Thom Hogan D3X review

Started Jan 12, 2009 | Discussions
Jarkko Haarla Jr Senior Member • Posts: 1,055
Re: Video + missing element = YES

Now, could somebody try to convince me, that why 1080 video on the D3x would make it 1) less of a camera 2) less of a pro camera 3) a less convincing "tool".... or would it loose too much of its "spartanic professional tool" - status??

This kind of 1980´s thinking with "professional cameras can not have video and they have to be bulky and heavy" is completely ridiculous in it´s childishness. Moreover amazing is, that the camera companies don´t dare to equip their top of the line bodies with that $3 chip and one extra menu for providing the function because they are afraid of some old school pseudo-puritanists. So, what if they would put video in all bodies?

When HD-video comes available on all bodies, everybody uses it. Doing for instance production machinery documenting with my compact Nikon D3 around europe, video would be the thing making the camera PERFECT. Now I need to carry along a small Sony SONY PWM-EX3 which just adds to my luggage. The D3 lacking video is at times quite annoying.

Bill F. Regular Member • Posts: 183
Re: Video = missing element?

Thom Hogan wrote:

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."

Completely agree with this.

Excellent review on the D3X. It seems like a wonderful instrument for those that need it. From all that I have read so far, and for the vast majority of us, the D3/D700 still seems to be the more practical and flexible choice. Nikon had to come out with a 24MP camera to stay competitive and offer the alternative to those that have been asking for it. They seemed to do an excellent job in what they came out with. However, the price point does make the D3 and D700 look like bargains in comparison.


elgreco Forum Member • Posts: 58
Re: just post 100% crops Re: have done the MF comparison!

this might help,

no comparison between d3x and MF at least in low light.

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

You missed my point. I would have bought the D700 even if the D3x had been priced the same, therefore I'm incredulous that Nikon would ask approximately $5200 extra for the D3x. It's not worth ANY of that extra $5200, in my eyes.

ben ali ong New Member • Posts: 2
Re: Thom Hogan D3X review

Thanks for the review Thom! It was great! I don't even shoot digital but always check your site as well as Luminouse Landscape almost everyday because I like keeping up with the technology and all the advances. I've been interested in reading a proper D3x test review for a while now, thanks again. Also look forward to M.R's review when he gets back from that trip he is on.


Julian Contributing Member • Posts: 520
Re: Thom Hogan D3X review

Totally agree with you - the D3x is not targetted at you or me though - but at the folks that really need the mp - personally the D3 has all the mp I'll ever need.

Bob Quinn wrote:

You missed my point. I would have bought the D700 even if the D3x
had been priced the same, therefore I'm incredulous that Nikon would
ask approximately $5200 extra for the D3x. It's not worth ANY of
that extra $5200, in my eyes.

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Rick Diaz Regular Member • Posts: 305
Re: have done the MF comparison!


I saw some samples of the D3x shots against the P25 and am quite impressed up to 13x19 or maybe a bit higher -- same quality. I didn't know it actually touched the 39. Output was a LightJet btw.


fredericFahraeus wrote:

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,

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

best. Christian

Rick Diaz Regular Member • Posts: 305
Re: To D3x or not to D3x....

fredericFahraeus wrote:

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.

And the Leica M8? The Leica rep once told me that people were willing to buy the M8 on eBay of questionable quality at a much higher price than can be bought used say in retail. Apparently, PRICE in this case is irrelevant. Perceived value and stature of the Leica name is I guess more important?!? Also, the film version of the Contax G2 or G1 with the 28mm, 45mm and 90mm lenses are still commanding a high price tag, even-though rarely anyone these days shoot film! Why, is KEH and B&H Photo ripping people off selling high priced junks nobody wants!?! Apparently so, if price is the determining factor.


Bernard Languillier Veteran Member • Posts: 4,672
Re: just post 100% crops Re: have done the MF comparison!

elgreco wrote:

this might help,

no comparison between d3x and MF at least in low light.

