Nikon D3 vs D750
The Nikon D3 and the Nikon D750 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in August 2007 and September 2014. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The D3 has a resolution of 12.1 megapixels, whereas the D750 provides 24.2 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D3 and the Nikon D750? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D3 and the Nikon D750. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D750 is considerably smaller (37 percent) than the Nikon D3. Moreover, the D750 is substantially lighter (42 percent) than the D3. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
Concerning battery life, the D3 gets 4300 shots out of its EN-EL4a battery, while the D750 can take 1230 images on a single charge of its EN-EL15 power pack. As can be seen in the images above, the D3 has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the D750, Nikon provides the MB-D16 vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay).
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Nikon D3||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999|
|2.||Nikon D750||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|3.||Canon 1D Mark III||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1155 g||2200||Y||Feb 2007||4,499|
|4.||Nikon D780||144 mm||116 mm||76 mm||840 g||2260||Y||Jan 2020||2,299|
|5.||Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|6.||Nikon D4S||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1350 g||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499|
|7.||Nikon Df||144 mm||110 mm||67 mm||760 g||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749|
|8.||Nikon D610||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|9.||Nikon D4||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999|
|10.||Nikon D600||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|11.||Nikon D3S||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1240 g||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199|
|12.||Nikon D3X||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1260 g||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999|
|13.||Nikon D700||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999|
|14.||Nikon D300||147 mm||114 mm||74 mm||925 g||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799|
|15.||Nikon D2Xs||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Jun 2006||4,699|
|16.||Nikon D2X||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Sep 2004||4,999|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The D750 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 54 percent) than the D3, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Technology-wise, the D750 uses a more advanced image processing engine (EXPEED 4) than the D3 (EXPEED), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.
With 24.2MP, the D750 offers a higher resolution than the D3 (12.1MP), but the D750 has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.97μm versus 8.43μm for the D3). Yet, the D750 is a much more recent model (by 7 years) than the D3, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D750 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D750 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30.1 x 20.1 inches or 76.4 x 51 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24.1 x 16.1 inches or 61.1 x 40.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20.1 x 13.4 inches or 50.9 x 34 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D3 are 21.3 x 14.2 inches or 54.1 x 36 cm for good quality, 17 x 11.3 inches or 43.2 x 28.8 cm for very good quality, and 14.2 x 9.4 inches or 36 x 24 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D3 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 6400, which can be extended to ISO 100-25600. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D750 are ISO 100 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-51200.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under consideration, the D750 offers substantially better image quality than the D3 (overall score 12 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.3 bits higher color depth, 2.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.4 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|1.||Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
|2.||Nikon D750||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|3.||Canon 1D Mark III||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||none||22.7||11.7||1078||71|
|4.||Nikon D780||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||25.3||14.3||2877||95|
|5.||Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|6.||Nikon D4S||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89|
|7.||Nikon Df||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||none||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|8.||Nikon D610||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|9.||Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|10.||Nikon D600||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.2||2980||94|
|11.||Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|12.||Nikon D3X||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||24.7||13.7||1992||88|
|13.||Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
|Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The D750 indeed provides for movie recording, while the D3 does not. The highest resolution format that the D750 can use is 1080/60p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The D3 and the D750 are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), as well as the same magnification (0.70x). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D3, the Nikon D750, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Nikon D3||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n|
|2.||Nikon D750||optical||Y||3.2 / 1229||tilting||n||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n|
|3.||Canon 1D Mark III||optical||Y||3.0 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||10.0||n||n|
|4.||Nikon D780||optical||Y||3.2 / 2359||tilting||Y||1/8000s||12.0||n||n|
|5.||Nikon D5||optical||Y||3.2 / 2359||fixed||Y||1/8000s||14.0||n||n|
|6.||Nikon D4S||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n|
|7.||Nikon Df||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5||n||n|
|8.||Nikon D610||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||6.0||Y||n|
|9.||Nikon D4||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n|
|10.||Nikon D600||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.5||Y||n|
|11.||Nikon D3S||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n|
|12.||Nikon D3X||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|13.||Nikon D700||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0||Y||n|
|14.||Nikon D300||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n|
|15.||Nikon D2Xs||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
|16.||Nikon D2X||optical||Y||2.5 / 235||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The D750 has one, while the D3 does not. While the built-in flash of the D750 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.
