Nikon D3s

      Photo Review 9
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      leadpic_Nikon_D3S

      In summary

      The latest iteration of Nikon’s professional DSLR camera adds D-Movie video recording at up to 1280 x 720-pixel resolution.The D3s is the latest professional FX model in Nikon’s DSLR line-up. A small step forward, rather than a major upgrade to the previous D3 series models, the D3s introduces a new sensor and adds a couple of new features but is otherwise almost identical. The most important additions are video recording and sensor-shake dust reduction technology. . . [more]

      Full review

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      leadpic_Nikon_D3S

      The D3s is the latest professional FX model in Nikon’s DSLR line-up. A small step forward, rather than a major upgrade to the previous D3 series models, the D3s introduces a new sensor and adds a couple of new features but is otherwise almost identical. The most important additions are video recording and sensor-shake dust reduction technology.

      Other new additions include a 1.2x crop (20 x 30mm) mode that yields 8-megapixel images and the Quiet shooting mode that was first seen on the D5000. ISO sensitivity has been extended to a maximum of 102,400 to please low-light photographers and there are new Live View and Info buttons. The main differences between Nikon’s three ‘pro’ cameras can be found in the table below.

       

      Nikon D3s

      Nikon D3X

      Nikon D3

      Announced

      October 2009

      December 2008

      August 2007

      Sensor size

      36 x 23.9 mm

      35.9 x 24 mm

      36 x 24 mm

      Photosites

      12.9 million

      25.7 million

      12.9 million

      Effective megapixels

      12.1

      24.5

      12.1

      Crop factors

      1x (FX), 1.2x, 1.5x (DX), 5:4 format

      1x (FX), 1.5x (DX), 5:4 format

      1x (FX), 1.5x (DX), 5:4 format

      Dust reduction

      Yes

      No

      No

      Max. image size

      4256 x 2832 pixels

      6048 x 4032 pixels

      4256 x 2832 pixels

      Live View

      Yes, Tripod and Hand-held modes

      Video

      Yes, 1280 ø— 720 at 24 fps

      No

      No

      ISO range

      100 to 102,400 incl. extensions

      50 to 6400 incl. extensions

      100 to 25,600 incl. extensions

      Burst shooting

      9 fps DX format; 11fps FX format

      5 fps DX format; 7fps FX format

      9 fps DX format; 11fps FX format

      Buffer size

      40 raw, 130 JPEG

      40 raw, 130 JPEG

      40 raw, 64 JPEG

      Other features

      Quiet shooting mode, dedicated Info and Live View buttons, Help screens

      Extra High Active D-Lighting mode

      First Nikon FX format model; Virtual Horizon in Live View; Picture Control setting, Multi-CAM3500FX AF sensor introduced, Control Panel display

      Dimensions (wxhxd)

      159.5 x 157 x 87.5 mm

      159.5 x 157 x 87.5 mm

      159.5 x 157 x 87.5 mm

      Weight (body only)

      1,240 grams

      1,220 grams

      1,240 grams

      The review camera was supplied with the new AF-S DX Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR and AF-S 24mm f/1.4G ED lenses. Separate reviews of each lens will be published on the Photo Review website.

      Body and Ergonomics
      The bodies of the three ‘D3’ cameras are essentially identical and all weigh just over 1.2 kilograms, which is significantly more than Nikon’s ‘pro-sumer’ and entry-level models. Magnesium alloy has been used for the body casing, chassis and mirror box to reduce weight and ensure robustness and durability. A comprehensive series of O-rings and other specialised seals, exclude moisture and dust and protect against electromagnetic interference.

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      D3S_sealed_front_back

      The above diagrams show the positions of the weatherproof seals that protect the camera against dust and moisture. (Source: Nikon.)

      The front panel carries the same array of buttons as the D3X – but the depth-of-field preview button is now labelled with the letters ‘PV’. This button and the Fn button below it can be customised via Custom Function f4 and f5. The focus mode selector on the opposite side of the mirror box carries the same C, S and M settings as previous models.

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      D3S_front_no-lens

      Front view of the D3s body showing the mirror and lens mount. (Source: Nikon.)

      The main visible changes have occurred on the rear panel, where a new Info button has been added to the line-up on the left side of the LCD screen. A dedicated Live View button has replaced the voice memo button. Voice memos are now recorded by holding down the microphone button right of the rear control panel. The central button on the arrow pad sits slightly higher and is easier to operate.

