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Nikon unveils full-frame D3 digital SLR  
Wednesday, August 22, 2007 | by Rob Galbraith
At a press conference today in Tokyo, Nikon took the wraps off the D3, a new digital SLR that has at its heart a Nikon-designed full-frame 12.05 million image pixel CMOS sensor that can capture photos at up to 9 fps at full resolution (called FX Format mode), or up to 11 fps (with some restrictions) when the camera is set to capture 5.14 million image pixels in DX Format mode (where the camera utilizes only a smaller central part of the image sensor).
Digital Duo: Tetsuro Goto, Operating Officer and Vice President of Nikon's Imaging Company, discusses the D3 and D300 at a press conference unveiling the new models in Tokyo (Photo by Rob Galbraith/Little Guy Media)
This sounds a little bit like a D2Xs so far. But the D3 is so much more than a D2Xs with a 35mm-size sensor. The new model has a larger and much better viewfinder, 51-area autofocus (including 15 cross-type AF areas), a 3-inch (diagonal), 920,000-dot rear LCD whose clarity has to be seen to be believed, LiveView with autofocus, noticeably higher quality photos at the D3's upper ISO settings, HDMI video out, a nifty camera leveling feature and more. Nikon's engineers have been busy building a competitor to Canon's EOS-1D Mark III, and our initial impressions, after handling and shooting with the camera briefly, are really positive.

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Full-Frame: Views of the Nikon D3. Click any photo to enlarge (Photos courtesy Nikon)

Feature highlights
Features of the Nikon D3 include:
  • A CMOS sensor that has a capture area of 23.9mm x 36mm (which is effectively identical to the size of a frame of 35mm film) and records 12.05 million pixel photos when the entire sensor area is active. Nikon calls this FX Format mode.

    Like the D2Xs, the D3 will also operate with a smaller capture area, but at about 16mm x 24mm, the size of the capture area is larger in the D3 and is roughly equivalent to the sensor size of all Nikon digital SLRs since the D1. In D3 lingo this is called DX Format mode; the photos taken in this mode contain 5.14 million pixels.

    While it's widely known that Nikon uses sensors designed by Sony in most of its digital SLRs, the D3's sensor is an original Nikon design. The only other digital SLR models to also feature a sensor created by Nikon are the D2H and D2Hs, and as with those models, Nikon isn't revealing their manufacturing partner. The D3's sensor has a pixel pitch of 8.45µm and utilizes 12-channel readout to enable its 9 fps burst rate at full resolution.

  • A total of three capture modes:

    • FX Format This mode uses the full 23.9mm x 36mm capture area of the sensor and produces 12.05 million pixel photos. The D3 will shoot continuously at up to 9 fps in this mode.

    • 5:4 This is for portrait or other shooters who want a photo with the proportions of an 8 x 10 rolling off the sensor. It  uses a 23.9mm x 30mm capture area and produces 10.06 million pixel photos. The D3 will shoot continuously at up to 9 fps in this mode.

    • DX Format This mode uses a 16mm x 24mm capture area and produces 5.14 million pixel photos. The D3 will shoot continuously at up to 9 fps in this mode. In DX Format mode, the camera will also shoot at 10 fps or 11 fps, but with some limitations. At 10 fps, automatic exposure locks and the exposure throughout the burst is based on the meter reading prior to the first frame in the sequence. At 11 fps, exposure also locks before the first frame plus autofocus is disabled.

      The camera can be configured to automatically switch to DX Format when a DX lens is attached, and DX Format can also be manually selected at any time with non-DX lenses.

  • All-new processing circuitry that features 14-bit analog-to-digital conversions and a 16-bit processing path. The core image processing technologies contained in the D3 go under the umbrella name of EXPEED. When shooting NEFs, it's possible to specify whether you want them to contain 14-bits per colour or 12-bits per colour of information (for smaller file sizes and a few more frames in extended bursts), as well as as whether they are uncompressed, compressed (visually lossless, 40-55% compression rates) or losslessly compressed (numerically identical after decompression, 20-40% compression rates). The addition of a truly lossless compression option is a welcome addition.

  • A normal ISO range of 200-6400 in 1/3 step increments, and an extended ISO range of ISO 100 - 25,600, in 1/3 step increments up to to 12,800 (the camera can also be configured for 1/2 step and full step increments too). By using a relatively large pixel size - in about the last four years, only the D2H/D2Hs have contained a sensor with larger pixels in Nikon's lineup - the company has positioned themselves to tackle their main competitive weakness against Canon: poor high ISO image quality.

