Thom Hogan D3X review

Started Jan 12, 2009 | Discussions
John Ricard Senior Member • Posts: 1,453
Thom, it would be interesting for you to,

It would be interesting for you to do a piece on how one should test a camera after he/she buys it. In the case of the D3x, as the proud (-well maybe not anymore) owner of one, I'm curious as to how you discovered that the viewfinder/pixel correlation was off. But in a broader sense, it would be interesting to see a piece on basic things we should test when we first buy a camera.

MOD TOF guy Forum Pro • Posts: 15,234
Re: the price is right

Thom wrote:

It appears so far that
quite a few aren't willing to pay that much.

Could it be the consequence of past Nikon policies, i.e. introducing new models which are better than the past generation and way cheaper?

The D2X cost $5,000, then one can get a D300, a better camera for a 1/3 of the money.

Maybe even more to the point, the D3 costs $5,000, then one can get an equivalent D700 (actually I consider the D700 the better camera, but that's just me) for half that change.

Morale: people are waiting for the $3,500 D3X's little brother.

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Kraig Senior Member • Posts: 2,194
the gym

Thom Hogan wrote:

Unfortunately, they changed the lighting in the gym where I take
those, so they would no longer be comparable. Moreover, the lighting
is a full stop brighter.

All kidding aside this illustrates how hard it is to get real world worst-case scenario standards to test under. These reviews must be a lot of work and it shows in there consistency. The gym was fun while it lasted, I will miss it.

Best D3x review on the web.

Erik Magnuson Forum Pro • Posts: 12,247
Re: Thom Hogan D3X review

Thom Hogan wrote:

But that's part of my point. To actually test what's the limiting
factor on resolution, you need to use the same lens on both.

Well, unfortunately it also conflicts with another of your points: 'I find it interesting that each Nikon camera lately has had a slightly different "lens personality." This is coming from the different AA filter choices and changes in microlenses, I think. Many people forget that there are optical changes happening right at the sensor.'

If you assert that "the same lens on a D300, D3/D700, and D3x needs different commentary and perhaps even different ratings" then using such lens on a Canon may not isolate the limiting factors effectively.

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Octane Senior Member • Posts: 2,993
all camera sales are down

I'm glad we have someone with real insight on the D3x sales.

The fact that a $7000 camera will not sell like a D90 is obvious.

Very little people need 24 mp thus they don't see the need to spend the money. Finally we see proof for what people kept saying over and over. More megapixel do not make better photos and 12 is fine.

The current economy is the main deal breaker! Have you looked at the sales numbers of ANY company lately? Hello!

How many 1Ds do you think Canon sells these days? How many A900 do you think are being sold at the moment? How many top resolution medium format cameras do the dealers you mentioned have in their shelfs and sell them? It's not very convincing to select partial facts to proof your opinion.

The fact doesn't change, for a professional photographer working with and own Nikon (not professional review writers) the D3x is the best and most cost effective way to get a top resolution workhorse. All other alternatives are more expensive and less convenient.

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

Thom Hogan wrote:

You'll note that McNally didn't buy one. D3x bodies are in stock for
purchase today and have been since introduction. I think your
"willing to pay" bit is stretching it too far. It appears so far that
quite a few aren't willing to pay that much.

I don't believe in picking some individuals, who are somehow in the spotlight on the online world, as being representative for worldwide sales. Yes it's in stock, but that was pretty much expected.

I think the current economy has put the brakes on many people's wallets. Even if they could afford it, they rather wait. Let's face it, the real world advantage of 24 over 12 mp is not that big and important. We finally see proof of what many many kept saying. 24 is not what they need.

A 5D II plus two mid priced lenses is not a real alternative. I think even Canon fans will agree that the 5D II is not even in the same league as a camera. Performance, buffer, speed, shutter lag, AF, it's not even close to the D3x.

Again, I believe the D3x is mainly suffering from bad timing. 6 months earlier it would have been a sales hit (even with the 5D II out) , today everyone, even successful companies and individuals are holding on to their money just to be safe. We've seen how bad the sales have dropped for pretty much every company these days.

I'm absolutely with you though when it comes to customer service. If you buy a few $5000 & $7000 cameras plus lenses you can expect a different level of support and care than D90 customers are getting. I had to deal with pure denial on Nikon's service side so I know from experience.

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jb_va2001 Veteran Member • Posts: 7,741
Thanks Thom. Well thought through and helpful. /nt
Bernard Languillier Veteran Member • Posts: 4,672

Thom Hogan wrote:

nicram wrote:

Not conclusive yet. I've read of several tests that say the D3X
doesn't even come close to a 33 or 39MP, and now 56 MP is out.

I can't speak to 56mp, as I've not used a camera with that
resolution. But for the 30-39mp MF backs I've tried, I think my
statement about the jump from D3 to D3x being about the same as D3x
to MF is relevant.

