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Thread: Nikon D3S Review

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    Lightbulb Nikon D3S Review


    The Nikon D3S is a 12-megapixel full-frame digital SLR camera that boasts a sensitivity range of ISO 200 to ISO 12,800; expandable all the way to an incredible ISO 102,400. Successor to the popular Nikon D3, the Nikon D3S is a fully-fledged pro DSLR and the first Nikon FX body capable of high-definition video recording. Inheriting the rugged build, weatherproofing, large and bright viewfinder, high-resolution rear screen, dual memory card slots, 51-point AF module, 9-fps continuous shooting speed and dazzling range of customisation options of its predecessor; the new D3S gains a few new features first seen in Nikon’s cheaper DSLRs, such as automatic sensor cleaning, in-camera raw conversion, dedicated Live view and info buttons, a Quiet shooting mode and a stereo microphone input. Other enhancements versus the Nikon D3 include a larger buffer, a new 1.2x crop mode, a bracketing option for Active D-lighting and a new Vignette Control feature that seeks to reduce the noticeable corner shading common with full-frame digital cameras. The Nikon D3S is currently available for pre-order priced at £4199.99 / €5100.00 / $5199.95.

    Ease of Use

    Like every professional Nikon SLR camera since the Nikon F4 of 1988, the Nikon D3S is a big beast - but not quite as big or heavy as you would think based on the specs alone. In fact, the body ergonomics and the weight distribution of the camera are so good that it feels perfectly balanced and very much like a natural extension of your hands. The type of lens you mate to it obviously has a lot to do with this though - the petite AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G lens Nikon supplied for this test didn't really add much weight, and neither did it spoil the balance of the rig; but using the camera with something like a 400mm f/2.8 would certainly have been a different story.
    One of the reasons for the considerable weight and bulk is of course the presence of an integrated, thus non-removable portrait grip, which also houses the large, 2500mAh EN-EL4a Lithium-ion battery pack. According to claims made by Nikon, this battery provides enough power to take an incredible 4,200 shots on one charge (at room temperature, and without using live view or a VR lens). For the traditionalists among you, that's more than 110 rolls of 36-exposure film, even if you managed to squeeze 38 frames out of each and every roll! In the one-week period we had to test the Nikon D3S, we did not take anywhere near that many photos, but used the camera at sub-zero temperatures, did a lot of chimping and made good use of the camera's live view and video functions, yet we never had to recharge the battery before returning it to Nikon - that should say something in itself.
    The body shape and dimensions are nigh on identical to the D3, and most of the controls are in the same location too. And there are many of them - respecting the requirements of the working pro, Nikon has provided dedicated external controls for almost all of the frequently used functions. If you are into numbers, here are some quick stats: the Nikon D3S has 2x2 control wheels, 2 shutter releases, 3 LCDs (one colour TFT screen and two monochromatic displays, not counting the horizontal and vertical LCDs in the viewfinder), 16 back-panel buttons, 6 switches, 6 top-mounted and 3 front-panel buttons, 2 locking pins, plus an eight-way controller, a drive mode wheel, a (redesigned) battery compartment latch, an eyepiece shutter and a dioptre adjustment knob. The bright side of this is that you rarely need to enter the complex and exhaustive menu to change a setting, especially given that a number of these buttons are customisable.
    You may have noticed that there is no mode dial on the D3S. Like the other pro cameras from Nikon - and Canon too, for that matter -, the Nikon D3S has a mode button instead, which you need to hold depressed while spinning the rear control wheel in order to change the exposure mode. There are two main reasons for this: firstly, it prevents inadvertent changes; and secondly, a button takes up much less real estate than a conventional mode dial.
    Front Rear
    Overall, the control layout will be quite familiar to anyone trading up from a Nikon D3 or D300 (even a D2x), as the user interface of the D3S is very similar to that of these models. One point of difference is the appearance of a dedicated Live view (Lv) button, a logical and welcome improvement over the earlier design. Other than that, the live view implementation is the same as on the D3: it still comes in two flavours, 'Hand-held' and 'Tripod'. In 'Hand-held' mode, you can use either the AF-ON button or a half-press of the shutter release to initiate autofocus, whereby the mirror is lowered and the AF sensors are engaged. The whole procedure is cumbersome and involves lots of mirror slapping, but at the end of the day, it's still the faster way if you want to use AF in live view.
