The Professional’s Choice
The majority of professional photographers shoot with either a top of the range Canon, or with one of the following Nikon DSLR cameras. So, although finding the best professional digital SLR for you may ultimately come down to individual preferences, you need to arm yourself with all the facts necessary to make that decision. This buyer's guide will give an in-depth feature comparison of what you can expect from a pro level Nikon, and where all the models fit in to their current lineup.
The D700 is the cheapest of all the Nikon professional cameras, but that doesn't necessarily make it affordable. If you bought one today you would need around $2500 to add this camera body to your collection, but what a collection it would be! It has weather sealing, and the same full frame, 12 megapixel image sensor that is found on the D3 and D3s. The D700 can be used up to ISO 6400, but extended further to ISO 25,600. It can shoot at 5 frames per second, and even that can be boosted to 8 frames per second with the addition of the optional MB-D10 battery grip. So, with a few exceptions, the D700 is pretty much a D3 in a smaller, lighter body. It may not be the best professional digital SLR that money can buy, but it has a quality that is hard to match.
So, where does the Nikon D3 differ from the D700? Well, for starters, it has that built-in battery pack that gives it a faster shooting speed, and a distinctive professional appearance. Continuous shooting is up to a speedy 9 frames per second for up to 130 JPEGs or 17 RAW files. The viewfinder covers a 100% view, (up from 95% on the D700), and the shutter is rated to last 300,000 cycles instead of the 150,000 on the D700. It has an extra memory card slot, and is about 350 grams heavier. The D3 is a classic model that will live long in the minds of pro photographers, however, it was released in November 2007, and will shortly be discontinued by Nikon, primarily because of the updated features on the later D3x and D3s models.
The D3x has much of the same functionality as the D3, but it did not replace the D3. It appeared in December 2008, and sat alongside it in the lineup as an alternative pro camera. The alternative it offered was a huge boost in resolution. The D3x has many of the same features as the D3, but it includes a massive, full-frame 24.5 megapixel sensor – the biggest ever sensor in Nikon's history. However, shooting speed was reduced to 5 frames per second due to the demands of the larger file sizes produced by the bigger sensor. Nevertheless, if you are looking to produce some extra-large prints, or just want the maximum level of detail you can get, the D3x is the only Nikon serious photographers should be looking at.
The multi-award winning D3s is Nikon's latest, and arguably best professional DSLR camera to date. Released in October 2009, the D3s is an updated version of the D3. It uses essentially the same 12 megapixel sensor from the Nikon D3, but ISO sensitivity has been extended to an unprecedented 102,400, and noise levels are remarkably low. Shooting speed remains constant at 9 frames per second, but a new sensor cleaning system has been introduced, and the D3s now has the same quiet shutter operation as the Nikon D300s. Currently, it is also the only full frame Nikon DSLR to shoot HD video. When you throw in a new Expeed processing engine, the final tally means you will have no change from $5,000. However, you will have one the greatest Nikon professional cameras ever made.
The Ultimate Cameras
These Nikon DSLR cameras are among the best options available from any camera maker today. They have a proven quality and reliability that only comes with years of manufacturing experience. So, you can be sure that whichever one you decide on, the quality of pictures that you will take will be among the best you have ever taken. What more could you ask of a digital camera?
Images courtesy of Nikon USA.
This post is part of the series: Nikon Digital SLR Camera Buyer’s Guide
- Nikon’s Entry-Level Digital SLR Cameras
- A Buyer’s Guide for Semi-Pro Nikon DSLR Cameras
- Nikon’s Professional Range of Digital SLR Cameras