Initial concerns about the D3 were apparently misplaced. There is a lot going on with it as a camera—lens performance is critical, depth of field is frightfully shallow, and the files are subtle and delicate, requiring more attention to sharpening than the Canon EOS 1D Mark III. Confusing the issue is the truly awful interface of Nikon’s Capture NX, sure to put off anyone who wants a quick and easy workflow, though RAW-file processing quality is excellent. Even Canon’s Digital Photo Professional interface seems like nirvana compared to Capture NX.
The most striking thing I’m finding is that the D3 reminds me more of the Hasselblad 503CWD than any DSLR I’ve seen before (that is “reminds”, not “equals”). Its 14-bit pixels are almost identical in size, so that theory is at least plausible. Still, the sharpness doesn’t seem quite “there” to me. Perhaps it’s lens-dependent in a oddball way.
The image below is consistent in sharpness with the other images I’ve taken. Click it to see an actual-pixels crop. The image is cropped at left and bottom; the chain-link fence through which it was shot intruded at the sides a bit. Processed through Nikon Capture NX using Picture Control Sharpness = 4. No further processing was done. Saved for web at quality 70 from Adobe Photoshop CS3.
Nikon D3 + Zeiss ZF 50mm f/2 Makro-Planar, 1/500 @ f/8 handheld, ISO 400
(image above is cropped, not full frame)
The overall contrast and depth/believability and color of the D3 images shows great promise, so let us not forget that absolute detail is only one factor of many that make a quality image.
The image below was shot handheld at 1/60 sec @ f/4, so depth of field and sharpness are limited. But the color rendition should be of interest.
Nikon D3 + 50mm f/1.4D, 1/60 @ f/4 handheld, ISO 200