    Because in the aptly named 'Tripod' mode, it takes a lot more time for the camera to acquire focus, as it uses a contrast-detect method which Nikon's lenses are not optimised for. Nikon does claim a speed improvement of 30% over the D3 in this mode, and indeed it feels a little faster, but it's still quite sluggish to be honest. The undeniable advantage of this mode is that focusing does not interrupt the live view feed, and there is less mirror slapping. Note though that in 'Tripod' mode, you can only use the AF-ON button for autofocus; there is no other option. As with the Nikon D300s we reviewed a few months ago, we found it strange that you could not switch from live view directly to playback mode, as the playback button is idle until you exit live view. Another oddity is the lack of a live histogram, which makes the live view feature much less useful than it could be.
    Another change versus the D3 is the inclusion of a Quiet mode on the drive mode dial. First seen on the Nikon D5000, the Quiet mode allows the photographer to delay the mirror return and the cocking of the shutter until [s]he lets go of the shutter release button. Given that the Nikon D3S' mirror is significantly larger and thus inherently louder than the D5000's, the Quiet mode isn't nearly as quiet as on that camera, but neither is it as loud as the other modes. These include single frame advance (S), continuous low (CL), continuous high (CH), self-timer and mirror up (MUP). Just like on the Nikon D3, CL can be set anywhere between 1 and 9 fps, whereas CH is invariably 9 fps at full resolution, or 9-11 fps in DX crop mode. The buffer has been greatly expanded though. You still can't combine mirror lock-up with the self-timer, meaning in mirror up mode you either have to push the shutter release button twice - once to raise the mirror and again to take the shot -, which kind of defeats the whole point of this mode; or employ a separately sold remote cord that connects to a 10-pin terminal hiding behind a hinged rubber flap on the front of the camera.
    Front Top
    Speaking of the DX mode, it has to be noted that the Nikon D3S has a new 1.2x crop mode as well, although it does not offer the benefit of increased frame rate in continuous high speed drive mode. Sports photographers might welcome this addition nonetheless, as it also allows them to compose more tightly when shooting faraway subjects without having to manually crop the image post capture, and also to see what's going on just outside the frame (the part of the viewfinder that falls outside the capture area in DX or 1.2x crop mode is masked out, but the mask is not completely opaque). One advantage of the 1.2x crop mode over 1.5x DX is that you get more resolution (8.4 megapixels versus 5.1). The D3S also retains the 5:4 aspect ratio crop option of the D3. You can choose the image area - FX, DX, 1.2x crop or 5:4 - from the menu, but you can also assign this function to the Fn or DOF preview buttons found on the front panel of the camera.
    One of the most important enhancements over its predecessor is the ability of the Nikon D3S to shoot movies. Whilst the D3 and D3x can only shoot stills, the D3S can also record 720p high-definition video at 24 frames per second. A number of Nikon DX cameras, including the D90, the D5000 and the D300s, also offer this feature, but the Nikon D3S is the first FX model to shoot video. Thanks to its larger sensor, the D3S produces cleaner footage at high sensitivity settings, and allows even more sophisticated depth-of-field control. Like the D300s, it lets you use autofocus while filming, by way of pressing the AF-ON button - but again, it's too slow and hunts way too much to be actually useful. Beginners are advised to choose a small aperture and rely on depth of field for sharp footage, whereas professional videographers will want to use third-party accessories for smooth focus pulling. In terms of sound recording options, the Nikon D3S has a built-in monaural microphone as well as a stereo mic input.
    Of course, the Nikon D3S is, first and foremost, an SLR camera - so let us now take a look at how it performs at its more traditional functions. The optical viewfinder, which is one of the most important parts of any SLR, is huge and bright with 100% frame coverage, and has a fairly high eye-point too, which is great news for eyeglass wearers. Unlike the DX offerings, the D3S does not have an on-demand grid overlay - but at least the focusing screen is user interchangeable. Those who prefer to use a grid should purchase and install a separately sold type E clear-matte VI focusing screen.
    Side Rear