    Larger-pixel sensors tend to have better signal-to-noise ratios than smaller-pixel ones, and based on a look at ISO 1600 - ISO 25,600 frames produced by prototype D3 bodies, including a handful we shot ourselves, the camera looks like it will produce low light photos that are both massively cleaner and more usable than the D2Xs and in the same ballpark as Canon's EOS-1D Mark III (which is the D3's primary competition). Nikon promises a dynamic range bump of 300%, and we suspect that this claimed improvement is almost entirely because of the lower noise characteristics of the sensor.

    Canon's 10.08 million image pixel, 10 fps digital SLR is capable of producing great quality in available darkness. We'll need to shoot with a production D3 under real-world conditions to find out whether it approaches, meets or exceeds the EOS-1D Mark III in high ISO image quality. But based on what we've seen so far (including several huge prints of ISO 3200 and 6400 frames), it's safe to say that the D3 will produce photos of dramatically better quality than the D2Xs at ISO 1600 and up.

    Optional, additional noise reduction can be switched on for JPEGs and TIFFs shot at above ISO 1600. Even with this option turned off, photos taken at ISO 8000 and above will still receive a measure of additional noise reduction.

    As with other recent Nikons, long exposure noise reduction, when enabled, kicks in for exposures that are eight seconds or longer.

  • A camera startup time of 0.12 seconds, shutter lag of 37ms, mirror blackout time of 74ms, standard top flash sync speed of 1/250 and top shutter speed of 1/8000. With non-dedicated flash units such as studio strobes, the D3 will sync at up to 1/320; by 1/400, a black band begins to intrude into the frame, indicating that the sync speed is too high.

    The shutter mechanism is rated to 300,000 cycles.

  • An improved viewfinder. It's so much larger and sharper than the D2Xs, it reinforces how much room for improvement there has been in Nikon's pro digital SLR viewfinders, going all the way back to the D2H. When set to FX Format mode, the viewfinder image is large and crisp, much like looking through a Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II. In DX Format or 5:4 modes, the liquid polymer network technology of the D2Xs carries over to the D3, to mask off the non-capture areas of the frame, rendering the outer portions of the viewfinder image dark and fuzzy. In all three modes, the viewfinder displays 100% of the capture area.

    The viewfinder image area is also much less cluttered in appearance, thanks to the adoption of a style of AF point display that's the same as Canon's 1-series cameras. Now, an AF point is visible (and glowing red) only when it's active, as compared to the always-visible grid of AF points in the D2Xs.

    The D3 easily has the best viewfinder to grace a Nikon digital SLR.

  • A 51-area autofocus system called Multi-CAM 3500, featuring 15 cross-type AF areas positioned around the centre (they operate as cross-type sensors with lenses whose maximum aperture is f/5.6 or faster). The 51-area grid forms a wide rectangle across the frame, with minimal spacing between each AF area. In single area autofocus, the camera can be configured to allow for selection from all 51 AF areas, or from 11 in a layout that mimics that of the D2Xs. In any of the multi-area autofocus modes, it's possible to choose a group of 9 or 21 AF areas in a cluster that's movable about the 51-area grid (much like Group Dynamic AF in the D2Xs, only with more AF areas in the group). It's also possible to have the camera choose from all 51 areas.

    When the autofocus system is set to something other than a single, manually-selected AF area, the camera will employ a a new technology in the D3 called the Scene Recognition System to aid in the subject acquisition and tracking process. The Scene Recognition System uses information about subject colour, derived from the 1005-pixel RGB metering sensor, to help the autofocus determine where the subject has moved to in the frame and shift the active AF point accordingly.

    For the type of shooting we do, Nikon's autofocus has trailed Canon's in both the midrange and pro cameras for several years (which is partly why, even though we use both systems and train on both systems, we've strongly favoured Canon cameras since 2004). There's no way of knowing yet whether the D3 will be able to keep pace with Canon's best now, and particularly the EOS-1D Mark II N, a camera that makes so many sharp frames of fast-action sports like soccer and basketball in our experience. We can say that in limited testing of a prototype body, the D3's ability to hold and repeat focus on static subjects is impressive, but whether the Multi-CAM 3500 will be what helps Nikon replace a few white lenses on the sidelines is an open question. Nikon's marketing materials make it clear that the D3 is aimed squarely at the news and sports photographer, so they're clearly going to try and wrestle shooters over from the other brand.

