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Thread: I am very impressed with the D3

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    I am very impressed with the D3

    The title says it all. I have had it for a little over a week now, and I am getting more and more impressed. I have not had a chance to really compare the images with those shot in the same circumstances as the DMR, but in terms of daily use, it is much more usable for me. This past weekend I shot a charity fashion show for a friend. It mostly consisted of "green" fashions and sustainable or recycled clothing. In any case, I rented the 70-200 VR zoom to give it a try and got ready to shoot the show. I wound up shooting over 700 images, first in RAW, then switching to JPEG when the cards got full. Most of the fashion show was shot at f/2.8 on the 70-200 and at ISO 800-2000. The performance at those ISO's, even in jpegs is amazing. I also noticed that very few of the 700+ shots were incorrectly exposed, and few were out of focus, except where it was obviously my fault. The white balance was usually spot on, and overall, the workflow was very easy using lightroom. I shot most of the runway stuff with the 70-200 and much of the behind the scenes stuff with the 17-35 (often at 17mm...it was very cramped).

    Did I mention that after 4 hours straight of shooting, chimping, AF and 700 frames, the batter was still reading 4 out of 5 bars? The camera is heavy, but very easy to hold onto for the whole day, the vertical shooting grip is excellent...much better than the DMR's. Essentially, conditions were very unfavorable, with poor lighting (particularly a bright sidelight and dark shadows...velvet curtains offered no bounce), cramped space, amateur models who would walk to fast or pose awkwardly, yet whatever difficulties there were, the camera did not seem to skip a beat. Overall I found it to handle superbly.
    Here are a few shots:

    ISO 2000 Jpeg:

    And then these two are ISO 900.


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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Same observations for me...

    I sold my DMR last year when I found out that there was no more support from Leica for it and that a new Leica DSLR would bring also new glass and at least some incompatibility with the old glass.

    I am now back to Nikon, with a D3 and all the 2,8 zooms. I am overwhelmed. I never had such great results with the DMR and I am not talking about AF/MF.

    So enjoy further!

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Hi There
    I've had mine for around 3 weeks now, and I feel the same way.

    I have a friend who has defined successful technology quite simply as:

    'not irritating'

    I think that this is something that Apple understood when they brought out the iphone, and I think that the D3 is a profound example of this. Everything it implies it's going to do it just does, easily and successfully.

    The controls are worked out so carefully, so that it's easy to remember what you did, and how to do it again.

    There are things I'd like . . . nothing is perfect, but when I'm using it, I'm certainly never irritated.

    all the best

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    As to the OP's content, I have to agree. While my heart belongs to my M8/M7 and lenses, I believe the D3 is the greatest 35mm camera ever made. best...Peter

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    I knew I shouldn't post images. This is not really my thing, and I posted them not as an example of how good my pictures are, but of how technically well the D3 renders images. If you are interested in seeing images that I would consider "good" please go to my website, www.stuartrichardson.com. What impressed me about the images, the first one in particular, is that even at ISO 2000, which you cannot even do on the DMR, it holds excellent color saturation, sharpness and has very little grain. This was my first time shooting an event like this, and I did it to help out a friend -- the event was totally amateur, and as such it was not conducive to photography at all. There were people in front of the photographers, the end of the runway was only about 5 feet from the camera, the lighting was miserable -- it just wasn't meant to create a good, high fashion look. What impressed me was that the D3 actually was able to come up with usable, if not artistically brilliant images. I don't think any other camera I have would have been able to do so.

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Fantastic stuff on your site. I really liked the puffins landing shot!

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    I knew I shouldn't post images. This is not really my thing, and I posted them not as an example of how good my pictures are, but of how technically well the D3 renders images. If you are interested in seeing images that I would consider "good" please go to my website, www.stuartrichardson.com. What impressed me about the images, the first one in particular, is that even at ISO 2000, which you cannot even do on the DMR, it holds excellent color saturation, sharpness and has very little grain. This was my first time shooting an event like this, and I did it to help out a friend -- the event was totally amateur, and as such it was not conducive to photography at all. There were people in front of the photographers, the end of the runway was only about 5 feet from the camera, the lighting was miserable -- it just wasn't meant to create a good, high fashion look. What impressed me was that the D3 actually was able to come up with usable, if not artistically brilliant images. I don't think any other camera I have would have been able to do so.
    Hi Stuart
    You were quite right to post images - they were illustrating the points you were making in your text. Those of us who have seen your website are perfectly well aware.

