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
With a dynamic range of 11.5EV, the Nikon D3S is on a par with most other DSLR cameras at the top end of the market. With the sensor producing very little noise at the most commonly used ISO speeds, there is plenty of flexibility when it comes to adjusting the brightness and contrast of an image without introducing noise.
Active D-Lighting is available in the D3S to help make shadow areas brighter, although it doesn’t increase the dynamic range and is really only a contrast curve. Even when the sensitivity is set to ISO 1600, and the Active D-Lighting set to its Extra High setting, only a hint of luminance noise is introduced.
When used at its highest ISO settings, the D3S suffers around a 1EV decrease in dynamic range. This is generally caused by the noise in the image starting to affect the highlight and shadow areas.
Understanding the graph
This graph shows the brightness values recorded by the test camera when it is used to photograph a stepped graduation wedge. The wedge has transmission values in 1⁄2EV steps ranging from 0 to 12EV. The camera’s exposure is set so the 12EV section in the wedge has a brightness value of 255. Software analysis of the image then determines the recorded brightness values of all the other steps and calculates the camera’s dynamic range.
The colour gamut of the Nikon D3S shows it is particularly good at reproducing blues and reds. While the camera is capable of capturing nearly all the colours within the sRGB colour gamut, it isn’t quite able to encompass all of the greens available. That said, I didn’t have any problems with particular colours showing banding.
- 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