Nikon D3 In-depth Review
Here you can see a generated GretagMacbeth ColorChecker chart, place your mouse over any of the labels below it to see the color reproduction in that mode. Select a camera/setting combination from the 'Compared to' drop-down to comparative boxes inside each patch.
From a hue point of view the D3 produces color that is all but identical to the D300 (the tone curves used in-camera mean the D300 offers slightly lighter skin tones and pastel colors than the D3, but the differences is minimal). The D300's 'Standard' setting is also virtually identical to the EOS 1DS Mark III's 'Faithful' Picture Style, and as we've noted in most recent reviews there is now a fairly consistent response across all competing models.
|Nikon D3||Compare to:|
Artificial light White Balance
The D3's automatic white balance in artificial light is certainly a little more reliable than most (particularly in mixed light and with fluorescent sources), but it's still not reliable or consistent enough to be considered anything like 'foolproof', and - particularly when dealing with incandescenet / tungsten light sources - the use of presets or custom WB is a far safer solution.
Like every Nikon professional SLR since 1959 the D3 has no built-in flash, but it does offer the latest i-TTL metering for external flash, with balanced fill-flash and AF-assist illuminator (for any focal length if you update to the latest software). Like all Nikon's newer models the D3 also supports Nikon's advanced wireless flash system (Creative Lighting System). The flash system works very well indeed (balanced fill flash is childs play), though we did find there was a slight tendency to overexpose a touch when shooting at short distances. Not enough to blow the skintones but enough to require a tweak in Levels to stop the image looking washed out (see the example below right).
|Direct flash||Direct Flash|
Overall Image Quality / Specifics
It would be a sorry state of affairs if Nikon's top of the range professional camera didn't produce impressive results, so it comes as no surprise that the ouput is, almost without exception, superb. At lower ISO settings the image quality isn't significantly different to most other 12 megapixel models, though Nikon's fairly conservative approach to image processing - not too much sharpening, not too much saturation, not too much contrast - means that JPEGs are a little flatter 'out of camera' than most. And so should they be; a camera at this level shouldn't be producing over-processed 'punchy' output that gives little latitude for post processing. The D3's JPEGs are clean enough in the 'normal' ISO range to respond well to sharpening and tonal corrections (though the default JPEG contrast is actually a little harsh and can lead to clipped highlights).
When you move to the higher ISO settings the D3 is in a class of its own, beating the Canon EOS 5D easily at anything over ISO 1600 and producing perfectly usable output all the way up the range. Of course you can't expect miracles (anything over ISO 3200 demands fairly steep image quality compromises), but the D3 can keep on shooting when light levels have dropped to the point where all other cameras would simply give up.
Metering and focus are spot on; we're not sports photographers but we spent a lot of time testing the D3's focus tracking on fast moving subjects and it's ability to follow subjects around the frame is uncanny. Even with older non AF-S lenses focus speed is superb. The only downside is that the new 51-point AF system, shared with the D300, doesn't cover enough of the frame, and it's easy for the subject to move outside the focus area with long lenses. That said, the focus system is perhaps the best I've ever used; even if it's not the fastest (something we can't verify, and something Olympus claims for its E-3), it seems far more reliable than many, better able to deal with subjects moving erratically and those moving towards or away from the camera (as opposed to across the frame). It rarely, if ever, 'gives up' and even when shooting at high speeds its hit rate remains remarkable.
Built-in Chromatic Aberration correction
The D300 and D3 feature built-in Chromatic Aberration (CA) correction. This feature works by analysing the image, the image processor looks for CA in the image and actively corrects for it. If you're shooting RAW the analysis still occurs but instead of being applied the results of the analysis are simply written into metadata and are used by Capture NX to (optionally) correct. Obviously if you're using a third party RAW converter you won't get automatic CA correction. Our experience was that this worked very well and delivered surprising levels of CA reduction while also improving sharpness (probably due to the fact that the correction itself is effectively dRAWing the color channels back into alignment).
Below you can see a visual comparison of the difference between images, shot as RAW+JPEG, the RAW image converted using Adobe Camera RAW.
|Adobe Camera RAW||JPEG|
|A crop from our lens test chart, magnified 200%||The same crop but shot as JPEG|
- 19 Photographic tests
- 20 Photographic tests
- 21 Photographic tests
- 22 Photographic tests
- 23 Compared to...
- 24 Compared to...
- 25 Compared to...
- 26 Compared to...
- 27 Compared to...
- 28 Compared to...
- 29 Compared to...
- 30 Compared to...
- 31 Compared to...
- 32 Compared to...
- 33 Compared to...
- 34 Conclusion
- 35 Samples
Apr 18, 2008
Aug 23, 2007
Apr 14, 2011
Apr 14, 2011
|Home from first day. by Frank LoPriore|
from Back to School
|Hummingbird in Flight by Lensmate|
from A Big Year - birds
|Green turtle in the shallows by gcachon|
|Bruce Green by George Veltchev|
from -Yuge and Nasty-
The new Surface Book 2 laptops come with Intel's 8th generation quad-core processors and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 and 1060 GPUs. In other words: they pack a serious punch.
