Nikon D3

Professional digital SLR with the new FX format, realizing ultra-high sensitivity, image quality and response speed – D3

August 23, 2007D3

Tokyo — Nikon Corporation is pleased to announce the introduction of the new-generation professional digital SLR, Nikon D3.Incorporating the large CMOS image sensor developed by Nikon, the D3 features 12.1 effective megapixels and a sensitivity range from ISO 200 to 6,400 at normal setting.

As its image processing system, Nikon’s comprehensive digital image processing concept EXPEED is employed, for which Nikon’s accumulated knowhow and technologies are applied and optimized. The D3 provides high picture quality and high-speed image-processing capability that have never been realized with conventional digital SLRs.

The D3 enables continuous shooting at approximately 9 frames per second for 12.1 megapixel images. In addition, when [DX format (24 x 16)] (5.1 megapixels) is selected, approximately 11 frames per second is made possible. With these advanced features in picture quality, sensitivity and speed, the D3 meets the many diverse requirements and demands of customers, including professionals.

The image sensor of the D3 is a CMOS sensor developed by Nikon with a sensing area of 36.9 x 23.9 mm, that is compliant with the area of 35 mm film. Nikon will use the term “FX format” for the image format of 35 mm equivalent Nikon digital SLR cameras.

Development background and future prospective Nikon has consistently incorporated the DX format in its digital SLRs based on the conclusion, through comprehensive investigation of the picture quality, operability, size, price, etc. demanded, that it has the most appropriate balance for general shooting situations.

As a result, the DX format has been evaluated as a mainstream format in the digital SLR market. Also, Nikon is proud that it has established a stable position in the field of the DX format through various contributions, including the supply of interchangeable lenses optimized for the format.

On the other hand, there is also an increasing demand for SLRs that feature higher sensitivity, increased pixel count, better resolution and wider dynamic range, mainly from professionals in press, sports, commercial photo fields and so on. Besides professionals, there are many opinions from high-end amateurs along the lines of, “I want a digital SLR that offers the same relationship of picture angle that I have become accustomed to in 35mm format over the years” To deal with this situation, we have developed the D3 as the first digital SLR that features Nikon FX format to meet the requirements of customers in a flexible way. Nikon FX format and DX format both provide their own advantages. Nikon recognizes that both formats are inevitable in order to satisfy customers’ demands flexibly in respect of performance, price, size, weight, etc.

Based on this recognition, Nikon will strengthen the lineup of Nikon FX-format SLRs and interchangeable lenses, while continuing development and marketing of DX format equipment.

2Major Features New large image sensor developed by Nikon; 12.1 effective megapixels The D3 employs an FX-format CMOS image sensor with a sensor area of 36.0 (H) x 23.9 (V) mm. It offers superior picture quality throughout a wide sensitivity range with such advantages as a large pixel size to ensure high S/N ratio and wide dynamic range, adoption of an element structure that improves light-utilization efficiency. In addition, high-speed 12-channel readout enables fast continuous shooting for 12.1-megapixel images at approximately 9 frames per second, as well as high-speed performance to ensure shooting in Liveview modes.

Wide sensitivity range Sensitivity range is extremely wide, from ISO 200 to 6400 at normal setting. High picture quality without noise is realized not only at low sensitivity setting, but also at high settings such as ISO 6,400. Even in dark conditions in which satisfactory results were almost impossible to obtain before, high-quality pictures can be taken. Furthermore, sensitivity can be increased to HI 0.3, HI 0.5, HI 0.7, HI 1 (ISO 12,800 equivalent), HI 2 (ISO 25,600 equivalent), and decreased to Lo 1 (ISO 100 equivalent), Lo 0.7, Lo 0.5 and Lo 0.3. All these settings expand the shooting possibilities.

