This thing has a tiny little sensor, so it's pretty sensitive to noise and also doesn't tolerate sharpening as well as I'm accustomed. (In general I think that the smaller the pixels, the less the tolerance to sharpening. This is definitely one way to distinguish, say, FX from DX without even looking at the metadata.)
Here's an ISO 3200 shot, captured raw, cropped to extract and exported out of CS5:
Pretty bad, right? Here's the file as processed in LR4 with a little touchup, notably including both some noise reduction and some sharpening:
It's probably a bit more presentable here than if I printed it at a moderate size (say, 16x20 or less - it is 12mp). I think this is pretty reasonable, especially given the alternative. Sure my D3 does a whale of a better job in this circumstance, but... it was 300 miles away, at home.
Come to think of it, this could be better - I think there's a feature that allows it to shoot at reduced resolution so that it can do some inherent noise reduction. I think it yields a 6mp image instead of 12mp, but if I really need to make a big print, I am very likely to have hauled around the Nikons anyway...
Edit: by the way, I think that the new sensor does a better job of this kind of thing. The contrast is way down here, and my not-very-well-grounded opinion is that the new one has better DR. (Or perhaps the new one has its EXR thingie set differently...) This image is from the original camera, which had a terrible auto white balance implementation. (And note that the AWB here is in a difficult situation, with three types of lighting pretty obviously visible in the frame.) Attachment#1 (jpg file) Attachment#2 (jpg file)
_____ Brian... a bicoastal Nikonian and Team Member
My gallery is online. Comments and critique welcomed any time!