Field Review: Nikon D3x (Day 2)

Though not what it’s really meant to shoot, the Nikon D3x accompanied me on a trip to South St Seaport shooting almost in the style of The Sartorialist. Scott is a wonderfully talented photographer that combines street photography with fashion. I tagged along with my friend Katie Jane Parker while doing this. Here are some of my findings.

The D3x has the same autofocus system as the Nikon D3s. That means that it is accurate, fast, smart and totally reliable with very few faults. Combine this with the high resolution abilities of the D3x and you’ve got yourself a winner, right? Not totally, the D3x gets pretty noisy above ISO 400. In fact, I encourage this to be used in nothing less than stellar light. Katie shot me moving around using the tracking focus and was always able to keep me in focus. It was phenomenal.

The reason for this is perhaps the fact that it is targeted towards the medium format crowd of photographers. Despite this, it still manages to shoot at 5fps. That’s not bad for a medium format camera.

The type of shooting done typically requires just asking people for their picture and posing them elegantly. However, some features on the D3x allowed me to instead just shoot candids. My photojournalism and celebrity training has taught me this. Add onto this the fact that no one can sue you for photos in public in NYC.

The D3x is built like a brick. I didn’t drop it like I did the D3s though and the strap issue was solved pretty easily. If someone tried to steal the camera I would probably beat them with it instead. Bricks don’t always have the most comfortable ergonomics though. I’m not exactly sure about what it is but shooting vertically with this camera was more uncomfortable than with the D3s.

This was tested out with the 24-70mm F2.8 ED lens. Something that once again came in great handy was the cropped sensor area option.

Live view was a bit harder to get on this camera. It’s great that Nikon put that feature in as it really helps when shooting on a tripod of some sort.

My biggest gripe with the camera is the fact that there is no sensor cleaning. Though the sensor never got dirty it always kept me wary. Katie wanted to put her own Nikon lenses on the camera and so she asked me to switch the lenses as I’m a master at doing it quickly and it is also a camera on loan to me. I couldn’t take it to the pillow fight also for this reason.

Another problem of mine is the lack of true versatility. The D3s can be put into the hands of nearly every professional and will serve some sort of function to help further the photographer’s cause. Whether it be photojournalism, studio, weddings, events, sports, celebrity photography or wildlife, anyone can use this camera. There is no good reason for a sports photographer or photojournalist to use this as they typically don’t need 24MP and the high ISO results aren’t up to modern standards. The D3x is a highly specialized tool but for the price, I really can’t justify it.

Katie Jane came along with me because she was considering buying one. Despite the fact that she was very impressed with it, she couldn’t really justify the cost either. When she asked about my reactions towards it and how I felt the Nikon D3s was one of god’s gifts to photographers, she immediately was interested in the D3s instead.

For my work, I can’t justify it either. I’ve got no shoots coming up that justifies what the D3x can do: very high resolution images at low ISOs. All of my weddings, concerts, events, and shoots tend to need the high ISO abilities and resolution that I can get with the Canon 7D and 5D Mk II.

Perhaps more testing will be done, otherwise this camera’s functionality is very straight-forward.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.