    I guess that lots of us are grumpy old men, but you don't need to apologise just because one of them had a go at you.

    Most of us clearly understood the point of your post, what's more, most of us agreed with you!

    N.B. - I deleted my other post as it was ambiguous, if you saw it, please ignore
    Last edited by jonoslack; 2nd May 2008 at 07:41.

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    I agree this is a post about how the D3 is performing and not how Stuart is performing. Two completely different worlds. Let's please stay with the technical for this one. Thanks
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Stuart my only concern I see is the highlights are teetering on being blown. Are you using any recovery in these or pretty much straight out of the can.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    Stuart my only concern I see is the highlights are teetering on being blown. Are you using any recovery in these or pretty much straight out of the can.
    I think everyone agrees that the D3, by default, pitches the histogram very far to the right.

    In fact, there is so much recovery available that you can easily get any blown highlights back - I guess the intention is to limit noise in the shadows (unnecessary as there doesn't seem to be any!).

    I've corrected my base exposure in the menus to -0.6 of a stop, which gives me more what I want, but there's so much leeway, and the matrix metering is almost impossible to fool, that it's really quite difficult to get one wrong.

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Thank you guys.

    Guy -- the images were jpegs, so I did not apply much recovery (it does not look that great when used on a jpeg). I tried to walk the line between shadow detail and highlight detail, but with a 8 bit jpeg at high iso, dynamic range is not what it is with the 14bit raw. I will see if I can fetch the unmodified jpeg out of the camera to give you an idea what they looked like with no correction. I was applying a -.7 exposure correction, because the dark purple curtain was tricking the camera into overexposing.

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    Thank you guys.

    Guy -- the images were jpegs, so I did not apply much recovery (it does not look that great when used on a jpeg). I tried to walk the line between shadow detail and highlight detail, but with a 8 bit jpeg at high iso, dynamic range is not what it is with the 14bit raw. I will see if I can fetch the unmodified jpeg out of the camera to give you an idea what they looked like with no correction. I was applying a -.7 exposure correction, because the dark purple curtain was tricking the camera into overexposing.
    I had a feeling it was jpeg . In raw you can certainly recover. thanks
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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    jonoslack "Hi There
    I've had mine for around 3 weeks now, and I feel the same way.

    I have a friend who has defined successful technology quite simply as:

    'not irritating'

    I think that this is something that Apple understood when they brought out the iphone, and I think that the D3 is a profound example of this. Everything it implies it's going to do it just does, easily and successfully."
    ---------

    I love that quote - and example. Perfect. Apple's 'got it', Nikon's (now) 'got it', the rest.... well, lets just (charitably) assume they're 'working on it' while some just don't have a hope in hell - they don't even know what 'it' is.

    Stuart/Jono: Would love to hear any D3 comparisons in workflow re: USM, etc., vs. the 5D & 1Ds2 if you've had the opportunity to shoot either. Also, would like to hear how accurate folks have found the D3's focus confirm. The D300 I tried with a 35/2 ZF was frackin' useless.

    Stuart - I hear you on posting shots, there's always someone, for some reason, somewhere. That said, please keep the contribution coming.
    Last edited by robmac; 2nd May 2008 at 08:43.

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    I agree, I think "not irritating" is a very good way to describe it. It just does its job. While I don't think the lenses put out images as beautiful as some Leica lenses, they seem to do quite well. The lens I have been using for portraiture is the 105mm f/2 DC and I must say that is is lovely. I am interested in the Zeiss 100mm, but at the price it is at and not having autofocus or the DC control...it just was not as tempting to me. I would love to try it though. The 70-200mm f/2.8 VR zoom is really nice, but it is very large. It balances well, but I would rather have a prime 100mm and 180/200mm in these focal lengths. I don't often shoot much longer than 100mm. But for the fashion show it was brilliant -- the zoom really helped. To be honest though, in the place I was in, a 50-300mm would have done the job better. Hahahaha.

