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Nikon D3X Flagship DSLR Announced!

by [tag]David Tong[/tag]

Just announced officially today, the high-resolution version of the excellent [tag]Nikon D3[/tag] is out. Following the traditional model naming scheme of Nikon, the “X” denotes extra resolution, and the new [tag]Nikon D3X[/tag] now sports a [tag]24.5 mega-pixel[/tag] full-frame sensor and officially entered the high-end, professional high-resolution game that the [tag]Canon 1Ds[/tag] series has dominated for ages.

Download the Nikon D3X brochure here.

The suggested retail price of US$7,999.95 places the Nikon D3X parallel to the Canon 1Ds Mark III segment of the market.

Image Courtesy of Nikon USA

Image Courtesy of Nikon USA

Here are the specs in a nutshell according to Nikon USA’s website:

  • Extreme resolution 24.5-megapixel FX-format (35.9 x 24.0mm) CMOS sensor
    Large 5.49µm pixels capture astonishing detail and subtleties with outstanding dynamic range for demanding commercial applications.
  • [tag]Nikon EXPEED[/tag] image processing technologies
    EXPEED extends and assures breathtakingly rich image fidelity and reduces noise, even at high ISOs.
  • 138 MB1 Processed NEF (RAW) 12 or 14 bit image files
    Selectable bit depths of 12-bit (4,096 tones) or 14-bit (16,384 tones), both yielding incredible image quality through a 16-bit processing pipeline, for smoother tonal gradations.

    1 Approximate

  • Low noise ISO sensitivity from 100 to 1600
    Added ISO settings of Lo-1 ISO 50, Hi-1 ISO 3200 and Hi-2 ISO 6400 extend versatility.
  • Two Live View shooting modes
    Two Live View modes add flexibility, and up to 27x magnification in the Tripod Mode, acute focusing accuracy is easily confirmed.
  • Continuous shooting at up to 5 fps at full FX-format resolution
    Commercial image quality teams with speed and handling to create new shooting possibilities—in the studio or on location.
  • Fast, accurate 51-point AF system
    AF system features 4 Dynamic AF modes, including 3D Focus Tracking, for autofocus precision and razor sharpness.
  • 1,005-Pixel 3D Color Matrix Metering II with Scene Recognition System
    Two Nikon-exclusive technologies provide intelligent auto exposure capabilities, along with refined auto white balance detection and faster, more accurate AF performance.
  • 3-inch super-density 920,000-dot VGA LCD monitor
    Individual factory calibration assures the color accuracy of each D3X monitor for critical image review.
  • 100% viewfinder coverage
  • Nikon Picture Control
    Four preset options: Standard, Neutral, Vivid and Monochrome, and 9 customizable settings provide advanced, personalized color control.
  • Rugged, durable and precise magnesium-alloy construction
    Effectively protected from invasive dust, moisture and electromagnetic interference with a self-diagnostic shutter mechanism tested to 300,000 cycles.
  • Dual CF card slots with overflow, backup and copy options
  • Virtual Horizon Graphic Indicator
  • Up to 4,400 images per battery charge

It is interesting that the frame-per-second count drops to half of what the D3 offers at 5fps (expected, as the D3X isn’t marketed as a sports camera like the D3), but the ISO range is decreased as well with base ISO set at a more traditional ISO 100-1600 only, expanding to ISO 50 in the low range and ISO 3200 and 6400 in high range. This is two stops slower that what the D3 and D700 offers (ISO 12800 and 25600) – again, understandable, but interesting).

As of today, we now officially have four full frame 20+ megapixel DSLRs from Canon, Sony, and Nikon. Wow.

For more info, head towards Nikon’s official D3X page.

The more I think about it, though, the more I don’t understand this release.

This is essentially a D3 with a different sensor primarily, and probably a differently designed EXPEED processor. Other than resolution, everything else is either identical to the D3 or lower-specification than the D3 (FPS, ISO), is that worth almost double the D3? I think not.

Unless you’ve invested heavily on Nikon lenses and accessories, the Sony A900 or the Canon 5D Mark II offers roughly the same resolution for the targeted market (studio, landscape, fine-art photographers) at almost a third of the price with high-ISO and video (for the Canon) option to boot.

If the D700 body does come up with a high-res sensor as well, the more the D3X doesn’t make sense.

Unlike Canon’s approach on their speed vs resolution products (1D and 1Ds, respectively), the D3 an the D3X have too little of differentiation for such a exorbitant price increase, in my opinion.

Maybe a full-frame, sport shooter (D3) wasn’t that good of an idea in the first place? I’m not sure about that. I personally admire the D700 and D3 as it fits most users need and wants at a reasonable price. The D3X offers little over its main rival, the Canon 1Ds Mark III, and also little over the lower segment offerings from Sony, Canon, and ironically, their own products.

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