Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Nature photographers now have six models from which to choose at widely varying prices. These cameras are about more than just a larger image sensor.
Nikon’s first full-frame D-SLR, the D3 offers terrific image quality and performance at amazingly high ISO settings. While image quality with any digital camera will be better toward the lower end of the ISO range, the D3’s ISO 6400 images are excellent—and you can go all the way to ISO 25,600 if necessary. This incredible high-ISO performance is enabled by the large pixels made possible by the relatively low pixel count (12.1 megapixels) on the big, full-frame sensor.
The super-quick AF system responds beautifully. Its Group Dynamic AF with focus tracking is ideal for fast-moving wildlife, and spot AF (your choice of 51 points) works well for subjects against busy backgrounds. The 1005-pixel 3D Color Matrix II metering system also is excellent. The D3 starts up in 0.12 seconds and has a minimal 37ms shutter lag time—both D-SLR bests. The camera is made to catch the action!
Both landscape and macro shooters will love the camera’s Live View capability, which offers a Handheld mode (with quick 51-area phase-detection AF) for easy odd-angle shooting, as well as a Tripod mode (with contrast-based AF off a desired point within a specific area and no disruption of the live image during focusing). The Nikon D3 also offers precise manual focusing via a highly magnified live image on the outstanding 3.0-inch, 920,000-dot LCD monitor.
As a pro-level Nikon D-SLR, the D3 continues the tradition of super-rugged construction, with excellent sealing against the elements and a shutter tested to 300,000 cycles. The battery provides up to 4,300 shots per charge, and the camera can use all AF Nikkor lenses, automatically switching to cropped DX mode when a DX-format lens is attached. Estimated Street Price: $4,399. Contact: Nikon, www.nikonusa.com.
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