Thom Hogan D3X review

Started Jan 12, 2009 | Discussions
Thom Hogan Forum Pro • Posts: 13,659
Re: Emphasis On Price Seems Appropriate

Mel wrote:

Did you evaluate the live view 27X magnification new ability not on
the D3? If so, is it worth a mention or just there? I noticed that it
was not listed among the camera differences.

I've never seen any reason to go beyond the pixel level view.

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Thom Hogan
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Mel Veteran Member • Posts: 3,716
Re: Emphasis On Price Seems Appropriate
Stefan R Schubert Regular Member • Posts: 112
Re: Thom Hogan D3X review

Thom Hogan wrote:

Stefan R Schubert wrote:

In order to make this a fair review you need to say that you also can
stich with the D3X if needed which will boost MP and enhance picture
quality further. Otherwise its apples and oranges.

I'd agree I need to put the context of that thought more clearly. The
point I was trying to make is that if all you're interested in is
24mp and you have a D3/D700, stitching is a less expensive way to get
to the same place. There's another article on my site I posted last
year that went into more detail on that.

Thats right but a small car which will be tuned up to be faster or to be able to compete with the generally faster one its a compromise.

My own experience with the D3X shows that even at 6400 ISO I have
quite less noise and very less if none color loss compared with ISO
100 or 200. In using Noiseware Professional with just a mild default
setting I am getting remarkable results which I have not expected
from such a HighRes sensor at 6400 ISO.

The problem I have with such statements is that we don't know what
you find "acceptable" or "remarkable" or even "less." Even the lowest
level of NR software is going to reduce actual resolution. What some
people are reacting to is that they think they aren't seeing a 1.4x
reduction resolution. But the important word in that sentence is
"think." By MEASURED resolution, the D3x is already down by over 25%
at ISO 3200, and that's before applying noise reduction. This is not
to say that you can't get nice looking files out the high ISO values:
you can. But I'll stick with what I wrote:

certainly at ISO 3200 and

above I'd prefer the results I get out of my D3. At ISO 800 and
below, I prefer the results I get out of my D3x. I don't think that
it's any surprise that all the crossovers I measured in some quality
occur in the ISO 800 to 3200 range.

You need to measure the loss of resolution or the so called texture loss with the other competing cams like the 5DMK2, the A900 or the 1DSMK3 as well. Even if the Nikon marketing will highlight that the D3X is as good as MF the first step should be to compare it with the current line of competitors. The next step could be to compare it with the other platform.

The crop mode with 5/4 or DX is a advantage of the D3X which will
increase the FPS up to a comfortable level needed for action shoots
required.

I'm not aware of a frame rate change at 5:4. Only at DX.

No I have just checked it. You can set it up for 5/4 which is 30 by 24

If a 5DMK2 has a line resolution of 1670 LP only at 100 ISO, a
1DSMKIII is at 1752 and a A900 is measured with 2063 LP but that cam
is much nosier compared with a D3X the D3X must be a clear winner out
of the pack regarding resolution, texture loss and noise.

I'm not so sure about those Canon numbers of yours, but yes, even on
my aged charts the D3x measured higher than the others. But my
problem is that I can only do direct comparisons (same lens) with the
Canon.

Those numbers came from a test which was done in a German magazine recently. My expectations are that the Nikon will probably be better even by offering higher than 2063 LP with a lens like the 35 1.4 or the PC-lenses or any other which is known to be good

If thats the proven case the price which Nikon would like to have is
high but fair at least for those which will make a advantage out of
it.

Really? You're making the assertion that, say, 2200 lppm is worth
US$4000 over 2000 lppm?

D3 is 1220 LP, D700 is 1233. Which means we talk about 1220 compared with at least but probably more than 2063 LP plus much less noise compared with A900 for example.

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Stefan Schubert

Mel Veteran Member • Posts: 3,716
What would really be nice,

Is a sample comparison, both accomplished with "only" NX2, from the D3 and D3X at one or more of these high iso levels. To me, this would be closer to real world for the majority of shooters.

I have no doubt that the D3 beats the D3X in stringent testing under specific parameters. But if you or someone could provide us with a basic portrait (people cat, dog,) or even landscape in this manner, it certainly would be helpful.