    The D3S' 51-point autofocus module, unchanged from the D3, is a true pleasure to use. Thankfully, the AF points aren't engraved on the focusing screen, so you only see the one in use, which goes a long way toward avoiding viewfinder clutter. Selecting the active AF point is done by way of the eight-way pad, unless the focus selector lock is in the L (=Locked) position or Auto Area AF is selected. Like its predecessor, the Nikon D3S also has single-point and dynamic AF area options. In the latter mode, you also select the focus point manually, but after that, the D3S attempts to track the subject even if it leaves the selected focus point. The number of AF points used for this can be selected from 9, 21 and 51 via a custom setting. If '51 points (3D tracking)' is selected, the camera will track the subject across the frame using colour information from the 1005-pixel RGB metering sensor.
    The D3S can autofocus with practically any AF lens ever made by Nikon, including AF-D, AF-I and AF-S models. The exceptions are lenses made for the Nikon F3AF that are simply not compatible with the Nikon D3S. Autofocus speeds will depend greatly on the lens in use. Just because a lens has a silent wave motor, it does not necessarily focus faster than others - a case in point is the AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G supplied by Nikon, which was a bit “lazy” despite the AF-S designation. On the other hand the cheap and unpretentious-looking AF-D 28-80mm f/3.3-5.6G zoom was always lightning fast to lock focus when mounted to the D3S.
    Most manual-focus Nikkors can be used too. In order to get open-aperture colour matrix metering with these lenses, enter the lens' focal length and maximum aperture via the 'Non-CPU lens data' menu item in the Setup menu. This will also allow the D3S to display the working aperture on the status LCD as soon as you change it via the aperture ring on the lens (provided it has aperture indexing), and record both the focal length and the actual aperture value in the EXIF. And while manual-focus lenses obviously won't autofocus, the D3S' AF sensors remain active, and the green focus confirmation dot will light up when the subject is in focus. I tested this feature using an old Horizont branded F-mount lens, and it worked perfectly - the portrait of yours truly posing in an orange shirt and necktie was shot with this lens wide open at f/2.8.
    Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment
    Just like its forebear, the Nikon D3S has two Compact Flash memory card slots. The implementation is exemplary: you can tell the camera to record every image simultaneously on both cards for instant backup, or designate one card to store raw files and the other JPEGs, or use the secondary card for “overflow” - you name it. Note that the D3S drops support for Type II Compact Flash cards - not that you are likely to own one, but be warned just in case. Speaking of memory cards, the card compartment door itself is as rugged as you would expect it to be, but the cover that hides the door locking pin is rather flimsy.
    The Nikon D3S doesn't have a pop-up flash, but there is a standard Prontor-Compur terminal as well as a hot-shoe that accommodates both Nikon Speedlights and generic centre-contact flash units. The D3S supports the Nikon Creative Lighting system, although in the absence of a built-in flash, you will need either an SU-800 commander unit or a Nikon system flash to provide TTL flash exposure control for wirelessly slaved Speedlights. The x-sync speed is 1/250th of a second - not bad, but given that some of Nikon's older entry-level DSLR cameras (such as the D70 and the D40) offered flash synchronisation at up to 1/500th of a second without having to put the flash in FP mode, 1/250th of a second on a pro body is nothing to write home about in 2010.
    In use, the Nikon D3S proved to be a fantastic tool. It's an extremely responsive camera that seems to react instantly to anything you throw at it (except if you are in live view, that is). Start-up feels instantaneous, even if you enable the new automatic sensor cleaning function. There is no shutter lag to speak of and with the right lens mounted, focusing is also very fast. Those who have never used a full-frame DSLR before will be astounded at the huge viewfinder. Anyone who has a bit of experience with a recent Nikon DSLR will feel right at home in the menu, even if it's more exhaustive than that of a D90 or D300s. And even if there are a few menu items whose location you never seem to remember, you can collect these under the My Menu heading, which is also a great place for your most frequently used settings. The customisation options that might seem intimidating at first sight allow you to tailor the workings of the camera to your peculiar needs and tastes.
    Of course the biggest claim made by Nikon - namely, improved signal-to-noise ratio at ultra-high sensitivity settings - is related to image quality, so let us now move on to find out if this claim is backed up by any visual evidence...

