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Nikon D3x Gordon Laing, July 2009

Nikon D3x RAW results : Real-life resolution / Studio resolution / High ISO Noise

RAW Studio resolution: Nikon D3x using Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.4G


To measure and compare the Nikon D3x's resolving power, we photographed the Enhanced Digital Camera Resolution Chart with it and the Nikkor AF-S 50mm f1.4 lens. Magnified assistance in Live View was used to confirm the focusing and the chart photographed at every aperture setting, with the best result selected for this page.

The D3x was set to RAW to maximise the potential quality, and the images converted using Nikon Capture NX 2.2.0 with its default settings.

The crops are taken from the converted RAW images, saved as High Quality JPEGs in Photoshop CS4 and presented here at 100%. Each number represents 100 lines per picture height (lpph), so a figure of 20 means a resolution of 2000 lpph.


Fitted with the Nikkor AF-S 50mm f1.4 at an aperture of f5.6, the Nikon D3x’s RAW file delivered 3350 and 3250 lpph of horizontal and vertical resolution respectively. One glance at the images below also reveals the extinction resolution to be higher still, with moiré only really taking hold beyond 3600 lpph, approaching the technical limits of our chart.

This gives it a measurable lead over the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, which at the time of writing boasted the best image quality from any EOS DSLR to date (according to Canon and confirmed in our own tests). The 5D Mark II’s converted RAW files (using Digital Photo Professional with its default settings) are certainly very crisp and detailed, but artefacts limit the ultimate resolving power in this test to 3050 and 3000 lpph.

Even the D3x’s in-camera JPEGs manage to record a very respectable 3200 lpph of horizontal and vertical resolution. This ranks the Nikon D3x as the highest resolution body we’ve tested at Cameralabs, taking a comfortable lead over not just the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, but also the EOS 1Ds Mark III and Sony’s Alpha DSLR A900.

It’s a very impressive result, but as always we’d also urge you to compare our real-life images, where there isn’t such a noticeable difference between it and the EOS 5D Mark II; indeed many will prefer the slightly punchier output from the Canon when both camera’s RAW files are processed using the default settings. Now let’s see how both cameras compare in terms of noise at high sensitivities in our Nikon D3x High ISO results.

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Horizontal resolution using RAW files processed with supplied software

Nikon D3x RAW
with Nikkor AF-S 50mm f1.4
Canon EOS 5D Mark II RAW
with EF 85mm f1.8
3350 lpph, AF-S 50mm, f5.6, 100 ISO
3050 lpph, EF 85mm, f3.5, 100 ISO

Vertical resolution using RAW files processed with supplied software

Nikon D3x RAW
with Nikkor AF-S 50mm f1.4
Canon EOS 5D Mark II RAW
with Canon EF 85mm f1.8
3250 lpph, AF-S 50mm, f5.6, 100 ISO
3000 lpph, EF 85mm, f3.5, 100 ISO

Nikon D3x RAW results : Real-life resolution / Studio resolution / High ISO Noise

All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2017 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

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