Thursday, April 09, 2009

Nikon D3X vs. 4 x 5 View Camera

Back in August of last year I did a Nikon D3 comparison with my Tachihara 4 x 5 field camera, in which I collaborated with fine art photographer and friend, Michael Breakey. When Michael said he had a Nikon D3X on order, we both thought it would be fun to repeat the test, as we had good fun with the first test. First off a disclaimer here, this is not meant to be an in depth pixel vs. pixel duel to the death test, our test is not nearly that complicated, we just thought it would be fun to get out with our perspective cameras and make some photographs, okay actually just an excuse to get out and photograph on a sunny spring day after a long winter if the truth be told. So with that we headed out on a recent Sunday morning in Kelowna's Mission Creek Regional park where we hunted around for some good picture possibilities that would help show case the best of each camera.

We looked for scenes with lots of detail, to help show case what each camera was capable of producing, I shot in black and white ( T-Max 400 rated @ iso 200 ) and Michael shot in colour at iso 200 later to be converted to black and white in Photoshop CS3. Michael shot with a 24 to 70mm Nikkor zoom ( the latest lens ) set at about 30mm , I shot with my good old trusty Schneider 120mm f5.6 lens, Michael also set his D3X to 5:4 crop mode, thus giving the same aspect ratio as my 4 x 5, although this did down size Michael's 24 megapixels file size down to about 20 megapixels or so, still a decent size file. We made pictures of a forest scene with back lighting and also a half frozen pond with high key lighting reflecting off the ice surface. After we finished clicking the shutters on our cameras we headed back to Michael's "lab" i.e.: his computer war room where we down loaded the massive D3X files, I then headed home to my lab to download my "files" i.e.: develop the film. Once the film processing job was done I scanned my images on my Microtek M1 scanner ( about a max of 5x enlargement ) and made 13 x 19 inch prints from my Epson 4800 printer, these prints by the way were cropped sections which would be the equivalent of prints up to 20 x 24 inches in size.

It just so happens that I had a speaking engagement at the Central Okanagan Photograhic Society meeting this past Tuesday evening, what better place to bring these prints and ask the members which was shot with which camera without telling them which was which, a blind vision test so to speak. So after my presentation was completed ( I talked about my black and white work ) I spread these prints out on a table and asked people to have a look and see what they thought. With prints made to the equivalent of 16 x 20 it was almost impossible to tell which came from which camera, most people were not able to tell me what camera made what picture, some were able to figure of the 4 x 5 images from the 20 x 24 equivalent size prints, but only after having their nose several inches away from the print.

In conclusion I would have to say that this D3X is one super camera, I thought it was interesting to see just how good some of the latest digital technology is, of course if I won the lottery I wonder what I would buy.....Mmm let me think about that !, For a closer look at the image differences, plase go to my next post of April 10th, 2009, thanks.


Chris Klug said...

Great post, and from what I've heard of the Nikon, not surprising. Any chance we could gander at larger versions of these images? Just curious, I am.

Gary Nylander said...

Thanks for the comments, Chris, I will post some side by side cropped images later today.

yz said...

It is really great to see a 'test' by real photographers on a real world subject. I find it a million times more serious and useful than any pixel peeping laboratory test. Thanks for sharing it.

pressure vessels said...

Nice blog! You really tested the camera's capabilities. Great blog.

Doug Dolde said...

What good are those tiny web images? Plus you haven't even identified which is which !

Gary Nylander said...

Hi Doug,

You are right the images are worthless and yes you are right I have'nt identifiefd which is whic, my apologies......if you were to look at my very next post ( ) it will tell which is which and show a larger image. I hope this helps.