Price as Reviewed:£4,000.00
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
Resolution, noise and sensitivity
Our resolution test found that the Nikon D3S produced similar results to most other cameras with a 12-million-pixel sensor.
The compression and default noise reduction have a slight effect on the resolution of JPEG images. More detail and sharpness can be gained by carefully adjusting the raw files, where the resolution reaches as high as 26 on our chart.
When it comes to noise and sensitivity, the D3S really comes into its own. Nikon’s policy of improving on existing technology has clearly paid off and the amount of noise is minimal, even when shooting at ISO 12,800. In close-up images I took of a deer grazing, all the hairs on the deer’s face are visible, and noise is virtually invisible. Yet the images were taken at ISO 3200.
Using a full-frame sensor makes a great deal of difference: images taken at ISO 3200 look like those taken at ISO 400 on a Nikon D300. Even when compared to the D3, Nikon claims around a 2-stop improvement in the amount of noise visible at any given ISO sensitivity. From what I have seen while testing the camera, this is certainly the case.
These images show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections of images of a resolution chart, still-life scene and a grey card. We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately.
The higher the number visible in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution is at the specified sensitivity setting.
The section of the still-life image contains theemblem on a standard sized matchbox.
- 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