Why I Love the D3...

I was simply running and gunning around my condo in very dim lighting this evening, and I am continually amazed at the sharpness, the clarity, and the beautiful colors that come out of the D3. Granted, pairing it with the amazing Nikon 50mm f/1.4 is much akin to pairing cream and a doughnut... but still:

Nikon D3 at ISO 3200

ISO 3200, extremely dim lighting, Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 @ 1.4, 1/40 second exposure (!)

I tried the same picture with the D90, and not only could I not get critical focus (it was hard to get it to focus on the central chain without guessing and moving forward/backward between shots), but even when I was close, there was nowhere near the sharpness or clarity afforded by the D3's FX-size sensor.

I have one word for the D3: want.

Guess what just arrived?

Jeff with Nikon D3

It's my semi-annual love affair with the world's best SLR. Plus, a hefty but amazing 70-200mm VR zoom lens (it's the older model, but still incredible). I get to use this killer combo, along with a Canon 5D mark II (what a combo!), every year for deacon and priesthood ordinations. My poor D90 gets left home alone. I hope it doesn't perform any shenanigans.

Nice! (Two Cameras and a Killer Lens Combo)

The kit I'll be wearing at the Deaconate Ordination Mass this coming Saturday. Afterwards, I'll run to the back chapel, where I'll snap some shots with the D3 and a nice kit of SB-26 remote flashes!

Nikon D3 and D90 with 70-200mm VR and 50mm 1.4

Is anyone selling a used D3 for cheap? I gotta get me one of these cameras!

Gear pictured above:

  • Nikon D3 (rented from LensRentals)
  • Nikon 50mm f/1.4 AF (my own)
  • Nikon D90 (my own)
  • Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 AF-S VR (rented from LensRentals)

I'm going to use the 70-200 on my D90, as the D90 has a smaller image crop, meaning the 200mm will be more like 300mm in practical use. The D3 + the 1.4 lens is a killer combo for in-the-dark shooting (the Cathedral is very dimly lit). I can still get 1/100 shutter speed at ISO 1600 and f/1.8!

Mythbusters uses Nikon Lens on High-Speed Camera

One of my favorite features of any Mythbusters shows is the high-speed sequences, where they film an explosion, a reaction, etc. on a high-speed camera, then slow it down to half or a quarter of real life speed (example).

Watching season four on Netflix recently, I saw a rare closeup of the high-speed, and to my surprise, found mounted a 50mm f/1.4D Nikon lens (the same one I use on my D90 70% of the time!). It's an excellent lens, and I can understand why they use it; it's basically a 'light vacuum cleaner," meaning it sucks up light like few other lenses. You can only get a little wider (Nikon makes an f/1.2 (and used to make an f/0.95, and Canon used to make an f/1.0!).

When shooting high-speed, you need as much light to enter the lens as possible - you're taking sometimes 120 or more frames every second, and you have to divide the photos per second into those frames. Less photons reaching the sensor = lower picture quality. So it's understandable why they have such a nice lens on the high speed.