    Image Quality

    All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 12 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 6Mb.
    As detailed on the previous page, the Nikon D3S is a highly responsive professional DSLR camera that has great ergonomics, build quality and a fantastic feature set - but it’s the image quality department where the real news is.
    Since the introduction of the original D3, Nikon has redesigned the sensor and the microlenses to improve the light gathering ability of the imager, and as a result ISO 12,800 - which used to be a boosted sensitivity setting on the D3 - now comes as standard. Moreover, a hitherto inconceivable ISO 102,400 is now offered as an expansion setting. We have found that images taken with the Nion D3S up to and including ISO 1,600 were astoundingly clean and hard to tell from each other, and even ISO 12,800 is completely usable for printed output. The Nikon D3S is, without a doubt, the new low-light, high-ISO king of the camera world.
    As to other aspects of image quality, they are also top notch: colours are pleasing, tonality is superb, dynamic range is wide. Chromatic aberrations are quite well controlled in-camera, and now there is a new Vignette Control feature too, which greatly reduces corner shading, a phenomenon well known to full-frame shooters. The night shot came out very well even with long-exposure noise reduction turned off.
    The only thing I found sub par was the accuracy of auto white balance in artificial light - but with a Kelvin scale and custom white balance at your disposal, this should really not worry you too much.

    The base sensitivity of the Nikon D3S is ISO 200, but you can go down to ISO 100 using the expanded sensitivity setting of Lo 1. At the other end of the range, the highest "true" ISO speed is ISO 12,800 but again, you get three additional, "boosted" values, right up to a fantastic ISO 102,400 (Hi 3). Pictures taken between ISO 100 and 800 are practically indistinguishable from each other upon a visual inspection, and even at ISO 1600, you really need to know what to look for to find a trace of luminance noise. Between ISO 3200 and 12,800 the amount of luminance noise increases, but chroma noise remains very well controlled without any readily apparent loss of colour saturation. Suffice to say that I would not hesitate to print an ISO 12,800 shot at 300ppi. The expanded settings are a different story, though ISO 25,600 still yields nice small to mid-sized prints. ISO 51,200 and ISO 102,400 are for on-screen viewing only, but then there are very few occasions when you really need them - ISO 102,400 is so high it allows you to take a brightly exposed photo in near darkness at a hand-holdable shutter speed with the lens stopped down to boot - how often do you need that? Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.
    ISO 100 (100% Crop) ISO 100 (100% Crop)
    ISO 400 (100% Crop) ISO 400 (100% Crop)
    ISO 800 (100% Crop) ISO 800 (100% Crop)
    ISO 1600 (100% Crop) ISO 1600 (100% Crop)
    ISO 3200 (100% Crop) ISO 3200 (100% Crop)
    ISO 6400 (100% Crop) ISO 6400 (100% Crop)
    ISO 12800 (100% Crop) ISO 12800 (100% Crop)
    ISO 25600 (100% Crop) ISO 25600 (100% Crop)
    ISO 51200 (100% Crop) ISO 51200 (100% Crop)
    ISO 102400 (100% Crop) ISO 102400 (100% Crop)

    The out-of-camera JPEGs appear a lot less sharp than images converted from raw, and often benefit from some sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. Alternatively you can change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes. Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some extra sharpening applied.
    Original (100% Crop) Sharpened (100% Crop)
    File Quality

    The file quality settings available on the D3S include Basic, Normal and Fine for JPEGs, plus you can also store your photos as 8-bit-per-channel TIFFs and in Nikon's proprietary raw format (NEF). We’ve found NEFs to be consistently sharper than out-of-camera JPEGs, even when converted with the free ViewNX software, using default settings. NEFs can be either 12- or 14-bit. Don’t expect to see much of a difference between these two unless you do lots of post-capture tweaking, in which case you may see a benefit to working with 14-bit originals. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options, with the file size shown in brackets.
    12M Fine (6.5Mb) (100% Crop) 12M Normal (3.2Mb) (100% Crop)
    12M Basic (1.6Mb) (100% Crop) 12M RAW (12.2Mb) (100% Crop)

    D-lighting is Nikon's dynamic range optimisation tool that attempts to squeeze the full dynamic range of the sensor into JPEGs. Active D-lighting works "on the fly", before the in-camera processing engine converts the raw image data into JPEGs. The available settings are Off, Auto, Low, Medium, High and Extra High. The following examples, all exposed for the highlights, demonstrate the differences across these settings. Note that if you are not satisfied with the results, you can also apply post-capture D-lighting from the Retouch menu.
    Off Low
    Normal High
    Extra High
    Picture Controls

    Nikon’s Picture Controls are akin to Canon’s Picture Styles in being preset combinations of sharpening, contrast, brightness, saturation and hue. The D3S comes with four Picture Controls; Vivid, Standard, Neutral and Monochrome, while others are downloadable from Nikon’s website. All Picture Controls can be tweaked to your liking, then saved and transferred to other D3S cameras.
    Standard Neutral
    Vivid Monochrome
    Vignette Control

    Vignetting is a fact of life with FX cameras and their lenses, but it usually does not mean completely black corners. Nikon’s new Vignette Control seeks to reduce this corner shading. It has three levels, Low, Normal and High, and it can of course be turned off. As you can see in these examples taken with the AF-S 50mm f/1.4G lens at f/1.4, the feature really works.
    Off Low
    Normal High

