Body & Design

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The D3X is the D3's identical twin; the only visible difference on the exterior of the body is the new 'X' on the label. The design is an evolution from the D2 series and therefore photographers familiar with the previous Nikon pro series will feel immediately at home with the D3/D3X. The button layout is almost identical and the control changes made are sensible improvements rather than completely new concepts. This is good news for working professionals switching bodies - as is the fact that the control layout consistency extends down the range to the D700 and D300, making them perfect as backup bodies.

The D3X's proportions make it almost square, and thanks to a magnesium shell it is almost literally as solid as a brick. Robust surfaces, soft rubber on the grips, oversized buttons, locked controls and environmental seals add up to a purposeful camera which has been designed with the requirements of the professional photographer in any situation.

Side by side

Below we have the D3X beside its main competitor in the pro segment of the market, the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III (21 megapixel). Both of these cameras feature professional bodies with integrated vertical grips and have comparable dimensions.

In your hand

The D3X feels comfortable and sturdy in your hand, the grip is just the right size, depth and shape to be both comfortable and easy to hold. Careful shaping of the rear and the use of soft rubber add to the overall feeling of solidity, buttons and other controls are positioned to be used easily. We said in our D2X review that we felt Nikon had the edge over the Canon EOS-1D series for 'real world ergonomics', that remains true with the D3/D3X.

LCD monitor

The D3X features the same screen as most recent Nikon DSLRs. It covers 100% of the frame, has a 170º viewing angle and with its 921,600 dots (VGA resolution x 3 for each color channel) the display is very smooth and detailed. When magnifying an image in playback mode you can easily see sharpness, focus accuracy and even noise without zooming in too much.

Top & Rear Control Panels

Just like the D2 series the D3/D3X has two status/control panel displays, one on the top of the camera and one on the rear. Both panels have a green back light which can be illuminated by flicking the power switch to the lamp position, it's spring loaded and returns to 'ON', the back light stays on for the 'auto meter-off' time (CSM c2). You can also choose to have the back lights come on with any button press (CSM d7). You can customize the information displayed on the rear control panel and viewfinder display via CSM d5. Each panel is shown below along with a diagram of all information displayed.

Top Control Panel

*1 • Shutter-speed
• Exposure compensation value
• Number of shots in bracketing sequence
• Number of intervals
• Focal length (non-CPU lens)
• Flash compensation value
• ISO sensitivity

• Frame count
• Preset white balance recording
• Manual lens number

*2 • Aperture (f-number)
• Aperture (number of stops)
• Bracketing increment
• Number of shots per interval
• Maximum aperture (non-CPU lens)
• PC mode indicator
*5 • Electronic analog exposure display
• Exposure compensation
• Bracketing progress indicator
• PC mode indicator
• Tilt indicator
*3 • Number of exposures remaining
• Number of shots remaining before buffer fills
• Camera control indicator
*6 • Remaining indicator
• Continuous remaining indicator

Rear Control Panel

*1 • ISO sensitivity
• Number of exposures remaining
• Length of voice memo
• White balance fine-tuning
• White balance preset number
• Color temperature
• PC mod indicator

Diagram reproduced with permission from the Nikon D3X user manual.