Probably, but stitching with the D3x is easier than with a MF body for various obvious reasons. Besides the pixel count on the long end of a D3x is nearly identical to that of a 30MP back.

So the comment on the ability to stitch with a D3 to get into D3x territory can be applied the same way on a D3x vs MF.

It really depends on the resolution that is being targetted for the chosen application.


FearZeus Regular Member • Posts: 461
Thanks Thom

Thank you Thom, I look forward to hearing what you have to say about sample variation after testing your assistants D3x. You review is timely and well written.



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

Thom Hogan wrote:

You might want to include the sentence immediately following that:
"The tech base of the camera feels a little dated because of that."

Video is going to be a contentious addition to our DSLRs, but likely
one that we'll see more and more of. The sensor cleaning aspect,
though, is not. Keeping my D3 sensor clean has been a chore compared
to keeping my D700 sensor clean. All the D3x competitors have this
feature. Thus "feels a little dated."

While I agree with you on sensor cleaning I’m still skeptical about the video. Anyway, you may be right because since some DSLR models started coming with video now all others have to have the feature… If this is the logic how even pro market works then maybe D3x will be last model without video.

Otoh, if one assumes a D3x is to be intended for professional users I really wonder who needs video on a 24 MP camera?

Photojournalists get use of video but will prefer a fast, high ISO capable body, so it’s D3 + video. Same applies for sports. Most of those images (photojournalism, sports) are delivered for press and I don’t see 24 MP make sense here, often enough picture department even doesn’t like images from a 1d3. Studio? I guess there is no real use of video. Maybe landscape photographers? You know best, maybe weight is an issue to be considered. Ok, what about wedding shoots? Personally, I’d prefer a 12 MP + video camera over a 24 MP counterpart for better high ISO capabilities. But I don't know what pro wedding photographers really think about it.

Bottom line: Maybe it’s similar to mobile phones - 50% of the features will not be used by 80% of the users, but if a mobile doesn’t come along with a MP3 player it feels dated (counts estimated by me So, video on high mp bodies may become a must for marketing reasons mainly…
regards, eric

fredericFahraeus Regular Member • Posts: 302
have done the MF comparison!

Yeah! Ive done this comparison, both with the P25 and the 39 and in my experience after 25 yrs of photography which is ( humble) the D3X is all the way as good if not better then the P25 and yes it can actually touch the 39.

My blow-ups comparison done by expert-printers between D3 and D3X? well its no comparison at all, the D3X simply kills the others, stone-dead.

Ive followed Thom like the Guru he is for years, Ive always followed his advice and to me he has become almost a "bible" but, SORRY Thom, not this time.

All I wanted was more Pixels! thats all, for studio and serious location AD-work, Im happy with that.

Nobody complained when Canon launched their MIII and that one cant even touch the D3X as far as quality concerned.

Price? well ofcourse its donna be expensive, look at the MIII, look at all the Digi-backs? a HD-III with a 50 back is three times more?? well? so what.
You wanna stay ahead in this business, you got to have it. simple as that.

best. Christian

X-Sync Senior Member • Posts: 1,110
To D3x or not to D3x....

Nikon might have priced this camera at a point that puts it out of reach of the masses. But then the masses are looking at this body like another 35mm based DSLR. Nikon seem to think of it as the 35mm answer to medium format bodies and backs. From that standpoint the D3x is cheap.

Personally I see the D3x as neither one thing or the other. It doesn't have the high ISO performance or frame rates of the top flight DSLRs. But then its diffraction limited at F11 and has sensor capable of revealing weaknesses in the best 35mm lenses available. Not a problem many MF digital users suffer with at 24mp.

This camera will appeal to the few who will see it as a cheap alternative to MF digital and can live with its shortcomings. The D3/D700 owners wanting more pixels with similar performance will have to sit this round out. Fortunately there is a space in Nikon's line up for a 24mp sensor in a D700/300 body that would satisfy a greater number of people (from a price perspective at least).
On the bright side, the price of the D3x can only go down after release...


photoforfun Veteran Member • Posts: 6,084
Re: have done the MF comparison!

Where is your comparison?
Many would be interested to see your samples I guess...
Kindest regards,

I prefer one really good picture in a day over 10 bad ones in a second...

fredericFahraeus Regular Member • Posts: 302
Re: To D3x or not to D3x....

Thats the whole poit!!! this is NOT a camera for the masses. This is not a camera for the generalist. Period.

Thoms review, I feel is based on the general photographers needs ( which is ofcourse very nice).

I mean how many here have bought the HDIII-50? and that one is not even user-friendly.

fredericFahraeus Regular Member • Posts: 302
Re: have done the MF comparison!

Well you wont see anything or be able to judge anything with low-res examples.

