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

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Nikon D3S

AWB Colour:
LCD viewfinder:
Dynamic Range:


Nikon D3S review


Price as reviewed:



The Nikon D3S uses the same 1005-pixel RGB sensor to judge both the correct exposure and the correct white balance. The advantage of using the same sensor for numerous functions is that they can all then communicate and share information with each other.

For example, by knowing the lens focal length and the AF point, the camera can work out how far away a subject is and adjust the flash exposure accordingly. Also, by linking this sensor to the autofocus, 3D matrix tracking can take place, as the sensor records a particular colour and shade around the frame and relates its position to the autofocus, which can continue to track it.

When in its evaluative matrix metering mode, the D3S tries to calculate what you are photographing and adjusts the exposure accordingly. For example, it will ignore extremely bright highlights, but if the top half of an image is overexposed it will realise this is the sky and darken the exposure slightly.

In reality, though, most digital cameras work on very similar principles to this and, as good as the Nikon D3S’s metering system is, in practice the 1005-pixel sensor doesn’t seem to have a massive advantage over cameras with far fewer metering zones.

I found that matrix metering works very well in most landscape scenes and only occasionally did I have to make corrections using exposure compensation. When photographing wildlife, though, I found that centre weighted metering was a better option. An even better option is to use 3D tracking and link the metering to the focus point in use.

Should you not like the results, the Exposure Fine Tune settings can be found in the Custom menu. This allows the individual adjustment of the measurement of evaluative, centre weighted and spot metering, by as little as 1/6EV.

So, if you find that spot metering constantly produces images that are a too dark for your liking, you can alter it to always produce brighter results than its default setting, while still having the standard control over exposure compensation.

In all, the metering found in the Nikon D3S is almost completely adaptable depending on your specific shooting situation.

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Features
  3. 3. Build and handling
  4. 4. White balance and colour
  5. 5. Metering
  6. 6. Autofocus
  7. 7. Resolution, noise and sensitivity
  8. 8. Dynamic range
  9. 9. LCD, Live View, Viewfinder and Video
  10. 10. Our verdict
  11. 11. The competition
Page 5 of 11 - Show Full List