Rugged cameras are hard to come by and they often require some extent of compromise in terms of shooting options. The Nikon D3 seems to offer the rugged durability photographers need but with little compromise, so we compiled research and reviews on similar models to see where it ranks.

When looking for a camera, it is important to know what you want to do with it. Before going into the store and picking out a model, understanding what you need in order to do what you want with the camera is the first step. In the following review, we have included cameras like the Nikon D3 that focus on different features, so keep in mind what it is you need as you read.

WHAT IS THE NIKON D3?

Nikon D3 FX DSLR Camera (Body Only) (OLD MODEL)

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The Nikon D3 is a DSLR camera built for durability as well as quality, creative shooting. It is built to hold firm and steady in different shooting environments and specializes in shooting high frames per second to capture actions shots. It is perfect for adventure photographers or sports shooters, as it offers fast shooting and the right features for different lighting and color environments.

PRODUCT SPECS

Nikon D3 FX DSLR Camera (Body Only) (OLD MODEL)

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The Nikon D3 features 12 megapixels and shoots 9 frames per second with multiple live shooting options for handheld and tripod shooting. The high FPS is great for action shots or fast-moving photographers trying to capture fast-moving subjects-whether that means people, animals, or nature. It has 51 AF points and a variety of color options to capture movement in different lighting too, which means you will never lose your subject nor will you have to compromise on lighting or color.

Its ISO range is designed for extremely low and high noise, making it ideal for “less-than-ideal” lighting and color environments. It has a scene recognition system and advanced D lighting to further bolster its low-light capturing.

Along with a durable build, this camera is also dust and water resistant, which only adds to its ability to be versatile in rugged environments.

HOW IT COMPARES

Nikon D3 FX DSLR Camera (Body Only) (OLD MODEL)

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We picked a few similar products available on the market to see how they compare to the Nikon D3. We based this comparison on five criteria that we found covered the important and unique aspects of each camera model. We chose Price, Ease of Use, Durability, Design Quality, and Warranty. We felt that these embodied what we—and other consumers—needed to know before buying, and they gave us good features to compare.  

  • Nikon D5600 24.2 MP DSLR
  • Nikon D7500 20.9MP DSLR
  • Nikon D850 FX-Format Digital SLR
Nikon D3 FX DSLR Camera (Body Only) (OLD MODEL)
  • Capture images to CF I/II cards
  • Fast, accurate 51-point AF with 3D Focus Tracking
  • 3.0-inch, super density 920,000-dot VGA color monitor , 170-degree wide-angle viewing and tempered-glass protection
  • 12.1-megapixel FX-format (23.9 x 36mm) CMOS sensor
  • Continuous shooting at up to 9 frames-per-second at full FX resolution

PRICE

Though the megapixels are not up to par with the standard on the market, the obvious specialized features make it a great candidate for many environments. This specialization makes the price understandable.


EASE OF USE

There are no complaints about menu use or ease of function. The Nikon D3 has been built with simplicity and straightforward use in mind. Because of the nature of photography, this model will often be used for, having that simplicity is crucial in being able to capture a shot without needing to set up, toggle with menu options, or recalibrate settings.


DURABILTY

It is obvious that this camera is designed for on-the-go, fast-paced, and rough-and-tumble quality photos. The body is made to be easy to hold and transport as well as built to be water and dust resistant. With all of the qualities, it is already ahead of its competition. However, we feel that adding a shock resistant feature would have been the perfect final feature to bring this camera home as the ideal “fast-paced” option for photographers.


DESIGN QUALITY

This camera’s design is specialized for durability. In that aspect, the Nikon D3 does well, however it is the weight of the camera that knocks the rating down here. It weighs about 2 pounds without a lens and at least 3 with one. As this camera is meant to be taken on-the-go and used simply without needing a lot of set up, the weight seems to contradict that.


WARRANTY

Nikon offers a simple 1-year warranty for manufacturer errors. This type of warranty is fairly standard for cameras, however as cameras are a type of investment, we feel that some added maintenance or accident coverage would be appreciated as well.

