Nikon D3: Low-Light Dream Camera?

nikon_d3.jpgGreetings from Italy. News travels fast, and thanks to a tip from a friend, I got word of the newly announced Nikon D3 early this morning.

With specifications of ISO 200 to 6400 in the base range, extendable to ISO 100 and 25600 on either end, Nikon's new flagship looks very impressive for those interested in low-light performance. Has Nikon announced the ultimate rig for concert photography?

Raising the bar, quite literally, the D3's HI-1 and HI-2 settings of ISO 12800 and 25600 sound like a gift from heaven for concert photographers. A full two stops above the previous limit of ISO 6400 introduced with the high settings of Canon's recent offerings, I'll be very curious to see if, miraculously, Nikon can deliver in this regard.

As Nikon has seemingly always been a distant second or third in the high ISO department, lagging behind both Canon and Fuji, the D3's specs are shocking to say the least. If Nikon can truly deliver in image quality and at least match that from the competition, this in itself would be a major feat. If the D3 can leapfrog the competition, I think many people will be shocked, as it would bring Nikon from lagger to leader in a single generation.

Monster ISO range aside, the most notable feature is the “full-frame” sensor, which features the familiar dimensions of 35mm film. At 36mm x 23.9mm, Nikon is calling this format FX, in line with its previous stable of APS-C DX sensors that feature a 1.5x crop factor over conventional 35mm.

The larger sensor, and correspondingly larger photosites, modest 12mp resolution, and slew of other features, the D3 looks great on paper.

In its parade of announcements, Nikon also rolled out the successor to the D200, a 12mp DX-format D300, which features similar specifications as the D3 in a smaller form factor and of course with a smaller sensor, keeping the DX-format alive and well. In addition, Nikon has announced five new lenses, the most interesting for the masses are two f/2.8 zoom lenses. First, a new ultra-wide 14-24mm lens, and also a new standard zoom at 24-70mm. Tasty.