My D3 and D300 preview

First of all, a few shots of the (very) short test I did during a presentation of the new cameras.

(shot with my D200+18-200VR) next ones with the D40x+105VR - a few details

a few comments:

- both machines are just amazing
- couldn't bring back any pictures - cards were taped
- the display is fantastic - you can see all the information on the same screen (picture, histogram, shooting parameters...)
- the High ISO performance is amazing in both cases ! My personal estimate is a 2 stops gain vs the D200 for the D300 (i.e. 6400 is similar to 1600 on the D200) and 3 to 4 stops gain on the D3 (25600 is amazing)
- the shooting speed of the D3 is just incredible (and the shutter is maybe a bit too sensitive, if you just touch it, you take a burst of pictures in a fraction of a second)
- the life view mode works pretty well thanks to the excellent screen but I tried it in a low light environment. Don't know how this would work in the sun...
- the D3 in incredibly heavy (I tested with the 28-70 2.8) That combo was heavier than my F5 with the 35-70 2.8
- I find it a pity that the user interfaces are not exactly the same when you switch between the D200, D300 and D3
- zooming on the D300 is via a + and a - button (cf the D40x for instance)
- zooming on the D3 is similar to the D200, zoom mode pressed, use the thumbwheel
- you can allocate many functions to several buttons on the D3
- they solved a problem on the D300 (vs the D200): you can now save the settings (banks) and recall them - I really miss this on the D200
- the viewfinder on the D300 is improved
- the viewfinder on the D3 gives me an F5 feeling
- no group dynamic mode - don't know how this will work
- they removed the bracketting option on the D300
- AF seems very very fast on both cameras but this was with AF-S lenses (28-70 and 17-35 2.8)
- I find AF a bit unclear, you only see one sensor in the viewfinder among the 51, you can select with the thumbwheel and I didn't find a simple way to reset the sensor to the center. I found the system less intuitive than the D200 (I didn't understand what the camera was doing) According to the sales guy, the system was performing much better than even the CAM2000, less hunting, faster processor, tracking, just better in all aspects
- I saw a problem in the High ISO pictures on the D3 (only @25600 in a very dark picture) I took a picture of a number of Nikkor lenses in a very dark part of the shop, and the details were excellent, noise was clearly present (like 1600 or 3200 on D200, somewhere in between) but I had a lot of blue pixels when I looked at pixel level (I mean really a lot, just too many) This could be one of the things they still have to improve in their firmware. On the other hand, when reasonably zoomed (factor 2 on the 1MP screen, the picture seemed almost as clean as a 800 ISO pic on the D200)
- according to the Nikon representative, there will be an option to "align colors", in other words, select the camera you want the D3 to look like (from a color space perspective). You select the D2x and you shoot with both cameras, all your pictures will look the "same" (color temp, color gamut....)
- a pity they didn't add the OK in the middle of the pad on the D300, it is still the crazy clicking mechanism prone to errors when entering text (this gets me crazy on the D200)
- another small UI difference (I find those details a bit annoying for people who will be using a D3 and a D300 as a backup) moving the pad in any direction on the D300 results in the corresponding action. On the D3, you have to push until you feel a click in that direction. My remark might sound silly but I don't understand why they didn't standardize on those UI implementation details.

Final conclusion: two amazing cameras, worth their respective price. I am really very impressed. The cameras will sell incredibly easily. Difficult not to be convinced.

I am curious now to see real production copies...