Okay, so Nikon's D3 flagship DSLR has an eye-watering price tag but, in replacing the aged D2x, Nikon has produced a digital SLR camera with a feature set to make the mouth water too.

Enticing those shooting sport and action photography, the Nikon D3 is Nikon's first full-frame model. It can capture machine gun-like bursts of images at either 9fps or 11fps (the latter in crop mode), nosing ahead of its closest rival in Canon's 10fps, 10.1 megapixel 1D Mark III.

Since the Nikon D3 is about speed first and foremost, its 12.1 megapixel top resolution being bettered by cameras costing a quarter of its price shouldn't cause alarm. Like the less expensive D700, it can also shoot noise free images in near darkness thanks to a ‘Hi' sensitivity option offering the equivalent of a yet to be surpassed ISO25600. And no, that second zero isn't a typo.

Pick up the Nikon D3 with (optional) lens attached and you'll be wishing for a second pair of hands. It's no surprise that this top-of-the-range model is built like the proverbial outhouse and at a body-only 1.24kg literally outweighs the competition, thanks to an additional grip at its base with a secondary shutter release button and command dial for shooting portrait fashion.

The Nikon D3 features 51-point auto focus, Expeed image processing engine (also in the D300 and D700), 3in, 920k dot monitor with Live View, automatic contrast adjustment feature in active D-lighting, built-in scene recognition, plus the relative rarity of HDMI video output for linking up to high-def devices.

JPEG, TIFF, or RAW file format options are offered, their selection dependent on end use. Nikon bundled our review sample Nikon D3 with a silent wave motor-equipped AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm 1:2.8G ED zoom. While it proved fine for shooting landscapes and general imagery, sports photographers will want to plump for a 300mm+ telephoto instead.

We could shoot up to 17 maximum resolution RAWs in succession before the buffer memory seized up, and image quality proved astounding, the Nikon D3's JPEGs possessing a smooth, film-like quality, with colours realistically and accurately rendered.

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Nikon D3: Specs

  • 12.1Mp digital SLR camera
  • 36.0x23.9mm CMOS
  • 3in VGA TFT Super Density display
  • Hi-speed USB, NTSC, PAL, HDMI, 10-pin Terminal
  • External Flash Shoe
  • EN-EL4a Lithium-ion Battery (rechargeable)
  • 159.x157x87.5mm
  • 1.2kg
  • 12.1Mp digital SLR camera
  • 36.0x23.9mm CMOS
  • 3in VGA TFT Super Density display
  • Hi-speed USB, NTSC, PAL, HDMI, 10-pin Terminal
  • External Flash Shoe
  • EN-EL4a Lithium-ion Battery (rechargeable)
  • 159.x157x87.5mm
  • 1.2kg

OUR VERDICT

The Nikon D3 is blisteringly fast, capturing incredible results in near darkness. Digital files normally accused of looking ‘flat’ have an attractively 3D film-like quality. But this camera is eye-wateringly expensive.

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