  • A 3-inch (diagonal), 170 degree viewing angle rear LCD that is so crisp and clear you'll never want to use another rear LCD to review your pictures again. Its 920,000-dot resolution makes it possible to judge critical focus when zoomed in to nearly full magnification. In fact, it's like looking at a screen without pixels; they're so small as to be invisible when looking at photos at even abnormally close viewing distances. The only thing we're not sure of yet is how accurate the brightness of the display is, and as Nikon has typically tuned their rear LCDs to render photos lighter than they actually are (when viewed under typical indoor conditions), even when screen brightness is adjusted all the way down, this a concern for the D3 too. But there's no question about the clarity of the display, it's awesome.

    Info Please: The shooting information screen (Screenshot courtesy Nikon)

    Nikon has also revamped the display of shooting information when reviewing photos, gathering it on one screen and using icons in place of text in some cases to enable more information to be crammed onto the screen. In addition, the rear LCD can also be used as a live display of camera settings info, including shutter speed, aperture, autofocus and more. The layout of the camera settings info screen is inspired by the D40. There are two colour schemes offered.

  • Picture Control. Nikon has blended its Color Mode and Image Optimize options of previous cameras into a new Picture Control menu that closely mimics Canon's Picture Styles. There are four Picture Control settings - Standard, Neutral, Vivid and Monochrome - the first three corresponding to the colour looks of Color Mode I, II and III in the D2Xs, respectively. Each setting can customized. Customization options are Sharpness, Brightness, Contrast, Saturation and Hue. It's possible to store up to nine custom Picture Control combos, as well as save them to a CompactFlash card and load them into another body.

  • Times Two: The twin CompactFlash slots of the D3. Click to enlarge (Photo courtesy Nikon)
    Dual CompactFlash card slots, both of which support the UDMA protocol for a Nikon-specified write speed of 35MB/second with UDMA-capable cards such as Lexar's 300X and SanDisk's Extreme and Ducati Edition lines.

    Write options include:

    • Overflow The camera will automatically begin writing to the second card when the first card is full.

    • Backup The camera will write the same photos to both cards.

    • RAW Slot 1 - JPEG Slot 2 As its name implies, NEFs are written to the card in the first slot, and JPEGs are written to the card in the second slot.

    • Copy It's possible to copy photos from one card to the other.

  • LiveView with autofocus. When enabled, the rear LCD displays a real-time view through the lens. Nikon's iteration of LiveView includes an optional grid overlay, brightness adjustment, zoom and two autofocus modes.

    The first, Handheld mode, uses the camera's 51-area AF to determine focus, and to do that it drops the mirror briefly, interrupting the LiveView image in the process.

    Sharpen Up: LiveView's Tripod mode in action (Screenshot courtesy Nikon)

    The second, Tripod mode, uses the image sensor itself to determine focus, employing a method Nikon calls Contrast AF (which is similar to the autofocus method used by compact digital cameras). It's slower - you can see the lens' autofocus dance around the correct point of focus for a second before locking in - but the LiveView image isn't interrupted, and you can set focus from anywhere in the frame, not just within the AF grid. It also works when the Live View image is magnified. Tripod mode is cool.

    The LiveView image refreshes at 15 fps, which makes it feel somewhat herky-jerky compared to the silky-smooth 30 fps of Canon's EOS-1D Mark III. But it more than makes up for that with Tripod mode autofocus. It's possible to manual focus as well.

  • A redesigned multicontroller. It protrudes more from the body and incorporates an actual button in its centre, both of which makes it easier to navigate around the 51-area AF grid, even diagonally, and make selections.

  • Nikon's specification for the D3's burst depth, when set to FX Format and the card is a SanDisk Extreme IV (or, presumably, other fast UDMA-capable cards), is 64 Large Normal JPEG, 17 NEFs (14 bit) and 20 NEFs (12 bit). For a camera that can shoot at 9 fps, the NEF burst depth is on the skimpy side, owing to its relatively paltry 512MB of RAM (for a camera of this resolution and speed).