    Rob -- I have used the 5D, but not extensively. I haven't used the 1Ds2. While I like the smaller size of the 5D, I find it much fussier to use. In particular, the on/off button drives me crazy. Why can't it be next to the shutter release like every other camera? In terms of images, I like the white balance and color balance on the DMR and D3 better than the 5D except in mixed lighting, where the 5d clearly outdoes the DMR, though it is still behind the D3. The LCD on the D3 is a huge improvement over the 5D as well...pictures will look soft and muddy on the 5D screen that are very sharp when you open them. The D3 screen is very much what you see is what you get. I underestimated how useful that is.

    As for focus confirm...I have not really played with it yet. The only lenses I have are AF, and for those it seems to be spot on in most cases. The only lens that I am not sure about is the 105mm...in testing the focus point seems to be about an inch behind what I focused on, yet the AF fine tune does not seem to make much difference. But in real life it seems to be spot on. It's very strange. I need to use it some more in real life to see if it really is off or if my way of testing is screwy...I have a feeling that the focus area is not the same size as the brackets indicate...

    Ok, so this is the stock, unmodified jpeg from the camera. All I did was convert it to sRGB (from Adobe), and resize it. Noise reduction was set to low in camera, and the picture was "standard". ISO 2000, f/4, 1/160th, -.67 exp, 70-200mm at 70mm.



    It looks pretty similar to my edit....I was tired, I am sure I could have done better...it looks like all I did was crop...

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Had to make some admin edits to this thread. So folks, let's keep it on topic and POLITE per our mission statement.

    Stuart, thank you for posting these images illustrating the performance of the camera. It is a service to the group that you took the time to do so and we definitely appreciate it!

    ,
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Flesher View Post
    Had to make some admin edits to this thread. So folks, let's keep it on topic and POLITE per our mission statement.

    Stuart, thank you for posting these images illustrating the performance of the camera. It is a service to the group that you took the time to do so and we definitely appreciate it!

    ,
    Wow - what a tough guy

    I Quite agree though - much better like this!

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Ah he is a pussycat. Just looks tough
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Well done Jack.

    Stuart - on my way out the door, so only have time now for a quick glance at your post, but thank you. I agree on Canon re: the on/off placement - am used to Nikon where a flip of the finger powers on the camera and has it poised over the shutter in same instant.

    I'll get a chance to look over you post in more detail later. BTW for amateur models, they seemed to 'carry it off' well. Not that a married man like myself noticed such things of course...

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    The longer I use the D3, the more impressed I am as well. And I know I am maybe using only 20% of that cameras capabilities

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    Ah he is a pussycat. Just looks tough
    Guy

    At his size he can look any way he wants to!!!LOL

    Woody

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    I'm with you Stuart. This may be he single most impressive compilation of useful features and ergonomic friendliness I've experienced in a 35mm DSLR since I handled the F6.

    Hi ISO performance is astounding. I just got my AFS 24-70/2.8 this morning ... and I was delighted with the build and the size compared to the Canon L version. I'm not usually a zoom kind of shooter, but needed a general application Zoom for wedding work.

    Loving it. Hasn't disappointed yet ... which has happened on so many purchases in the past two years it isn't even funny.

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post

    Hi ISO performance is astounding. I just got my AFS 24-70/2.8 this morning ... and I was delighted with the build and the size compared to the Canon L version. I'm not usually a zoom kind of shooter, but needed a general application Zoom for wedding work.

    Loving it. Hasn't disappointed yet ... which has happened on so many purchases in the past two years it isn't even funny.
    HI Marc
    Isn't it a splendid lens - I got mine in a bundle with the body, I don't think I've ever used a better zoom lens:
    Minimal distortion
    Minimal vignetting
    Sharp to the corners - even wide open
    Close focusing (so many of the pro zooms stop at a metre and more)
    Great Build quality
    Wonderful handling.

    I'm not really interested in any primes in that range (except possibly a zeiss 50mm), lots of the time there doesn't seem a great deal of point in taking it off the camera.

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    HI Marc
    Isn't it a splendid lens - I got mine in a bundle with the body, I don't think I've ever used a better zoom lens:
    Minimal distortion
    Minimal vignetting
    Sharp to the corners - even wide open
    Close focusing (so many of the pro zooms stop at a metre and more)
    Great Build quality
    Wonderful handling.

    I'm not really interested in any primes in that range (except possibly a zeiss 50mm), lots of the time there doesn't seem a great deal of point in taking it off the camera.
    I didn't even realize how close the new 24-70 would focus until you mentioned it. OMG!

