Nikon D3X test report: measurements

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Measurements for this review have been performed using Imatest. See the FAQ for the test method. The conclusion and real life performance of the Nikon D3X will be shown in our Nikon D3X review. For those who seriously think about buying a Nikon D3x, our review is much too short. See the Nikon D3X reviews at Ken Rockwell, Thom Hogan and DPReview!

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Resolution

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Nikon-D3X-review-RAW-resolution
The Nikon D3X delivers, with a good lens like a Sigma 50mm macro, a jpg file with an average resolution of 2000 LW/PH. This corresponds to the resolution we have measured a Nikon 5D MK2, almost as many megapixels as the Nikon D3X. Striking is the Nikon D3X, the resolution of jpg files at the lower ISO settings higher, while the resolution of RAW files that have been developed Lightroom constant. For this we have no explanation.

With a standard processing of RAW files in Lightroom, averaged over the entire ISO range, a slightly greater sharpness impression is obtained, which translates into an average resolution of 2200 LW/PH. That is lower than the resolution of RAW files from Canon 5D MK3, using the same treatment in Lightroom. If some extra attention is paid to the Nikon D3X NEF files, or when Capture NX is applied, you will become an even higher resolution.

The Nikon D800E scores better than the Nikon D3X, in terms of resolution, which isn't surprising given the higher number of megapixels and the absence of a Moire filter. But if you print an image on A4 paper, you will not see that difference.

Dynamic range

The total dynamic range is on average 9 stops for both a RAW file and a jpg file. That is slightly lower than the result for the Nikon D800E. The highest dynamic range is achieved at the low ISO settings. More photographers should use the 50 ISO setting!

For the test method and explanation of terms, see FAQ

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The usable dynamic range of a camera is, because of noise in the shadows, lower than the total dynamic range. Remarkably, the usable dynamic range of RAW files without noise reduction almost equals the usable dynamic range of standard jpg files over the entire ISO range. Many cameras give you RAW files which perform less in terms of usable dynamic range than the standard jpg files, when you don't apply noise reduction to the RAW file.

If you carefully contrast, sharpening and noise reduction optimizes RAW files, it is possible to RAW files to achieve a usable dynamic range, better or equal to that of the jpg files.

Nikon-D3X-review-useful-Dynamic-range

Noise

The Nikon D3x scores very well in terms of noise. In particular, the 50 ISO setting is worth mentioning. The effect of low noise you see, is reflected in the high usable dynamic range of the Nikon D3X at 50 ISO.

We know from experience that if the noise is less than 2.5%, an  A3 + size print can be made without the noise being disturbing.

Nikon-D3X-review-JPG-noise
Below are examples of a gray card, shot at different ISO settings. The crops show a 100% detail of a RAW file without any noise reduction. By applying noise reduction to RAW files, you will always get better results than the standard jpg files.

Many cameras have high ISO settings with such a high noise, it renders useless images. Not the Nikon D3x. Below at the right you see a ISO 6400 jpg file at 100% magnification. You can print it without further processing, when the image is not too magnified.

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Noise noise6400isojpg

Color accuracy @ daylight

Nikon-D3X-review-daylight-colourmini
Daylight color accuracy (Delta E94)

DaylightRAWjpg
Average3.84.9
Best3.44.1
Worst4.86.9
Skin tones3.12.8
Natural Colors3.24.3
Bright Colors3.85.9
White Balance1.92.6
The Nikon D3X delivers RAW files with a very good color reproduction in daylight. In terms of color rendition and white balance in daylight it is better than all other cameras we've tested so far.

The illustration shows the color errors of an ISO 100 color jpg image which was shot in daylight. The further the ideal color (square) is removed from the color of the camera (round), the greater the color difference. For the test method and explanation of terms, see FAQ

Color accuracy @ tungsten light

Nikon-D3X-review-tungsten-light-colourmini
Tungsten color accuracy (Delte E94)

Tungsten lightRAWjpg
Average1010
Best910
Worst1112
Skin tones1111
Natural Colors99
Bright Colors910
White Balance10.68.2

In artificial light you can, for both jpg and RAW files, not blindly rely on the auto white balance, as clearly seen in the results shown here for a 200 ISO jpg file. The images show an orange cast in incandescent light. However, the Nikon D3x scores here, like with the color accuracy in daylight, relatively well compared to other cameras we've tested previously. The color reproduction is virtually independent of the ISO setting. The measurement results are so close, that the best result was achieved with a 50 ISO RAW file and the worst color with a 100 ISO jpg file.

Ivo Freriks
Author: Ivo Freriks
With Camera Review Stuff I hope to make a modest contribution to the pleasure that you get from photography. By testing cameras and lenses in the same way, evluating the results and weighing up the pros and cons, I hope to help you find the right camera or lens.

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