  • Real-time image processing options that include lateral chromatic aberration correction and Active D-Lighting. Either or both of these can be applied automatically in the camera to finished JPEGs or TIFFs. The lateral chromatic aberration correction will work with any lens, including other makers' lenses, because the correction applied is based on an analysis of the image data, not on lens information. If shooting NEF, the correction isn't applied to the RAW data, but information about the analysis is, information that CaptureNX can use to do similar processing later. Active D-Lighting has three settings: High, Normal and Low and differs from the in-camera D-Lighting first introduced in the Nikon D80 in that the D3's variant applies contrast correction as well for a more natural appearance to the final photo.

  • Video out that now includes an HDMI port as well as a standard analog A/V port. HDMI playback is at resolutions up to true 1080i (in addition to 480p, 576p, and 720p). Video out is possible of the LiveView image also, but at 640 x 480 pixel resolution only. When the HDMI port is used, it's not possible for the rear LCD and external display to be on simultaneously. When the A/V port is used, both can be on at the same time.

  • nikon_d3_menu_04.JPG
    Straighten Up: Virtual Horizon Adjustment in action (Screenshot courtesy Nikon)

    A Virtual Horizon Adjustment feature that is both cool and useful and will almost certainly replace a hot shoe bubble level for Nikon photographers that need to shoot pictures with straight horizons. We don't know what the level of precision of the internal detection sensors are, but in testing it's clearly as or more sensitive to left-right camera movement than a typical bubble level (which you'll still need to orient the camera front-to-back).

    Virtual Horizon Adjustment works when the camera is horizontal, vertical and even flipped upside down, but not when the lens is pointed at the sky or ground. When enabled, leveling can be done when looking through the viewfinder, on the top display or via a fun graphic on the rear LCD.

  • A dual-slot charger, the Quick Charger MH-22, is included with the camera to charge its Li-Ion Battery En-EL4A (the same battery used by the D2Xs).

  • Outgoing: Wireless Transmitter WT-4/4A connected to a D3. Click to enlarge (Photo courtesy Nikon)
    Accompanying the D3 is a new optional transmitter, Wireless Transmitter WT-4/4A. It supports both wired Ethernet and Wi-Fi (802.11b/g plus 802.11a) networking, runs off its own battery and with Nikon Camera Control Pro 2 software, enables remote viewing of the LiveView image as well as camera settings adjustment. Also with Camera Control Pro 2, it's possible to view thumbnails of the photos in up to five wirelessly-connected cameras, then selectively transfer the keepers. It's also possible to transfer photos to an FTP server.

    The WT-4/4A is designed to ride on your belt or dangle from your shoulder, separate from the camera, and includes an external antenna port. Remote LiveView and other camera control functions are possible over a USB connection direct to the camera's USB port too, without the use of the WT-4/4A. The WT-4/4A is compatible with the D300 as well. We don't know yet whether it will be compatible with older Nikon digital SLRs.

  • The camera's software bundle includes a new browsing application called ViewNX. It's designed to be a rapid browser of JPEGs, TIFFs and NEFs that provides basic RAW conversion. Conversion controls will not be as extensive as those of CaptureNX, but will include software exposure compensation, white balance plus all the options found in the camera's Picture Control menu. It includes both image rating and image labeling, support for IPTC and XMP metadata, the ability to copy and paste conversion settings to a batch of NEFs and streamlined opening of photos into Capture NX.

    Also new is Nikon Transfer (possibly to be called TransferNX), a utility for copying photos from memory cards to a computer with options such as simultaneous copying to two destination drives and the ability to browse and select which files will be copied before starting the transfer.

    Both applications will ship with the D3 and D300, and are likely to be released for download on Nikon websites at about the same time, though as of this writing Nikon was still firming up distribution plans.

There's more, including:

  • An AF fine tune option for compensating for autofocus miscalibration with certain lenses or all lenses.

  • A Retouch Menu for applying image effects and creating new finished files right in the camera.

  • My Menu for convenient access to commonly-used functions and settings.

