The Good Full-frame sensor; well designed, pro-level weather-sealed body; very low noise, even at extremely high ISOs; fast.
The Bad Resolution lags far behind the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III and Sony's forthcoming 24-megapixel dSLR.
The Bottom Line Nikon's flagship dSLR packs a full-frame 12-megapixel sensor and is a highly versatile imaging powerhouse that lets photographers create images previously impossible to capture.
For years, Nikon users had been asking their favored camera maker for a dSLR with a full-frame sensor (the same size as a 35mm frame of film). Finally, Nikon caved, delivering the 12-megapixel D3; the result is a camera that reaches new heights in imaging with extremely low noise at astronomical ISO sensitivities, while maintaining the pro-level control and body design Nikonians have come to expect in the company's flagship cameras. Interestingly, Nikon seems to pit its flagship model against Canon's 10-megapixel EOS-1D Mark III, with its APS-H size sensor, rather than the 21-megapixel, full-frame EOS-1Ds Mark III. That makes sense on some level, though, since the 1D Mark III and the D3 are really all-around cameras that combine the burst speed to handle the demands of sports shooters with ruggedness and image quality that should appeal to news photographers and many others.
Camera body design is an exercise in slow evolution; rightfully so, as current designs are the end products of decades of research going back to the good old film days. The D3 is nearly identical to the D2Xs it replaces. The grip is wonderfully sculpted, arching back toward the top, and with a recessed groove on the inside so your fingers wrap around it rather than giving the impression that you're gripping a bar, as I sometimes feel when holding the 1Ds Mark III.
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