I believe that the low ISO shots are not fully representative of what the D3x can deliver. Jost has discussed this at lenght elsewhere.

Still, I am sure that the 39MP back delivers more detail and DR, the question - often raised about the d3x - is whether the gap in performance justifies the huge gap in price.

Considering that stitching is easier to do with a D3x than MF for obvious reasons, my personnal answer is that the 39MP back don't make much sense for my personnal needs. Other will of course differ.


Thom Hogan Forum Pro • Posts: 13,659
Re: Thom Hogan D3X review

photonut2008 wrote:

I see your dilemma, and simply pushing shutter speed to 1/1000 won't
suffice since it's the character of the light. Must be nicer for
playing basketball though, my old eyes have a hard time seeing in bad

Funny thing is, when I walked in, all the players already there just looked at me and said "well, there goes you camera testing." It was a blatantly obvious change.

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

Thom Hogan Forum Pro • Posts: 13,659
Re: What is Canon's Customer relations like for their flagship?

Zane Paxton wrote:

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


That would seem to be where the "bar is set" as far as
expectations for customer relationships wouldn't it?

If you set a goal to only equal your competitors, that's all you ever do. Nikon is a camera company now (most of its sales come from cameras and associated equipment). Nikon has the chance to be the DEFINING camera company, which would put great pressure on the others and set expectations of what defines a good camera and a good camera company for years.

I personally hate "copycat" tactics. They don't distinguish you from the competition. Apple is a relatively good example of a company Nikon needs to think more about mimicking. Consider Apple's Genius Bar versus Microsoft's outsourced in India limited telephone tech support, for example. Even my mom has figured out the difference there.

More to the point, with a product now 60% higher in price than before, Nikon is indicating that they're going upscale. But if all you do is point to the product and say "more pixels, good performance" to justify that, you get a backlash. (Some people accuse me of causing the backlash, but I can tell you I had a very full InBox of backlash before I even wrote a word publicly.)

I'm not a pro so I have no idea of what the MF crowd enjoys,

Another good point: the MF crowd doesn't enjoy much, either. The one thing they have going for themselves is that some of the companies are small enough that you can get personal attention if you can navigate their contact system.

I would
also extend "pro service" to include strategic insights (under NDA)
which are very useful when planning and budgeting for any business.

I'm sure we could all come up with a long list of things that would represent a closer relationship. The point is, we have none of those today, yet Nikon has made it clear that they expect more of us (money).

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

C_4 Contributing Member • Posts: 545
Re: My thoughts about the review and the price of the D3X

Good review Thom, but I'm not sure I agree with your cost breakdown analysis..

First off, the D3X cannot have the same buffer upgrade as the D3; it may have the same frame capacity, but in fact, because each frame from the D3X has double the pixel count, it must in fact have double the memory of the D3 to capture the same number of frames.. The buffer upgrade was $500, so if we use your 1 to 3 rule, 2 x $500 / 3 = roughly $330. The sensor, I could see costing another $300-500 (or more- on a piece of silicon that big, getting acceptable yields is incredibly difficult).. Even if you make the reasonable assumption that on each sensor there are probably already dozens of "bad pixels" that are "mapped out", costs for that big a piece of silicon are going to be significantly higher than the previous generation of sensor.. Even if they're just buying the sensor from Sony, that doesn't change the yield and increased base cost; indeed, there's probably some additional mark up added on top.. A/D converters- individually, they may not be as expensive, but again, with double the pixels, you need double the number, so there is probably some extra cost.. As a result, I find it entirely plausible that they have $1000 of extra costs vs. the D3..

That's not to say that I disagree with your conclusions however: it is a way overpriced camera.. There's the inevitable comparison with the Sony camera, which I believe must be being sold pretty much at cost, or even at a small loss in order to gain market share.. I don't believe that Sony is anywhere in the same league as Nikon (and even if they were, I wouldn't be caught dead with such an fugly camera- I'd switch to Canon, with their "weak chin and weak shoulders" before I'd use a Sony), but to many people, "price sells".. I think even with the increased parts costs, Nikon did have a fair bit of room to play with on the pricing of the D3X and they could have played with their margins a bit to price the camera more realistically..

