Nikon D3

Nikon D3 front
  • 12MP - Full frame Sensor
  • 3" Fixed Screen
  • ISO 200 - 6400 (Increase to 25600)
  • 1/8000s Max Shutter
  • No Video
  • Nikon F Mount
  • 1300g - 160 x 157 x 88mm
  • Announced April 2008
  • Renewed by Nikon D3S
  • Read full specs
  • Alternatives
  • Lenses
  • Size Comparison
  • FAQ

Nikon D3 summary

Nikon D3 is Nikon's Pro DSLR digital camera originally released on April of 2008. The camera houses a 12MP, CMOS Full frame sized sensor and has a max resolution of 4256 x 2832.

Nikon brought out the fresher Nikon D3S (Read Full Comparison) to update this model.

The D3 ranks at #16 out of 35 in Pro DSLR cameras and over all #342 out of 1465 for digital cameras in our database. You should check out our Advanced camera search to see camera results based on your personal requirements.

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The following is a chart of specific factors used in the rating system.

Nikon D3 history

The Nikon D3 is part of a family of digital cameras. You can view the detailed range below.

ModelVisualizeResolutionSensor SizeMax fpsReleased
Nikon-D6 front thumbnailNikon D6
D3 vs D6
21MPFull frame14.0 fps2020
Nikon-D5 front thumbnailNikon D5
D3 vs D5
21MPFull frame14.0 fps2016
Photography Glossary
Nikon-D4s front thumbnailNikon D4s
D3 vs D4s
16MPFull frame11.0 fps2014
Nikon-D4 front thumbnailNikon D4
D3 vs D4
16MPFull frame11.0 fps2012
Nikon-D3S front thumbnailNikon D3S
D3 vs D3S
12MPFull frame11.0 fps2010
Nikon-D3X front thumbnailNikon D3X
D3 vs D3X
25MPFull frame5.0 fps2009
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Nikon-D3 front thumbnailNikon D312MPFull frame11.0 fps2008

Nikon D3 Pros and Cons

Below is a list of positives and negatives of the Nikon D3 based on factors that are normally considered important in a digital camera.

2 card slots
change lenses (Nikon F mount)
focusing manually
great battery pack (4,300 per charge)
great sensor size (Full frame)
includes HDMI out
includes Top screen
maximum shutter speed is high (1/8,000s)
nice screen size (3 inches)
provides tracking autofocus
sensor has phase detect auto focus
supports RAW formats
very good screen resolution (922 k dots)
weather proofing
can't shoot video
does not offer selfie friendly screen
fixed screen
low resolution sensor (12 megapixels)
missing external mic support
missing headphone support
no image stabilization
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Nikon D3 Sensor info

The Nikon D3 houses the Expeed chip. The spec of the sensor on the Nikon D3 is 36mm x 23.9mm (Full frame). The 860 mm² sensor has the capability to capture 4256 x 2832 pixels at aspect ratios of 5:4 and 3:2.

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The CMOS sensor boasts 12 megapixels and delivers a standard ISO range of 200 to 6400. This ISO can also be expanded digitally to 100 to 25600. RAW format is supported so the user has wider room to maneuver in post.

The picture below shows the D3's sensor dimensions when compared to other popular sizes. The D3 sensor comes with a crop factor of 1 and is highlighted in green.

Nikon D3 sensor size Apple Innovates by Creating Next-Level Optical Stabilization for iPhone

To get a sense of different aspect ratios, you should refer to the graphic below.

Camera sensor aspect ratios

Nikon D3 dimensions

Nikon D3 has a weight of 2.87 lb (1,300 gr or 45.86 ounces) and the sizing of the camera is 160mm x 157mm x 88mm (6.3" x 6.2" x 3.5"). The weight of typical Pro DSLR camera is 1,280 gr and the Nikon D3 is very much the same compared with other rivals.

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The following is a visual of the Nikon D3 with a soda so you're able to have a sense of its scale.

Nikon D3 dimensions scale

The top view here will highlight the button layout on the D3.

Nikon D3 topview buttons dials

Nikon D3 Lens info

The D3 fits the Nikon F mount and has 315 lenses to pick from. Below is a small number of the lenses we have in our collection which will work with the D3.