Leica is resurrecting a portrait lens from the 1930s: the Thambar-M 1:2.2/90. This lens features just 4 lens elements, and was famous for its spherical aberration that creates extremely soft images.
Google's Visual Core is an Image Signal Processor designed to power and accelerate HDR+ processing and other imaging tasks in the new Pixel 2 devices (and beyond).
The Google Pixel's camera is among the best we've reviewed, and its successor has already been hailed as class-leading. With expectations set high, the Pixel 2 has nonetheless left a very good first impression on us as we shot some initial sample images.
Leica is one of the oldest names in photography, and has long been one of the most prestigious. Recently, we had the opportunity to visit Wetzlar, to see for ourselves how Leica's lenses are put together.
Canon went and put an APS-C sensor in a G series compact. The result is a mighty tempting camera for travel.
Google Photos is adding a few pet-friendly features that will make it easier to find photos of your favorite pooch. Now, you can organize your pet photos by facial recognition, and you can even search your library by breed.
Colorful tripod maker MeFOTO has launched a new tripod... and a whole new brand name. Meet the GlobeTrotter travel video tripod, the first product to be released under the MeVIDEO brand.
If you own a Moto Z, you'll soon be able to attach a Polaroid instant printer to it. Check out the unreleased Moto Mod, which was leaked earlier today.
DJI has developed a technology called AeroScope that allows law enforcement to identify and track airborne drones that are breaking UAV regulations, while simultaneously addressing privacy concerns.
The Nikon D850 is a 45.7MP full-frame DSLR with an autofocus system lifted wholesale from the pro-sports focused D5. 4K capture, continuous shooting at 7 or 9 frames per second make it sound like the ultimate all rounder. Is it all that these specs suggest?
The Mate 10's Kirin 970 chipset with integrated AI processing allows for object recognition, motion detection and automatic scene selection in the camera app.
DxO has announced version 3.0 of the iOS app for its 'One' connected camera. It adds support for multi-camera Facebook Live broadcasting and both time-lapse still and video capture. Android users will be pleased to hear that a One for their platform is on the way, as well. Several new accessories are available, including a battery pack.
Canon has introduced the PowerShot G1 X Mark III, which borrows the 24MP APS-C sensor and Dual Pixel AF system from the company's recent mirrorless and DSLR cameras, adds a 24-72mm equiv., F2.8-5.6 lens and puts them into a lightweight body – but it'll cost you quite a bit.
It's not often that we see a genuinely interesting compact camera, and the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III is one such beast. We've pulled out the top features of the camera and tell you why they matter – and put the Mark III up against the competition.
Apple's HDR effect in the iPhone 8 Plus is on by default and more aggressive than in previous generations. It's also good enough to convince DPR contributor Jeff Carlson to leave it on all the time.
Canon's 28mm F2.8 IS USM may be small in size, but it's big on fun. We wrote about our experience using it as our only lens in Big Sur, California, but in case you missed out on our full gallery, take a look to see what this little lens can do.
Travel photographer Elia Locardi tells the story behind this gorgeous (and rare) panorama of the Dubai cityscape draped in fog.
Bison, drift cars, horseback riders, antelope – from the beach to the race track, the Sony 100-400mm G Master is one versatile piece of kit.
"Wildlife photography in Yellowstone National Park is an incredible opportunity, yet some bad photographers are giving all photographers a bad name by not following the rules."
Casio's bionic-looking new action camera, the GZE-1, is built with extreme sports in mind. The little camera is drop-proof, freeze-proof, dust-proof, and waterproof to 50 meters.
Yashica recently released the digiFilm Y35: a camera that tries to simulate the "experience" of shooting film... and it's just the worst.
Western Digital has revealed some interesting new technology that, it claims, will allow them to develop 40TB hard drives by the year 2025.
Photographer Micael Widell wanted to see just how affordable it could possibly be to get into digital photography—so he bought a full DSLR kit with battery grip and 50mm lens on eBay for just $80.
Confused about DxOMark's scoring system? This straightforward video by Marques Brownlee breaks down how DxO gets its scores, and why you should always look beyond that "overall" number.
It's not exactly a revolutionary device, but the iPhone 8 Plus does promise some evolutionary updates in the camera department. DPR contributor Jeff Carlson has been putting the 8 Plus to the test in some everyday shooting situations – take a look at how it fared.
This week in Hollywood, DJI introduced its new Zenmuse X7 camera, a Super 35 format cinema camera of its own design that can also capture 24MP still images in APS-C format. Is it time to start thinking of DJI as a camera company?
Landscape and astrophotographer Asif Islam shot a series of timelapses starting in Los Angeles and getting farther and farther away, showing how the Milky Way emerges as the light pollution fades.
Ultraviolet photography is something that relatively few photographers explore, but it’s a fascinating realm to explore with less of an investment in equipment than most people think.
After almost fifteen years of nearly buying one, Barney recently found a working Canon PowerShot G5 in his local thrift shop. It must be Throwback Thursday.