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The Nikon D3 from ISO 200 to 25600
Thursday, November 15, 2007 | by Rob Galbraith
Nikon has taken a grassroots approach to marketing their upcoming D3 digital SLR, putting it in the hands of professional photographers far and wide in the months leading up to its expected late-November release. And while this practice isn't new, it is uncommon to allow those same photographers to use and distribute the files freely, especially from bodies running relatively early firmware. Such is Nikon's confidence in their first full-frame offering.
 
We've gathered files from three such photographers - Tony Bock, Nick Didlick and David Einsel - as well as photographer/author Peter K. Burian. From ISO 200 to 25600, here are full-resolution examples of what Nikon's new flagship is capable of.
 
Nikon_D3_ISO200_Skydome_midres.jpg
Wide Spot: Nikon D3 + AF Zoom 14-24mm f/2.8G at ISO 200 (Photo by Nick Didlick)
 
Full resolution photos
 
Links next to the thumbnails below are to full resolution files shot with preproduction Nikon D3 bodies. All photos are in the Adobe RGB colour space and include an embedded ICC profile. To get a proper look at the photos, download and open them in Photoshop or another image viewer that enables you to magnify them fully and that will display the shooting data that has been placed in the IPTC Caption field. While some of the thumbnails are cropped, unless otherwise marked the downloadable files are uncropped.
 
To download, right-click on the link and select your browser's option for saving the photo to your hard drive. If you view these photos in your browser, be sure to use one that supports colour-managed image viewing or they'll look flatter and less saturated than they actually are.
 
All of these photos are for personal viewing and printing only. They may not be republished in any form without the permission of the copyright holder; this includes the posting of photos downloaded from this page onto another server.
 
Things to note:
  • Most of the photos are in their original form, as they emerged from the camera as a JPEG or from the RAW converter (which was a beta version of Nikon Capture NX in most cases, though we processed one file using Phase One's Capture One 4 Beta 2 also).

  • There are a mix of unsharpened, in-camera sharpened and Photoshop sharpened photos here. The Caption field in each photo notes whether sharpening was enabled in the camera (along with Active D-Lighting, High ISO NR and other key image processing settings), while the filename indicates whether Smart Sharpen was applied in Photoshop (a guide to the naming convention we used is just ahead). None of the files have been double-sharpened.

  • Thanks to all who've written in requesting a comparison of the D3 and Canon EOS-1D Mark III for night sports and other low light photography. We were given a preproduction D3 in late October, but in making the body available, Nikon USA stipulated that we not publish pictures from it. If that weren't the case, we'd show examples of how the D3 stacks up against Canon's EOS-1D Mark III at higher ISOs, and those examples would reveal that, while there are differences in the appearance of image graininess - Canon's grain pattern is tighter - there's no doubt that the D3 produces a less noisy, higher quality file at ISO 3200 and beyond. This is an incredible achievement on Nikon's part.

    On the other hand, EOS-1D Mark III files at any ISO - especially CR2s processed through Canon's Digital Photo Professional - are generally slightly crisper and more detailed. This could be because we're looking at photos taken with preproduction Nikon equipment, but experience has taught us that production gear is likely to show the same image quality traits.

    More about all of this, and other comparisons, including how the D3's autofocus system stacks up against an EOS-1D Mark III with the recently-announced sub-mirror fix in place, will come when we have a production-level D3.

  • Some of the photos are available both unsharpened and in an alternate version that has been treated with Smart Sharpen to counteract the softness introduced by the camera's low-pass optical filter.

  • All of the photos were taken with preproduction bodies and, in some cases, preproduction lenses too. As such, the image quality delivered by full production cameras and lenses may be different. Though, as noted above, not too much tends to change usually in image quality between late-stage preproduction pieces and shipping units. The one notable exception to this are dead pixels and related sensor defects that haven't been mapped out in preproduction cameras, and which can show up as brightly-coloured dots and lines in photos. It's comparatively rare to see these defects in shipping bodies.
Understanding the filename The filename, and shooting data in the Caption field, together provide information that's important to the understanding of how the photo was taken and processed. The shooting data is self-explanatory; the filename is explained below.
 
nikon_d3_filename_expl.jpg
 
Nikon_D3_ISO200_Skydome1_thumb.jpg
Nikon D3 at ISO 200 (Photo by Nick Didlick)

Notes: This photo was taken with an AF Zoom 14-24mm f/2.8G (at 14mm).