    The Nikon D3S lets you dial in shutter speeds of up to 30 seconds and has a Bulb mode as well for exposure times of practically any length, which is very good news if you are seriously interested in night photography. There is an optional long-exposure noise reduction function that can be activated to filter out any hot pixels that may appear when extremely slow shutter speeds are used, though I found no need for this when taking the photograph below at a shutter speed of 30 seconds, aperture of f/11 at ISO 200. We’ve included a 100% crop for you to see what the quality is like.
    Night Shot Night Shot (100% Crop)
    Multiple Exposure

    Like many of Nikon’s film SLRs, the D300s allows you to record more than one exposure in a single photo. The example below was taken using two exposures, but you can dial in any value from 2 to 10.

    Sample Images

    This is a selection of sample images from the Nikon D3S camera, which were all taken using the 12 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.
    1/60 sec
    f/11 | 80mm | ISO 640
    1/60 sec
    f/8 | 66mm | ISO 6400
    1/30 sec
    f/8 | 35mm
    1/30 sec
    f/8 | 50mm | ISO 1600
    1/40 sec
    f/8 | 56mm | ISO 1600
    1/160 sec
    f/8 | 44mm | ISO 1600
    1/100 sec
    f/4 | 40mm | ISO 1600
    1/60 sec
    f/8 | 28mm | ISO 6400
    1/60 sec
    f/2.8 | 50mm | ISO 400
    1/80 sec
    f/5 | 50mm | ISO 3200
    1/80 sec
    f/5.6 | 35mm | ISO 3200
    1/80 sec
    f/5.6 | 28mm | ISO 3200
    1/40 sec
    f/5.6 | 28mm | ISO 6400
    1/2000 sec
    f/8 | 155mm | ISO 800
    1/2500 sec
    f/8 | 300mm | ISO 800
    1/20 sec
    f/8 | 31mm | ISO 6400
    1/320 sec
    f/11 | 50mm | ISO 200
    1/500 sec
    f/5.6 | 80mm | ISO 200
    1/4000 sec
    f/5.6 | 80mm | ISO 200
    1/1000 sec
    f/8 | 135mm | ISO 400
    1/1600 sec
    f/8 | 145mm | ISO 400
    1/80 sec
    f/8 | 56mm | ISO 12800
    1/640 sec
    f/8 | 62mm | ISO 800
    1/50 sec
    f/8 | 48mm | ISO 6400
    1/60 sec
    f/11 | 28mm | ISO 1600
    1/60 sec
    f/8 | 75mm | ISO 1600
    1/50 sec
    f/2.8 | 50mm | ISO 1600
    1/80 sec
    f/8 | 50mm | ISO 6400
    1/125 sec
    f/8 | 28mm | ISO 400
    1/60 sec
    f/2.8 | 135mm | ISO 200
    Sample RAW Images

    The Nikon D3S enables users to capture RAW and JPEG format files. We've provided some Nikon RAW (NEF) samples for you to download (thumbnail images shown below are not 100% representative).
    1/2000 sec
    f/8 | 155mm | ISO 800
    1/20 sec
    f/8 | 31mm | ISO 6400
    1/320 sec
    f/11 | 50mm | ISO 200
    1/500 sec
    f/5.6 | 80mm | ISO 200
    1/1000 sec
    f/8 | 135mm | ISO 400
    1/1600 sec
    f/8 | 145mm | ISO 400
    1/80 sec
    f/8 | 56mm | ISO 12800
    1/640 sec
    f/8 | 62mm | ISO 800
    1/60 sec
    f/2.8 | 135mm | ISO 200
    3/1 sec
    f/16 | 50mm | ISO 200
    1/3 sec
    f/16 | 28mm | ISO 6400
    30/1 sec
    f/14 | 75mm | ISO 500
    Sample Movie

    This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 1280x720 at 24 frames per second. Please note that this 10 second movie is 29.6Mb in size.
    View the sample movie.

