I've spent the better part of 30 years in film doing Light Commercial/Portrait/Landscape work with mostly Mamiya 645 and RZ67. At 66 the transition to digital has been daunting to say the least. I started with a reconditioned D2 then a new D7000. I feel confident with both now but still dazzled with the diversity and perplexity of digital post processing! I want to expand to full frame and was about ready to pull the trigger on a D800 when the opportunity for a slightly used D3x came to me. The D3x is roughly a thousand dollars more than the 800 and I guess my dilemma is: am I really missing out on a lot other than megapixels, I realize the 800 has a technology advantage but many of my professional friends are dedicated to their 3x's, and having large hands the 3x fits better and has a much more secure feel. Any insight or opinions would be greatly appreciated as I try and re-invent myself for the third and hopefully last time. Thank you.
The technology of the D3x is about two years older than that of the D800, If you go with the D3x you could be missing the enhanced high ISO performance of the D800 and a wider dynamic range. The other not frequently extolled virtue of the much higher pixel rating of the D800 is that often you may find there is more than a single image in your frame; i.e. sections of the frame can be as valuable as the whole of it. Further more, if you get the grip for the D800 you may not miss the feel of a pro body. I am doing that on a D700 and have tried the same with a D800 as well. In the end, the image quality difference is more that the paper specs tell.
I have and use the D3x but haven't yet experimented the D800, so my answer should be taken with some grains of salt..
I knew at the time I bought the D3x that it would be one of the last cameras without video. That's why I bought it, though many find video on a DSLR useful, for me it's a completely different media.
Then it's also much less ISO capable then the D3s, the D4 or the D600 and D800. I seldom shoot over 1600 ISO myself as for me, photography is about translating what I see, and if it's dark... It's dark
At 100 ISO the colors produced by the captor are quite extraordinary (Raw + different de-rawisers, mainly LR and Aperture). And some users of the D3x and the D800 still prefer the D3x, mainly for that reason. I'll just state that I'm happy with it...
It still has the double slots for the same card format, no hassles with keeping a stock of "classical" cards and finding them on an Istanbul market
The "big" body goes with a "big" battery, about 4000 pictures on one (no fidgeting with the back screen), no on board flash, a second battery and you can stay 10 days in a foreign country without a charger.
The same "big" body can really stand to be showered (it's not waterproof though) and take quite some beating... It's ok with big hands (mines aren't so big but I find the body very comfortable), it doesn't weight as much as it seems in volume (did the test with a D700, same lens and most people couldn't say which was the heaviest !) and though most of my precedent cameras had the "skin" ungluing after two summers (I keep the camera in hand mostly), this one is still in a brand new state.
AF works well and is quick. Menus are just like all the other D3 series, meaning you can jump from one to another without having to change habits
24 MPs are great (I guess those who have a D600 would say the same thing), 36 is maybe an overkill, but then if you are used to a RB6x7 in studio, you might prefer the bigger files
JRP's advice is sound, it's always better to get the "state of art" camera or captor, and in your case, all depend of prices... I had the opportunity to get my D3x new for about 2000$ less then the usual price, about four years ago, so I went for it. If I had to choose today, I guess I would go for a D800 or wait for a D4x of some sort.
As it is, I'm waiting calmly for the next iteration of the "big" bodied Nikon cameras, as I feel I haven't yet reached the full use or capabilities of the one I own... And to be very truthful, I'm saving for lenses more then for a new body...
But then I'm not a "pro", and don't have to argue with clients wanting the "biggest, sharpest, best ever, file"... I just take picture for my own pleasure of discovering the mundane in this world...
I have both the D800 and the D3X and while I use both bodies I find I'm using the D800 more. The advantages of the D800 that Ramon points out are very valid. However when I don't need to heavily crop or shoot above ISO 6400 there is something about the D3X photos that I prefer. It's hard to pinpoint. To me the photos from the D3X look more refined and more pleasing. Also the high ISO performance of the D3X is quite often understated. I shoot at ISO 1600 at least half the time and don't see noise unless I go up to 100%. The D800 also appears to be a more finicky camera. I can handhold the D3X at lower shutter speeds without camera shake. The much poorer battery performance of the D800 is also a disappointment. The AF capability at f8 is an advantage but I have compared the AF performance of both at this aperture and find they both work fine.