    Do you know if a 1.4X extender can be used with the 24-70 lens? I have the AFS TC-14E-II that I got for the 200/2 = 280/2.8 ... but it'd be really cool if I could use it to make the 24-70/2.8 a 35-100/4 ... for less packing when doing a road trip wedding.

    I approached primes a little differently from what you mentioned ... I've selected the two Zeiss Macro primes (50/2 & 100/2) ... and the Nikon 85/1.4AF for low light candid wedding work to isolate the subject.

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post

    Do you know if a 1.4X extender can be used with the 24-70 lens? I have the AFS TC-14E-II that I got for the 200/2 = 280/2.8 ... but it'd be really cool if I could use it to make the 24-70/2.8 a 35-100/4 ... for less packing when doing a road trip wedding.
    No, that is exactly what I wanted to do with a 1.7x on a d300 (giving me coverage from 36-180)

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    I didn't even realize how close the new 24-70 would focus until you mentioned it. OMG!

    Do you know if a 1.4X extender can be used with the 24-70 lens? I have the AFS TC-14E-II that I got for the 200/2 = 280/2.8 ... but it'd be really cool if I could use it to make the 24-70/2.8 a 35-100/4 ... for less packing when doing a road trip wedding.

    I approached primes a little differently from what you mentioned ... I've selected the two Zeiss Macro primes (50/2 & 100/2) ... and the Nikon 85/1.4AF for low light candid wedding work to isolate the subject.
    HI Marc
    I'ts a pity that it doesn't work with the teleconverters (I even dug out the manual to check).

    As for the primes - I'm actually tempted by the 85/1.4, but I can't decide whether to get the Nikon or Zeiss, I really want the two Zeiss macro lenses, but I've got the Nikkor 105 (which is great, and good for our windy flatlands).

    Still, I hope you enjoy the 24-70, I think it rather redefines the possibilities of zoom lenses . . . but I'd still like a smaller f4 version for travel.

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Stuart - what do you think of the D3's ability to hold highlights versus the DMR? I find that the DMR is much better in this regard than my D3.

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Stuart - what do you think of the D3's ability to hold highlights versus the DMR? I find that the DMR is much better in this regard than my D3.

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Peter -- I have not used both in similar situations enough to really say one way or the other. Some of the difference may be exposure related (I tend to use the DMR at -1exp, but I have not applied a correction to the D3 yet), but in any case, I have not really sat down and made a real comparison. Today, I finally got the chance to compare the Nikon and Leica R lenses in a basic comparison (on slide film, so as to be fair), so hopefully I will be able to test the differences between the DMR and the D3 a little more comprehensively after I get done with that comparison.

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterA View Post
    Stuart - what do you think of the D3's ability to hold highlights versus the DMR? I find that the DMR is much better in this regard than my D3.
    HI Peter
    I've not had the DMR, so I can't comment per se, however I have found that the D3 exposure is very much 'to the right' (much more than any other camera I've had). I guess they have done this to maintain shadow information, but I've found that it's best to set the default exposure metering to -.6; even then I often use negative exposure compensation.

    On the other hand - I find that there is a huge amount of detail in the highlights, and with modest exposure you can get a lot back.

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    HI Peter
    I've not had the DMR, so I can't comment per se, however I have found that the D3 exposure is very much 'to the right' (much more than any other camera I've had). I guess they have done this to maintain shadow information, but I've found that it's best to set the default exposure metering to -.6; even then I often use negative exposure compensation.

    On the other hand - I find that there is a huge amount of detail in the highlights, and with modest exposure you can get a lot back.
    Thanks Jono - interesting as I definitely had some issues with exposure on the D3 shooting some landscape snaps on the weekend..I will give your suggestion a go...( I only brought up DMR because I never have highlight issues with it..my Canon 1dsmk11 was prone to blown highlights as well..not as blown as the D3..)

    Cheers
    Pete

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    I don't have a D3, but I have a D300 and they both use Nikon's 3D color matrix II metering. The camera uses focus distance, focal length of lens, info from the CCD, preflash data and AF sensor information and compares it to a database to try to figure out what you are shooting.
    I think if you are using one focus point (which is what I am used to doing), instead of 9, 21, or 51 points, you have to be careful of what is under that one focus point because what is under that point is being given more weight in the exposure calculation.
    This is just something that I keep in mind.

