A quick Nikon D3 vs. D4 high ISO comparison

This is a quick high ISO comparison between the Nikon D3 and D4 cameras - the first image above is the original (click for larger view):

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  • Joaquim Prado

    Great improviment! Amazing how handles noise!

    • It’s impressive, yes, but as wedding photographers, we’d be happy with either. We’re getting D700s because they’re basically cheaper versions of the D3.

      • DH

        Impressive. You’ve answered a question I’ve had burning in my mind for the past thirty seconds. How will wedding photographers react to this post in a way that adds literally nothing to my life and makes them sound like self-absorbed idiots who can spin anything anyone says into something about their wedding photography? Thank you for letting me tick that one off the ol’ list here. I really appreciate everything you’ve contributed.

        • As a wedding photographer, I will be rocking a D700/D800 rig with great pleasure.

          Storage is cheap, so I don’t care about file size. I regularly produce 24-inch album spreads and up to 40″ prints and I’m super excited about getting to utilize 36mp for that.

          I can get by with a D700 at receptions which where I actually take the most shots, but those pics rarely go above 5×7 in size. On the other hand… the noise handling of the D800 is *that* much more impressive.

          • Β‘ +1 !

          • Dome

            D800 + D3s FTW.

            • KnightPhoto

              BTW, what does FTW stand for? Can’t figure it out πŸ˜‰

            • bert

              For Thoughtful Wanking


        • Tom

          With the poor iso performance of the D800, and the slight iso performance boost (as explained by the nikon engineers it is internal camera software that softens the image over the D3s) of the D4 over the D3s with its king of the hill iso performance, I see very little need to spend the extra money to upgrade solely for iso gain. You can clean images in pp anyway. A true pro does not need to decide based on one factor alone, because the cost gain is not that reliant on one feature. It is a set of features that they need to do their job.

          That being said. Let’s not pretend that the camera industry doesn’t prey on all of us. $40 wireless adapters for $800, $1000 cameras for $6000.

  • Hum, good progress!

  • ShooterMcGavin


    Plus…uhhh…. is this really necessary? I mean it’s pretty much dead on with the D3s, which was generally accepted as better than the D3.

    • ShooterMcGavin

      Ha! Took too long to type the comment.

    • texajoe

      Looks like it took shooter to long to pull the trigger!

  • Dave

    Hey what’s a D3vs?

    Did I miss something?

  • it’s not pretty much dead on with the d3s, it’s better, period . . . BTW, shooting stuff that no one shoots for testing purposes is questionable . . . why not shoot real life and “test” that?

  • Ken Elliott

    It looks like there is about the same amount of noise, but the noise is “smoother” and more film like. Well done, Nikon.

  • Hey Admin – we could use an update on any news regarding D800E ship date. Thanks!

    • should start shipping on the 15th, I will post about it once I get a confirmation

      • Kewl – thanks!

      • T.I.M

        Get a D800E to my house on the 15th and I’ll translate NR in French for free !

      • hq

        Come on, they haven’t shipped the D800 yet (pre-ordered Feb 7th)- I doubt the D800E will be shipping by the 15th.

  • Sports

    We all knew D4 was better than D3, so this is close to being a waste of time.
    A comparison D4 vs. D3S is relevant (and vs. D800, 5DMkIII), but has been performed already, I guess.

    • D4 vs. D3s comparison is coming soon as well as D800 vs D800E

      • Banksie

        The D3s comparison will make sense. This one doesn’t. The D3 is two generations away from the D4.

        • Actually, this does tell is something in a round about way: noise on the D800 looks about the same on the pixel level as the D800. This tells us that the D4 may really have an edge on noise at the pixel level, over the D800. Which it ought to!

          • Monkey Nigh Mow

            Does that really matter though? You can always downsize the D800 to 16MP and get similar results.

            • B!

              Or you can downsample to 2MP and blow the webcam to another dimension. WOW

              What happened to out of camera results/performance?

  • T.I.M

    Finally we will be able to see what’s going on in a black hole !

    • Still, D4 can’t capture an image of the Invisible Man.

    • Eric

      Are you talking about the mother of the bride? At least at a wedding the event horizon is something you can come back from. πŸ™‚

  • T.I.M

    I told my wife : “my new camera (D800) don’t have any noise”

    She said :
    “great, you won’t wake me up again in the midle of the nigh taking pictures of a mosquito’s eyes through the window !”

    • Calibrator

      A photographer’s humor: Not really for the masses…


      • Monkey Nigh Mow

        Your comment made me laugh more than the joke.

        • T.I.M


  • Lawlezz

    I think it’s better to compare D4 with D3S instead of D4 against D3.

