Unleashing the Power of Nikon D3: A Comprehensive Review

Nikon D3 is a DSLR camera that has been designed to cater to the needs of professional photographers. The camera boasts of exceptional features, including high ISO sensitivity, fast image processing, and advanced autofocus, which make it an ideal tool for capturing stunning photographs. In this article, we will provide you with a detailed review of Nikon D3, its technical specifications, and its performance.

Written by Victor Chan | Updated: Mon May 01 2023

Nikon D3 article cover photo

Key Features

Apr 18 2008


12 megapixels


Sensor TypeFull frame

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Nikon D60

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Overview of the D3

Nikon is a brand that has been synonymous with high-quality cameras for years. Their latest offering, the Nikon D3, is a camera that has been designed to cater to the needs of professional photographers. The camera has been engineered to deliver exceptional image quality, fast image processing, and advanced autofocus. The Nikon D3 is equipped with an impressive ISO range that can go up to 6400, making it possible to capture stunning photographs even in low-light conditions. In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive review of the Nikon D3, the features that make it stand out, and why it's a must-have for any professional photographer.

Nikon D3 Pros and Cons

Now, we will look more closely at our review of the Nikon D3 camera. We will see what it can do and compare it to other cameras like it. We will tell you what's good about it and what's not so good. This way, you'll know if it's the camera for you!


Full-Frame Sensor
High ISO Performance
Fast Autofocus System
Robust Build Quality
Large and Bright Viewfinder
Dual CF Card Slots
High-Speed Continuous Shooting
Accurate White Balance
Excellent Dynamic Range


Heavy and Bulky Body
Limited Video Recording Capability
Expensive Compared to Other Models
No Built-In Wi-Fi or GPS
Inadequate Live-View Functionality
Battery Life Could be Better
No In-Camera Image Stabilization
Limited LCD Screen Resolution
Limited Lens Compatibility with DX Lenses

Build and Construction

Body and dimensions

Nikon D3

Weather sealed
Dimensions160 x 157 x 88mm

Weather Sealing

The Nikon D3 camera is equipped with environmental seals that make it resistant to weather, preventing water and dust from entering the camera. If you enjoy outdoor photography and need a camera that can handle extreme conditions, the D3 is an excellent choice.

Design and Handling

Main design features

View FinderOptical (pentaprism)
Screen TypeFixed Type
Screen Resolution922k dots
Body typeLarge SLR

Suitable for:

PhotographyAbove Avg.
VideographyAbove Avg.
TravelAbove Avg.

LCD Screen

This camera has a fixed type 3.00" screen, with a display resolution of 922k dots. This makes the Nikon D3 not as suitable for those looking for a vlogging camera as you cannot view yourself while shooting selfies easily. Unfortunately, the camera does not have a touch screen, which may make it less user-friendly.


D3 includes a optical (pentaprism) viewfinder with no electronic viewfinder of resolution with a coverage of 100% and a magnification of 0.7x. This feature enhances the camera's suitability for outdoor photography in bright conditions.

Image Quality

Nikon D3 has a 12MP sized CMOS sensor. You can shoot at maximum resolution of 12 pixels. Nikon D3 has a native ISO range of 200 - 6400 which can be boosted to 100 - 25600. It can also save files in RAW format which gives you a wider room for post processing.

Key Features

Apr 18 2008


200 - 6400

ISO Range

SensorFull frame
Extended ISO100 - 25600
Max resolution4256 x 2832 pixels

DXO Sensor Scores


81 / 102

Color Depth

23.5 / 26.5

Dynamic Range

12.2 / 14.8

Low Light ISO

2290 / 4505

DXO mark sensor scores

The DXOmark rankings indicate that the Nikon D3 camera has above average color depth performance, which refers to the number of colors the sensor can distinguish. Additionally, its dynamic range is also above average, allowing it to retain medium amounts of details in both bright and dark areas of a scene. The camera's low light ISO performance is below average, which is an important factor to consider if you plan to use it in dimly lit indoor environments or at night. Overall the image quality of the D3 is average

Crop Factor

Camera crop factor (or focal length multiplier) refers to how a camera's sensor size affects the apparent field of view of a lens. Crop factor is determined by comparing the size of a camera's sensor to that of a full-frame sensor, which is a standard reference size for camera sensors.

Size comparison

Medium FormatFull FrameAPS-C (Sony, Nikon)

Crop factor calculator

Crop factor


Full frame equivalent


This camera: Full frame



Connectivity, storage, battery

StorageCompact Flash (Type I or II) x2
Battery Life4300 shots
Battery Model
Wireless Connectivity


The Nikon D3 supports Compact Flash (Type I or II) x2 with 2 slots for storage. Having dual SD card slots on the Nikon D3 is highly advantageous as it mitigates the risk of losing footage due to memory card malfunctions. This feature is particularly beneficial for wedding photography and other professional settings.


The Nikon D3 uses the undefined model of battery pack. This is rated for 4300 shots shots which is high. If you intend to take photos or record videos for an extended period, it might be a good idea to bring along additional batteries.

Photography Features


The Nikon D3 does not have a built-in flash, but it does offer a flash shoe that allows you to attach external flashes. This provides more versatility in your lighting choices.


The Nikon D3 boasts a maximum mechanical shutter speed of 1/8000s, which is ideal for shooting fast-moving subjects in bright environments, such as in sports photography. Faster shutter speeds enable you to freeze the action and capture every detail, making it easier to get the perfect shot.

With a continuous mechanical shutter speed of n/a or an electronic shutter speed of n/a, this camera is not capable of capturing the perfect moment more easily, making it not as suited for wedding, sports, and wildlife photography. Higher shutter speeds make it easier to capture fast-paced action, ensuring that you never miss the perfect shot.


The Nikon D3 includes two autofocus (AF) systems: contrast detection and phase detection, with 51 number of focus points.

While contrast detection is generally more accurate and precise, phase detection autofocus is faster and more effective in most situations, particularly when photographing moving subjects.

Phase detection autofocus works by dividing the incoming light into pairs and then analyzing how they intersect on the camera's sensor. This method allows the camera to determine not only if a subject is in focus but also the direction and distance needed to adjust the focus to achieve perfect sharpness.

On the other hand, contrast detection autofocus works by analyzing the contrast of an image and adjusting the focus until the highest contrast is detected. While this method is very accurate, it can be slow, especially in low light conditions or when photographing moving subjects.

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What is the sensor size of the Nikon D3?

The Nikon D3 features a CMOS sensor

Is the Nikon D3 weather sealed?

Yes the D3 does have weather sealing.

When was the Nikon D3 announced?

The Nikon D3 was announced on Apr 18 2008

Does the Nikon D3 have in-body image stabilization?

No the D3 does not have in-body image stabilization that can compensate for camera shake, making it easier to shoot handheld in low light conditions.

What is the ISO range of the Nikon D3?

The D3 has a native ISO range of 200-6400, which can be expanded to ISO 100-25600 for even greater sensitivity in low light conditions.

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