  • New Option Picture Control software for creating and managing Picture Control settings, and a new version of Capture NX that will incorporate Picture Control (enabling settings to be applied to images from older Nikon cameras as well as the D3 and D300, also announced today).
If the autofocus performance is top-notch and the high ISO image quality is in the same league as Canon's EOS-1D Mark III, Nikon will have an intriguing camera in the D3. The Nikon D3 is slated to ship in November 2007 at an expected street price of US$4999.95 in the U.S.
Nikon USA press release

Press Release

MELVILLE, N.Y. (AUGUST 23, 2007) – Eight years after Nikon’s D1 camera changed
professional digital photography forever, Nikon today introduced the D3 – a new digital
SLR camera that is poised to once again revolutionize photography for professionals.
The 12.1 effective megapixel D3 features Nikon’s new FX-format CMOS sensor,
measuring 23.9 x 36mm, which is nearly identical to the size of 35mm film. With the
fastest startup time, shortest viewfinder blackout time, and shortest shutter lag of any
digital SLR camera as well as the capability to shoot up to nine frames per second at full
FX-format resolution, the D3 is the world’s fastest digital SLR camera in its class.*
Designed with sports photographers and photojournalists in mind, the Nikon D3
introduces an astounding list of brand new features and technologies that make it the
most sophisticated and advanced Nikon digital SLR to date. In addition to the new FX-
format CMOS sensor, the D3 incorporates Nikon’s new EXPEED Image Processing
System that is central to the blazing speed and processing power needed for many of
the D3’s new features. 
Images taken with the D3 reflect exceptional overall quality, broad tonal range
and depth, along with extremely low-noise throughout its normal ISO range of 200 to
6400. By setting the camera to its built-in options of Lo-1 or Hi-2, the ISO range of the
camera can be expanded to the equivalent of ISO 100 or ISO 25,600 respectively,
offering unmatched versatility in practically any shooting situation. 
The D3 also features an entirely new 51-point auto focus system with Nikon’s 3D
Focus Tracking feature and two new LiveView shooting modes that allow photographers
to frame a photograph using the camera’s high-resolution LCD monitor. The D3 uses the
world’s first Scene Recognition System to greatly enhance the accuracy of auto focus,
auto exposure and auto white balance detection in the camera by recognizing the
subject or scene being photographed and applying this information to the calculations for
the three functions.  
 “Nikon is proud and excited to once again respond to the needs of professional
photographers by introducing the D3. Nikon engineers have successfully combined ultra
high-speed shooting capabilities and handling with outstanding low-noise image quality,
offering professional photographers an ideal tool for a broad range of shooting
disciplines,” said Edward Fasano, general manager for Marketing, SLR Systems
Products, at Nikon Inc. “Sports, commercial and press photographers are increasingly
demanding higher ISO sensitivity, better resolution, wider dynamic range and a familiar
depth-of-field in relation to picture angles. With the D3, Nikon is excited to deliver a
solution that represents an ideal unification of unsurpassed image quality, high-speed
operation and professional durability, without compromise. Nikon fully expects the D3 to
positively affect the photographic community in a way that hasn’t been seen since the
introduction of the Nikon D1.”

