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1. Viewfinder: 100% viewfinder coverage is included with 0.7x magnification. When used with DX lenses, the viewfinder automatically grays out the portion of the viewfinder that isn’t active. 2. Live View Options: There are two Live View shooting modes for viewing scenes on the 921K-pixel, 3.0-inch LCD screen—Handheld Mode and Tripod Mode. Tripod Mode allows photographers to zoom in up to 27x for checking focus. 3. Pro Construction: The D3x carries over the external features that have made the D3 such a respected camera, including a weather-sealed body, a 300,000-cycle shutter and dual CompactFlash slots.

Nikon D3X

ESTIMATED STREET PRICE: List Price: $7,999 (body only)


Replacing the D3 as Nikon’s flagship D-SLR, the full-frame D3x, now almost a year old, was the eagerly anticipated evolution of Nikon’s solid D3. On the exterior, the D3x is identical to the D3. The build, interface and many of the features so familiar to D3 users have been carried over directly to the D3x.

Underneath the hood, however, there are a few substantial improvements that make the $3,000 price hike reasonable, including a brand-new sensor and a 16-bit processing pipeline with your choice of image file capture at 14-bit (16,384 tones) or 12-bit (4,096 tones) for incredibly high picture quality and subtle tonality.

More importantly, the D3x finally brings the megapixel count that Nikon users have been clamoring for. When the D3 was introduced, a full-frame sensor at 12.1-megapixel resolution was a bit of a shock, even when compared against its chief competitor, the sub-full-frame, 10.1-megapixel Canon EOS 1D Mark III. The D3 was built for speed, however, and Nikon decided that 12.1 megapixels was an adequate trade-off, with up to 9 fps full-frame NEF capture.

WELL FOCUSED: The D3x is head of the class with 51 focus points, including 15 cross-type sensors. Contrast Detect autofocus is used in the Live View Tripod mode, but offers faster phase detection autofocus in the Handheld Live View mode.

SHADOW/HIGHLIGHT DETAIL: Active D-Lighting, Nikon’s dynamic range expander, now features an Extra High setting, as well as an Auto mode, for capturing improved shadow and highlight detail in high-contrast scenes.

ISO RANGE: ISO sensitivity on the low end now includes a Lo-1 setting for an ISO 50 equivalent. On the high end, the D3x extends only to an Hi-2 equivalent of ISO 6400, in contrast to the D3, which offers extreme sensitivity settings of Hi-1 and Hi-2 at ISO 12,800 and 25,600, respectively.

PICTURE CONTROL: The D3x includes four standard presets—Standard, Neutral, Vivid and Monochrome—for capturing images in preferred settings. There’s also the ability to set up custom presets with your favorite settings.
While the D3x takes a hit with a downgrade in speed to 5 fps (in full-frame resolution) from the D3’s 9 fps, the D3x offers a brand-new, massive 24.5-megapixel sensor, a very close second in megapixel count to the 24.6-megapixel Sony DSLR-A900. (This isn’t a coincidence, as Sony manufactures the D3x’s sensor.)

Like the D3, the D3x also offers DX mode (sub-full-frame capture) for enhanced speed, providing up to an impressive 7 fps in the APS-C-sized DX format. Shooting in the 10.5-megapixel DX mode also saves on file size and, consequently, processing power, when full-frame resolution isn’t necessary. The camera also offers compatibility with Nikkor DX lenses and automatically selects DX mode with these lenses attached.


STANDOUT FEATURE: A 24.5-megapixel, full-frame sensor puts Nikon near the head of the pack in full-frame resolution.
VERDICT: For Nikon shooters who demand the best performance available, the D3x is the ultimate pro model from Nikon to date.

Nikon D3
Even at 12.1 megapixels, Nikon’s D3 is still a powerful camera. If unbridled speed is what you need for your photography, the D3 captures at a blistering 9 fps for 130 frames, with up to 11 fps in the 5.1-megapixel DX format. Selectable 12- or 14-bit A/D conversion offers your choice of faster shooting or bigger files with better image quality. The substantial ISO range offers comprehensive low-light shooting all the way up to 25,600 in Hi-2 mode. More standout features include a high-resolution, 3.0-inch, 920K LCD screen, 51-point autofocus with three-dimensional focus tracking, Active D-Lighting dynamic range optimization (sans the Auto setting), a Virtual Horizon indicator, two Live View shooting modes and Picture Control presets. List Price: $4,999.

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