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Thread: Can you help me with the D3X

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    Can you help me with the D3X

    Hi guys and girls...

    I'm wondering if anyone could help me make decision by sharing a few D3X raw files with me. I"m at the tipping point of going all digital (currently shoot a Mamiya 7 and D700,) and think the D3X is possibly the best way to go for me. I love my D700 but I need the 20+ MP and would really appreciate the in camera 4x5 crop. I shoot a mixture of environmental portraiture and landscapes and use natural light 95% of the time. In an ideal world I'd get a Phase One or Hasselblad MF kit but business and economy dictate a more versatile kit.

    On another note, I prefer using prime lenses. How do the Nikon primes fare on the high res sensor compared to the 24-70 G? I had several ZF lenses in the past, which were great, but my eyes just aren't up to focusing them reliably.

    Any help by supplying files is appreciated!

    Thanks,
    Tim

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    Subscriber Member billbunton's Avatar
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    Re: Can you help me with the D3X

    I'll send a PM on some raw files.

    As for primes vs. the 24-70, I have to say that my 24-70 was magical. I don't know if I just got a really good one, but the combination of it and the D3x was amazing. The 85/1.4 did pretty well, but frankly if I didn't need anything faster than f/2.8 I'd choose the 24-70 over it. The 24 and 85 PC-E could rival it resolution-wise, but of course are manual focus too (and frankly, in terms of overall rendering I still preferred the 24-70).

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    Re: Can you help me with the D3X

    Thanks Bill,
    I'll let you know how I get on. Are you still shooting with the D3X?
    I'm at the tipping point and think I'll probably end up with one but in the back of my mind I feel I should wait for the next iteration with video as I see a need in the future.
    Any thoughts?
    T

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    Senior Member m3photo's Avatar
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    YMMV but ...

    Quote Originally Posted by tjv View Post
    (currently shoot a Mamiya 7 and D700,)
    ... don't do anything before taking a good look at the new Pentax; many are making good noises about it so far.

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    Subscriber Member billbunton's Avatar
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    Re: Can you help me with the D3X

    I'm not shooting with it any more. I just finished selling all my Nikon gear and buying a Phase One system. I bought a GH-1 back in December to satisfy any video need I might ever feel (none so far :-), and as a more easily carried-anywhere camera.

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Can you help me with the D3X

    I got my D3X from Marc on this forum. It is perfect for my requirements. I shoot a lot in florida in the winter. So generally have good light. The D3X shines at ISO 400 and below above that and it a wash with the D3/D700. It dies at ISO 1600 . To get the absolute best DR and color you should be at ISO 200. Its an industrial strength professional body so working at the beach is easy.

    I use the Zeiss ZF lenses whenever I can and if its for landscape(generally big clouds and ocean ) I use a tripod ..stop down to f8 and go for the best quality I can produce.

    The 24-70/2.8 is an excellent zoom and I use it for the one lens solution. I also have the 85/1.4 (which I find just decent not like zeiss or leica glass but nice bokeh ) and the 105VR has better performance but less character. I haven t found a AF 35 or 50 that I want but the new 24 1.4af is on my buy list. A new 85 1.4 is rumored.

    The images don t compete with the 40MP plus MF stuff but then they have a hard time shooting a 200-400af and following a surfer coming at you.

    The key question I have on the D3X is do you need the Mps to support large prints? If not I would prefer the newer D3S for the high Iso performance.

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    Workshop Member ptomsu's Avatar
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    Re: Can you help me with the D3X

    I have no experience with the D3X other than seeing some great results on some threads. I am back into Nikon again with a D700 and 14-24, 24-70 and new 70-200. I shoot a Hasselblad H3D39 in parallel, which I use for high res, so no immediate need for the D3X. I am waiting for a D800 though.

    What I can say about 24MP DSLR in general - as I shot the A900 for a year or so - I liked the resolution and DR at ISO 200 - 400, above I was not satisfied. I am pretty sure the D3X behaves very similar, as it uses the same sensor. Now there is some big hope for the next gen sensors in the 24MP range (maybe even slightly higher res) because they might incorporate Sony's EXMOR technology and then also deliver at higher ISO. For me a decent ISO 6400 would absolutely do at a 24MP resolution.

    WRT higher resolution above 30MP in DSLRs I am very confident this would be nonsense, as all the DSLR glass, even if it is Zeiss or the best Nikon or Canon or whatever glass will not be able to resolve satisfyingly above 30MP. No way, these are just physical limits - discussable if it happens already at 30MP or maybe 32 or 34MP, but somewhere in that range it will happen! So I guess all vendors will hit that wall in FF DSLR. You can play some tricks of course in SW and post processing, but end of the day this is just faking and no real world anymore. So it will be interesting to see where all the big one's like Canon, Sony and Nikon will end WRT MP count. I would hope they stay between 24-30MP but improve speed, DR and higher ISO instead.

    My hope is to see a D800 with such a new type of sensor for a reasonable price

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    Re: YMMV but ...

