Excerpt: You've read it here before: Megapixels aren't everything. Now that the 24.5MP Nikon D3X ($8,000, street, body only) has become the third full-frame DSLR to break the 20MP barrier, how well does that simple truth hold up? Very well indeed. As we pointed out in our Hands On last month (February 2009), raising the pixel count involves some tradeoffs.
Excerpt: For a while, it looked as if Nikon were taking a break from the megapixel race to focus on other aspects of image quality. After all, the pro-caliber D3 is just 12.1MP, and the recent D90 is only 12.3MP. But the hiatus is over. Nikon is back in the fray big-time with the introduction of a 24.5MP full-frame flagship, the D3X ($8,000, street, body only).
Summary: So it’s no surprise to find the Nikon D3x, like the D3 before it, is a very successful and satisfying tool for the professional, but what about the image quality? When we went into this test we of course expected excellent results from the flagship Nikon DSLR, but we were surprised not just by its ultimate resolving power, but also the comparative quality of its main rival – in terms of images anyway.
Summary: The Nikon D3X is the top-of-the-line full-frame DSLR from Nikon. It delivers the highest resolution of any DSLR at a continuous speed of 5 FPS with an ISO sensitivity range expandable to 50-6400. This large camera with integrated vertical grip provides lots of external controls in a professional weather-sealed body. Its extra large 100% coverage reflex viewfinder makes judging focus easy and framing comfortable and accurate.
Pros: Excellent resolution, Great ISO performance, Superb dynamic-range, Reliable metering, Good image colors, Super-fast autofocus, Instant shutter lag, Virtually no black-out, Dual CF slots with Backup mode, Built in viewfinder shutter, Fast shot-to-shot speed, Wealth of controls, Great ergonomics, Highly customizable, Built like a tank, Top-notch battery-life
Cons: AWB, LCD overly reflective, Limited, Limited ISO range, No built-in flash, No dust reduction, Heavy & bulky, Very expensive, Vertical grip less comfortable, Digital Level
Conclusion: Following the tradition of the Nikon single-digit F series (film) and D series (digital) SLRs, the D3X is a wonderfully designed and manufactured camera. I am very accustomed to the large size of the Nikon F4, F5, D2X and D3, therefore I feel quite at home holding the D3X. At its based and lower ISOs from 100 to 400, the D3X produces clean, 24MP high-resolution images.
Summary: The D3X takes the crown as the king of the high-resolution DSLRs, leapfrogging the Canon EOS-1D Mk III and offering breathtaking image quality when shot under optimal conditions. Putting aside the eye-watering price it's hard to find much to complain about, though you wouldn't choose it for sports or low-light work. For studio and landscape work, however, it's pretty much peerless.
Pros: At low ISOs clean, artifact-free output with class-leading pixel-level detail, Resolution up with the very best, Efficient D-Lighting preserves extra highlight detail (although the effect is fairly subtle), Good High ISO/noise performance, usable results up to very high sensitivities, Plenty of RAW headroom with surprisingly good highlight recovery potential, Superb build quality, weather-sealed magnesium body, Excellent ergonomics and abundance of external controls, ...
Cons: Self-Timer cannot be used in Live-View, Image parameters only offer limited latitude of adjustment, Unreliable Auto White Balance in artificial light, Steep JPEG tone curve can lead to clipped highlights, Slight tendency to overexpose flash images at short subject distance (tested with SB-900), Focus points somewhat concentrated in the center of the frame, No in-camera dust removal system, RAW processing requires substantial computing power, Not exactly a bargain
Summary: The D3x would easily have got a top Best4Reviews rating of six stars – had it not been so pricey. But even so, this is a camera that should be a serious contender for anyone thinking of splashing money on a digital back, which would set you back far more. Needless to say, the D3x is a stunning camera and a stunning performer.
Pros: Build and handling, Superb image quality, Ergonomics, Screen size, AF performance, White Balance control, EXPEED image processing and noise control.
Summary: With the D3x Nikon has finally joined Canon in the exclusive 20 Megapixel Club, and it was worth the wait. The D3x is a stunning camera that pushes the boundaries of DSLR performance to a new level. It isn’t perfect, though, in particular, the omission of any form of built-in dust control is a major disappointment.
Pros: Incredible resolution, image quality up to ISO 1600, handling and performance
Cons: No dust control, no built-in flash, auto WB not foolproof, that price tag!