Thom Hogan Forum Pro • Posts: 13,659
Re: Well...

Bernard Languillier wrote:

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.

Yes it can and probably should. I know I'll continue to do stitching with the D3x that I used to do with the D700. So point taken.

But it seems I'm in a darned if do, darned if I don't position here. I do think there's a difference that comes because of price levels. A hobbyist or serious amateur is in a different position than a pro with paying clients. Buying a US$2200 D700 and stitching is in the hobbyist's budget, buying a D3x with or without stitching probably isn't (and remember, you need more storage, more computer horsepower, etc., as you scale up).

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

Thom Hogan Forum Pro • Posts: 13,659
Re: Thom Hogan D3X review

Erik Magnuson wrote:

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.'

Yes and no. Nikon's new AA design is actually closer to Canon's than it was previously. It's a valid point to say that you can never eliminate all of the variables (short of doing a lot of disassembly), but I'd say the AA filter is less of a factor overall than the lens.

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

Rick Diaz Regular Member • Posts: 305
Re: And I have more to say too :)

Actually I have more to say

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.

They will only make a dent to the undecided. There are a lot of people out there who are. I attended a trade show this fall and noticed that the fans for the various makers usually show up, but the undecided are less so. These are the loyalists who will not be dissuaded by anyone on the net, because they know what they want. The pros usually know what they want, as long as they do the pros and cons of the camera system. They use reviews as a guide and as noted by pros I spoke to, a few had already found out that the recent reviews of the D3x and the P6000 were flawed or biased. I disagreed to some extent, but I found several helpful hints in them that I now know how to steer clear their weaknesses.

To me, reviews save my experimentation time. If somebody does the measure-bating for me, do I complain? Nope! To me, time is money.

The problem with reviews is that, it is written by a human being with a certain value system. That's why we have Motel 6 and we have the Hilton and we have economy and we have first class. Try flying first class in the A380 -- it's nice and comfy but comes at a steep price. I respect Mr. Hogan's value system and agree with some of his points. I also suspect that is the reason Nikon is keeping a low profile on the D3x, because it is a camera system that is hovering in the 20mp+ arena among those of the Alpha 900 and the 5D2 and is difficult to distinguish among itself unless the user had extensively usage and expertise in the medium format arena and have used the P25, the Hassy and the Sinar and appreciate the quality it gives and are curious about the quality of the D3x. Interestingly enough, it is these people who are testing the D3x and from what I've heard and seen have every justification of its IQ. Price is simply a perceived value of the camera itself. Price is also a quantity production issue as well. The more the camera is produced, the lower the FOB price is. People seemed to neglect the fact that a photographer is a golfer with many sets of clubs including woods, irons and putters to hit the ball into a hole with the least amount of strokes. A D3x is just another set of expensive club. Ask Tiger Woods to hit the ball with just a putter on the 18 hole course against VJ Singh with a full range of clubs at his disposal. Tiger Woods is not a GOD without the necessary clubs. A lot of reviewers expect a D3x to be just one putter that allows any golfer to win the game in the pro tournament course. Maybe in the Pitch and Putt course perhaps.

I think the noise may - or may not - effect the pricing of Canon's
reply to the D3X. This will be the pivot point I will be watching, to
see if Canon will also ignore that wailing and gnashing of teeth and
march to their own drum, or if folks like Thom and friends will be
able to rattle loud enough and long enough for Canon to take notice
and make a change in their pricing policy.