    Quote Originally Posted by m3photo View Post
    ... don't do anything before taking a good look at the new Pentax; many are making good noises about it so far.
    I thought about the Pentax but the support network where I live is non-existant and I'd really rather put my eggs in another basket if I were to go to medium format.

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    Re: Can you help me with the D3X

    Thanks for the detailed reply.

    I have the 24-70 G and think it is a great mid range zoom. Certainly my copy is better than my works Canon equivalent. I really do prefer using prime lenses because of the way they make me work harder for each image and encourage more thought during shooting. It's a practice thing, because I'm sure I could learn to use the zoom in the same way even if it meant pre selecting focal length for technical reasons and sticking to it when shooting. Anyway...

    As for the files Bill kindly sent me, I'm impressed overall with the dynamic range and general look of the them. I think very fine details and contrast is a little lacking though, as if smeared slightly, and I'm wondering if it is the fault of the AA filter. The lenses used certainly have good reputations. I'm not sure how large I could realistically print these files without noticing high frequency detail like in plants, grass etc breaking up. I usually print to 18x22.5" and with MF film I get drum scans done and output at 360dpi. Grain is never a problem as I restrict myself to 100ISO Astia, but on the odd occasion I have shot faster film the scanned grain is attractive in print. I'm also aware that the content of the photo is 99% more important than absolute detail, so perhaps I should just be asking if the printed quality is "close enough" instead of "equal to or better than" MF film.

    Bill: How do you compare the D3X to your Phase system in terms of print quality? What setup have you got now and what advantages does it have for your work?

    Quote Originally Posted by glenerrolrd View Post
    I got my D3X from Marc on this forum. It is perfect for my requirements. I shoot a lot in florida in the winter. So generally have good light. The D3X shines at ISO 400 and below above that and it a wash with the D3/D700. It dies at ISO 1600 . To get the absolute best DR and color you should be at ISO 200. Its an industrial strength professional body so working at the beach is easy.

    I use the Zeiss ZF lenses whenever I can and if its for landscape(generally big clouds and ocean ) I use a tripod ..stop down to f8 and go for the best quality I can produce.

    The 24-70/2.8 is an excellent zoom and I use it for the one lens solution. I also have the 85/1.4 (which I find just decent not like zeiss or leica glass but nice bokeh ) and the 105VR has better performance but less character. I haven t found a AF 35 or 50 that I want but the new 24 1.4af is on my buy list. A new 85 1.4 is rumored.

    The images don t compete with the 40MP plus MF stuff but then they have a hard time shooting a 200-400af and following a surfer coming at you.

    The key question I have on the D3X is do you need the Mps to support large prints? If not I would prefer the newer D3S for the high Iso performance.

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    Subscriber Member billbunton's Avatar
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    Re: Can you help me with the D3X

    I can't compare on print quality, as I haven't printed anything from the Phase One system yet. I just got the last of the lenses I ordered today, and other than some product shots and one trip to a local park haven't really used it for anything yet. (Hopefully that will change soon!)

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    Re: Can you help me with the D3X

    tjv,

    My answer may be slightly controversial here, but I believe to be 100% accurate.

    In overal dynamic range and absolute detail the Phase system will win hands down. I owned one, but sold it to return to Nikon in the form of the D3x.

    If you are only printing at 18x22.5, you won't notice many real word differences between the MF and the D3x.

    Your decision is really going to come down to a system question. I wanted the ergonomics and menus of the Nikon bodies, the zooms, the telephotos, tilt/lenses, faster flash sync speed, no shutter lag, faster frame rate, amazing focus ability, lower handheld shutter speeds, and most importantly easier software workflow.

    It's the old saying of horses for courses.

    I loved my Phase & Hasselblad systems, but the D3x gave me all the resolution that I needed while having all the advantages of the Nikon DSLR system.

    Best,

    Ray

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    Senior Subscriber Member Steen's Avatar
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    Re: Can you help me with the D3X

    Hi Ray, nice to see you back on the board. Looking forward to see some images with your D3X.
    May I be curious and ask what lenses you have chosen for this demanding high-megapixel machine so far ?
    /Steen

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    Re: Can you help me with the D3X

    Thanks for your comments, Ray.

    By my calculations, if I were to print from a D3x file at 18x22.5" It'd be at approx 225dpi. Not too bad, as you say, especially if carefully processed, sharpened and resampled.

    I like what you say about it being a decision more about a system than absolute ability. My biggest problem with Nikon is the lack of what I consider high quality prime lenses. My 24-70 G is a brilliant zoom but I much prefer working with primes and I'd only ever need 50mm, 35mm and 24/28mm options. I've used the Zeiss F mount lenses, which were great, but I didn't find them practical to use. I missed focus a lot compared to manual focusing with a rangefinder, which I find a lot easier. Perhaps the D3X viewfinder is larger and brighter than the D700 and easier?