    Product Images

    Front of the Camera
    Front of the Camera
    Isometric View
    Isometric View
    Rear of the Camera
    Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed
    Rear of the Camera / Main Menu
    Rear of the Camera / Virtual Horizon
    Rear of the Camera
    Top of the Camera
    Bottom of the Camera
    Side of the Camera
    Side of the Camera
    Side of the Camera
    Top of the Camera
    Front of the Camera
    Rear of the Camera
    Memory Card Slot
    Battery Compartment


    Effective Pixels 12.1 million
    Type Single-lens reflex digital camera
    Lens Mount Nikon F mount (with AF coupling and AF contacts)
    Picture Angle Equivalent to angle produced by lens focal length (1.5 times when DX format is selected)
    Image Sensor CMOS sensor, 36.0 × 23.9 mm; Nikon FX format
    Total Pixels 12.87 million
    Dust-reduction System Image Sensor Cleaning, Image Dust Off reference data (optional Capture NX 2 software required).
    Image Size (pixels) 1. FX format (36×24): 4,256 × 2,832 (large), 3,184 × 2,120 (medium), 2,128 × 1,416 (small) 1.1.2× (30×20): 3,552 × 2,368 (large), 2,656 × 1,776 (medium), 1,776 × 1,184 (small) 1. DX format (24×16): 2,784 × 1,848 (large), 2,080 × 1,384 (medium), 1,392 × 920 (small) 1. 5:4 (30×24): 3,552 × 2,832 (large), 2,656 × 2,120 (medium), 1,776 × 1,416 (small)
    File Format 1) NEF (RAW): 12 or 14 bit, lossless compressed, compressed, or uncompressed, 2) TIFF (RGB), 3) JPEG: JPEG-Baseline compliant with fine (approx. 1:4), normal (approx. 1:8), or basic (approx. 1:16) compression (Size priority); Optimal quality compression available, 4) NEF (RAW) + JPEG: Single photograph recorded in both NEF (RAW) and JPEG formats
    Picture Control System Four setting options: Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome; each option can be adjusted
    Storage Media CompactFlash (Type I, compliant with UDMA)
    Double Slot Slot 2 can be used for overflow or backup storage or for separate storage of NEF (RAW) and JPEG images; pictures can be copied between cards
    File System Compliant with DCF 2.0, DPOF, Exif 2.21, and PictBridge
    Viewfinder Eye-level pentaprism single-lens reflex viewfinder
    Frame Coverage FX (36x24): Approx. 100% (vertical/horizontal), 1.2x (30x20): Approx. 97% (vertical/horizontal), DX (24x16): Approx. 97% (vertical/horizontal), 5:4 (30x24): Approx. 100% (vertical) and approx. 97% (horizontal)
    Magnification Approx. 0.7x (50mm f/1.4 lens at infinity; -1.0 m-1)
    Eyepoint 18 mm (-1.0 m-1)
    Diopter Adjustment -3 to +1 m-1
    Reflex Mirror Quick return
    Depth-of-field Preview When Pv (depth-of-field preview) button is pressed, lens aperture can be stopped down to value selected by user (A and M modes) or value selected by camera (P and S modes)
    Lens Aperture Instant return, electronically controlled
    Compatible Lenses 1) Type G or D AF NIKKOR*1: All functions supported (PC Micro-NIKKOR does not support some functions) 2) DX NIKKOR: All functions supported except FX-format (36x24)/1.2x (30×20)/5:4 (30x24) image size 3) Other AF NIKKOR*2: All functions supported except 3D color matrix metering II 4) AI-P NIKKOR: All functions supported except autofocus and 3D color matrix metering II 5) Non-CPU: Can be used in exposure modes A and M; color matrix metering and aperture value display supported if user provides lens data (AI lenses only) Electronic rangefinder can be used if maximum aperture is f/5.6 or faster *1. IX- NIKKOR lenses cannot be used *2. Excluding AF- NIKKOR lenses for F3AF
    Type Electronically-controlled vertical-travel focal-plane shutter
    Speed 1/8,000 to 30 s in steps of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV, bulb, X250
    Flash Sync Speed X = 1/250 s; flash synchronization at up to 1/250 s
    Release Modes Single frame, continuous low speed, continuous high speed, quiet shutter-release, self-timer, mirror up
    Frame Advance Rate (CIPA Guidelines) • DX (24×16): Up to approx. 9 fps (CL) or approx. 9 to 11 fps (CH) • Other image areas: Up to approx. 9 fps
    Self-timer Electronically controlled timer with duration of 2, 5, 10 or 20 s
    Metering TTL full-aperture exposure metering using 1,005-pixel RGB sensor
    Metering System 1) Matrix: 3D color matrix metering II (type G and D lenses); color matrix metering II (other CPU lenses); color matrix metering (non-CPU lenses if user provides lens data) 2) Center-Weighted: Weight of 75% given to 12-mm circle in center of frame, diameter of circle can be changed to 8, 15 or 20 mm, or weighting can be based on average of entire frame (non-CPU lenses use 12-mm circle or average of entire frame) 3) Spot: Meters 4-mm circle (about 1.5% of frame) centered on selected focus point (on center focus point when non-CPU lens is used)
    Metering Range 1) 0 to 20 EV (Matrix or center-weighted metering) 2) 2 to 20 EV (Spot metering) (ISO 100 equivalent, f/1.4 lens, at 20°C/68°F)
    Exposure Meter Coupling Combined CPU and AI
    Exposure Modes 1) Programmed Auto (P) with flexible program, 2) Shutter-Priority Auto (S), 3) Aperture-Priority Auto (A), 4) Manual (M)
    Exposure Compensation ±5 EV in increments of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV
    Exposure Bracketing 2 to 9 frames in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 or 1 EV
