The D3's new high resolution VGA screen (shared with the D300) really is a revelation, having a very fine pixel pitch means you don't see any gaps and that makes for both very detailed but also surprisingly smooth gradations in flat areas of the image. Record review and playback are certainly improved as a result of this new screen and one bonus we hadn't considered before we'd used it is that you tend not to zoom into images quite as far in playback in order to check sharpness / focus accuracy. It also transforms manual focus in live view mode (the last time I found focus on a screen this easy I had my head under a cloth and a 5x4 inch brite screen in front of me).

Shooting information

Press the info button in shooting mode (except live view) to show a full screen 'shooting information' display, we first saw a screen like this implemented in the D40 and there are certainly circumstances where having this level of information on one single screen can be very useful. The D3's shooting information screen automatically (or optionally manually) switches from light background to dark background in low light situations. My only gripe with this feature (same as the D300 implementation) was that the information display disappears as soon as you half-press the shutter release button and does not return, you have to press info again, it would have been nice to have a 'persistent shooting information' custom function.

Light screen background Dark screen background (low light)

Virtual horizon

One clever new feature on the D3 is the Virtual horizon, it provides an aircraft-cockpit type live virtual horizon on the LCD monitor indicating the current orientation of the camera, perfectly horizontal or vertical and the camera axis line turns green (shown on the right below). My gripe with this feature is that its implementation makes it more toy-like than really useful, by default it is viewed via an option from the Setup menu (although can be assigned to a button) and disappears as soon as you half-press the shutter release. Far better I think if it were an option integrated into the shooting information display (above). The tilt sensor can also (perhaps more practically) be displayed on the top LCD panel or inside the viewfinder (using the exposure scale) if it is assigned to the Fn button.

Viewfinder indication: strong tilt Viewfinder indication: mild tilt
Viewfinder indication: no tilt Top panel indication

Record Review

You can choose for the D3 to display a review of the image taken immediately after shutter release. The type of display used will be the same as the last mode used in playback (histogram, thumbnail index, details etc.). Note that record review has all of the functionality of playback mode, this means its easy to delete, magnify, protect etc. The image will remain on the screen for the 'Monitor off delay' CSM c4 or until you half-press the shutter release.


Press the Playback button to enter playback mode, press the multi selector up or down to change display mode, up to six different pages of display detail are available. You can change the amount of information available in the basic and detailed photo display modes including optional blinking highlights and focus point display as well as the three pages of shooting information in detail mode. Note that you can switch the up/down and left/right functions of the multi selector via CSM f3 and that you can choose to also use the command dials to browse / change page via CSM f7.

Basic photo display: file number, folder, filename, date & time, quality, size Basic photo display with optional Highlights and Focus point enabled
Detailed photo display: image thumbnail, histogram, exposure information and other data as per default display Detailed photo display optional RGB histogram page
Detailed photo display data 1: metering mode, shutter speed, aperture, exposure mode, ISO, exposure compensation, focal length, lens used, AF mode, VR mode, flash mode and flash compensation Detailed photo display data 2: white balance & fine tuning, color space, picture control and image parameter adjustments
Detailed photo display data 3: noise reduction, active d-lighting, retouching, comment  

Playback Zoom

The D3's playback zoom is implemented in the same manner as the D2X (and D200), that you use the zoom / thumbnail button in combination with the rear command dial to select zoom amount (indicated by the yellow loupe box) and can use the multi-selector to move around the magnified image. Just like the D300 there are eight zoom levels, on the high resolution screen the last two go beyond 1:1 and provide an enlarged pixelated view.

Playback thumbnail views

The D3 has two levels of thumbnail view, hold the zoom / thumbnail button and turn it to the left to switch to the initial 2x2 (4 image) view, turn once more for the 3x3 (9 image) view. Use the multi selector to move around the index. Note that if you have the 'Rotate Tall' option enabled images taken in the portrait orientation are displayed vertically (we had this option turned off in the captures below).

One click right for a 2 x 2 thumbnail view Two clicks right for a 3 x 3 thumbnail view

Other Playback displays

After pressing the delete button simply press once more to confirm the deletion An example of a protected image