Nikon D3 - The best camera in the World

June 09, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

 

Nikon D3. The KingSeven years after buying my Nikon D3 it is still everything I need for wedding photography.

 

I started my photography interest back in the 1980's when, it was said, that 80% of the worlds press photographers used Nikon cameras - very likely the Nikon F3, an indestructible, solid, metal lump with the new-fangled Aperture Priority mode and TTL flash metering. My dad had a Nikon from the 1960's and, when I was a kid and he was out, I would sit with it and twiddle the knobs and focus the lens. I loved the quality of the construction, the bright viewfinder and exposure needle and the clarity of the glass. 

Nikon lost their way a little in the 90's and allowed Canon to steal a large chunk of the professional market, and that filters down to the ordinary consumer who follow suit. Nikon were on the ropes and hadn't really got to grips with the new digital age, but being the best is in their DNA and they fought back. When they announced the D3 the photography world was astounded at what they had achieved. It was a seminal moment in the history of photography.

They departed the mega-pixel arms race and concentrated on a far more important feature of the digital sensor. Sensitivity, or ISO as it's commonly known. Nikons reasoning was that 12 mega-pixels was easily enough resolution to print large images and that was more than enough for most people, particularly sports, wedding and photojournalists.

What photographers really needed was to be able to increase the ISO to shoot in lower light but still keep the image quality high. The big drawback of digital, as you will have noticed with your smartphone camera, is that when the light lowers, the ISO has to be increased to give the camera a chance of making an image - the result being digital noise. It's a bit like turning up the volume of a stereo to the point that it starts to distort. Digital noise ruins image quality with unsightly speckles. 

Nikon re-worked the sensor so that it delivered high quality images at much higher ISO. That is massive for a photographer. Much more important than resolution. Being able to carry on shooting when the light is fading and other photographers are putting their cameras away handed a huge advantage to the D3 owner. Plenty of photographers sold their entire kit and switched to Nikon. 

Ken Rockwell loves this camera - 'My Nikon D3 lets me do things I've never been able to do, and makes it fast and easy. You don't need a review: unlike any other camera I can recall, just talk to anyone who owns the D3 and you'll hear praise gushing like no other camera. The Nikon D3 has no "buts," as in "I love it but..." Everyone just loves it. 

​Here's why I love my D3..

 

Shoot all day? EasyHigh capacity battery and dual CF Card slots keep me shooting all day at a wedding.

 

  • Superb build quality, all metal body. Drive nails in with it, knock out muggers.
  • Weather proof. I've had it soaked in rain for a week in the Outer Hebrides and it just laughed. 
  • Superb image quality, even when the light gets low and the ISO gets high. Outstanding actually, even 7 years down the line.
  • Dual card slots can be configured three ways; RAW to slot 1 and JPG to slot 2 - OR Overflow (fill the first then go onto the second, doubling your capacity) - OR Backup (this is how I use it. My photo's are recorded onto both cards at the same time. If one card is corrupt you have a copy on the other. Life saver!)
  • Battery with a huge capacity. I can usually shoot an entire wedding on one battery. My D800 would use 4!
  • It was this camera that I had with me on a freezing beach in Scotland and it recorded a photograph that won Landscape Photographer of the Year in 2010. It's an emotional connection now. 

Nikon would probably like me to buy their current flagship, the D4s but I don't need it. I don't need video and the D3 still does what made it King back in 2007. I'm not a machine gunner, I only take the shot when it's right so my shutter is quite low milage against the 300'000 shot estimated life span. The D4s is not a big enough leap in quality for me to part with just over £5000. My D3 has earned it's place in my camera bag and paid for itself many times over. 

My Dad gave me his Nikomat recently. I'd like to think that I will be able to afford to retire my D3 to sit on the shelf with it when the time comes.  

Nikomat & D3When the going gets tough. Nikon.

 

 


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