    What Phase system did you give up? How much of a difference did you notice between the two systems in regards to dynamic range, especially in the highlights? To be honest, on paper the Leica S2 is probably as close to what I want most in a camera as any. It has the right form factor, build quality and weather proofing, as well as resolution and larger sensor size. If money were no object, right? I'm just interested to know more about why you gave up your Phase system and what, if anything, you miss about it in more detail.

    Thanks again,
    Tim

    Quote Originally Posted by harmsr View Post
    tjv,

    My answer may be slightly controversial here, but I believe to be 100% accurate.

    In overal dynamic range and absolute detail the Phase system will win hands down. I owned one, but sold it to return to Nikon in the form of the D3x.

    If you are only printing at 18x22.5, you won't notice many real word differences between the MF and the D3x.

    Your decision is really going to come down to a system question. I wanted the ergonomics and menus of the Nikon bodies, the zooms, the telephotos, tilt/lenses, faster flash sync speed, no shutter lag, faster frame rate, amazing focus ability, lower handheld shutter speeds, and most importantly easier software workflow.

    It's the old saying of horses for courses.

    I loved my Phase & Hasselblad systems, but the D3x gave me all the resolution that I needed while having all the advantages of the Nikon DSLR system.

    Best,

    Ray

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    Re: Can you help me with the D3X

    Hi everyone again,

    My lens collection for the Nikon is as follows:

    ZF
    35/2.0

    Nikon
    50/1.4 (newest lens)
    24-70 zoom (newest lens)
    105 Macro (newest lens)
    70-200 VRII (newest lens)
    2.0 teleconverter (newest variation)

    I really don't shoot superwide or much over 200mm. When I need 200-400, I do that with the teleconverter and meet my needs fine.

    The ZF 35 is amazing. It is also very easy to focus on the D3x. The view finder and focus confirmation on the D3x is SIGNIFICANTLY better than that of the D700.

    The Nikon 50/1.4 is a good lens (not as good as the Zeiss 50/2.0 Macro but much more useful for me). It is better & much smaller than the 24-70 at 50.

    I actually prefer the Nikon 105 VR to the Zeiss 100/2.0 Macro. I had both and kept the Nikon. You can do a search here to find the string that had all the comparisons and why.

    I went with the ZF in the 35, because Nikon did not have an updated prime in this focal length & was not impressed with their current 35 glass.

    NIkon does have a new 24/1.4 prime, which I have not used. If it is up to the standard of all the other updated lenses they have been releasing - it should be very good.

    I had the Hassy H3D2-39 and the P30+ with the AFD III body. In the highlights, I would guess that I could recover about a stop or slightly more on the phase vs. D3x.

    The Phase system just had amazing pixel peeping detail, tonality, & dynamic range. However, the Nikon system is sooooo much better in respect to body, ergonomics, no shutter lag, lens range (ie: telephoto), frame rate, focusing speed and options, high ISO, ability for lower shutter speeds without shake, plus flash photography.

    I actually went to MFD from a Nikon D3 that just did not meet my image quality needs for my customers on the sizes they were printing or cropping. They did notice the change when I went to MFD. When I went back to Nikon in the D3x, they never even commented. I'm assuming they never noticed.

    If I was only doing studio work, I would probably have stayed with the MFD systems. I just needed the flexibility of the Nikon DSLR which I couldn't get with MFD.

    I also agree with you on the Leica S2. It is a really interesting system. However, how do you have a back-up without spending another $23K for a second body????? I know they have their next day replacement - higher cost warranty. My issue is, I'm doing a shoot on Tuesday afternoon. The camera breaks. I contact my dealer in the morning. Leica sends a replacement out that day. So on Thursday, by noon, I can be shooting again. Meanwhile, my client is upset, or the event is over, or I had to tell them to bring the models and props out again for a second shoot. That just doesn't fly well.

    I do have a D700 which is my back-up body & for when I need a higher ISO for event photography that I can't get out of the D3x.
    Anyway, just my $.02. I REALLY respect the Phase system, it just isn't for my photography in ease of use or the sizes that get printed.

    Best,

    Ray

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    Re: Can you help me with the D3X

    Thanks again for your detailed reply, it helps a lot.
    Tim

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    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Can you help me with the D3X

    I shot a lot with the ZF lenses and my D3x and would agree with Ray about the quality of the 35/2. Personally I also liked my 50/2 & 100/2 as well which produced very nice sharp images on the D3/D3x.

    In the end I returned to shooting Nikon glass partially due to the convenience of the 3x AFS zoom combo (14-24/24-70/70-200VRII) and partially due to the lack of split prism focusing screens for the D3/D3x. If somebody like KatzEye would produce a decent focus screen then I could see myself returning to the new ZF.2 lenses (setting the non-CPU lens is no big deal with the ZF series but it's another step to remember).

    Ray is on the money about the superiority of the brighter D3 series viewfinder vs D700 which helps a lot in nailing MF focus.

    Btw, I definitely notice the superior subtle tonality of D3x images vs D700/D3s shots. Hard to quantify but I definitely can see it.

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