I guess that I am curious to see what the majority here will see as far as any real difference for a standard run of the mill shot such as these.

Thanks in advance,
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Peter Gregg Veteran Member • Posts: 4,752
Re: My thoughts about the review and the price of the D3X

Thom Hogan wrote:

Hmm. For someone who is so into "facts," you seem to ignore some. The
1DsIII is a pro body, has two card slots, a pro focusing system, has
customized menus, and so on.

Feels good to come in from a long day of shooting and just "spout off"

I shot with the 1Ds MK3 today, it has a lousy LCD for the price, uses an older Digic 3, and my 5D2 has a little better sensor. My point, I wouldn't really want to be forced into buying older technology today with such newer stuff out there already. The D3X and the 5D2 make a good case that the next Canon might be a strong step forward - I hope.

Over the past 8 years, I find Canon's CMOS focus sensor consistently less accurate than Nikon's CCD focus sensor, so I am hoping with the focus trouble Canon just went thru, for a break from he old and maybe something new in the Canon bodies for focusing.

The D3/D3X CAM3500 main focus problem is the 15 points all in 3 center columns. Three columns of 5 do not do so well as I rarely place faces in that zone. Canon's AF point layout is better, Nikon's is more accurate.

I hope Nikon makes all the sales they want to make with the D3X and get on with the D700X sooner rather than later - as you said, even at $3999 it would be a steal. I'd like to see the CAM3500 get an refresh with them spacing the center 15 offset by one column in each direction, or adding a few more at targeted places.

Peter

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FearZeus Regular Member • Posts: 461
Amp noise & 40 pixel offeset viewfinder

Hi Thom,

I sold all my canon equipment a few months ago to upgrade my gear. I wanted to switch from zooms to primes and was going to purchase either of the following 3 cameras (well 4 if you include my tinkering with an ebony 45SU.)

1) Canon 5D MKII
2) Canon 1Ds MKIII
3) Nikon D3x

Having thought about it for what seems like an age without any camera equipment, I decided to go for the Nikon D3x and 24mm PCE lense as I shoot mainly landscapes which I will be selling on my website (up and running in next week.) Now to my main concerns...

1) How many of these cameras are affected with the offset viewfinder (rediculous for a camera of this price)

2) The amp noise looks very bad on the image you posted, did you exaggerate it much for the image posted and at how long an exposure will it take before this will show in my landscape (twilight, sunset) shots? It's not uncommon for me to take 3-5 minute exposures at around iso 200-400 and even sometimes iso 100 exposures can be as long as 3 minutes.

Those issues are important to me before purchasing this camera, so I'd be happy to hear your opinion/advice on this before making the plunge which will be sometime in the next couple of days.

Regards

John

Octane Senior Member • Posts: 2,993
the price is right

Thom Hogan wrote:

Hmm. For someone who is so into "facts," you seem to ignore some. The
1DsIII is a pro body, has two card slots, a pro focusing system, has
customized menus, and so on.

You miss the point Tom. The D3x is a Nikon, not a Canon or a Sony or whatever camera.

The D3 has managed to get a huge amount of pros back to Nikon. Now Nikon offers them a top resolution camera that seamlessly fits into their system. THAT is what makes it worth it's price. If you are a pro and have worked with the D3 you pick up a D3x and start shooting this very minute. The fact that it integrates into your system and you can use all lenses and accessories that you know and trust is worth the price. Who cares that there is a cheaper Sony. It's a completely different camera, requiring different lenses.

If you were shooting Nikon and needed the extra resolution you had to get a different brand camera plus lenses and had the inconvenience to shoot with a system you didn't know. Now Nikon offers a camera that is identical to the D3. This is the market for the D3x. I'm not even a full time photographer shooting with a D3. There is no way I would even consider the Sony A900 or 5D II (or whatever) as an alternative to the D3x should I need the extra resolution. It just doesn't make sense financially and even less from the actual use on location.

I really don't understand how you can go on and on about the prices of parts and theorize about it when we all know that the price tag is very much set based on what people are willing to pay based on the time and situation.

The D3x is clearly for a professional who's other alternatives are more expensive in the end and less convenient. So really the D3x price is right where is is realistic.

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lovEU Veteran Member • Posts: 3,135
Video = missing element?