The Nikon D3 and the Nikon D750 both have an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The D3 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash cards, while the D750 uses SDXC cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon D3 and Nikon D750 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Nikon D3||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Nikon D750||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||Y||-||-|
|3.||Canon 1D Mark III||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Nikon D780||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.1||Y||-||Y|
|5.||Nikon D5||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Nikon D4S||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Nikon Df||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Nikon D610||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Nikon D4||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D600||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D3S||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D3X||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D700||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D300||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|15.||Nikon D2Xs||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|16.||Nikon D2X||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the D750 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the D3 does not provide wifi capability.
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Both the D3 and the D750 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D3 was replaced by the Nikon D4, while the D750 was followed by the Nikon D780. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon website.
So how do things add up? Is the Nikon D3 better than the Nikon D750 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D3:
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (4300 versus 1230) on a single battery charge.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in August 2007).
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D750:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (24.2 vs 12.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 41%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (12 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.3 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2.3 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.4 stops ISO advantage).
- Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (EXPEED 4 vs EXPEED).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 1080/60p video.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 922k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- More compact: Is smaller (141x113mm vs 160x157mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 550g or 42 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (54 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 7 years of technical progress since the D3 launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D750 is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 5 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D3 and the Nikon D750 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D3 or the D750. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Nikon D3||..||..||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999|
|2.||Nikon D750||5/5||+ +||4/5||90/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|3.||Canon 1D Mark III||..||..||..||..||..||..||Feb 2007||4,499|
|4.||Nikon D780||5/5||..||5/5||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2020||2,299|
|5.||Nikon D5||..||..||4/5||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|6.||Nikon D4S||5/5||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||6,499|
|7.||Nikon Df||4/5||..||..||81/100||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749|
|8.||Nikon D610||4/5||+ +||..||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|9.||Nikon D4||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999|
|10.||Nikon D600||4/5||+ +||..||87/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|11.||Nikon D3S||5/5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199|
|12.||Nikon D3X||..||..||..||86/100||4/5||5/5||Dec 2008||7,999|
|13.||Nikon D700||..||89/100||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999|
|14.||Nikon D300||..||+ +||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799|
|15.||Nikon D2Xs||..||..||..||..||..||..||Jun 2006||4,699|
|16.||Nikon D2X||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2004||4,999|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Leica V-LUX 5 vs Nikon D3
- Leica X Vario vs Nikon D750
- Nikon D3 vs Olympus E-520
- Nikon D3 vs Panasonic TZ95
- Nikon D3 vs Sony A99
- Nikon D3 vs Sony RX100 V
- Nikon D3 vs Sony RX100 VI
- Nikon D750 vs Olympus TG-6
- Nikon D750 vs Panasonic FZ80
- Nikon D750 vs Sony NEX-3
- Nikon D750 vs Sony RX10 II
- Nikon D750 vs Sony RX10 III
Specifications: Nikon D3 vs Nikon D750
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Nikon D3||Nikon D750|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||August 2007||September 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 4,999||USD 2,299|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D3||Nikon D750|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 23.9 mm||35.9 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||860.4 mm2||861.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.1 Megapixels||24.2 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4256 x 2832 pixels||6016 x 4016 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||8.43 μm||5.97 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.40 MP/cm2||2.80 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||1080/60p Video|
|ISO Setting||200 - 6,400 ISO||100 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 25,600 ISO||50 - 51,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED||EXPEED 4|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||81||93|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||23.5||24.8|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||12.2||14.5|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2290||2956|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D3||Nikon D750|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.2inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||1229k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D3||Nikon D750|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||11 shutter flaps/s||6 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||300 000 actuations||150 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Built-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D3||Nikon D750|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||no MIC socket||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D3||Nikon D750|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||4300 shots per charge||1230 shots per charge|
160 x 157 x 88 mm
(6.3 x 6.2 x 3.5 in)
141 x 113 x 78 mm
(5.6 x 4.4 x 3.1 in)
|Camera Weight||1300 g (45.9 oz)||750 g (26.5 oz)|
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