As you can see I like my D3X. But there are times when the higher resolution of the D800 are an advantage.
However with that said I won't get rid of either body. I think it's a tough call, price excluded.
>I want >to expand to full frame and was about ready to pull the >trigger on a D800 when the opportunity for a slightly used D3x >came to me. The D3x is roughly a thousand dollars more than >the 800 and I guess my dilemma is: am I really missing out on >a lot other than megapixels, I realize the 800 has a >technology advantage but many of my professional friends are >dedicated to their 3x's, and having large hands the 3x fits >better and has a much more secure feel.
For the kind of work you do (and plenty of other things too!), the D3x is a superb camera. Your pro friends have stuck with the D3x because they spent a lot of money on it in the first place, and because the camera produces superb photos day in and day out. The D3x just works and works and works and works and won't let you down. To this day, its technical image quality is really second to none.
The D3x is a very high megapixel camera - 24.5 mp to be exact. That's a lot of resolution. You'll be very happy with the results. I don't really think the D800 has anything to offer for the kind of work you tend to do - not compared to the D3x. The differences between the two cameras, for the kind of work you do, I think exist largely on paper. The D3x remains a top-of-the-line pro body for Nikon.
#5. "RE: D3x vs D800" In response to Reply # 4 Tue 23-Apr-13 07:44 AM by kodiak photo
Montréal, (Qc), CA
I totally agree with "agitater" and I will give you one bit more by adding the D3S in the equation.
I owned the D3S (since 3 years), the D3X (since 2,5 years), and the D800E since just a month.
The D3S is the ultimate shooting gun! For the works where I do not control anything in a situation but absolutely must come back with pictures taken without flash and handheld, this is my work- horse. Just cook up the worst nightmarish shooting situation and you will see the D3S get busy. When everybody else go back in the bag, the D3S is the only one to be seen on the battlefield. It will take pictures where your eyes can't see, at a rhythm that no other machine will support or endure, and works all the time. Every time! Any time! The EXTREME MACHINE! Press work, sports and events, or concerts photography… you name it. When the going gets tough, the toughs get going…
The D3X is the ultimate hunting gun! For all works where I control the situation or at least some of it. Where I would still prefer to work handheld being supported with as many flashes as may need. Where I may have to react fast (theatre & stage, events and corporate photography ), and the end purpose is publishing at higher resolution, this is my tool. The D3X has the same toughness then the D3S but its extreme performances are directed in an other and complementary direction.
I use one as back up for the other. They share everything but their end purpose. Both fit in my bear paws divinely and I feel safe with them. They even sound the same. I am a photographer, I never use the video capabilities of the D3S.
Now, the D800E. This was a very difficult birth! Let me explain:
I have been juggling with the idea of acquiring the Danish system since some time. I studied it, and I was going to commit a rather high double digit number of grands (in Euros) for the purchase of that medium format system when came the D800 & /E with the 36.3 MP. Well, if Nikon came up with that thing, what will the D4"X" be like? Rumours of something approaching the 50MP mark was music to my ears. And It would feel right at home with the D3's line-up I already have. I own all the lenses (from 16 to 600mm) I ever needed, so even if the new kid on the block costs 12 grands, I would still save a fair amount of money over the Danish system. But the D4"X" did not show up yet and the need for higher resolution was building up unmistakably.
On top of that, I bought a robot for special shootings. A weird machine and questionable investment as it turned out! One thing discovered too late is that the robot may be used at its full potential only if used with a small body camera! Thus excluding the D3's line-up I have and the D4"X" I wanted because none of these can't be made smaller. So, this is the only reason I settled for the D800E. (…still don't give a damn for video)
The D800E joined in my toolbox last month. The 36.3 MP are about all there is to it =| ! It doesn't fit easily with my D3's line-up =( ! It doesn't feel the same, it even doesn't sound the same=( ! And with its Mickey Mouse power pack… =( ! And flash… =( ! And the two card formats… =( ! What a crazy idea? And what was the thinking behind it?
The first thing I did, trying to find someway to give it a fair chance, was to buy the removable MB-D12 so it would fit in my bear paws. Well, it improved the ergonomics very positively, but choosing the right power pack to fit in there was an other deception. I had an idea that brought back peace in my camera bag.
Setting it up was a jiffy! Accustomed to the menus of my line-up as I am. =)
The first tests were not very good. Basically, there was a sharpness problem. So I did the AF Fine Tuning like it had to be done with the D3 line-up and things got better.
