What do you get for six grand these days? Let’s find out..
I don’t believe I got a single duff exposure in nearly 1,000 pictures, taken indoors and out, in sunshine, rain and night time, and at all ISO speeds. Highlight detail is invariably retained even in extreme lighting conditions (e.g. the floodlit building at night, below) – it will rather sacrifice shadow detail if it has to make a choice. I can’t see why you’d ever need the +/- 9 stop bracketing range offered by the D3x – extreme HDR, perhaps?
Although not quite as good as the D3 in this regard, noise is still remarkably well controlled up to ISO 1600, especially given the density of the sensor. When you get to ISO 6400 things can get a bit messy and the detail starts to break dials, so you can set it up just the way you want it. You can even calibrate the LCD screen colour if required. Of course, you also have complete control over the way that final images look, in terms of colour, sharpness etc.
The 24-70mm f/2.8 supplied for the review, which is the most logical choice of partner to the camera, is a perfect complement in terms of size, weight and build quality, and gives the camera excellent balance. Focusing with this lens, and with Nikon’s AF-S lenses in general, is fast and accurate, as it should be with 51 focus points, though I usually prefer to use a smaller grouping. On the D3x there are numerous options; in single area AF mode you can select any of the 51 points for single point operation or switch to a smaller grouping of 11 points, while in multi-area AF you can select a cluster of nine or 21 points.
Metering is as sure-footed as the focusing, and performed impeccably, with not a single bad exposure during the entire test, despite a wide range of shooting situations.
The D3x uses an EN-EL4a Lithium-Ion battery and Nikon claims you can shoot up to 4,400 frames on a single charge. Certainly the 1000 odd shots I took during the test made barely an impact on the battery charge display.
Colour And White Balance
The dynamic range of images from the D3x is as good as from any camera we have tested, and colour rendition is accurate. White Balance is generally good though I found it can be fooled in tungsten lighting.
Sharpness And Detail
As you’d expect from 24 megapixels, detail is incredible. You can just keep zooming and zooming into images without pixellation. At the default setting JPEGs are conservatively sharpened, and resemble the Raw files. Like the D3, the D3x features automatic correction for chromatic aberration and vignetting – performed in the processing, which is why there is little sign of these problems in any of the images. The 24-70mm f/2.8 lens used for most (though not all) of the test is an exceptional performer – bright, sharp, and with little distortion. I also used an old (non VR) 105mm Micro-Nikkor and the 17-55mm f/2.8 DX, with no issues.