Nikon D3

While the D300 is aimed at the serious enthusiast or semi-pro, the D3 is unashamedly a camera for professionals. It too uses a CMOS sensor, but this time it's a 12.1 megapixel unit of an unusual size. It measures 36.0 x 23.9mm, which is only a little smaller than the full frame size of 35mm film (36 x 24mm). This puts it in direct competition with Canon's full-frame professional cameras, the EOS-1D range and the EOS 5D. The sensor has a pixel pitch 15 percent larger than competitive cameras, gapless surface micro-lenses and advanced on-chip noise reduction, which should mean high-quality images under very low light levels are possible. The sensor enables an ISO range from 200-6400, expandable up to the equivalent of 25,600 (!) or down to 100. Nikon is calling the new sensor format the FX, indicating that the D3 will not be the only camera to use this size.

The D3 uses the same EXPEED image processor as the D300, with 14-bit A/D and 16-bit image processing. It also has the same new 51-Point autofocus system designed to acquire and track subjects' movement more accurately. The Scene Recognition System is "a radical new approach to calculating exposures and white balance", with a 1005-pixel RGB metering sensor modified to distinguish subjects' shape and position for improved auto exposure and Autofocus accuracy.

The camera's performance is extremely impressive. It can shoot at nine frames a second, which can be increased to 11fps in DX crop mode. Startup time is 0.12 seconds, and shutter delay is just 41 milliseconds. The D3 incorporates an all-new Nikon manufactured shutter unit tested to over 300,000 cycles. The shutter blades are constructed from a durable composite Kevlar and carbon fibre.

The full list of features is too long to go into here, but highlights include Live View on the 3-inch VGA LCD screen with 170-degree viewing angle, dual CompactFlash card slots, a fully environmentally sealed magnesium alloy body, and active D-Lighting and multiple picture control options in JPEG mode. It measures 159.5 x 157 x 87.5 mm and weight 1,240g.

Of course you don't get a camera like this for peanuts; the recommended retail price (body only) is £3399.99.


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