    Exposure Lock Exposure locked at detected value with AE-L/AF-L button
    ISO Sensitivity ISO 200 to 12800 in steps of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV; can also be set to approx. 0.3, 0.5, 0.7 or 1 EV (ISO 100 equivalent) below ISO 200 or to approx. 0.3, 0.5, 0.7, 1, 2 or 3 EV (ISO 102400 equivalent) above ISO 12800; auto ISO sensitivity control available
    Active D-Lighting Can be selected from [Auto], [Extra high], [High], [Normal], [Low] or [Off]
    ADL Bracketing 2 frames using selected value for one frame or 3 to 5 frames using preset values for all frames
    Autofocus Nikon Multi-CAM 3500FX autofocus sensor module with TTL phase detection; 51 focus points (including 15 cross-type sensors); AF fine tuning possible
    Detection Range -1 to +19 EV (ISO 100 at 20°C/68°F)
    Lens Servo 1) Autofocus: Single-servo AF (S); Continuous-servo AF (C); predictive focus tracking automatically activated according to subject status 2) Manual focus (M) with electronic rangefinder
    Focus Point Can be selected from 51 or 11 focus points
    AF-area Mode 1) Single-point AF 2) Dynamic-area AF [number of AF points: 9, 21, 51, 51 (3D-tracking)] 3) Auto-area AF
    Focus Lock Focus can be locked by pressing AE-L/AF-L button or by pressing shutter-release button halfway (Single-servo AF)
    Flash Control 1) TTL: i-TTL balanced fill-flash and standard i-TTL flash for digital SLR using 1,005-pixel RGB sensor are available with SB-900, 800, 600 or 400 2) Auto aperture (AA): Available with SB-900, 800 and CPU lens 3) Non-TTL auto (A): Available with SB-900, 800, 28, 27 or 22S 4) Range-priority manual (GN): Available with SB-900 and 800
    Flash Modes 1) Front curtain sync 2) Slow sync 3) Rear-curtain sync 4) Red-eye reduction 5) Red-eye reduction with slow sync
    Flash Bracketing 2 to 9 frames in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 or 1 EV
    Flash-ready Indicator Lights when Speedlight such as SB-900, SB-800, SB-600, SB-400, SB-80DX, SB-28DX or SB-50DX is fully charged; blinks after flash is fired at full output
    Accessory Shoe ISO 518 hot-shoe with sync and data contacts, and safety lock
    Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) Advanced Wireless Lighting supported with SB-900, SB-800 or SU-800 as commander and SB-900, SB-800, SB-600 or SB-R200 as remotes; Auto FP High-Speed Sync and modeling illumination supported with all CLS-compatible flash units except SB-400; Flash Color Information Communication and FV lock supported with all CLS-compatible flash units
    Sync Terminal ISO 519 sync terminal with locking thread
    White Balance Auto (TTL white balance with main image sensor and 1,005-pixel RGB sensor), Incandescent, Fluorescent (7 options), Direct Sunlight, Flash, Cloudy, Shade, preset manual (up to 5 values can be stored), and color temperature setting (2,500 K to 10,000 K), all with fine tuning
    White Balance Bracketing 2 to 9 frames in steps of 1, 2 or 3
    Modes Tripod, Hand-held
    Autofocus • Tripod: Contrast-detect AF anywhere in frame • Hand-held: TTL phase-detection AF with 51 focus points (including 15 cross-type sensors)
    Flicker Reduction 50 Hz and 60 Hz
    Frame Size (pixels) 1,280 × 720/24 fps, 640 × 424/24 fps, 320 × 216/24 fps
    File Format AVI
    Compression Format Motion-JPEG
    Audio Microphone sensitivity can be adjusted
    ISO Sensitivity ISO 200 to 12800 (ISO 6400 to Hi 3 in high-sensitivity movie mode)
    LCD Monitor 3-in., approx. 921k-dot (VGA), 170-degree wide-viewing-angle, 100% frame coverage, low-temperature polysilicon TFT LCD with brightness adjustment
    Playback Function Full-frame and thumbnail (4, 9 or 72 images) playback with playback zoom, movie playback, slide show, histogram display, highlight display, auto image rotation, image comment (up to 36 characters), and voice memo input and playback
    USB Hi-Speed USB
    Video Output NTSC or PAL; simultaneous playback from both the video output and on the LCD monitor available
    HDMI Output Type C HDMI connector; camera monitor turns off when HDMI cable is connected
    Audio Input Stereo mini-pin jack (3.5-mm diameter)
    10-pin Remote Terminal Can be used to connect optional remote control, GPS Unit GP-1 or GPS device compliant with NMEA 0183 version 2.01 and 3.01 (requires optional GPS Cable MC-35 and cable with D-sub 9-pin connector)
    Supported Languages Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish
    Battery One Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL4a/EL4
    AC Adapter AC Adapter EH-6 (optional)
    Tripod Socket 1/4 in. (ISO 1222)
    Dimensions (W x H x D) Approx. 159.5 x 157 x 87.5 mm/6.3 x 6.2 x 3.4 in.
    Weight Approx. 1,240 g/2 lb. 12 oz. without battery, memory card, body cap or accessory shoe cover
    Temperature 0-40°C/32-104°F
    Humidity Under 85% (no condensation)
    Supplied Accessories* Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL4a, Quick Charger MH-22, USB Cable UC-E4, Audio Video Cable EG-D2, Camera Strap AN-DC5, Body Cap BF-1B, Accessory Shoe Cover BS-2, Eyepiece DK-17, Battery Chamber Cover BL-4, USB Cable Clip, Software Suite CD-ROM
    Main Optional Accessories Wireless Transmitter WT-4A/B/C/D/E**, GPS Unit GP-1, Magnifying Eyepiece DK-17M, AC Adapter EH-6, Capture NX 2 Software, Camera Control Pro 2 Software, Image Authentication Software