High-speed performance Shutter release time lag is only 37 ms*, equivalent to the Nikon D2XS, which is generally regarded as a mechanical limit. Continuous shooting speed is approximately 9 frames per second with FX format (36 x 24) or 5:4 (30 x 24), approximately 11 frames per second with DX format (24 x 16). The Nikon D3 is also the first digital SLR compliant with next-generation high-speed card UDMA, that enables 35-Mbyte recording speed, approximately 4 times as fast as the Nikon D2XS. Approximately 6-megapixel JPEG-Large-Fine image data taken with the FX format can be recorded at a speed higher than 5 frames per second.

Startup time is approximately 0.12 second, shorter than the D2XS by 0.08 second.* 41 ms if based on the new CIPA guideline to be established around August 4, 2007.

EXPEED — Nikon’s image processing concept embodied As Nikon’s new digital image-processing concept — featuring the core ideas of our image creation and processing — EXPEED incorporates the optimized knowhow and technologies we have accumulated throughout our long history while receiving users’ requirements. It 3 realizes diversified functions to ensure high picture quality and high-speed image processing.* For details, see “Nikon’s original digital image-processing concept EXPEED”.

Picture Control SystemPicture Control System is a new function to enable selection and adjustment to create pictures easily according to skills of users from novices to professionals. When settings are the same, even with different cameras, you can get the same picture tone. Picture Control System offers four fundamental setting options — Standard, Neutral, Vivid and Monochrome — enabling image parameters (sharpening, tone compensation, brightness, tone and saturation) to be easily adjusted and customized.* For details, see “Picture Control System’s image optimization functions enable easy adjustments”.

AF system employing high-density 51-point AF Multi-CAM 3500FX autofocus sensor module featuring 51 AF points is incorporated. 15 cross-type sensors located in the center provide subject detection capability with lens apertures as small as f/5.6. 51 AF points can be utilized in various focus area modes selected according to subject condition. In many aspects, the functions of AF points are linked with the Scene Recognition System to offer superior subject detection and focus tracking performance. A single AF point can be selected from 51 or 11 focus points. Dynamic AF mode enables appropriate focusing by detecting subjects with a zone containing many AF points located densely. In this mode, the number of AF areas, including user selected AF points and backup points, can be selected from either 9, 21 or 51. In addition, newly employed “3D tracking” mode shifts the focus point automatically to respond to the subject’s movements. Auto-area AF mode gives greater priority to the subject’s position in selecting AF points.

Scene Recognition System By improving the 1,005-pixel RGB sensor, which was first incorporated in the Nikon F5, information from the sensor can be utilized for auto exposure, auto white balance and autofocus. For example, 3D tracking in AF realized by using the Scene Recognition System tracks subject position, and automatically shifts AF points to be used according to the subject’s movement within the frame. This system also contributes to improved accuracy of auto exposure and auto white balance.* For details, see “Scene Recognition System for more accurate autofocus, auto exposure and auto white balance”.

4 Three image areas availableWith the Nikon D3, users can select one of the three image areas — FX format (36 x 24), DX format (24 x 16) or 5:4 (30 x 24).

When a DX NIKKOR lens is attached, DX format is automatically selected. With DX format or 5:4 format, an area not covered by the sensor is automatically masked in the viewfinder.High-definition, 3-inch VGA, TFT LCD monitor with wide-viewing angleUltrahigh-definition [920,000-dot VGA (640 x 480)], 3-inch LCD monitor with tempered glass provides 170° viewing angle. Large monitor is quite effective when confirming focus with enlarged playback images. Wide-viewing angle enables easy recomposing of the frame in Handheld mode of Liveview.

Two Liveview modes availableLiveview function enables shooting while confirming subjects in the LCD monitor.

In Handheld mode, which allows recomposing of the frame prior to actual shooting, ordinary TTL phase-difference AF using all 51 AF points including 15 cross-type points is activated.

Tripod mode is designed for precise focus accuracy with still subjects and tripod stabilization. In this mode, focal-plane contrast AF on a desired point within a specific area is possible. Remote view, focusing and shooting are also made possible on a PC (wired or wirelessly).

Optical finder with 100% frame coverage and 0.7x magnification in FX formatSLR-type viewfinder featuring eye-level pentaprism with high refraction index provides 100% frame coverage and 0.7x magnification. Large and bright viewfinder image ensures comfortable focusing, which is one of the advantages of the FX format.Eyepoint is 18 mm (at –0.1 m-1), and diopter can be adjusted within the range from –3 to +1 m-1.

