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on Jun 28, 2012 in Aviation, Camera Tech

D800 & the D3x

Doug over on my FB page said he was looking forward to my comparison between the D3x and D800. I honestly wasn’t thinking of doing one but then someone else pinged saying the same thing. Since I no longer have my faithful (and great) D3x, I’m not in the position to do a side by side photo comparison. But I can and have done 24×30 prints from both cameras with the Epson 7900 and can look at the results. Understand, this is going to magnify any pluses or minuses going to a print this large with 24×30 always being the standard I go by when making quality judgements. Both of these are megapixel cameras with the express intent of capturing great detail. They both exceed at this beautifully!

The question on the table is, which camera produces the better file? Technically, the D800 does, hands down. Now will you see that bump up in quality in a 8×10, 11×14 or even 17×22 print? You might not even see it at 24×30, especially if your shooting technique is no spot on. With that being said, looking past the file quality there are some other aspects of the D800 that put it ahead of the D3x. You can’t get past the fact the D800 out of the box is 1/3 the size, weight and cost with 3x faster FPS and buffer compared to the D3x (does better at high ISO as well).

Now personally, the D800 out of the box was not the shooting experience I’ve been use to for the last 30yrs, small camera bodies just don’t work for me. That was solved with the expensive MB-D12 which I love shooting with but have not bought yet (still renting from Borrowlenses.com). The placement of the BKT button I can’t get use to. The Multi Control Selector sticks out further on the D800 so when I shoot vertical the AF sensor dances around as my forehead depresses it. The blinking of the entire lit grid in the viewfinder when you change AF sensor position is driving me bloody nuts! So when it comes to actually taking the photo, the shooting experiences, I prefer the D3x hands down! But with the file size and 5FPS (6FPS if & when I get the MB-D12 and inset D4 battery) the D800 produces, there is no way I can go back to the D3x.

The two photos here were taken with the D800 (above) and D3x (below). These are pretty classic reasons why I want the high MP cameras, I wanna see the rivets on the aircraft. Now I shot air to air with the D3x for a few years and never missed any photos because of FPS or buffer, but I could have more and that’s a good thing. I could not do air to air with the D800 without the MB-D12, there is simply not enough mass. Now I’m personally not seeing a big difference in the metering or exposure range when comparing the two bodies. The D800 has less noise than the D3x but that’s not really saying much. It’s not a noise machine but I’ve shot it ISO 1600 with no ill effects. Now this is no scientific, fact gathered kind of comparison because I never planned on doing one. I didn’t see or don’t see a need to do one. The D800 is a tool evolving forward megapixel shooting and I’ll use it just as that, a tool. My main shooting body will remain the D4. I love the D4! But now that I’ve spent two weeks glued to the D800, I’m making it more mine and fitting it into my shooting. We’re getting along and I have no problem pulling it and making the shot. Really can’t ask much more from a tool.