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Nikon D3x DSLR – Preview


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If you missed it, which would’ve been difficult after the leaks from across the pond on Friday and over the weekend, Nikon has officially announced its D3x – the company’s highest resolution DSLR to date, aimed primarily at the studio photographer. Of course, we were at the launch and had the opportunity to give it a hands-on whirl in a studio with a couple of models…

In short, the Nikon D3x is a D3 with a 24.5-megapixel CMOS sensor at its heart. This effectively ups the number of pixels by a factor of two from the D3 and D700 to give Nikon a trio of full-frame FX cameras at the top of its range.
Woman holding a Nikon D3x DSLR camera.(centre)”’One of the studio shots we took with the D3x”’(/centre)

As for the details about the sensor itself, Nikon was remaining tight-lipped at the launch, referring to it as a ‘Nikon exclusive design’. Whether or not we can glean from this that Nikon has modified the Sony sensor found in the 24-megapixel A900 is largely conjecture, so all we can say is that the sensor has been ‘specially developed’ by Nikon and features a gap-less micro lens array and a unique low-pass filter with multi-layer coating that helps to minimise moiré.
Nikon D3x DSLR camera's image sensor specifications and features.

The other differences include a new ‘High’ D-Lighting setting to bring out more detail from shadow regions without blowing out the highlights and a narrower standard ISO range of 100-1,600 that can be extended by two stops up to 6,400 and down one to 50. As a result of the greater amount of image data, the continuous shooting rate has fallen from the D3’s 9fps to a still healthy 5fps at full resolution or up to 7fps in its 10-megapixel DX format crop-mode. And, to get an idea of the data sizes we’re talking about, you can expect the following file sizes:

  • NEF FX(14-Bit) = 50MB approx.
  • NEF FX(12-Bit) = 37MB approx.
  • JPEG FX Large Fine = 10mB approx.
  • NEF DX (14-Bit) =22MB approx.
  • NEF DX (12-Bit) = 16.2MB approx.
  • Converted NEF FX to 16-Bit TIFF = 143MB approx.
  • TIFF FX = 72MB approx.

The rest of the features are pretty much the same as the D3. A magnesium alloy body and mirror chamber with weather-sealing; a 100% coverage viewfinder; the excellent 3in VGA LCD with Live View; and autofocus handled admirably by the tried and tested 51-point Multi-CAM 3500 system.
Disassembled Nikon D3x DSLR camera sensor on table.(centre)”’Nikon’s 51-point Multi-CAM 3500 system”’(/centre)

As usual, EXPEED image processing lies within, along with Nikon’s scene recognition and tracking system courtesy of a 1,005-pixel RGB sensor. There’s also the Kevlar/carbon fibre composite shutter – good for 300,000 actuations – a Type-C HDMI output, two UDMA-capable CompactFlash slots, and of course the same ergonomics and handling that the Nikon D3 is renown for.

In use, it felt extremely well-balanced in the hand even with heavy lenses. And as a long-time Canon user, I found that the D3x’s controls were surprisingly easy to operate and use, with everything laid out very intuitively. It looks big, I agree, but it doesn’t feel it…
Nikon D3x DSLR camera rear view showcasing display and controls.

The viewfinder is very bright and clear – essential for studio work – and focusing in low-light was quick and accurate, although on occasion it did get a little confused in gloomy, low-contrast scenes – hardly unusual for any DSLR, professional or not. However, overall, it feels superbly solid and totally up to the job.

Seeing as this is Nikon’s top-of -the-range digital SLR, you can also expect a top-of-the-range price. With an RRP of £5,499.99 Inc VAT (at 15%), and availability from late December, there should be just enough time to make someone very special ”extremely” happy this Christmas.

Nikon UK

Nikon D3x DSLR camera body without lens.
Rear view of Nikon D3x DSLR camera showing LCD and buttons.
Nikon D3x DSLR camera with wide-angle lens attached.
Nikon D3x DSLR camera with telephoto lens.

(centre)”’These are reduced JPEGs that have been saved for the web. The full size versions can be viewed by clicking to enlarge.”’(/centre)
Yellow Lamborghini Gallardo with 'CLUB GT' license plate.Woman posing in white V-neck shirt.Series of images showing Nikon D3x's ISO performance from ISO 400 to 6400.(centre)Shot in JPEG at ISO-100, straight from camera.(/centre)
Yellow Lamborghini Gallardo with 'CLUB GT' license plate.Series of images showing Nikon D3x's ISO performance from ISO 400 to 6400.(centre)The results up to 400 ISO were as clean as a whistle, so instead we’re showing shots I took at 400, 640, 800, 1,000, 1,600, and 6,400. I should add that not all of these were completely in focus (maybe I got a little over-excited for some reason), but you can at least roughly assess image noise in the full-res crops(/centre)
Yellow Lamborghini Gallardo with 'CLUB GT' license plate.(centre)And for a bit of fun, a Gallardo in Nikon yellow and black…(/centre)

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Camera type Digital SLR
Megapixels (Megapixel) 24.5 Megapixel
Optical Zoom (Times) By lensx

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