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      Nikon_D3S-Back_sml

      Back view, showing the LCD monitor, rear control panel and button controls. (Source: Nikon.)
      The 3-inch, 920,000-dot LCD monitor and pentaprism viewfinder carry over from the D3 along with the built-in accelerator sensor that detects inclination and displays a virtual horizon on the LCD monitor as well as activating a tilt indicator in the viewfinder. The same two Live View modes are provided: Handheld and Tripod and optional Camera Control Pro 2 software enables monitor focus and control shutter release from a computer.

      The top panel controls and displays are essentially unchanged. The D3s uses the same EN-EL4a/EL4 as the other D3 series models and comes with a charger that can recharge two batteries simultaneously. Indicator lights on the charger show when the battery has reached 50%, 80% and 100% of charge. Each battery contains a memory chip for tracking usage and charge cycles.

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      D3S_50_top

      Top view showing the top control panel, release mode dial and flash hot-shoe. (Source: Nikon.)

      All three models boast the same Kevlar and carbon fibre composite shutter, which is rated for 300,000 cycles. Dual CF card slots accept Type I CF cards, including those that are UDMA compliant. Photographers can choose between Continuous recording, Backup recording and RAW + JPEG Separation recording (records the same image in RAW and JPEG on different cards). You can also record still pictures on one card and video clips on the other and copy data between two cards.

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      D3S_CFcardslot

      An enlarged view of the rear panel showing the twin CF card slots. (Source: Nikon.)

      Connectivity options are extensive, with the standard Hi-Speed USB 2.0 and video-out terminals as well as DC-IN connector (for the optional EH-6 AC adaptor) and PC and flash-sync terminals. New additions include a micro-HDMI port and a stereo microphone socket, both of which support the camera’s new video capabilities. The D3s also has a 10-pin terminal for an optional wired remote controller or the optional GP-1 GPS unit.

      New Features
      The addition of the D-Movie mode is the big story for the D3s. However, Nikon has done little more than transfer the system developed for the D90 into the new camera body. And it’s not well integrated into the camera’s ergonomics so it’s neither a comfortable nor an intuitive fit. Nor does it compete with the Full HD video capabilities of other manufacturers’ cameras.

      Three resolution options are provided for movie capture: 1280 x 720 (16:9), 640 x 424 (3:2) and 320 x 216 (3:2). All have frame rates of 24 fps and each movie file can be up to 2 GB in size. The maximum clip length is five minutes for movies with a frame size of 1280 ø— 720 or 20 minutes for other movies. The 1280 x 720 (16:9) is only available when FX format is chosen for the image area.

      Movies can only be recorded in Live View mode and the capture sequence is identical to the D90. You can’t control the camera’s shutter speeds or individual ISO levels while shooting video, although you can adjust the lens aperture and set the camera to use ISO settings between ISO 6400 and Hi 3 by selecting the High-sensitivity Movie Mode. When this mode is switched off, sensitivity is limited to the standard ISO 200 to ISO 12,800 range.

      The lens must be focused before the recording is started, regardless of the Live View mode selected. Autofocusing isn’t available in the hand-held mode during video recording once recording has commenced, although in tripod mode you can press the AF-ON button to re-focus. But, as in previous models, it’s painfully slow. Focusing manually is the preferred option as it was with previous cameras.

      Recording is switched on and off via the Pv (depth-of-field preview) button on the front panel, which is located above the Fn button. Unless you have very large hands or very long fingers, it’s difficult to reach this button with your index finger – and only just possible (but not particularly comfortable) with the second finger.

      The Motion JPEG format is easier to edit or upload than the AVCHD format used by Canon and Panasonic but significantly less efficient but easier to playback on normal TV sets. If you only shoot video for straight uploads to online image-sharing sites and don’t want to become involved in editing, it could meet your needs.

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      D3s_Movie-menus

      Movie menu options.
      You can set the destination for storing video clips to either slot 1 or slot 2 and the storage capacity will be displayed with slot selection. The movie menu also includes a setting that enables high sensitivity levels (from ISO 6400 to Hi 3) to be used for movie recording. However, there’s a real risk of clips being impaired by defects like noise (in the form of randomly-spaced stuck pixels, fog or ‘tramlines’) and after images of bright objects like light sources.

      Some light sources (notably fluorescent lighting and mercury-vapour lamps) are known to produce flickering and/or banding in live view mode. This can be recorded on video clips. A special Flicker reduction setting in the setup menu allows you to apply processing that matches the frequency of the local AC power supply (50 Hz) to minimise these effects.

      A 3.5 mm stereo jack is provided for an external microphone. It’s located beneath a lift-up rubber cover on the left side of the camera body where it shares space with a composite A/V connector, HDMI port, DC power in and USB connector. Soundtrack recordings are controlled through the Microphone tab in the Movie settings sub-menu. This lets you turn the built-in or external microphone on or off, and adjust recording sensitivity.

