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:


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.





  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
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