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:


Dynamic range

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.

  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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