Nikon’s Sensor Formats: FX and DX
Nikon’s digital SLR cameras based on its DX-format sensor have been hugely
successful and represent an excellent combination of high image quality, size, and
value. And while the DX-format has been widely accepted by professional
photographers and photo enthusiasts around the world, there is an increasing demand
among professionals for a digital SLR camera that features higher ISO sensitivity, wider
dynamic range and offers the same relationship between picture angle and depth-of-field
that were the hallmarks of the 35mm film format. 
Responding to this demand, Nikon has developed the D3 as its first digital SLR
camera that features the Nikon FX-format CMOS sensor to meet the real-world
requirements of its professional customers. The D3 delivers full resolution 12.1
megapixel images at up to nine frames per second when used with conventional AF-
NIKKOR lenses. When used with DX NIKKOR lenses, the D3 automatically switches to
the DX-format mode that uses a cropped portion of the sensor to generate 5.1
megapixel resolution images. While in this mode, the D3 automatically masks the portion
of the viewfinder that will not be photographed and enables the capability to shoot up to
11 frames per second. 
Both Nikon FX and DX-formats provide their own advantages, and Nikon
recognizes that both formats are necessary in order to satisfy its diverse customer
demands. Based on this recognition, Nikon will strengthen its D-SLR lineup with the
addition of the D3 FX-format SLR camera and a broadened assortment of NIKKOR
interchangeable lenses, while continuing to develop and market high-performance DX-
format cameras and lenses.
The Most Intelligent Nikon Ever
The D3 introduces a range of innovative technologies and features that
significantly improve the accuracy, control and performance professional photographers
can get from their equipment. Nikon’s exclusive Scene Recognition System advances
the use of Nikon’s acclaimed 1,005-segment sensor to recognize colors and light
patterns that help the camera determine the subject and the type of scene being
photographed, before an image is captured.  This information is also used to improve the
accuracy of auto focus, auto exposure and auto white balance detection functions in the
D3.  For example, the camera can track moving subjects better in all directions and by
identifying them it can also automatically select focus points faster and with greater
accuracy. It can also analyze scene highlights and more accurately determine exposure,
as well as infer light sources to deliver more accurate white balance.
The D3 incorporates Nikon’s new Multi-CAM 3500FX auto focus module that
features an intelligent array of 15 cross-type sensors and 36 horizontal sensors.  These
sensors can either be used individually or in groups, with the option for Single Area AF
mode and Dynamic AF modes using groups of either 9, 21 or all 51 focus points. The
system also features 3D Focus Tracking with automatic focus point switching that takes
advantage of all 51 AF points as it uses color and light information to accurately track the
subject. Nikon's new Scene Recognition System and improved focus algorithms also
contribute to the impressive performance of the new 51-point AF system. 
Nikon's new Picture Control System makes it easy for users of all experience
levels to select and apply adjustments to how their pictures are rendered and create
optimized settings to suit their individual preferences. The same settings produce
consistent picture tone, even when using different camera bodies. The Picture Control
System offers four basic setting options – Standard, Neutral, Vivid and Monochrome.
These can be directly modified for easy adjustment and customization of image
parameters, such as sharpening, tone compensation, brightness, and saturation.
Photographers can customize and store up to nine customized options in the D3 and
export up to 99 to a CF memory card, enabling photographers to share settings among
multiple D3 cameras.
Taking a cue from the popularity of Nikon’s D-Lighting technology, the D3
features a new Active D-Lighting mode that, when enabled, provides remarkable real-
time highlight and shadow correction with optimized image contrast. Active D-Lighting
produces broader tone reproduction in both shadows and highlights by controlling
highlights and exposure compensation while applying localized tone control technology
to achieve a more pleasing level of contrast across the entire image. And because the
advantages of Active D-Lighting are applied as images are captured, image editing time
can be shortened.
The D3’s LiveView feature offers two modes for confirming subjects and
composition on the new 920,000-dot, high-resolution 3-inch LCD monitor while shooting.
The Tripod mode is designed for precise focus and accuracy when the camera is on a
stable platform and the subject is not moving. In this mode, the camera focuses on the
subject using focal-plane contrast and any point on the LCD screen can be selected as
the focus point for the picture. The second mode, called Handheld mode, allows
photographers to use the camera’s conventional TTL focusing system, with all 51-points
and 15 cross-type points available. When using this mode, the camera activates
focusing immediately when the shutter button is pressed, to ensure accurate focus.
The Fastest Camera in its Class
The D3 has the fastest reaction times of any camera in its class. Its shutter
release time lag is only 37 milliseconds, and its start-up time is approximately 0.12
seconds. It is capable of continuously shooting approximately nine frames per second in
full resolution with FX-format, up to 64 consecutive frames in JPEG, Normal
compression.  For NEF (RAW) files, the D3 can shoot up to 20 or up to 17 consecutive