Intersting review (as usual). But the one thing I read with a little bit disbelief is Thom's statement about video: "Missing elements. No sensor cleaning and no video, for example"

Is this really true for a D3x customer, is he missing video?
--
regards, eric

Bernard Languillier Veteran Member • Posts: 4,672
Thanks for the review

That's pretty much in agreement with what I have seen so far but I will personnally stick to max ISO800.

A few ideas for future upgrades to the review:

  • a comparison of raw converters, I feel that they make more of a difference than they did with previous DSLRs I have worked with,

  • some comments on the importance of accurate focusing (sorry if there are some that I missed). I have found that it is almost impossible to critically focus a MF lens without using live view,

  • A careful analysis of highlight clipping, probably to be within your DR chapter, but I am sure you were already planning to do this. I see less highlight recovery capability with most raw converters than I did with the D3. Exposure is therefore a lot more tricky, it has to be perfect while the D3 was more tolerant.

Cheers,
Bernard

rhlpetrus Forum Pro • Posts: 25,860
AA filter and IQ of D3x Re: Emphasis On Price Seems Appropriate

Thom Hogan wrote:

rhlpetrus wrote:

What would be the price you'd have kept your order? 5,500, 6,000, ... ?

At US$4999, most would have found it to be an excellent value, I
think. At US$7999 most seem to find it to be a poor value. Thus, the
"right point" is somewhere in between those two, I suspect.
Personally, I would have found US$6499 to be okay. But even at that
price I would have still written that Nikon needs to do something
different in terms of customer relations at the top of the lineup.

That was the price I guessed (6,500), got it wrong like most.

Re the review, I think Thom spent too much on the price issue. It's
beaten to death now.

The problem is that you may see the price issue in the narrow
confines of a forum like this one. I can't make the assumption that
someone who is coming into my review has seen the ad nauseum
discussions, and six months from now those discussions may be
invisible (maybe ; ).

True, but I still think it would be better confined to a value section. Just my 2 cents of course, it does'nt invalidate the good job you did (and I hope keep doing when you get it back re comparisons).

I've only been able to compare against a 30mp back without AA filter,
and then only briefly in a casual shoot. There's something still to
be said for more pixels without AA ; ).

No doubt no AA will show more detail than some AA, even though there surely is a level of AA that is optimal in the sense that it prevents aliasing in most situations while a little careful sharpening would make it about same as image w/o AA.

BTW, I recall you writing that Nikon wasn't really caring about optimal IQ , but more concerned with photogs' needs (body features). Now I think one has to recognize Nikon seems to have invested in IQ. Hope the new AA technology (CFA and microlenses as well) will be brought to lower level bodies, including APS-C to be launched.

Have you heard of the D400 rumor (14.3MP, 1080p video, 7fps)? Isn't the entry-level body with 12MP and video overdue? Could it be that the D60/D40 price reduction at end of year was some sort of clearance?

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Mel Veteran Member • Posts: 3,716
Re: My thoughts about the review and the price of the D3X

"The 1DsIII is a pro body, has two card slots,"

True, but let's also point out that they are not "like" card slots as with Nikon. I believe that two card slots of the "same type" card would have made much more sense for whoever adds this feature.
So, simply having two card slots does not equal the D3 or D3X.

IMO of course but that small fact should be noted sicne we are getting facts straight.
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rhlpetrus Forum Pro • Posts: 25,860
1DsIII x 5DII x P25 Re: The MF comparison

This test posted at Luminous Landscape shows very little difference between the Canons and the P25 back. I'd say maybe detail was better with 1DsIII. If, as IR shots show, the D3x is better than 1DsIII and 5DII, it's certainly close to P25.

http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=29821

Of course if you move into 31MP territory the resolution will start to play a role, even if you downres the MF image.
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Renato.
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Gary J Jensen Senior Member • Posts: 2,204
Re: Video...

lovEU wrote:

[snip]
Is this really true for a D3x customer, is he missing video?

Not for me. When I want video, I use a video camera. I don't want video in my still cameras.