    If you've read the entire review, you'll know by now that the Nikon D3S is an exceptionally good camera. It inherits everything that was good about the D3, improves on a few things that weren't, gains a few new features, and takes image quality to a whole new level from what was already top notch in its predecessor. The build quality is excellent, and so is the handling. The camera is about as rugged as it gets, and the ergonomics is first class. The viewfinder is among the best I have used, and the AF system is extremely versatile. The Nikon D3S takes just about any F-mount lens you can dig up, and will let you use them as if they were designed specifically for this camera. There is a multitude of ways to check and modify settings, and you can set up the camera to work just about any way you like it.

    If I had to come up with a slogan for the Nikon D3S, it would be something like "hand-held photography anytime, anywhere, without flash". About the only time you would put it on a tripod is when you deliberately wanted to use a slow shutter speed. And while you might still opt to use a flash for fill or creative lighting effects, you certainly do not need one just to take a sharp photo in a dark place.

    So, is the Nikon D3S the world's best digital camera then? Well, statements like that are always controversial to say the least, but for most intents and purposes; yes, it is. Avid landscapists, professional fashion, commercial and stock photographers might look for a higher-resolution offering, while street photographers will almost definitely opt for something smaller and more discreet. The Nikon D3S would not be my first choice if I went on a strenuous hike either - but for most other areas of still photography, the D3S is the best tool available today, bar none. Video is a slightly different thing, as there are cameras out there that can record Full HD footage while allowing a greater degree of control - but you can definitely get high-quality results with the D3S too.

    All this goodness obviously has to come at a price - and it does. The eye-watering price tag of £4199.99 / €5100.00 / $5199.95 means that for most of us mortals, the Nikon D3S will remain nothing but a large chunk of solid unobtainium - however, those who can cough up the asking price will be rewarded with a camera that almost never feels lacking, and will serve them for years, if not decades, to come.

    Ratings (out of 5)
    Design 5
    Features 5
    Ease-of-use 4
    Image quality 5
    Value for money 3.5

    Source : Home | PhotographyBLOG

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