Overall Rating:


Nikon D3S

  • Autofocus:
  • Noise/resolution:
  • Metering:
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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



Images: Using the Nikkor 80-400mm VR lens without a support would normally prove a challenge. However, as image noise was not a concern I set the D3S to ISO 3200 to avoid camera shake and was able to capture the eyelashes of this deer in focus

Although Nikon claims that the autofocus has been improved in the D3S, it uses the same Multi-CAM3500FX system as the earlier D3 and D3X. This system, or its DX-format equivalent, is used in the majority of Nikon’s DSLR cameras, and again it is a case of Nikon utilising an already tried and tested piece of equipment and further refining it.

In use, I didn’t notice any difference between the autofocus of the D3S and that of the D3. Needless to say, it is extremely fast and responsive, particularly when used with the Nikkor 28-70mm f/2.8 ED-IF AF-S lens.

When switching the autofocus to 51-point 3D matrix tracking, it can be locked to a particular subject in the frame. As this subject moves, so does the AF point. This can be seen through the viewfinder and is extremely useful when photographing moving subjects.

While photographing deer, I was able to focus on a deer isolated against a background and, without moving the camera, the autofocus tracked the deer until it moved out of the frame. Sports and wildlife photographers should find the 3D tracking great for helping to frame images, without having to readjust the focus.

  • 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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