PROS   

  • Durable build for fast-paced shooting
  • Good low-light specs
  • Fast fps shooting

   CONS

  • Heavy
  • No shock-proofing
  • Simple warranty
Nikon D5600 24.2 MP DSLR Camera + AF-P DX 18-55mm & 70-300mm NIKKOR Zoom Lens Kit + Accessory Bundle
  • This Camera Bundle comes with All Standard Nikon Supplied Accessories + 1 Year Nikon USA Limited Warranty
  • Stand out from the crowd with photos and videos so impressive, they'll inspire you to keep shooting and learning
  • Out of the box, you can leave things up to the camera and immediately start taking great photos and videos without the learning curve
  • IN THE BOX: D5600 Digital SLR Camera | EN- EL14a Rechargeable Li-ion Battery | MH-24 Quick Charger | DK-25 Rubber Eyecup | AN-DC3 Strap | BF-1B Body Cap
  • BUNDLE INCLUDES: Sandisk Ultra SDHC 32GB UHS Class 10 Memory Card, Up to 80MB/s Read Speed | Deluxe Digital SLR Case | 67mm UV, Polarizer & FLD Deluxe Filter Kit (Set of 3 + Carrying Case) | 12" Rubberized Spider Tripod | Wired Shutter Release Remote Control | Bounce Zoom Slave Flash | 67mm/58mm Step Down Ring | 0.43x Wide Angle 58mm Lens | 2.2x Telephoto 58mm Lens & More

This model offers 24 megapixels and can shoot 5 frames per second. This camera is fitted more for standard photography with 39 AF points and a wide ISO range, which works well for stable low-light situations. Environments like low-light receptions or evening landscapes may do well with these specs, and the amount of AF points will help keep lighting and color sharp and true.


PRICE

While the high megapixels do allow for a higher price and having 39 AF points is nice for landscapes especially, we find this price a little high given the lack of other creative options.


EASE OF USE

This model has been described as easy to use only if you do not need to toggle with settings often. The menu system is more complicated than we thought it should be. It does offer a lot of shooting options but navigating the menus can detract from the creative options the camera offers. While it is not impossible to navigate, shooting anything on the fly without set up is complicated and not user-friendly. If you are looking to shoot action shots or adventure shots, this may not work well for you.


DURABILTY

This camera was not built for pictures between moving bodies at a concert or amid dusty or wet environments. It takes good pictures and can handle different lighting environments, but it is not built for rugged photo opportunities. This definitely lessens its chances at being able to fare well in more dangerous (to a camera at least) environments, and in turn, limits the options for types of shots available.


DESIGN QUALITY

This model is compact, which means that for some, it may be uncomfortable to handle for standard photography. This detail would work well if the intent for this camera was to be a portable, backup option for traveling. However, as it does not have the specs to offer fast-paced shooting option, it does not fare well in travel photography.


WARRANTY

Nikon offers a standard 1-year warranty for manufacturer error. This is standard, however, we feel that an additional offer of general maintenance would work well for cameras that require an investment like DSLRs.

PROS   

  • High megapixels
  • Shooting options

   CONS

  • Small
  • Low frames per second
  • Simple warranty
  • Not weatherproof
Nikon D7500 20.9MP DSLR Camera with AF-S DX NIKKOR 16-80mm f/2.8-4E ED VR Lens, Black
  • Class leading image quality, ISO range, image processing and metering.
  • Large 3.2” 922K dot, tilting LCD screen with touch functionality.
  • 51-point AF system with 15 cross-type sensors and group-area AF paired with up to 8 fps continuous shooting capability.
  • 4K Ultra HD and 1080p Full HD video with stereo sound, power aperture control, auto ISO, 4K UHD Time-Lapse and more.
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for easy connectivity through the Nikon SnapBridge App.

This model offers a wide range of shutter speeds and ISO, ranging from 30 seconds to 1/8000 with 100 to 51200 ISO. This makes it ideal for low-light settings and sports shooting. The fact that is can shoot 8 frames per second boosts the latter as well. Add in Wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity, and this camera gives a well-rounded experience for photographers.