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Hi Cindy - i always use spot metering and single focus point - the highlight blooming occurs ( naturally) in high contrast scenes. The spot metering allows me to shoot for highlights or shadows. I have just noticed that the D3 ( like the Canon) has less latitude than the DMR shooting similar scenes. This is anecdotal - I haven't experimented enough with the camera to find a workaround yet. The EV suggestion is worth trying. On the other hand, I have been positively delighted with how well the D3 works with flash - after the Canon 'system' it is a relief to be able to just shoot!

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterA View Post
    Hi Cindy - i always use spot metering and single focus point - the highlight blooming occurs ( naturally) in high contrast scenes. The spot metering allows me to shoot for highlights or shadows. I have just noticed that the D3 ( like the Canon) has less latitude than the DMR shooting similar scenes. This is anecdotal - I haven't experimented enough with the camera to find a workaround yet. The EV suggestion is worth trying. On the other hand, I have been positively delighted with how well the D3 works with flash - after the Canon 'system' it is a relief to be able to just shoot!
    Hi There Peter
    A couple of points - first of all, I'm certain that the D3 'over exposes' with relationship to other dSLR cameras. Cindy has a point with respect to the way the metering works, but even if you're using spot metering the same situation exists. It's of benefit in low light PJ type situations where you can almost always recover 'bright' bits, and the exposure means less noise in the shadow areas. But it isn't ideal for Nature.

    If you go to the pencil menu, b6; fine tune optimal exposure, then you can dial in a value for each exposure type (I have 4/6 dialled in).

    Secondly - like you, I've never used anything but spot metering . . . . but the matrix metering on the D3 is almost uncanny, and combined with the auto-iso features and this b6 fine tuning, I'm shooting very high contrast scenes, and I can count on the camera to get the exposure consistently right (actually, small white flower against hedge may need a little exposure compensation, but I've learned quickly where it'll be required).

    So, my gut reaction is that your highlight blooming is NOT because the camera is inherently prone to blown highlights (I really think it isn't) but because it has a built in tendency for a higher exposure than other cameras (I can only assume that it's to keep detail in the shadows).

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Here is an example of one I missed
    I focused on the centre of the flower, and took the picture with no exposure compensation on matrix metering.

    Here is the result 'out of the camera'



    With any other camera I've used I would have assumed that yellow to be lost. This is with a 1.5 stop exposure reduction in Aperture:


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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterA View Post
    Hi Cindy - i always use spot metering and single focus point - the highlight blooming occurs ( naturally) in high contrast scenes. The spot metering allows me to shoot for highlights or shadows. I have just noticed that the D3 ( like the Canon) has less latitude than the DMR shooting similar scenes. This is anecdotal - I haven't experimented enough with the camera to find a workaround yet. The EV suggestion is worth trying. On the other hand, I have been positively delighted with how well the D3 works with flash - after the Canon 'system' it is a relief to be able to just shoot!
    Perhaps the difference between 12/14 bit and 16 bit?

    I noticed on the D300 that you have a choice of 12 bit or 14 bit ... and the camera was set to a 12 bit default. I have to check the D3 to see if that's the same case.

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    Perhaps the difference between 12/14 bit and 16 bit?

    I noticed on the D300 that you have a choice of 12 bit or 14 bit ... and the camera was set to a 12 bit default. I have to check the D3 to see if that's the same case.
    HI Marc
    It is - set to 12 bit. You could be right. (although, to be honest, I haven't seen much of a difference).

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Quote Originally Posted by jonoslack View Post
    HI Marc
    It is - set to 12 bit. You could be right. (although, to be honest, I haven't seen much of a difference).
    It may help in the conditions that Peter is referencing. 14 bit is a ton more data than 12 bit ... and I have noticed that it made a difference with the Canon MKIIIs in certain situations.

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    Re: I am very impressed with the D3

    Agreed with Marc. In high contrast situations the 14 bit really gives you extra information to use in the highlights. Under good light, you probably won't notice any real difference.

    The D3 handles the 14 bit at normal speed. However, a D300 really slows down when you change from 12 bit up to 14 bit. On a D300 shooting action, stay at 12 bit.

    Best,

    Ray

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