Nikon D3 In-depth Review
The D3 sticks with the same circular eyepiece as the D2X but from there onwards everything has changed, obviously we now have a 'huge' engulfing full frame view which really does fill your entire field of vision, the focusing screen is bright but is still matte enough to enable accurate manual focusing.
The focusing screen also features automatic masking if you attach a DX format lens, a portion of the view is grayed out indicating the active sensor area. Optionally you can also manually select the shooting format (FX: 36 x 24 mm, DX: 24 x 16 mm or 5:4: 30 x 24 mm). The diagram below (used with permission from the D3 user manual) demonstrates the different image sizes (FX / DX and 5:4 formats), their image circles and the masked areas of the viewfinder focusing screen.
The D3 features a new 51 point auto focus sensor, the center fifteen (3x5 grid) being cross point sensors even with F5.6 aperture lenses. There are two AF point selection modes (CSM a8), you can opt to be able to select from all 51 points or 11 points in a similar layout as the D2X. (Note that the D3's larger sensor area means that the AF points don't have as much frame coverage as on the D300 and also that the 11 point layout is slightly different). Obviously if you switch to DX cropped mode the focus points cover virtually the entire frame.
|51 point AF selection mode||11 point AF selection mode|
The image below isn't designed to be representative of a typical view through the viewfinder but instead shows the position of all possible information including all 51 AF points. Nikon has made it clear that they are not using etching to indicate the AF points but that all information is displayed using liquid crystal, hence when an AF point is not active there is no detrimental effect on the focusing screen. With the new firmware introduced earlier this week there is a new option to change the brightness of the illuminated AF points. The brightest setting is incredibly useful when shooting in bright light with a fast lens or in a fast-paced 'blink and you'll miss it' sports environment.
|1||Center-weighted metering circle ref.||13||ISO sensitivity|
|2||AF area frame||14||Frame count / remaining / buffer / exp. value|
|3||Focus points||15||Indicates over 1000 exposures remaining|
|4||Focus indicator||16||Flash-ready indicator|
|5||Metering mode||17||Flash value lock|
|6||Auto exposure lock||18||Sync indicator|
|7||Exposure mode||19||Aperture stop indicator|
|8||Shutter-speed lock||20||Battery indicator|
|9||Shutter-speed||21||Exposure display / compen. / tilt indicator|
|10||Aperture lock||22||Exposure compensation indicator|
|11||Aperture (f-number / no. stops)||23||Bracketing indicator|
|12||ISO / Auto-ISO indicator|
Diagram reproduced with permission from the Nikon D3 user manual.
Battery, Compartment and Charger
The D3 uses an updated version of the EN-EL4 seen in the the D2X. This new model, the EN-EL4a packs a capacity of 2500 mAh (over the EN-EL4's 1900 mAh) at 11.1 V for a pretty huge 27.8 Wh. Just like the EN-EL4 the battery contains a memory chip which is used to track battery usage, charges and overall performance (see below images). As you can see from the third image below the battery compartment door clips onto the battery body, if you have just one battery that's where it will stay, however carrying multiple batteries is now more convenient because they have an easier to store shape (with the door unclipped).
There's also a new dual-battery quick charger, the MH-22 which provides docking style charging for up to two batteries at a time (although only one is charged at a time). A full charge takes around 2 hours 25 minutes, you can also run a full calibration of the battery which can take up to six hours.
Battery information available on the camera:
- Top control panel has a five segment battery life indicator
- Camera Menu: Set Up -> Battery Info provides:
- Battery meter (as a percentage)
- Picture meter (estimated frames on current power)
- Calibration (required / not required)
- Charging Life (0 to 4 indicating if the battery has come to the end of its useful life)
Compact Flash Compartment
The D3 becomes the first digital SLR to feature dual Compact Flash card slots. Both support Compact Flash Type I or II as well as FAT32 (cards over 2 GB) and UDMA (high throughput). The second slot can be set up to either (a) overflow (once card 1 is full go on to card 2), (b) backup (everything written to card 1 is also written to card 2) or (c) RAW to card 1 and JPEG to card 2.