      There’s now a separate, dedicated Live View button on the rear panel, where it’s easily accessed, regardless of whether the camera is hand-held or tripod-mounted. Live View functionality has been improved since the D3, with a claimed 30% increase in operating speeds in the Tripod mode. However, the contrast-detection AF system remains slow.

      The other significant advantages over the D3 are the extension of the ISO range by the equivalent of two f-stops and the doubling of the buffer memory for continuous shooting. The D3s was the first camera to be announced with a top sensitivity setting equivalent to ISO 102, 400. Canon has since matched it with the EOS 1D Mark IV, albeit with a smaller, slightly higher-resolution sensor. While it can be fun to take night shots with the camera hand-held, these additional sensitivity settings don’t contribute much to the overall value of the camera.

      Like the D3, the D3s provides two continuous shooting speeds. In the CL (low speed) mode you can set the frame rate between one and nine frames/second, while in the CH (high-speed) mode, the frame rate defaults to a maximum of nine frames/second for FX-sized shots or 11 frames/second for DX-sized shots. Burst rates can be slowed with VR lenses when the stabiliser is on.

      The increased buffer memory will be welcomed by news and sports photographers and wildlife photographers who like to shoot bursts of raw files. Since the nine frames/second bust rate makes the D3s the fastest ‘full frame’ DSLR on the market, having a larger buffer memory reinforces this advantage. Photographers can also limit the maximum number of shots in a burst to any number between one and 130 (the overall buffer memory limit). (Buffer capacities at different image sizes are shown in the table in the Image File Options section below.)

      The problematic issue of the lack of a sensor-shaking dust removal system has been fixed in the new camera through the addition of Nikon’s vibrating Sensor Clean unit. Four resonance frequencies are provided for vibrating the optical low band pass filter in front of the sensor. Users can opt to switch the sensor cleaning system on automatically when the camera is powered up or down or activate sensor cleaning manually.

      The Quiet Shutter setting has been moved up to the drive mode dial, making it easier to access. This mode cancels beeps and reduced the noise made by the mirror returning to its normal position. Other settings on this dial remain unchanged and include single frame, high and low continuous modes, self-timer and mirror-up.

      The excellent Multi-CAM 3500FX AF sensor module and autofocusing system carry over into the D3s, along with 1005-pixel RGB exposure metering system and P, A, S and M controls. Shutter speeds are the same in all three cameras. No changes have been made to the menu systems and the white balance, exposure compensation and bracketing are also unchanged.

      Nikon’s Active D-Lighting (ADL) includes an ‘Extra High’ setting that adjusts metering as well as applying D-Lighting curve. ADL bracketing is available via C.Fn e4 Auto bracketing set. Users can choose the number of shots and whether to bracket across two (on at a selected value/off) or up to five exposures (off, low, normal, high, extra high). ADL isn’t available at ISO setting of Hi 0.3 and above.

      The four Picture Controls (Standard, Neutral, Vivid and Monochrome) carry on in the new model and users can tweak sharpening, contrast, brightness, saturation and hue for each one. Filter and toning effects are available in the monochrome mode. Adjustments can be saved as a new Picture Control setting that can be shared with other Nikon cameras. The D3s also provides the standard in-camera editing functions accessed via the Retouch menu.

      Other features carried over from the D3 include the front-mounted Fn button, AF calibration, chromatic aberration control, multiple exposure and interval shooting, voice annotation, support for GPS data tagging and PictBridge direct printing and the integrated vertical release with the duplicated shutter button. The D3s has the same four sets each of custom and shooting settings memory banks.

      Sensor and Image Processing
      The 36.0 ø— 23.9 mm 12.1 megapixels (effective) Nikon FX format CMOS image sensor has been completely redesigned to provide a large pixel pitch for greater latitude in high ISO performance. An evolution of the sensor in the original D3, its structure has been altered to improve the S/N ratio at higher sensitivity settings.

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      D3S_sensor_unit

      The D3s sensor unit. (Source: Nikon.)

      Nikon hasn’t released details on where the sensor was made or by which manufacturer (Nikon does not own a sensor foundry). However, it claims responsibility for the sensor design, as it did for the LBCAST sensor in the D2H and D2Hs (but no subsequent cameras). A statement from Nikon has revealed Sony as manufacturer of the sensor for the D3X, which was produced ‘to perform in perfect concert with proprietary Nikon technologies including EXPEED Image Processing and the Scene Recognition System’ both of which are included in the D3s.