Superior durabilityMagnesium alloy is used for exterior cover, chassis and mirror box to ensure both lightweight and ruggedness. Also, strict sealing with O-rings at various connected parts effectively resists dust and moisture.

Shutter unit developed and manufactured by Nikon employs shutter blades made of new materials (hybrid of carbon fiber and Kelver). Excellent durability is guaranteed with 300,000-cycle release tests with the shutter actually loaded. Precision is also maintained with shutter monitor.

5 CF card double slotTwo CF cards can be set, realizing consecutive recording, simultaneous recording, RAW + JPEG separate recording, and copying of data between two cards. Because two cards of the same kind can be used, users do not have to prepare different kinds of storage media.

Exclusive Wireless Transmitter WT-4 (optional)The WT-4 supports wired LAN (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX) and wireless LAN (IEEE 802.11b/g, 11a), and incorporates thumbnail mode as a new function.It realizes wireless connection of cameras with a PC, enabling thumbnail display of images taken with up to five of them and downloading of images selected. Also, by using Camera Control Pro 2 (optional), wireless remote view/control shooting is made possible with the D3’s Liveview function.* For details, see “New accessory and software supporting the Nikon D3 and D300: Wireless Transmitter WT-4 and Camera Control Pro 2 Software”.

Active D-LightingD-Lighting incorporated in the conventional digital SLRs enables editing after the image is taken. In addition to the D-Lighting, newly developed Active D-Lighting is employed in the Nikon D3.

Active D-Lighting lets users choose the intensity from among “High”, “Normal”, “Low” or “Unchanged” prior to shooting. The conventional method of simply expanding dynamic range is not employed in compensation. Instead, localized tone control technology is utilized to prevent images from looking flat with low contrast. As a result, “lost highlights” and “lost shadows” are well compensated while maintaining proper contrast.

Fine adjustment function for AFIf there is a slight difference in focusing point among lenses, users can finely adjust it.

Two methods are available. In specific adjustment, a certain level of compensation set for each registered lens is applied when the lens of the same type is attached. In uniform adjustment, the same level of compensation is applied regardless of the lens used. Up to 20 lenses can be registered.

Improved Function button featureBesides the exclusive Function button, this feature can be assigned to the Preview button and AE/AF Lock button, giving photographers optimum operability in a flexible way.6HDMI output (High-Definition TV) supportedThe Nikon D3 is compliant with HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) Ver. 1.3a which enables transfer of world-standard video and audio signals. Standard Type A connector is employed.Info displayVarious shooting information such as shutter speed, aperture is displayed in the LCD monitor. Color of characters can be selected according to lighting condition — black for light locations, white for dark locations. Auto switch mode can also be set.

Digital level incorporated By utilizing a sensor incorporated in the body, the inclination of the camera is detected and displayed in the top control panel and viewfinder.

7 Image-management software ViewNX/Nikon Transfer included in the Software Suite CD-ROMViewNX is a viewer application to offer quick display of images, while Nikon Transfer provides simple transfer of taken images to a PC.Designed by Giugiaro“Ergonomic” is a new design theme that will be a standard of Nikon’s new-generation digital SLRs. This is applied to every detail including inclination of command dial and top control panel as well as comfortable holding and handling, e.g. shape of a grip. To support photographers’ concentration, curves of the pentaprism top, grip and side panels are directed to the center of lens’ optical axis, and the red, triangular motif has been redesigned to project a sharper image.

Author Bio

Greg W - Admin

You may know me better as 'Admin', as I work more behind the scenes to keep PhotoComment running smoothly, so here is a short history of how I got here. I started working in a camera store right out of high school having never picked up a camera before. I spent a few years working there and then moved to wholesale and then made a big change and went into the cycling industry for a few years, however I could not stay away and made the move back into the photography industry and have been working with PhotoComment since March 2008. It has become a passion and a labor of love to bring the best photographic content to you.