Nikon D3s digital reflex camera
The D3 put Nikon back on track, and people were once again lining up for the brand. In fact, the Nikon D3 was already a beautiful DSLR camera that left very little to be desired. Yet Nikon managed to further improve the camera. That alone is a true achievement. The main focus for improvements lies on the higher ISO sensitivities. This is quite logical, since this will be noticed straight away and numbers do tend to attract the attention.
Nikon D3s dust reduction system
Yet there is more to it than just a higher sensitivity. Take the availability of a dust reduction function for example. Other brands have already equipped their cameras with it for quite some time. Nikon also applied it to the D700, but the users of the D3 had to do without. The fact the Nikon D3s does feature a vibrating filter in front of the sensor to literally shake off dust is a more than welcome addition.
Live View on the Nikon D3s SLR camera
The dedicated Live View button I consider an improvement too. You will now use this function more often and it has its advantages. Especially now that the camera is able to record videos, it is important that you can quickly access this feature. The dedicated button makes it easy. Filming is fine, although the resolution stays a bit behind compared to that of its closest competitors. However, in itself, this does not have to be a problem.
Sensitivity of the 12 megapixel Nikon D3s
The resolution of the pictures is just a tad less than the nearest competitor. Just like the D3, the Nikon D3s features 12 million pixels, whereas the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV features 16 million. However, on the other hand, the sensor of the Nikon D3s is bigger, since it is a full-frame sensor. This combination could well prove to be to the D3s' advantage when it comes to signal/noise ratio. We haven't tested the Canon 1D Mark IV yet, but I doubt there is currently a camera that can beat the D3s. You can use the Nikon D3s without a problem at ISO 12800, and that is two stops more than the D3. For me, the maximum is ISO 51,200. After that, noise becomes too dominantly present. Although it is a good mode in case you would otherwise not have a picture at all. In that case, even 102,400 can still be used. However, shooting at ISO 12800 is already an experience in itself.
Photograph with the Nikon D3s in low light conditions
In combination with the new silent mode, the Nikon D3s is ideal for shooting in low light circumstances where you as a photographer want to keep low profile. Obviously this goes for theatre photography and nature photography, where the sound of a shutter can ruin the picture. Also at gatherings, such as a press conference or symposium, the quiet mode is a very pleasant. And since the light in these environments is usually very poor and scarce, ISO 12,800 also comes in handy then.
Nikon D3s digital SLR can make a 1,2 crop
For photojournalists, the full-frame image sensor is a blessing. They often use a wide angle, and now you no longer have crop factor. For sports and nature photographers, however, this could be a disadvantage, while they prefer working with a telephoto lens. Yet for this, the Nikon D3s features the DX crop, and now also the 1.2 crop. Especially the latter seems a useful addition to me; enough resolution remains for an A4 at 300dpi, or an even bigger size in the newspaper.
Nikon D3s points to improve
Regretfully, Nikon has neglected to change a few things. For example: I still miss an AE-L/AF-L button at the bottom of the camera, although I must admit I miss it less often nowadays. The front command dial should be more easily accessible, there is a vast difference with the command dial on top. Furthermore, I still do not understand why there is a limit to the number of shots you can make at continuous shooting. Not that I'm bothered tremendously by it, but it just doesn’t seem all that logical to me.
Nikon D3s review
However, these are just trivial things on an otherwise very impressive and excellent professional DSLR camera. I even dare to say that this is the best digital SLR camera at this moment. In any case, the best that Nikon has ever built. Thanks to the D3, many photographers made the switch to Nikon, either having stepped over to Canon before or not. And I actually think that the Nikon D3s will make more photographers want to make the switch. People are lining up for Nikon again!
Fast SanDisk Extreme Pro memory card
To be able to fully use UDMA, you have to use the right memory cards. The new SanDisk Extreme Pro are ideal for that matter. These work excellently together with the Nikon D3s, this is what I experienced in the test in practice. You can really just keep on shooting without paying too much attention to a buffer. If you work with slower cards, but in the fastest shooting mode, you are likely to bump into a full buffer.
Nikon D3s offers place to two CompactFlash cards
Especially at sports matches, where you are likely to take many pictures, you can never have enough memory on you. Therefore, it is ideal to be able to insert two CompactFlash cards into the D3s. It includes full choice of how you are going to use the cards. JPEG on one and RAW on the other belongs to the possibilities, or the same picture on both cards, or the second card to be used when the first one is full. It gives you the perfect freedom, and that is exactly how it should be. Since the Nikon D3s is a camera for photographers that are used to shooting enormous amounts of pictures, I suggest you don't cut out on the cards. The following table shows how many images fit onto a 4GB card.
Considering 4GB of storage capacity:
RAW (NEF) - 12 bits - lossless - 4256x2832 - 11.3MB - 202 pictures
RAW (NEF) - 14 bits - lossless - 4256x2832 - 14.3MB - 155 pictures
RAW (NEF) - 12 bits - compressed - 4256x2832 - 10.1MB - 277 pictures
RAW (NEF) - 14 bits - compressed - 4256x2832 - 12.6MB - 229 pictures
RAW (NEF) - 12 bits - non compressed - 4256x2832 - 19.1MB - 202
RAW (NEF) - 14 bits - non compressed - 4256x2832 - 24.9MB - 155
TIFF - Large - 4256x2832 pixels - 36.1MB - 107 pictures
TIFF - Medium - 3184x2120 pixels - 36.1MB - 107 pictures
TIFF - Small - 2128x1416 pixels - 9.1MB - 423 pictures
JPEG - Fine - Large - 4256x2832 pixels - 5.9MB - 559 pictures
JPEG - Fine - Medium - 3184x2120 pixels - 3.3MB - 995 pictures
JPEG - Fine - Small - 2128x1416 pixels - 1.5MB - 2100 pictures
JPEG - Normal - Large - 4256x2832 pixels - 2.9MB - 1000 pictures
JPEG - Normal - Medium - 3184x2120 pixels - 1.7MB - 1900 pictures
JPEG - Normal - Small - 2128x1416 pixels - 0.8MB - 4100 pictures
JPEG - Basic - Large - 4256x2832 pixels - 1.5MB - 2100 pictures
JPEG - Basic - Medium - 3184x2120 pixels - 0.9MB - 3600 pictures
JPEG - Basic - Small - 2128x1416 pixels - 0.4MB - 7800 pictures