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 – Verdict

Let’s get the facts out of the way first: the Nikon D3X is a truly great camera with many advanced features that will impress both the amateur and professional photographer alike. However, the point of testing the D3X and Sony Alpha 850 side by side isn’t to ascertain the superiority of one over the other, but to see whether the Nikon D3X’s ‘better’ features are worthy of the extra £3,100 the camera costs.

Nikon has aimed the D3X squarely at professional photographers and those working for picture agencies, who may already use the Nikon system and will find it easier to justify the cost of the camera. Sony is positioning the Alpha 850 at a different market. By introducing a less sophisticated but far cheaper camera, Sony is trying to tempt new enthusiast photographers to the Alpha system, and in turn take a share of the DSLR market away from Nikon and Canon. In many ways the Alpha 850 is aimed at the same photographers as the similarly priced full-frame Nikon D700 camera, which has just half the number of pixels.

With this in mind, the Sony Alpha 850 is a perfectly acceptable alternative to the Nikon D3X. It may lack the sophisticated AF and custom options, but it is a smaller, lighter camera that in most general situations can match the D3X in terms of performance and image quality.

Instead of asking whether the Nikon D3X is worth an extra £3,100, perhaps another approach would be to ask if the Sony Alpha 850 represents good value for money. And the answer to this question has to be yes. The Alpha 850 offers a high-resolution, full-frame DSLR camera at an affordable price, and it is a great upgrade for users lower down in the Alpha range. Enthusiast photographers using the Alpha 850 for landscapes, studio and travel photography should be more than happy with the image quality the camera offers, without going to the expense of the Nikon D3X.

Nikon D3X vs Sony Alpha 850 Scores

  Nikon D3X Sony Alpha 850
 Tested as: Professional DSLR  Semi-pro DSLR
 Rated: Very good  Very good
 Overall score: 89%  81%
 Features: 8/10  7/10
 Noise/resolution:  28/30  28/30
 Dynamic range:  9/10  9/10
 LCD/video:  9/10  7/10
 Build/handling:  9/10  8/10
 Autofocus:  9/10  7/10
 Metering:  9/10  8/10
AWB/colour:  8/10  7/10

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Nikon D3X vs Sony Alpha 850 - Features
  3. 3. Nikon D3X vs Sony Alpha 850 - Build and Handling
  4. 4. Nikon D3X vs Sony Alpha 850 - Metering
  5. 5. Nikon D3X vs Sony Alpha 850 - Viewfinder, Live View and LCD
  6. 6. Nikon D3X vs Sony Alpha 850 - White Balance and Colour
  7. 7. Nikon D3X vs Sony Alpha 850 - Autofocus
  8. 8. Nikon D3X vs Sony Alpha 850 - Noise, resolution and sensitivity
  9. 9. Nikon D3X vs Sony Alpha 850 - Dynamic Range
  10. 10. Nikon D3X vs Sony Alpha 850 - Verdict
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