Again, a change in pricing is to expect a change in the movement of inflation to deflation. Deflation is what happened to Japan starting in the mid 80s and went through more than a decade. Many reviewers seemed to have forgotten that Nikon and Canon are JAPANESE companies. They had went through the deflationary spiral of the Japanese economy 20 years prior and surely must have developed expertise to function in troubling times. Whereas, American companies are now tested because they have never experienced the same deflationary bubble that Japan had. That's why GM, Chrysler, Ford and Pilgrim's Pride (the largest chicken producer and had already filed for Chapter 11) are all suffering. Toyota and Honda are suffering, but not at the same extent as the 3 domestic giants.

All of this noise is actually good for Nikon. People like Mr. Hogan and Ken Rockwell are actually helping Nikon generate D3x awareness. The more they talk about it, the best the coverage and it's free! After all, what kind of news that sells? Bad news. This is bad press generated on the net that exhumes the interest for people to actually rent or try the unit out to see for themselves. Many did.

The issue about price is that, it is essentially a D3 with a 24MP+ sensor, so they do the match D3x price - D3 = price of the sensor. And then they compare this to the Alpha 900 or the 5D2 (again apples and oranges) and claim that price even with lenses, the 2 other systems will come out ahead. That's true, but this is a simplistic argument without taking a note that a high megapixel sensor camera is only good to what it's designed for. For those who need 50mb + files for stock, they can interpolate from a 12MP+ sensor or shoot 20MP+ and get better file sizes.

There are also issues with storage and computing power. Some people said storage is cheap. While that's true that a single WD Book is cheap, pros use RAID storage array with removable media and either a FW800 or eSATA interface. These storage systems are not something that goes on Best Buy specials during Black Friday. Ask a normal joe or jane what a FW800 cable looks like or an eSATA?

People with high end RAID storage solution and S-IPS panels for image editing have certain justification for these tools. After all, how could a RAID storage company and any S-IPS LCD panel maker survive when cheaper USB 2 storage solutions and TN panels suffice?

If you can answer this, then companies that make expensive RAID solutions and S-IPS ought need to go under don't you think?

Sadly, they are not.


BIJ001 Veteran Member • Posts: 5,649
Re: Thom Hogan D3X review

colofital wrote:

There is a lot of pride (arrogance) in the Japanese engineering
departments about their "babies", i.e. how well they will be
received, and how much they're worth.

I do not think that the prices are set by the engineering departments (whether they are pride or not.)

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Thom Hogan Forum Pro • Posts: 13,659
Re: I'm not going to argue...

jljones wrote:

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.

No doubt. Now, how many of those photographers are there and how close should Nikon be maintaining customer relations with them? ; ) The answers are "not many" and "much closer than they are."

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

Again, no doubt. But Nikon themselves seems a little uncertain who these folks are and why the D3x is the right camera for them.

Tell me, what happens to the dust that sensor cleaners shake off?

It's captured on an adhesive strip. Since I use a D3 and D700 I can compare the net cleaning needs of the two side-by-side. I'll take the cleaning system, thank you. It's not perfect, but it saves me time and work in the field.

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

Mel Veteran Member • Posts: 3,716
Re: just post 100% crops Re: have done the MF comparison!

Just out of curiosity Bernard, do you know the comparative frame rate for the back?

Also, when adding the body for the back and the necessary lens, what would the price difference be between a 39MP back, body and even one lens, vs a D3X and someone who has several good pieces of glass?

If the gap is huge, I am wondering if Nikon may have been thinking along these lines?

Thomas Comerford Veteran Member • Posts: 9,745
Camera movement in the diffraction test?

If you take a vertical selection through the center of the concentric circles in the f/22 diffraction test and then take a horizontal selection through the center, rotate it, and compare them side by side the difference is pretty stark. Surely that's due to camera movement? The f/16 test also seems to be affected.

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Mel Veteran Member • Posts: 3,716
Re: I'm not going to argue...

"I'll take the cleaning system,"

I have read at other times where you didn't feel this system was "all that" Thom. After using it on the D700, have you changed your position some? Do you feel now that "it does" remove the tougher specs and lessens swab cleaning?

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