Both the Nikon D3X and Sony Alpha 850 have more than 24.5 million pixels, yet the D3X costs around u00a33,100 more. Richard Sibley finds out what you get for the extra cash in our Nikon D3X vs Sony Alpha 850 test
Nikon D3X vs Sony Alpha 850 – Viewfinder, Live View and LCD
Surprisingly, I found that the viewfinder of the Sony Alpha 850 is slightly brighter than that of the Nikon D3X. The Alpha 850 also has a marginally more powerful magnification of 0.74x, compared to 0.7x on the D3X. There is a slight compromise with the Alpha 850 viewfinder as it only offers 98% coverage, compared to the 100% field of view offered by the D3X. I can’t envisage this being an issue except in situations where the utmost precision is required.
In a situation where I require a 100% field of view I would usually switch to Live View, but sadly this feature isn’t included in the Alpha 850. Given that most other manufacturers include Live View as standard, it does strike me as a little odd that Sony has omitted the feature.
Nikon has implemented Live View in the D3X and you can choose between phase-detection autofocus, which briefly interrupts the view to autofocus, or contrast-detection AF. The latter option is found in the Live View menu as ‘Tripod mode’, but as it is quite slow to find the focus point it is really only suitable for still-life subjects.
The rear LCD screens of the two cameras measure 3in. Although the Sony Alpha 850 has a slightly higher resolution of 921,600 dots, compared to the 921,000-dot screen of the Nikon D3X, I suspect they are actually of identical resolution and the manufacturers have rounded the numbers either up or down to get the figures for their specifications.
With such high resolutions and magnification options available, it is possible to see a lot of detail when reviewing images on both the Nikon and Sony screens. This is vital in both cameras to help check accurate focus. Overall, both screens are good, being equal to high-resolution 3in screens available on other DSLRs.
There is one other very useful tool that the D3X has and it is one that will be extremely useful for landscape photographers – a Virtual Horizon level. This can be displayed either through the camera’s main menu or overlaid on the screen when in Live View mode.