Overall Rating:


Nikon D3S

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Price as Reviewed:


With an extraordinarily high maximum sensitivity, a 9fps shooting rate and HD video capture, the Nikon D3S will be looked at lustfully by many an amateur photographer. But are its 12.1 million pixels still enough? the professional photographer? Richard Sibley investigates

White balance and colour

Image:  Taken at ISO 6400, this night shot of St Paul’s Cathedral shows virtually no sign of chroma noise and very little luminance. Given the sensitivity and the low level of light, the amount of detail that the Nikon D3S has been able to resolve is very impressive 

By using the Nikon Expeed processor and allowing raw files to be captured in 14-bit colour depth, the D3S renders colour excellently. There are a number of preset Picture Control settings that allow you to alter the brightness, contrast, sharpness, saturation and hue of JPEG images. These parameters can be altered and saved so you can have your own bank of custom Picture Control settings.

These settings can also be loaded to and from other compatible cameras. Using the Picture Control Utility on Capture NX2 software, you can adjust all the above settings as well as create a custom image curve. These can then be loaded onto the D3S.

The custom Picture Control facility is useful should you wish to replicate the particular look of a film or if you already have a set of Picture Controls from another compatible Nikon camera. The styles can even be applied to video footage, and viewed live while the footage is being shot. A 1005-pixel RGB sensor is used to judge the white balance.

Colours are well rendered and the white balance is correct when images are shot using AWB and preset white balance settings. However, pictures taken in overcast conditions look slightly better with the camera set to the standard daylight setting rather than the cloudy setting.

  • Built-in Flash: No
  • Dioptre Adjustment: -3 to +1 dioptre
  • Memory Card: 2x CompactFlash shots, compatible with CF type I/II, Microdrive and UDMA
  • White Balance: Auto, 6 presets (with fine-tuning), plus 3 custom and Kelvin adjustment settings
  • Shutter Type: Electronically controlled focal-plane
  • Output Size: 4526x2832 pixels
  • Viewfinder Type: Type B BriteView clear matte VI screen
  • LCD: 3in TFT with 920,000 dots
  • Field of View: Approx 100%
  • AF Points: 51 points, selectable manually or automatically
  • Max Flash Sync: 1/250
  • Sensor: FX-format (full frame) CMOS device with 12.1 million effective pixels
  • White Balance Bracket: 2-9 exposures in increments of 1, 2 or 3
  • Exposure Modes: PASM
  • Focal Length Mag: 1x (1.5x in DX-format crop mode)
  • Power: Rechargeable Li-Ion battery (supplied)
  • Weight: 1,240g (without battery or card/s)
  • Shutter Speeds: 30-1/8000sec in 1⁄3 steps plus B
  • File Format: NEF (raw), JPEG, raw+JPEG simultaneously
  • Lens Mount: Nikon F
  • RRP: £4,199.99
  • Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB
  • Drive Mode: Single, continuous (Hi/Lo selectable, up to 9fps in FX mode, 11fps in DX mode), self-timer
  • ISO: 100-12,800 in 1/3EV steps and Hi1, 2, 3 (ISO 102,400)
  • DoF Preview: Yes
  • Focusing Modes: Manual, single shot AF, continuous AF with AF fine-tuning
  • Dimensions: 159.5x157x87.5mm
  • Connectivity / Interface: USB 2.0 Hi-Speed/HDMI
  • Metering System: 1,005-pixel 3D Matrix metering, centreweighted (adjustable), spot (1.5%)
  • Compression: Three-stage JPEG, three-stage NEF
  • Exposure Comp: ±5EV in 1⁄3, 1/2 or 1EV steps

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