  • ShooterMcGavin

    Admin – What about the second round of D4 shipping? Any word on shipments after the end of March inventory?

    • It should start shipping in the next 1-2 weeks. FYI: some NPS members did not get their D4/D800 yet, so I assume portion of the next batch will also go NPS.

      • ShooterMcGavin

        Thanks. I talked to my dealer today, and he had one NPS pre-order, and 5 others. NPS and one other came in with the first batch, then a week or so later the third one came in. I’m fourth on the list, so the next one is mine. It’s frustrating that even the dealer doesn’t get any kind of shipping information or scheduling whatsoever. He said that his Nikon rep was tight lipped about everything, no heads up on the second shipment he got with that single camera, nothing.

      • B!

        Oh no, not again (NPS)

  • ertan

    D3 looks good until ISO6400. D3s is definitely better than D4 in high ISO. Interesting.

  • josh deugan

    i would really like to see the comparison between the D4 and the D1 just to see how far we really have come last few years and the d100 and the d800 because obviously the newer cameras should have better resolution and better low light noise at similar iso than an older model or else what is the point

    • Charlie Darwin

      How about comparing the D4 noise to that of a Rock?

  • Estes st

    I finally received my lot of 9 D4’s. I have been waiting forever!

  • Frank

    Im sure Nikon D4 should have better ISO….but why all images are darker for D4. Its not fair the D3 images are much brighter so you can see the noise

  • mark papke

    The D4 is the obvious winner, but they should have made the comparison with the D3S not the D3. The D 3S is better ISO than the D3 isn’t it?

  • DJ

    D3s vs D4 ISO testing: http://mansurovs.com/nikon-d4-vs-d3s-vs-d3-iso-performance-comparison

    The D3s shows slightly better contrast up to 25600 ISO. It will be interesting to see the NR testing later as well.

  • Bob

    it’s not too much sense to compare the iso marks.
    D4 has more than one stop improvement on the overall image quality.

  • alex

    emm … test conditions? raw or out-of-camera jpeg? camera settings? and why is ISO3200 worse than ISO 6400 on the same D3?

  • Andrea

    ISO 3200 of D3 is weird and look as out of focus or camera shake.
    D3 AT 6400 is lighter than D4 at 6400 . This means D3 is more light sensitive?
    I wait to see high iso picture in a real assignment.
    Usually when you use high iso the light is not clear, mixed or from “dirty” light sources. I want to see in similar conditions how d4 works.

  • Al

    The D3s was Nikons flagship high ISO king and now you all treat it like its obsolete???
    Yes product improvements are to be expected when you release something new every
    4-5 years. But taking the “old” ISO king and calling it obsolete or inferior is about as
    naive as it gets.
    I’ll wait for the NR comparison between the D4 and D3s, which there are already plenty of comparisons between the two out there, and they both have nearly identical ISO performance. The D4 being sharper when zoomed in.
    D3 vs D4 is pointless unless your trying to show how technology has improved over two generations but those cameras ate not in the same league

    • B!

      I used to think that the previous model cameras have some life to them until my D2X was blown out of the water by D7K, such is life.

  • Chris Zeller

    WTF? I can’t tell much from this comparison because the layout is confusing. Why not just put two colums with the D4 on the left and the D3 on the right at the same ISO?

  • Jim stewart

    Unlike others I appreciated the comparison to the D3. As a D3 owner I have always seen my logical upgrade path to be the D4 (as I am sure some D3s owners will see the D4s when it comes)

  • Amazing… NOT!

    Up to ISO 3200 the differences are slight (except D4 was focused better on these pics). Above that there might be up to a stop of difference if that much: ISO 12800 on D4 is not better than 6400 on D3. And that last stop could be offset with careful PP. With this in mind, D700 might be the best bargain around for about 1/3 of the price, if you don’t need all the MPs D800 has.

  • Yes, it is best to compare d4 and d3s. I both have d3 and d3s and the d3 doesnt compare already with the d3s, how bout more with the d4. So we need to see a comparison with the d3s and d4. Havent got my d4 yet but once i have it, ill do this also and have you guys decide for yourselves.

  • I think all low light/ISO tests need to have a frame of reference exposure shot so we can understand the context of the light in that particular room. ISO12800 is going to perform a hell of a lot better in the middle of the afternoon, as opposed to in a dark room at dusk, when we’re more likely to actually use it. Put up a shot of the room at 1/500 at f/4 with ISO200 so we can see how light or dark the room actually is. We can’t accurately judge how good a camera’s ISO is by *merely* looking at ISO labels – we need to have context.

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