By Stephen Shankland, Underexposed
It's not a surprise that the Nikon D3X, the company's brand-new $8,000, 24.9-megapixel SLR, tops DxO Labs' sensor performance test. What is a surprise is the margin by which it leads its rivals from Canon and Sony.
When the French firm unveiled its DxOMark Sensor benchmark test last year, Nikon's D3 was the top scorer at 80.6, a composite number that represents various performance features. Very close on its heels were Nikon's D700 at 80.5, Canon's EOS-1Ds Mark III 80.3, and later Canon's 5D Mark II at 79 and Sony's Alpha A900 at 78.9.
All those cameras were close, but the D3X stands apart with a score of 88. The result shows how much ground Nikon has made up on Canon, which has dominated high-end digital SLR technology...
READ ON at news.cnet.com
(Thanks to René Théberge)
Featured Comment by John Roberts: "Numbers, numbers, numbers. In November, I went to a print exhibition given by members of the Carolina Nature Photographers Association. The club is composed mostly of advanced amateurs with a few pros sprinkled in. As a former CNPA member, I know some of the people in this organization, and I am familiar with what equipment they're using. I honestly could not see a noticeable difference in print quality among the entries even though I knew that prints in the show came from people using top of the line pro gear, so-called 'entry level' DSLRs, and everything in between. Do the numbers always translate into better print quality? Maybe at huge sizes, but at the sizes I saw in this exhibition (mostly 16x20 and 11x14), I couldn't see a discernible difference, and I doubt any one else could either. Even so, the camera company marketers will continue to profit from the average photographer's apparent fascination with numbers."
Featured Comment by Stephen Shankland: "Regarding this from the featured comment:
"As the author of the CNET News article linked here, I feel a bit chagrined that I didn't include more caveats about pixel-peeping and number-crunching not being everything in photography. At least I did work in a line about other factors weighing into the overall merits of a particular camera. Certainly these numbers aren't the whole story.
"That said, I do find DxO Labs' numbers compelling as a reporter and as a photographer. That Nikon managed to score significantly higher than a very close-matched pack is an achievement worth noting. You may not notice the difference between a Nikon D3X and a 1Ds Mark III in a print, even a large print, but what if you own a two-year-old camera and are considering upgrading? A four-year-old camera? These numbers provide a bit of help in determining whether it's worthwhile, even if they don't tell the whole story.
"I'd also add that photos good enough for exhibits are more likely going to be the shots that came out well, which is a sample of what cameras produce on their best days and in the most capable hands, not their average performance. I just upgraded from a Canon Rebel XT to a 5D Mark II. I took plenty of great shots with the XT, but the 5D Mark II has let me take many pictures that wouldn't have been possible with my old camera—dim conditions where I need to shoot ISO 1600, for example.
"And heck, who are we to deny people their fun poring over detailed statistics? Photography always has been a technical craft as well as an aesthetic one, and I for one enjoy geeking out sometimes.
"Finally, I'd add that for the camera marketers and pixel-peepers out there, at least DxO's statistics provide something better rounded than mere megapixels."