Hans Giersberg Veteran Member • Posts: 3,938
The Price Is Wrong

The market has spoken. D3X sales are dead. You can defend Nikon's pricing all day long, but it won't change the fact that most are sitting this one out. My local camera store has one on the shelf with no takers. Robert's Imaging told me a lot of the people on their wait list cancelled their order (he also hinted at that time - 14 days after they got their first shipment of D3Xs - they still hadn't sold them all. That was a week ago - apparently they've finally sold out their first shipment - but that's pathetic. For a long awaited new camera, they should have been flying off the shelf.).

It's a great camera, but it could have been a market changer with more competitive pricing.

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dstefan Contributing Member • Posts: 934
Re: ADCs Are Built Into The Sony Sensor

headofdestiny wrote:

Thanks for clearing that up!

David in Phoenix

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Steve Bingham
Steve Bingham Forum Pro • Posts: 26,328
Nice report. Thanks, however . . .

Nice report. Thanks, however . . .you really DO need to get a better rez chart. :^) (I made one that is ISO 12233 2' x 3' and i don't even do reviews seriously - or even semi seriously. Pretty easy to do.)

That said, I pretty much agree with all that you have said. I tested my pro friends D3x against my D700 and came to the same conclusions. A lot of pixels for a lot of bucks - too many bucks.

Diffraction limiting due to airy circles and pixel size seems to set diffraction limiting at f8. I certainly wouldn't go above f11 . . as you stated. This would seem to limit the camera somewhat for landscapes. Perhaps with your 24mm PC it simply won't make a difference. Meanwhile I await the D700x around $3,600 - or less. I can only hope.

Thanks again for affirming what many of us suspected. A GREAT camera, but . . .
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glacierpete Senior Member • Posts: 1,917
Re: Emphasis On Price Seems Appropriate

Isn't the focus more on value?
I think it is an excellent and honest review.

The price issue is not the main thing on a review like that, IMO, as Thom has made it.

Fostereast Contributing Member • Posts: 974
Re: Emphasis On Price Seems Appropriate

Thom Hogan wrote:

rhlpetrus wrote:

What would be the price you'd have kept your order? 5,500, 6,000, ... ?

At US$4999, most would have found it to be an excellent value, I
think. At US$7999 most seem to find it to be a poor value. Thus, the
"right point" is somewhere in between those two, I suspect.
Personally, I would have found US$6499 to be okay. But even at that
price I would have still written that Nikon needs to do something
different in terms of customer relations at the top of the lineup.

IMO at 4,999 many people that would have bought it would think it was a pile of rubbish, 1.5 frames per second, tripod only, lenses do not work right, lousy ISO... at this price the only people that buy it will be the ones that need it, and the feedback will be ideally what Nikon needs to blow out sales on the D700x or whatever comes next. I believe this jump of technology demands a sacrifice of some type or the masses would not be ready for it.

nicram Regular Member • Posts: 305
Re: Thom Hogan D3X review

Thom Hogan wrote:

My mind goes round in circles on this issue, I am
not 100% sure who this camera is for, given the really high price.

I think Nikon had a hard time with that, too. They didn't put much
marketing muscle into the launch. It'll be interesting to see what
they do in the coming months with advertising. It really is tough to
wrap one's head around the D3x, as you suggest.

Much muscle? They didn't put any, Ashton Kutchner took it all. Thom, is it possible that Nikon put the D3X out there just to stem the tide of hungry high MP cry babies and all along they have actually been concentrating on something else... something bigger?

What I've shot so far
I'd have to say is giving me very nice files that will take my work a
bit further than before (caveat: remember most of the work I care
about is base ISO wide angle work). But it doesn't take it into the
MF realm.

Sorry, but put that way it doesn't sound like an 8k camera to me.

I should point out that MF is a mess for me, which is why I've
avoided it so far. Most MF is to 645 or 6x7 as DX was to 35mm: a
crop. But there doesn't seem to be a lot of rhyme nor reason to the
crop choices, nor are the lenses available really making up for the
crops for my type of work.

You sure it has nothing to do with the 30k price tag plus lenses and body and bigger faster computers with more ram and much more storage?

Bob Quinn Senior Member • Posts: 2,204
Re: Thom Hogan D3X review

Good review. I agree wholeheartedly with Thom's sentiments on the pricing. If the D3x were priced at what the D700 sells for (unrealistic, I know), I still would have bought the D700. There is less than a snowball's chance in hell that I will buy a D3x for $8000.

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