Nikon D3X Review

 
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Nikon D3X High ISO Image Quality

The Nikon D3X offers four high-ISO noise-reduction settings, allowing you a lot of flexibility in choosing how you want to make the trade-off between subject detail and noise levels. See for yourself how the noise reduction works under daylight lighting. Click on any of the crops below to see the corresponding full-sized image.

 

Nikon D3X High ISO Noise Reduction Comparison
Simulated Daylight
High ISO Noise Reduction Setting
HINR=Off
HINR=Low
HINR=Normal
HINR=High
I
S
O

8
0
0
HINR=Off
HINR=Low
HINR=Normal
HINR=High
I
S
O

1
6
0
0
HINR=Off
HINR=Low
HINR=Normal
HINR=High
I
S
O

3
2
0
0
HINR=Off
HINR=Low
HINR=Normal
HINR=High
I
S
O

6
4
0
0

The above crops show the effects of the four levels of High ISO Noise Reduction available on the Nikon D3X.

But how does the D3x compare to other compact, hi-resolution full-frame SLRs? See the comparison with the Sony A900 below.

Nikon D3X vs Sony A900
High ISO NR
Simulated Daylight
Nikon D3X
Sony A900
High ISO Noise Reduction Setting
HINR=Off
HINR=Normal
HINR=Off
HINR=On
I
S
O

8
0
0
N/A
- No High ISO NR applied
N/A
- No High ISO NR applied
N/A
- No High ISO NR applied
Nikon D3X
Sony A900
HINR=Off
HINR=Normal
HINR=Off
HINR=On
I
S
O

1
6
0
0
Nikon D3X
Sony A900
HINR=Off
HINR=Normal
HINR=Off
HINR=On
I
S
O

3
2
0
0
Nikon D3X
Sony A900
HINR=Off
HINR=Normal
HINR=Off
HINR=On
I
S
O

6
4
0
0

The crops above compare the Nikon D3X's JPEG High ISO performance (ISO 800 through 6,400) to that of the Sony A900, which has the same pixel-count (24.5-megapixels), there really isn't much competition, the Nikon D3x easily outperforms the A900. (But there's of course the issue that the D3x is about 2.5x the price of the A900...)

Even though they aren't in the same price class, lots of folks no doubt wonder how Nikon D3X compares to the Canon 5D Mark II. See the comparison below.

Nikon D3X vs Canon 5D Mark II
High ISO NR
Simulated Daylight
Nikon D3X
Canon 5D Mark II
High ISO Noise Reduction Setting
HINR=Off
HINR=Normal
HINR=Off
HINR=Normal
I
S
O

8
0
0
Nikon D3X
Canon 5D Mark II
HINR=Off
HINR=Normal
HINR=Off
HINR=Normal
I
S
O

1
6
0
0
Nikon D3X
Canon 5D Mark II
HINR=Off
HINR=Normal
HINR=Off
HINR=Normal
I
S
O

3
2
0
0
Nikon D3X
Canon 5D Mark II
HINR=Off
HINR=Normal
HINR=Off
HINR=Normal
I
S
O

6
4
0
0

The crops above compare the Nikon D3X'a JPEG High ISO performance (ISO 800 through 6,400) to that of the Canon 5D Mark II, another much more affordable alternative.

It's clear that both cameras are absolutely top performers. The crops above also show subtly different approaches to noise reduction and detail handling. Even with its High ISO NR disabled, it's clear that the Canon 5D Mark II is still applying a fair bit of luminance noise reduction, which generates cleaner-looking images, but at some cost to fine detail in areas of subtle contrast. (It still does very well with higher-contrast detail, as in the circular scale shown in the last set of crops at each ISO setting.) With High ISO NR off, the 5D Mark II also shows a bit more chroma noise than does the Nikon D3X at the same setting. Increasing the NR setting to "Normal" for both cameras reduces both chrominance and luminance noise in both. Nikon leaves a bit more (very fine-grained) luminance noise in the D3X's images, but also preserves subtle detail a bit better (as seen in the fabric swatches).

 

Nikon D3X

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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

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