PRICE

Obviously, this price is high and we cannot deny that. The specs on this model are great—the ISO and shutter speed are fantastic and features that almost any photographer would find useful no matter what they are shooting. Depending on the type of photography you are wanting to do though, the average megapixel count may not be a deciding factor—and we can definitely agree that the remaining specs are great.


EASE OF USE

This camera comes with the ability to customize everything. Because of that, we debated on whether rate this low or high. In the end, because any setting of the menu system you do not like or find hard to use can be changed, we decided to give this model a high rating. The kind of flexibility that a customizable interface offers can be valuable to anyone using this camera—professional or just particular.


DURABILTY

As far as we could tell, this model does not offer any boost in durability. We feel this is a major downfall because of the amount of money this camera costs at its base. This is a big investment, and with how well its specs work for any type of shot—especially ones requiring a more rugged environment. We feel that adding some durability would be a sensible thing to do.


DESIGN QUALITY

This model offers a unique rotating screen that allows great shooting from any angle. Instead of rotating to the side, it rotates out, which takes up less space and allows for more angles to be used. It is also designed to be lighter to carry, which is important for the professional photographers out there who need to lug the camera around for hours at a time.


WARRANTY

The 1-year limited warranty is simply not enough for a camera that requires such a large down payment. We would recommend adding more time on the warranty and some cushion for maintenance.

PROS   

  • Great ISO and shutter speed
  • Lightweight
  • Ultimate customization

   CONS

  • High price
  • No added durability
  • Standard warranty
Nikon D850 FX-Format Digital SLR Camera Body
  • Nikon designed back side illuminated (BSI) full frame image sensor with no optical low pass filter
  • 45.7 megapixels of extraordinary resolution, outstanding dynamic range and virtually no risk of moiré
  • Up to 9 fps1 continuous shooting at full resolution with full AF performance
  • 8K6 and 4K time lapse movies with new levels of sharpness and detail. File system : DCF 2.0, Exif 2.31, PictBridge
  • Tilting touchscreen, Focus Shift shooting mode, outstanding battery performance and much more. Total Pixels: 46.89 million

This camera is built for the avid, photo-loving, quality hounds in photography. It offers 36 megapixels—which is beyond amazing—and can shoot 7 frames per second. The battery life on this model is great for long shooting periods, and its Wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity are great for on-the-go photographers.


PRICE

The high price of this model is explained by the megapixels and 4K video. Though even given those specs, we find the price too high.


EASE OF USE

This model offers a lot of options, and we found the menu system to be easy to navigate and understand—though we do not recommend this camera for beginners. There are a lot of features that are great to have but can be overwhelming for new users.


DURABILTY

This Nikon offers basic durability and weather-proofing—though nothing that helped us feel comfortable taking it to rugged environments.


DESIGN QUALITY

The design behind this model is meant for easy handling. It has a good grip and is lightweight, and with the tilting touchscreen, it makes angled shooting much more doable.


WARRANTY

Again, the 1-year warranty just does not cut it for us. With such a big monetary commitment, we expect some added cushioning.

PROS   

  • High megapixels
  • A wide range of ISO and shutter speed
  • Light Weight
  • Wi-fi/Bluetooth connectivity

   CONS

  • High price
  • Basic durability

CONCLUSION

Nikon D3 FX DSLR Camera (Body Only) (OLD MODEL)

Image via Amazon

This comparison included a variety of models on the market, from mid-range to high-end cameras. In terms of the Nikon D3, this camera would be perfect for fast-paced, action-based photographers. Our recommendation is to go for this camera if you want something that offers good quality for action shots without the risk of damaging the camera or loosing out on a big monetary investment.

Though there are definitely options out there with higher megapixels or more specs, the Nikon D3 offers excellent durability which cannot be ignored. The price is decent for the specs, and for those looking for an adventure camera that can do more than just speed shots, the Nikon D3 is a great option to look into.

Obviously, the higher priced-models will give a better shooting experience and quality, though each camera offers a different experience in terms of specs and features. So be aware that the higher price may not mean a better shooting experience depending on what type of photography you specialize in.

Overall, the Nikon D3 is great across the board but specializes in sports and event photography. So if that area of photography is important for you, this camera would be a great investment.