The Nikon D3X awes experts with its image quality: It's quite simply the undisputed champ in its class, a dream machine for shooting portraits and landscapes. But a few major drawbacks (chiefly its relatively unimpressive shooting speed and low-light skills) render the D3X actually inferior to some cheaper cameras for other types of photography.
The cornerstone of the D3X is its ultra-high-resolution (24.5 megapixels), full-frame sensor. Imaging-Resource.com's testers leave no room for doubt: "The Nikon D3X produces the highest image quality of any camera we've tested to date," they state unequivocally. DPReview.com agrees, saying the D3X "delivers a level of sharp detail that beats even the strongest competitors including the previous number one in this area, the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III (*Est. $7,000 body only). It's simply amazing how you can keep zooming into the huge image files and discover more and more detail."
But when Nikon boosted the D3X's pixel count into the stratosphere, it forced some compromises. The D3X can't fire off shots nearly as fast as Nikon's other top-tier pro digital SLR, the Nikon D3S (*Est. $5,200 body only) -- expect 5 frames per second (fps) from the D3X, versus 9 fps for the D3S. Also, the D3X lacks the D3S's uncanny ability to shoot practically in the dark. The D3X ranges from ISO 100 to 6400, versus 200 to a formerly unheard-of 102,400 with the D3S. For these reasons alone, critics prefer the D3S for fast-paced or low-light work such as photojournalism and sports photography. Another difference: The Nikon D3S can shoot HD video, but the D3X can't shoot video at all.
Finally, reviewers can't help but notice that the D3X costs thousands more. "Can a camera be worth this much money?" DPReview.com writes. "It's a rather philosophical question. It certainly will be to the professional who requires massive file sizes to sell his pictures, it could be to the serious (and wealthy) amateur who spends hours marveling at the D3X images' fantastic detail, and it's almost certainly not for everyone else."
DPReview.com posts a 34-part review of the Nikon D3X, testing everything in great detail. Imaging-Resource.com also conducts extensive testing and posts a series of test shots. Shorter reviews at PopPhoto.com and PhotographyBlog.com are also based on expert tests. Amazon.com is a good place to find owner feedback.
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Lars Rehm exhaustively tests every aspect of the Nikon D3X and concludes that it's "pretty much peerless" for landscape and studio photography. However, Rehm points out several drawbacks, including the D3X's lowered ISO sensitivity and burst speed and its high price.
Review: Nikon D3X In-depth Review, Lars Rehm, Feb. 2009
A perfect 5-star rating "seems hardly enough" for the Nikon D3X, experts here conclude after extensive tests. It delivers the best image quality of any camera they've ever tested, and it still manages decent shooting speed (5 fps). It's also "built like the proverbial tank" for daily pro use.
Review: Nikon D3X Overview, Michael R. Tomkins, Dave Etchells and Siegfried Weidelich, Updated July 2009
The Nikon D3X was PopPhoto.com's Camera of the Year in 2009. Tester Philip Ryan says it's "built for pixel power, not for speed," but the ability to print huge, high-resolution photos is worth the tradeoff.
Review: Nikon D3X: Camera Test, Philip Ryan, March 2009
After testing its image quality and ease of use, PhotographyBlog.com awards the Nikon D3X its highest 5-star "Essential" rating. However, the review itself raises some questions about the D3X's lack of a dust self-cleaning feature and whether the extra pixels are worth the extra price over the original Nikon D3.
Review: Nikon D3X Review, Gavin Stoker, April 2009
With more than 25 owner reviews posted, the Nikon D3X averages 4.5 out of 5 stars. Most are amazed by the image quality, but some complain that the D3X costs too much or they got a defective one.
Review: Nikon D3X (Body Only), Contributors to Amazon.com