ModelVisualizeFocal LengthApertureStabilizedWeight
Tamron-17-35mm-F2.8-4-Di-OSD-Nikon-F-FX lensTamron 17-35mm F2.8-4 Di OSD17-35mmf/2.8-4460g
Nikon-AF-S-DX-Nikkor-16-85mm-f3.5-5.6G-ED-VR lensNikon AF-S DX Nikkor 16-85mm f3.5-5.6G ED VR16-85mmf/3.5-5.6 485g
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Voigtlander-20mm-F3.5-Color-Skopar-SL-II-Nikon-F-FX lensVoigtlander 20mm F3.5 Color Skopar SL II20mmf/3.5 205g
Sigma-10-20mm-F4-5.6-EX-DC-HSM-Nikon-F-DX lensSigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM10-20mmf/4.0-5.6 470g
Tamron-SP-35mm-F1.8-Di-VC-USD-Nikon-F-FX lensTamron SP 35mm F1.8 Di VC USD35mmf/1.8 450g
Tamron-SP-45mm-F1.8-Di-VC-USD-Nikon-F-FX lensTamron SP 45mm F1.8 Di VC USD45mmf/1.8 520g
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Nikon-AF-S-Nikkor-28mm-f1.8G lensNikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f1.8G28mmf/1.8 330g
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Nikon D3 Connectivity

The D3 has the following connectivity:

  • USB Yes
  • HDMI Yes
  • GPS Yes

Digital cameras that contain NFC or Bluetooth support are able to be controlled wirelessly via smartphones. You will be able to copy images and at times alter camera settings with no need to connect physically to the camera.

Several applications even allow a Liveview and hit the shutter if you are not near the camera. If the camera provides a HDMI out, it can easily be connected to an external display. Almost all cameras will allow you to recharge the battery pack using the USB port.

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Nikon D3 Video info

Nikon D3 does not record video. If you are shopping for a digital camera to take only photos, this might not be an issue.

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Nikon D3 Weather Sealing

Nikon D3 provides weather proofing making it a fantastic selection to use for challenging environments. This can be especially beneficial whenever you are not sure about the conditions you may encounter for outdoor photography.

Nikon D3 Screen and Viewfinder

The Nikon D3 is equipped with a 3" fixed display screen boasting a resolution of 922k dots.

Sadly the display screen isn't a touch screen. The D3 also includes a Top screen so its possible to instantly see camera settings.

Nikon D3 screen and viewfinder Photography Glossary

The ViewFinder specs regarding Nikon D3 are as follows:

  • ViewFinder Optical (pentaprism)
  • ViewFinder Coverage 100 percent
  • ViewFinder Magnification 0.7x

In those bright outdoor conditions which make the camera displays washed out and tough to view, viewfinders are quite valuable.

Nikon D3 Shutter info

Nikon D3 has the capability to shoot continuously at 11.0 fps. The max shutter speed is 1/8000 seconds.

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Nikon D3 Flash and Hot shoe info

Nikon D3 includes external flash support but is lacking integrated flash. The maximum flash sync speed is 1/250 seconds.

Nikon D3 Autofocusing info

Nikon D3 includes both Phase Detect AF and Contrast Based AF. Phase Detection focusing is more snappier and precise when compared with Contrast Based focusing.

The AF system supports 51 focus points to choose from. It also comes with Tracking AF for objects that move. Nikon D3 has got manual focusing in case it is needed for low light scenarios or you want more accurate control on focusing.

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Nikon D3 Battery life

The battery pack in the Nikon D3 is made to last for 4300 shutters based on the CIPA benchmarks making it above the usual for its category. The usual Pro DSLR camera battery life is 2438. Nikon D3X has got the maximum (4400) battery life for this category of cameras.

Underneath is a number of Pro DSLR cameras that come with the strongest battery life:

ModelVisualizeBattery LifeRAWNFCBluetooth
Nikon-D3X front thumbnailNikon D3X
D3 vs D3X
4400 yesnono
Nikon-D3 front thumbnailNikon D34300 yesnono
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Nikon-D3S front thumbnailNikon D3S
D3 vs D3S
4200 yesnono
Nikon-D5 front thumbnailNikon D5
D3 vs D5
3780 yesnono
Nikon-D6 front thumbnailNikon D6
D3 vs D6
3580 yesnoyes

Nikon D3 for varying kinds of photography

The following diagram shows a rundown of the Nikon D3 for varying kinds of photography. To check out more, go to the specific paragraph below.

Nikon D3 Portrait photography advice

The Nikon D3 gets a points total of 63 which is very good, meaning that it is a fine fit for portrait photography. Taking portrait photos leans heavily to sensor specs, support for RAW photos together with the option to work with external lighting.