frames depending on whether it is set to 12-bit or 14-bit images. When using a DX-
format lens, the camera automatically switches to DX-format mode, adjusting the
resolution of the camera to 5.1 megapixels. In the DX-format mode, photographers also
have the opportunity to increase the speed at which the camera can take pictures by
limiting the auto exposure and going up to 10 frames per second or limiting both auto
exposure and auto focus and going up to 11 frames per second. 
Refined Ergonomics and Usability
The D3 reflects Nikon’s most streamlined, functional and aesthetically pleasing
layout in a digital SLR camera, all designed so photographers can take pictures with less
fatigue, greater accuracy and comfort. 
The camera’s viewfinder provides virtually 100 percent coverage for accurate
framing, while an ultra-high definition, 920,000-dot VGA LCD screen on the rear of the
camera displays images with vivid color and clarity. The 170-degree wide viewing angle
makes composing shots using the LCD screen in LiveView mode easy. The D3 also
features a unique Virtual Horizon digital level sensor that indicates the camera’s
alignment relative to the true horizon on the rear LCD screen or in the viewfinder. 
The D3 also features two CompactFlashTM card slots that can be used for
consecutive recording (overflow), simultaneous recording (backup), separating recording
of RAW and JPEG files or even copying pictures between the two cards. Images can be
displayed directly from the camera to a high-definition monitor using the camera’s HDMI
port and an optional cable.  
The D3 is designed for professional use in demanding conditions. The exterior of
the D3 is crafted of magnesium alloy and the camera’s shutter mechanism is tested to
300,000-cycle releases. The 3.0-inch LCD is strengthened with tempered glass and the
D3’s comprehensive array of rubber gaskets and seals protect vulnerable entry points
from dust and moisture. 
Price and Availability
The D3 will be available from authorized Nikon Professional Dealers beginning in
November 2007 for an estimated selling price of $4,999.95**. With the introduction of the
D3, Nikon’s current lineup of digital SLR cameras now includes the new D3, D2XS,
D300, D200, D80, D40X and D40.  
About Nikon
Nikon, At the Heart of the ImageTM. Nikon Inc. is the world leader in digital imaging, precision
optics and photo imaging technology and is globally recognized for setting new standards in
product design and performance for its award-winning consumer and professional
photographic equipment. Nikon Inc. distributes the Nikon Total Imaging System of consumer
and professional digital SLR cameras, Nikkor optics, Speedlights and System Accessories;
Nikon COOLPIX® compact digital cameras; COOLSCAN® digital film scanners; 35mm film
SLR cameras; Nikon software products and Nikon sports and recreational optics. At the
heart of every Nikon camera is Nikon’s Exclusive Feature System, making it easy for anyone
to take amazing digital pictures. Through the Nikon Spirit InitiativeTM, the company, plays an
active role in supporting aspiring and advanced photographers through a variety of
philanthropic organizations, educational programs, events and workshops. For more
information, dial (800) NIKON-US or visit, which links all levels of
photographers to the web's most comprehensive photo learning and sharing communities. 
* As of August, 2007; among cameras featuring an imaging sensor similar to the size of 35mm film
** Estimated selling prices listed are only an estimate.  Actual prices are set by dealers and are subject to
change at any time.   
New 12.1 effective megapixels FX-format (23.9 x 36mm) sensor 
The D3’s new and original 12.1 effective megapixel FX-format CMOS image sensor
features a series of technologies that enable it to deliver superior quality pictures
throughout the camera’s exceptionally broad ISO range. In addition, the sensor’s high-
speed 12-channel readout allows the camera to shoot 12.1 megapixel images at up to
nine frames per second.
Wide sensitivity range
The camera’s ISO sensitivity range is extremely broad, allowing photographers to shoot
low noise photographs in a variety of situations.  The camera’s normal range is from ISO
200 to 6400, and this range can be extended using the camera’s built-in settings of Lo-1
and Hi-2 for the equivalent of ISO 100 and ISO 25,600, respectively. 
High-speed performance
The D3 is designed to deliver high-speed performance in virtually any situation. With a
shutter release time lag of only 37 milliseconds, camera start-up time of 0.12 seconds,
and continuous shooting speed of up to nine frames per second with full resolution 12.1
megapixel images, the D3 is the world’s fastest digital SLR camera in its class.* The D3
is also capable of shooting at up to 11 frames per second when using the camera’s DX-
format mode, with 5.1 megapixel images. The Nikon D3 is also compliant with UDMA
memory cards, enabling recording speeds of up to 35 megabytes per second.
New EXPEED Image Processing System
The D3 features Nikon’s new EXPEED Image Processing System that is central to the
speed and processing power of the camera.  EXPEED delivers optimized performance
for the camera and its features and ensures high-image quality and high-speed image
Versatile new Picture Control System
Nikon’s new Picture Control System, featured in the D3, allows photographers to fine-
tune and adjust fundamental rendering options for their pictures so they can define the
exact tone, sharpening, brightness and saturation they prefer. They can then port these
settings to any other Nikon camera featuring the Picture Control System, such as the
recently introduced D300, so that even when shooting with different cameras, they can
get consistent tones for all their pictures. 
New 51-point auto focus system