- 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
Even after eighteen months of reviewing the latest, greatest, shiniest and must-buy-me-est new gear, DPReview staffer Carey Rose has continued to use older DSLR cameras for his freelance work. But now, that might be changing. Read more
Sony is the world's leading mirrorless camera brand but remains third for ILCs overall, it's said in a presentation to investors. A focus on high value cameras and lenses should boost operating income, it says. Read more
It's nicknamed the 'Cycloptic Mustard Monster,' and is a 3D printed medium format camera. Read more
The new NanGuang LED lights are battery powered and come with accessories including filters and diffusers.
Have you been telling yourself, "Hey, I really need one of those 8K displays?" A video about Dell's new 8K monitor shows you what to expect. Is it really that much better?
Tamara Lackey, a Nikon ambassador USA and pro shooter, discusses embracing self-consciousness as a means of connecting with subjects.
There's a new Spiderman movie coming out and the poster been generating a lot of online chatter. Mostly about how it looks like the creation of a fevered teenager that just discovered Photoshop.
An honest defense of the system's merits, with photos as proof.
Copyright disputes are no fun at all. 'Binded' is a new startup that aims to simplify the process of registering - and enforcing - copyright for photographers. Read more
Not everyone wants to pay a premium for a long zoom camera. Thankfully, there are many reasonably priced cameras available, though they won't offer the same image quality as enthusiast models. In this updated roundup we look at big zoom cameras with more consumer-friendly price tags. Read more
Think Tank Photo has updated two of its popular bag lines with improvements to functionality. Read more
We’ve all seen Bob Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize winning photo, but there's another.
The sample footage looks good.
It will automatically pick the best camera settings depending on shooting conditions. It even promises enhanced functionality for your camera, like exposure and focus stacking. It already supports many cameras from Canon, Fuji, Nikon and Sony. Read more
As if $13,950 wasn’t enough to pay for a special edition lens, the Leica Store in San Francisco is offering a prototype of said lens for $24,995. Read more
Make those old photos disappear without deleting them forever.
Firmware updates enable 10 fps shooting with adapted A-mount lenses, and faster startup times and better compatibility for 20 fps shooting when using native lenses on the a9.
Fujifilm has released firmware updates for its camera models X-T2, X-Pro2, GFX 50s, X-T20, X100F and X-T1 and updates to three of its software products.
A 22 year-old Romanian photographer uses his DJI Phantom 4 drone to capture unique perspectives of the city where he now lives.
What's it like to ride the waves with champion surfer Kelly Slater? This VR video from Teton Gravity Research gives you a taste.
When Nikon released the full-frame D3 in 2007, it changed the professional photography industry. In this week's Throwback Thursday, Barney remembers a legend. Read more
The new stuff should have better red hues, improved sensitivity and finer grain - but don't worry - will still shift blues to green, greens to purple and yellows to pink.
Ricoh has introduced a new rugged compact camera with a 16MP CMOS sensor, 28-140mm lens, 2.7" LCD and built-in LED macro lights. Read more
This compact drone can shoot HD video using a 2-axis stabilized 12MP camera. Read more
The new Prynt Pocket can print a photo directly from their iPhone simply by inserting the phone into the printer, then snapping a photo. Each print will cost about 50 cents. Read more
Updates for Adobe Camera Raw and Lightroom CC bring support for the Sony A9 and Panasonic ZS70/TZ90, along with bug fixes.
The Triggertrap remote camera control system is no longer sold due to the company folding, but now users will be able to build their own. Read more
The Magic Format Converter comes with internal optics that expand the image circle of full-frame DSLR lenses for use on the Fuji medium format camera. Read more
The usually Apple-exclusive MacPhun software developer has announced that it will introduce PC versions of two of its most popular applications. Both Aurora HDR and Luminar should be available for the Windows operating system by the autumn of this year. Read more
Sony's newest G Master telephoto zoom, announced alongside the a9, is the first of the company's FE lenses to reach 400mm natively. We had one in California and photographed horses, portraits, and landscapes - check out how it did. Read more