Download full-resolution version(s)
Nikon_D3_ISO200_Skydome1_NX.jpg
Nikon_D3_ISO200_Skydome2_thumb.jpg
Nikon D3 at ISO 200 (Photo by Nick Didlick)

Notes: This photo was taken with an AF Zoom 14-24mm f/2.8G (at 14mm).

Download full-resolution version(s)
Nikon_D3_ISO200_Skydome2_NX.jpg
Nikon_D3_ISO200_Buildings_thumb.jpg
Nikon D3 at ISO 200 (Photo by Nick Didlick)

Notes: This photo was taken with an AF Zoom 14-24mm f/2.8G (at 15mm).

Download full-resolution version(s)
Nikon_D3_ISO200_Buildings_NX.jpg
Nikon_D3_ISO200_Portrait_thumb.jpg
Nikon D3 at ISO 200 (Photo by Nick Didlick)

Notes: None.

Download full-resolution version(s)
Nikon_D3_ISO200_Portrait_NX.jpg
Nikon_D3_ISO200_Pitcher1_thumb.jpg
Nikon D3 at ISO 200 (Photo by Nick Didlick)

Notes: This photo may not be tack sharp or there may be some oversmoothing occurring during processing. It is, however, typical of quite a few lower ISO D3 frames we've seen that have been shot with long telephoto lenses.

Download full-resolution version(s)
Nikon_D3_ISO200_Pitcher1_NX.jpg
Nikon_D3_ISO400_Pitcher2_thumb.jpg
Nikon D3 at ISO 400 (Photo by Peter K. Burian)

Notes: A slightly blurry strip running horizontally through the middle of the frame is an out-of-focus wire and not a camera or lens problem.

Download full-resolution version(s)
Nikon_D3_ISO400_Pitcher2_NX.jpg
Nikon_D3_ISO1600_Hockey_thumb.jpg
Nikon D3 at ISO 1600 (Photo by Nick Didlick/Getty Images)

Notes: None.

Download full-resolution version(s)
Nikon_D3_ISO1600_Hockey_NX.jpg
Nikon_D3_ISO3200_Mall_thumb.jpg
Nikon D3 at ISO 3200 (Photo by Nick Didlick)

Notes: None.

Download full-resolution version(s)
Nikon_D3_ISO3200_Mall_NX.jpg
Nikon_D3_ISO3200_Toss_thumb.jpg
Nikon D3 at ISO 3200 (Photo by Tony Bock/Toronto Star)

Notes: None.

Download full-resolution version(s)
Nikon_D3_ISO3200_Toss_JPEG.jpg
Nikon_D3_ISO3200_Jubo_thumb.jpg
Nikon D3 at ISO 3200 (Photo by Tony Bock/Toronto Star)

Notes: None.

Download full-resolution version(s)
Nikon_D3_ISO3200_Jubo_JPEG.jpg
Nikon_D3_ISO3200_Bat_thumb.jpg
Nikon D3 at ISO 3200 (Photo by Tony Bock/Toronto Star)

Notes: None.

Download full-resolution version(s)
Nikon_D3_ISO3200_Bat_JPEG.jpg
Nikon_D3_ISO3200_QB_thumb.jpg
Nikon D3 at ISO 3200 (Photo by David Einsel)

Notes: Photos from this preproduction D3 body show quite a few dead pixels and/or minor sensor defects, which may be visible in this photo as brightly-coloured dots or short lines.

Download full-resolution version(s)
Nikon_D3_ISO3200_QB_JPEG.jpg
Nikon_D3_ISO3200_Run_thumb.jpg
Nikon D3 at ISO 3200 (Photo by David Einsel)

Notes: Photos from this preproduction D3 body show quite a few dead pixels and/or minor sensor defects, which may be visible in this photo as brightly-coloured dots or short lines.