Of course, these 36.3 MP come with a restriction: for me, at this time, it is still difficult to get a justifiable sharpness without a tripod. I remember bragging (at 22 years old) that I could get very sharp pictures at 1/15 to 1/8 sec with the F2. Now at 62, my hands perform very well at 1/60 with 12.5 MP. And this is not good enough for 36.3 MP.
If the D4"X" comes on the market soon enough and it has a removable body base, and +/- 50MP… I'll put a bullet in my head! (Please do not repeat this on a public place!)
What ever decision you make, just remember that in any case there will be a lot of dough going over the counter. Take your time: YOU HAVE ALL DECISION POWER ONLY AS LONG AS THE MONEY IS IN YOUR POCKET!
While I do not shoot with, or am I in the market for a D3x, I must say that was one of the most interesting posts I have read in a long time. My D800 far exceeds my demands or skills, and likely will continue for a very long time Stan St Petersburg Russia
>What does feel and sound have to do with getting good >images? > >I gave up on feel and sound a long time ago...maybe age allows >you to do that since hearing and feel decrease with age....at >least that is what I hear.<<<<
For many of us, feel and sound do have a lot to do with getting good images.
It is hard to shoot with a camera that hurts your hands, or where you have to contort to reach the buttons. If you wince each time you hear the sound of the shutter it can throw the shot off.
On the other hand, a really good photographer can get good images from anything he shoots. The kid with the cardboard camera can get the "shot of the day" if he is in the right place at the right time.
#11. "RE: D3x vs D800" In response to Reply # 10 Thu 02-May-13 03:38 AM by ljordan316
Since we are starting to describe high-end Nikon bodies by their sound and feel, let me throw another monkey wrench into the fire. Why don't we assign genders to Nikon camera bodies. Let me explain.
I think of the D3 and D4 series of bodies as males. They are: - Heavy - Fast - Low in noise - Can withstand amazing torture and keep working - Totally reliable - Predictable
Whereas the D800 and D800e are female bodies that are: - Lighter - Easier to manhandle - A bit slower (I am ducking here) - High in noise under the right/wrong circumstances - Greater in depth and creativity - Require gentle handling to produce the best results - Require more time to reach optimum performance - Can produce false results if not handled properly
By the way, I favor the female bodies in case you are wondering (I hope this translates properly into Russian).
#13. "RE: D3x vs D800" In response to Reply # 11 Thu 02-May-13 01:03 PM by kodiak photo
Montréal, (Qc), CA
…I like your idea, and the attribution of attributes:
Whereas the D800 and D800e are female bodies that are: - Lighter >>>> I like the heavy tools (tool is masculine, right?)! So I got the MD-B12 and filled it up with 8 rechargeable batteries. - Easier to manhandle >>>> Now it is! …and not so far way from the layout of my D3S/D3X line-up - A bit slower (I am ducking here) >>>> well, 36MP, as other things do, require compromises and concessions… - High in noise under the right/wrong circumstances >>>> I have yet to experience that one, mine is a new relationship… - Greater in depth and creativity >>>> please explain this attribute as how it will differ from my D3S/D3X line-up - Require gentle handling to produce the best results >>>> yes, I discovered that some fiddling is appropriate! - Require more time to reach optimum performance >>>> yes, but it's well worth the effort - Can produce false results if not handled properly >>>> Indeed, but this does not apply only to this set of attributes
At this point in time, I developed a good partnership with my 800E, I can even shoot handheld now that I have accepted the required compromises and concessions.
I'm also looking into an upgrade from my D3 which have served me some time now. Either I get the D3s or the x. Even if I would like both. If I get them both I have no need for the D3. The s-model would be used for my daughters adventures, family and low light situation. While I would use the x for nature and architecture.
The reason I don't want to go the D800 way together with a D3 is that it would mean yet another charger, batteries, L-bracket etc. I don't intend to do video with it as I have a dedicated proper video camera for that. And with the poor video resolution of the D800 it's too much money.
I can get a D3x for $2500 or a S for $2800 both with a 30k mileage. Which is nothing on tanks like these.
But I'm torn between keeping or seeking the D3 if I only get one of the bodies. How would you reason around that?
Petter -Ever wondered where gadgets go when they die?