review :: Nikon D3 + 24-70 f2.8

11 Mar

Over the weekend, i shot the SIM 3-on-3 Basketball Competition. To shoot it as well as the YF retreat in my church, i rented an excellent camera, the latest from Nikon, the D3. Along with it, i rented the most recommended lens for it, the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8 ED G. 

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Upfront, i have to say that i am thoroughly impressed by the spec sheet for the D3. Full-frame (FX Format) with a maximum of 9 FPS (Frames-per-Second) in FX mode and 11 in DX mode, weather-sealing, high ISO control of up to 25,600, all the latest must-haves like 3″ LCD, Live-View. 

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– First Impressions –
The D3 felt very comfortable in my hands. Although i am a Canon user, i managed to figure my way around the controls and menus fairly quickly, such is the ease of use of the D3 (however, further reading of the manual is essential to get the best out of such a great camera!) Bringing the large viewfinder up the eyes was very natural and comfortable. The viewfinder with all the info needed for shooting was also a good thumbs-up.
The mechanical sound of the shutter had a nice resonance and clang to it (which i liked) but may be a tad too noisy for use in a quiet concert hall or church. Once again ergonomics comes to play as the camera and control fitted very nicely in my hands in both portrait and landscape modes.
The lens was also another masterpiece. Incorporating the SWM (Silent Wave Motor) meant the focus was quick and quiet. i felt it was a perfect fit to the D3. 

– Working It –
Whilst it didn’t take very long to learn the basic controls of the D3, some differences between Nikon and Canon popped into my mind. Little things like turning the zoom ring left-to right on a Canon would cause the lens to zoom in, and the opposite on the Nikon, like the Continuos/Single focus function would be on the body of the Nikon while Canon has theirs in the camera menu itself. All just a matter of getting used to it. 

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iso400, 70mm, f2.8, 1/1600 

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iso800, 70mm, f2.8, 1/1600 

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iso1600, 70mm, f2.8, 1/60 

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iso2200, 24mm, f2.8, 1/60 

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iso3200, 155mm, f5.6, 1/500  

As you can see, the pictures are quite clean even all the way up to iso3200. From there, it becomes a lil bit more grainy but still usable. i am getting good shots all the way up to Hi-1 (iso12800) which i feel can be printed (though not too large) and i feel Hi-2 is still usable for the net.
Colour came out accurately as well. Metering was generally spot on so I left it on A most of the time only switching to M when it got darker or when i needed to play with the exposure more.
Surprisingly, the 2 batteries i was supplied with gave me around 1,200 shots instead of the specced 1,000 per battery. Reasons were probably the amount of ‘chimping’ and initial set-up of the camera, “instant review of shots + illumination of LCD” were partly the cause to low battery life.
i loved the huge 3″ LCD, it was bright (320,000 pixels, 640×480) and very clear. ‘Chimping’ or zooming in was a joy because straightaway you can tell if its sharp or not. The amount of clarity and clearness is something i welcome.
The dual CF card slots were also another point i liked. i did not need to worry if i were to overshoot the card limit and start hunting for another card, i was free to keep on shooting. Whilst the 1D’s has something similar (CF+SD instead of 2xCF) i feel the need to get a spare SD card and reader as more troublesome, since all my cards are currently CF.
What i didn’t particularly like was the more mechanical structure of the camera, with the focus function set on the side of the body, there were times i missed shots because i didn’t know what it was before i started shooting. Also the selection of modes (S, CL, CH, L-V, Mup) was made slower and difficult by the wheel used.  

– Conclusion –
The D3 is an excellent camera with very good features. Thoughtful points like the huge and clear LCD, dual CF card slots, high FPS and ergonomics are really points that stand out to me.
However, the lack of lenses available means that D3 users will have to wait sometime for Nikon to release more lenses. Things like the small little things that i pointed out may irk new users.

Points I liked:
– Dual CF Card Slots
– Bright Clear LCD
– Large ISO range with very good IQ at high ISO
– FX Format
– Good Ergonomics 

Points I thought could be better: 
– Overly Mechanical Structure
– Variety of Lenses
– Short Battery Life 

Here’s a few more sample shots:

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iso800, 50mm, f4.0, 1/200 

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iso200, 24mm, f8.0, 1/800 

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iso200, 29mm, f5.6, 1/1600 

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iso320, 24mm, f5.0, 1/800 

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iso400, 62mm, f4.5, 1/640

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8 Responses to “review :: Nikon D3 + 24-70 f2.8”

  1. bryan March 12, 2008 at 8:33 pm #

    y dun u join sim photography club

  2. crzy joel` March 12, 2008 at 11:36 pm #

    hmmm, is there one? i emailed the email account given once but received no reply so i thot it was not active anymore. =/

  3. crzy joel` March 12, 2008 at 11:45 pm #

    btw bryan, you’re from UB?

    impressive portfolio you’ve got there!

  4. bryan March 13, 2008 at 1:50 am #

    yes i am from UB hahahah…u know me?

  5. bryan March 13, 2008 at 1:53 am #

    give me a call 92980436 tmr at 1.30
    there is a canon workshop held in sch tmr 2pm till 6pm
    i’ll intro the guys to u

  6. yonghwee March 13, 2008 at 7:08 am #

    Some serious gear there. Switching over to Nikon anytime soon? Heh.

  7. crzy joel` March 13, 2008 at 11:45 am #

    yonghwee > heh not likely. unless nikon comes up a 35mm f1.4 😉 that might switch things a bit.

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