fine but portrait/wedding photographers have different priorities and test for different things.

NOTE: The only thing that makes me scratch my head is that a $7500 camera does not come with full version NX2. What is Nikon thinking? I sent them an email wondering why this was so. I also called NPS to ask the same question. Here are the replies.

1. Most photogs prefer different software

2. If Nikon included it for free they would have to raise the price of the camera (!)
3. It is a genuine Nikon product and Nikon must charge for their products.

When I pointed out that they had given NX2 away to some purchasers of the D700 without raising prices, I did not get a reply.

When I pointed out that it was like spending $2000 per night at an exotic resort and them charging you $20 for the fruit tray the next morning, I did not get a reply either.

Really silly. I suppose most D3x buyers already have NX2 but it does seem petty not to include it.

On the good side of things, I sent in my 24-70 lens in for adjustment, they said they found "non warantee" damage but then turned around and sent me a brand new lens!

So, I will post my conclusions first, and then the link to the relevant test images once I find a hosting site and upload. Bottom line, the D3x is the camera I have been waiting for and is worth it to me now to have and use. In my area, photographers are notoriously cheap on gear. Most pro studios in Tulsa that charge a lot of cash for portraits still use s3 and s5's. They are not even interested in upgrading to the d700. Fine by me. I know of no other studio in town that even uses Nikon. Most of the wedding guys use s5's or some older Canon gear.

The limitations of the D3x are within what I do anyway so are not really limiting.

More to come!

Don

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