Im not the only one doing this you know, there are many out there doing this comparison.

photoforfun Veteran Member • Posts: 6,084
Sensor cleaning = missing element... video would hav been nice...

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

Sensor cleaning is really "missing" on the D3X. I had the D3 sice the day of its release and I had the first dust particles a couple of days later visible in my pictures. I have the D700 since its release and I don't have any dust yet... I'm changing lenses all the time... Sensor cleaning is simply great!

Adding video function would for sure have helped in the slaes as well. If you don't need it, just don't use it, but it's there for "in case", just like the PUFlash on the D700, it's there for "in case"...
Kindest regards,

I prefer one really good picture in a day over 10 bad ones in a second...

Zane Paxton Veteran Member • Posts: 6,947
What is Canon's Customer relations like for their flagship?

Thom Hogan wrote:

Peter Gregg wrote:

Since I gave what will most likely be considered a negative thesis on
the pricing, and I don't believe that Thom Hogan, Ken R, Michael R,
or Phil Askey, or the internet in general will make even a ping in
the pricing of the Nikon D3X, I do support all the noise they are or
may make on the pricing.

Again, I'll say it as succinctly as I can: if Nikon wants to charge
US$7999 for the D3x, that's fine with me. What's not fine with me is
that when you price so far out of the mainstream level, you need to
have a different type of relationship with your customer.

I can't disagree with that concept of a higher level of customer treatment in exchange for buying a more expensive product (that presumably would seem to have a higher profit margin).

Just a question as a point of comparision (and there aren't that many other comparisions to be made here), what different kind of relationship does Canon offer the owners of their $7,500-ish flagship model? That would seem to be where the "bar is set" as far as expectations for customer relationships wouldn't it? Not being a Canon flagship owner, I can't answer that question, but whatever the answer is should settle the point.

I'm not a pro so I have no idea of what the MF crowd enjoys, but that is not relevant per se except to say that pros should have a higher level of service on pro gear when revenues are on the line. I would also extend "pro service" to include strategic insights (under NDA) which are very useful when planning and budgeting for any business.


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jljones Regular Member • Posts: 422
I'm not going to argue...

... with the technical aspects of Thom's review as I'm unable to be as thorough in assessing the difference the extra Mps really make. Anecdotally, I can see the difference on samples I've taken with the camera (unable to publish sadly) and I love the camera.

Certainly one of the key elements in the review is this notion of value based on the price that Nikon is charging. This can be looked at in another way though. For some photographers out there, already committed to Nikon and its myriad of lenses, the purchase price of the D3x could be recouped in less than a week. It could then go on to be profitable for years. It may take others a month before the camera shows profit, it may take a year. But these are the kind of image makers that will benefit from the D3x. So as a business proposition, for the right kind of photographer, it could make complete sense to buy a D3x because it does seem to have the best image quality of any DSLR at the moment. The alternative is MF with al the problems, from a businesss pov, of having another system.

I know a food/interiors/advertising photographer here in London who went digital much later than most and as a lifelong Nikon user, bemoaned the lack of a high res FF camera and so bought flagship Canon with enough lenses to satisfy particular clients. She still shoots MF and 5x4 film but having evaluated the D3x against her Canon, she would like the Nikon, but business dictates she waits until the next suitable job - which I think is next week. Why? because the D3x will help her be competitive and the cost will be recouped in one job.

For certain photographers, presumably Nikon's target, the D3x is the business.

There was also mention in the review that the D3x is a little backward technically because of the lack of video and sensor cleaner. Tell me, what happens to the dust that sensor cleaners shake off? And thank goodness there is no video. IMHO.

I keep remembering that photography has changed very little since it's beginning - except the technology.

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rhlpetrus Forum Pro • Posts: 25,860
just post 100% crops Re: have done the MF comparison!

fredericFahraeus wrote:

Well you wont see anything or be able to judge anything with low-res
Im not the only one doing this you know, there are many out there
doing this comparison.

Just post 100% crops, no need to reduce resolution. Very easy. W/o examples, internet claims are irrelevant, sorry. (Even though I tend to believe the claim D3x may be better than P25, since the posted comparisons with 1DsIII show a good match already. Now, compared to 39MP Hassy, I doubt the D3x gets close, and it shouldn't, in fact).

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fredericFahraeus Regular Member • Posts: 302
Re: just post 100% crops Re: have done the MF comparison!

No, I never said it beats the 39, I said it would give it a run for the money which is not bad considering the differance in sensors.

Ive worked for years with these, from the early H1 to the HDIII-50, with the LF Sinar digital Eyelike system as well, they are nothing special! pretty noisy above certain ISOs as well making a lot of PP work etc.

No the bickering about the D3X are IMO unfounded. The price is no shocker? why shoild it be, the MIII wasnt?
Sour grapes Ill say, sorry!


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