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has manual focus
sensor size is big (Full frame)
saves RAW files
low megapixels (12MP)

Nikon D3 Street photography features

Getting a decent score of 54, the Nikon D3 is relatively acceptable to use in street photography. A very good street photography camera provides a fine balance of image quality and portability.

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sensor size is big (Full frame)
delivers RAW files
environment sealing
no moving screen
does not have image stabilization

Nikon D3 Sports photography details

A above average sports photography rating of 65 means the Nikon D3 is a respectable fit for taking pictures of sports. A camera needs good tracking plus continuous shooting for sports photography.

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great max shutter speed (1/8,000s)
big sensor size (Full frame)
has tracking autofocus
environment proof
better than average battery (4,300 shots)
has phase detect auto focus
does not have image stabilization
low MP (12MP)

Nikon D3 Travel photography features

Size is very important in choosing a camera for travel. All things considered, the Nikon D3 gets a reasonable 51 for a travel camera which makes it reasonably adequate for your holidays.

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good battery power (4,300 per charge)
weather proofing
MP count low (12 megapixels)
doesn't offer selfie friendly screen

Landscape photography with Nikon D3

For anyone looking to choose a digital camera for landscape photography, the most vital factor will no doubt be image quality. The Nikon D3 at it's above average grade of 67 for a landscape camera is a respectable choice within the current marketplace.

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focusing manually
swap lenses (Nikon F mount)
screen size is decent (3")
sensor size is large (Full frame)
delivers RAW formats
environment proof
great battery life (4,300 per charge)
has double storage slots
no image stabilization
megapixel count low (12MP)

Nikon D3 Vlogging info

A vlogging camera preferably should offer a moving display screen, microphone input and if possible image stabilization. Considering all things, the Nikon D3 is not acceptable as a vlog camera as it gets a dreadful rating of 9.

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lack of video recording

Nikon D3 Alternatives

If you are looking for replacements to the D3, below is a collection of the highest ranked cameras that fall in to the family of Pro DSLR.

The graph just below offers you a bird's eye view of the D3 versus it's top scored rivals shown above.

These are various other cameras you may see as alternatives. To look at a thorough comparison, click the "compare" link.

Photography Glossary


General Information
Model type
Nikon D3
Physical type
Large SLR
Sensor Information
Sensor type
Powered by
Sensor size
Full frame
Sensor dimensions
36 x 23.9mm
Sensor area
Sensor resolution
Anti alias filter
Aspect ratio
5:4 and 3:2
Max resolution
4256 x 2832
RAW images
Max native ISO
Max enhanced ISO
Minimum native ISO
Minimum enhanced ISO
Manual focusing
Touch to focus
AF continuous
AF single
Tracking AF
Selective AF
AF center weighted
Multi area AF
AF live view
Face detection focusing
Contract detection focusing
Phase detection focusing
Total focus points
Cross type focus points
Lens support
Nikon F
Number of lenses
Crop factor
Screen type
Fixed Type
Screen sizing
3 inches
Screen resolution
922k dots
Selfie friendly
Touch friendly
Viewfinder Information
Viewfinder type
Optical (pentaprism)
Viewfinder coverage
100 percent
Viewfinder magnification
DXO scores
DXO Overall rating
DXO Color Depth rating
DXO Dynamic range rating
DXO Low light rating
Min shutter speed
30 secs
Max shutter speed
1/8000 secs
Continuous shutter rate
Shutter priority
Aperture priority
Expose Manually
Exposure compensation
Change WB
Image stabilization
Inbuilt flash
Flash distance
no built-in flash
Flash modes
Front curtain, Rear curtain, Red-Eye, Slow Sync
External flash
Auto exposure bracketing
WB bracketing
Max flash synchronize
1/250 secs
Multisegment exposure
Average exposure
Spot exposure
Partial exposure
AF area exposure
Center weighted exposure
Video features
Max video resolution
Mic support
Headphone support
USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
Environment sealing
Water proofing
Dust proofing
Shock proofing
Crush proofing
Freeze proofing
1300 grams (2.87 lb)
160 x 157 x 88mm (6.3" x 6.2" x 3.5")
Battery life
4300 pictures
Battery style
Battery Pack
Self timer
Yes (2 to 20 sec)
Time lapse shooting
Storage type
Compact Flash (Type I or II) x2
Card slots
Launch pricing