Download full-resolution version(s)
Nikon_D3_ISO3200_Run_JPEG.jpg
Nikon_D3_ISO3200_Leap_thumb.jpg
Nikon D3 at ISO 3200 (Photo by David Einsel)

Notes: Photos from this preproduction D3 body show quite a few dead pixels and/or minor sensor defects, which may be visible in this photo as brightly-coloured dots or short lines. There are two versions of this photo available for download; the second version has been lightened in Photoshop and shows how well a D3 file can handle this type of adjustment, even when shot at a higher ISO setting.
Nikon_D3_ISO3200_Tackle_Corr_thumb.jpg
Nikon D3 at ISO 3200 (Photo by David Einsel)

Notes: Photos from this preproduction D3 body show quite a few dead pixels and/or minor sensor defects, which may be visible in this photo as brightly-coloured dots or short lines. There are two versions of this photo available for download; the second version has been lightened slightly in Photoshop and shows how well a D3 file can handle this type of adjustment, even when shot at a higher ISO setting.
Nikon_D3_ISO3200_Dive_thumb.jpg
Nikon D3 at ISO 3200 (Photo by David Einsel)

Notes: Photos from this preproduction D3 body show quite a few dead pixels and/or minor sensor defects, which may be visible in this photo as brightly-coloured dots or short lines.

Download full-resolution version(s)
Nikon_D3_ISO3200_Dive_JPEG.jpg
Nikon_D3_ISO3200_Rest_thumb.jpg
Nikon D3 at ISO 3200 (Photo by David Einsel)

Notes: Photos from this preproduction D3 body show quite a few dead pixels and/or minor sensor defects, which may be visible in this photo as brightly-coloured dots or short lines.

Download full-resolution version(s)
Nikon_D3_ISO3200_Rest_JPEG.jpg
Nikon_D3_ISO6400_Tackle2_thumb.jpg
Nikon D3 at ISO 6400 (Photo by David Einsel)

Notes: Photos from this preproduction D3 body show quite a few dead pixels and/or minor sensor defects, which may be visible in this photo as brightly-coloured dots or short lines.

Download full-resolution version(s)
Nikon_D3_ISO6400_Tackle2_JPEG.jpg
Nikon_D3_ISO6400_Touchdown_thumb.jpg
Nikon D3 at ISO 6400 (Photo by David Einsel)

Notes: Photos from this preproduction D3 body show quite a few dead pixels and/or minor sensor defects, which may be visible in this photo as brightly-coloured dots or short lines.

Download full-resolution version(s)
Nikon_D3_ISO6400_Touchdown_JPEG.jpg
Nikon_D3_ISO3200_Hat1_thumb.jpg
Nikon D3 at ISO 3200 (Photo by David Einsel)

Notes: Photos from this preproduction D3 body show quite a few dead pixels and/or minor sensor defects, which may be visible in this photo as brightly-coloured dots or short lines.

Download full-resolution version(s)
Nikon_D3_ISO3200_Hat1_JPEG.jpg
Nikon_D3_ISO6400_Hat2_thumb.jpg
Nikon D3 at ISO 6400 (Photo by David Einsel)

Notes: Photos from this preproduction D3 body show quite a few dead pixels and/or minor sensor defects, which may be visible in this photo as brightly-coloured dots or short lines.

Download full-resolution version(s)
Nikon_D3_ISO6400_Hat2_JPEG.jpg
Nikon_D3_ISO12800_Hat3_thumb.jpg
Nikon D3 at ISO 12800 (Photo by David Einsel)

Notes: Photos from this preproduction D3 body show quite a few dead pixels and/or minor sensor defects, which may be visible in this photo as brightly-coloured dots or short lines.

Download full-resolution version(s)
Nikon_D3_ISO12800_Hat3_JPEG.jpg
Nikon_D3_ISO25600_Hat4_thumb.jpg
Nikon D3 at ISO 25600 (Photo by David Einsel)

Notes: Photos from this preproduction D3 body show quite a few dead pixels and/or minor sensor defects, which may be visible in this photo as brightly-coloured dots or short lines.

Download full-resolution version(s)
Nikon_D3_ISO25600_Hat4_JPEG.jpg
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