For years Canon has had Nikon on the defensive. Suddenly, Nikon has new life. The light sensitivity of the Nikon D3 is breathtaking. Screw those megapixels, give me ISO any day.
... One of the things that has a lot of people really bent is that the Nikon D3 can shoot at ISO 25,600. This is three full stops faster than ISO 3200, which for the record is three stops faster than ISO 400. (Just to put things in perspective).
Some nay-sayers have commented, "Ya, so what. It's really noisy). As the teenagers say – "Duhhhh!". Of course it's noisy. It's freak'n ISO 25,600 for Pete's sake!
As in the old joke about the talking dog, it isn't so much what it has to say but rather that it can talk at all. And at ISO 25,600 the D3 really has a lot to say.
At 25,600 most of the noise is chroma noise. What this means is that by converting to monochrome and applying a bit of luminance noise reduction in Lightroom or Camera Raw, one ends up with a file that looks to my eyes like T-Max at ISO 1600, or ISO 800 Tri-X developed in Rodinal. That's 4 – 6 stops better than anything we had in the film days, and at least 2-3 stops better than anything to-date in digital...
I loved the tip for dealing with chroma noise. My puny Canon Digital Rebel XT can shoot at 1,600, but the noise makes this worthless. I'll experiment with this recovery technique.
Watch for this spring's Digital Rebel XT. If Canon doesn't produce a low end dSLR that can shoot good images at ISO 1,600, we'll know they've given up on the low end.