The D3 features Nikon’s Multi-CAM 3500FX auto focus sensor module, with 51 AF
points, including 15 cross-type sensors that are located in the center of the frame. These
cross-type sensors work with all NIKKOR lenses, including those with apertures as small
as f/5.6.  The D3’s auto focus system is closely linked with the camera’s innovative
Scene Recognition System to deliver greater accuracy in subject detection and focus
tracking performance. 
Revolutionary new Scene Recognition System
Nikon’s D3 features a revolutionary new Scene Recognition System that greatly
enhances the accuracy of, auto exposure, auto white balance detection and auto focus
in the camera. The Scene Recognition System uses the camera’s built in 1,005-pixel
RGB metering sensor to recognize the subject or scene being photographed and detect
any movement. This information helps optimize exposure and white balance settings for
the recognized subject and also enables the camera to assign appropriate AF points
based on any movement of the subject, ensuring highly precise auto focus tracking
Super-density, 3-inch VGA, TFT LCD monitor with 920,000 dot resolution
The D3 features a gorgeous, ultra high-definition 3-inch LCD monitor with 920,000 dot
resolution. The monitor provides a 170-degree viewing angle and is very effective in
confirming focus on pictures as well as framing a shot using the camera’s new LiveView
LiveView shooting with two optimized modes
Two new LiveView modes in the D3 enable photographers to compose their shot using
the camera’s ultra-high resolution LCD monitor. The Tripod mode is designed for precise
focus and accuracy when the camera is on a stable platform and the subject is not
moving. In this mode, the camera focuses on the subject using focal-plane contrast and
any point on the LCD screen can be selected as the focus point for the picture. The
second mode, called Handheld mode, allows photographers to use the camera’s
conventional TTL focusing system, with all 51 points and 15 cross-type points available.
When using this mode, the camera activates focusing immediately when the shutter
button is pressed, to ensure accurate focus.  
Active D-Lighting
Nikon’s D-Lighting feature in its digital SLR cameras has proved to be a popular way for
photographers to quickly compensate for dark areas of a picture after it is taken, without
adversely affecting its highlights. The D3 now features an Active D-Lighting mode that
when enabled provides remarkable real-time highlight and shadow correction with
optimized image contrast. Active D-Lighting produces broader tone reproduction in both
shadows and highlights by controlling highlights and exposure compensation while
applying localized tone control technology to achieve a more pleasing level of contrast
across the entire image. And because the advantages of Active D-Lighting are applied
as images are captured, image editing time can be shortened.
Improved usability
Several aspects of the D3’s usability have been refined to offer professional
photographers a satisfying experience when using the camera. The camera’s optical
viewfinder offers a large, bright image with virtually 100 percent frame coverage and
0.7x magnification in FX-format. The D3 accepts two CF (Compact Flash) cards
simultaneously for a myriad of recording options as well as the ability to copy images
between the two cards. An integrated HDMI port offers the ability to view images from
the camera directly on a high-definition television. The D3 also features the world’s first
virtual horizon level indicator that uses sensors incorporated within the camera to
indicate the inclination of the camera relative to the horizon, on the LCD monitor or
inside the viewfinder.
Reliable and durable
The D3 is designed to perform reliably and consistently under the most demanding
conditions. The exterior of the D3 is crafted of magnesium alloy and numerous seals are
used throughout the body to protect the camera against dust and moisture. The
camera’s shutter employs blades made of a hybrid of carbon fiber and Kevlar and is
tested to 300,000 cycles.  The camera also features a Self Diagnostic Shutter Monitor
that ensures the accuracy and precision of the shutter at all times. 
Fine-tune adjustment for auto focus
Photographers who need to make small adjustments to correct differences in focusing
can do so using the D3’s built-in capability to adjust focus specific to a lens. The camera
offers the option of either setting compensation for a specific lens so adjustment in focus
is only enabled when that particular lens is used, or the camera can apply a uniform
level of compensation for any lens used with the camera. Users can store settings for up
to 20 different lenses if they prefer to fine-tune the camera’s focusing based on specific
Designed for ergonomics, by Giugiaro
The D3 is built around the central theme of ergonomics and the camera’s exterior form is
designed by world renowned Italian design house, Giugiaro. Every aspect of the D3 is
fine-tuned to be ergonomic and help photographers seamlessly work with the camera.
Its slightly inclined command dial, comfortable hand-grip, and curves on the pentaprism
top, grip and side panels are all part of a new design theme. 
Exclusive Wireless Transmitter WT-4A (optional)
The D3 is compatible with Nikon’s new WT-4A wireless transmitter that provides support
for wired LAN (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX) and wireless LAN (IEEE 802.11a/b/g,). When
using the D3 in LiveView mode, the WT-4A can transmit a remote view from the camera
and also support continuous shooting through a wireless or wired connection using
Nikon’s Camera Control Pro 2 software (optional). 
* As of August, 2007; among cameras featuring an imaging sensor similar to the size of 35mm film
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