      The original EXPEED digital image processing system is carried over into the new camera, as is the original Scene Recognition System, which uses a 1,005-pixel RGB sensor, for more accurate autofocus, auto exposure, i-TTL flash control and auto white balance. The ‘intelligent’ power management system in the previous cameras is also included.
      Still Image File Options
      The D3s provides two image area settings: Auto DX crop, which allows users to crop pictures automatically when a DX lens is attached and Choose image area. The latter has four settings: FX (36 x 24), a new 1.2x (30 x 20) setting, DX (24 x 16) and 5:4 (30 x 24). The table below shows the effect these crops have on the focal length of any lens fitted to the camera.

      Image area

      Image area

      Crop factor

      Pixels

      Effective focal length for 50mm lens

      FX

      36 x 24 mm

      1x

      4256 x 2832

      50mm

      1.2x

      30 x 20 mm

      1.2x

      3552 x 2368

      60mm

      DX

      24 x 16 mm

      1.5x

      2784 x 1848

      75mm

      5:4

      30 x 24 mm

      1.1x

      3552 x 2832

      55mm

      The illustrations below show the four different image sizes photographed from the same point with the AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR lens at the 16mm (left) and 35mm (right) focal length settings.

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      D3s_DSC_1759_FX

      FX image size.

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      D3s_DSC_1761_1.2x-crop

      1.2x crop.

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      D3s_DSC_1763_DX

      DX image size.

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      D3s_DSC_1765_5x4

      5×4 crop.

      Like the D3, the D3s offers TIFF file capture at 24-bits (8-bit RGB) and photographers can choose between 12-bit and 14-bit for NEF.RAW files. Three raw capture options are provided: uncompressed, compressed and lossless compression. Depending on the bit depth selected, losslessly-compressed files are reduced in size by between 20% and 40%, while compressed files are 40% to 55% smaller than uncompressed files.

      In addition to three JPEG quality settings covering three file sizes, two JPEG compression options are provided: size priority and optimal quality. The first compresses images to produce files that are relatively uniform in size, without regard for the effect of compression on image quality. The second prioritises picture quality but delivers files that may be of widely different sizes, depending on how much detail there is in the subject.

      Compressed raw file sizes are slightly smaller than those from the D3 but uncompressed raw files and also TIFF and JPEG files are slightly larger. The buffer memory offers more than twice the capacity of the D3, with a top capacity of 130 shots. Typical file sizes and buffer memory capacities for FX format (full frame) images are shown in the table below.

      Image quality

      Image size

      File size

      Buffer capacity

      NEF.RAW, lossless compressed, 12-bit

      11.3MB

      42 shots

      NEF.RAW, lossless compressed, 14-bit

      14.3MB

      36 shots

      NEF.RAW, compressed, 12-bit

      10.1MB

      43 shots

      NEF.RAW, compressed, 14-bit

      12.6MB

      36 shots

      NEF.RAW, uncompressed, 12-bit

      19.1MB

      38 shots

      NEF.RAW, uncompressed, 14-bit

      24.9MB

      35 shots

       

      TIFF (RGB)

      L

      36.1MB

      36 shots

      M

      20.3MB

      42 shots

      S

      9.1MB

      59 shots

       

      JPEG Fine

      L

      5.9MB

      82 shots

      M

      3.3MB

      130 shots

      S

      1.5MB

      130 shots

       

      JPEG Normal

      L

      2.9MB

      122 shots

      M

      1.7MB

      130 shots

      S

      0.8MB

      130 shots

       

      JPEG Basic

      L

      1.5MB

      124 shots

      M

      0.9MB

      130 shots

      S

      0.4MB

      130 shots

      DX format (24 x 16 mm area) images are the smallest offered and are roughly half the size of FX files. Typical DX file sizes and buffer capacities are shown in the table below.

      Image quality

      Image size

      File size

      Buffer capacity

      NEF.RAW, lossless compressed, 12-bit

      5.2MB

      62 shots

      NEF.RAW, lossless compressed, 14-bit

      6.4MB

      54 shots

      NEF.RAW, compressed, 12-bit

      4.5MB

      78 shots

      NEF.RAW, compressed, 14-bit

      5.6MB

      59 shots

      NEF.RAW, uncompressed, 12-bit

      8.3MB

      58 shots

      NEF.RAW, uncompressed, 14-bit

      10.8MB

      52 shots

       

      TIFF (RGB)

      L

      15.5MB

      46 shots

      M

      8.7MB

      57 shots

      S

      4.0MB

      95 shots

       

      JPEG Fine

      L

      2.5MB

      130 shots

      M

      1.4MB

      130 shots

      S

      0.7MB

      130 shots

       

      JPEG Normal

      L

      1.3MB

      130 shots

      M

      0.7MB

      130 shots

      S

      0.4MB

      130 shots

       

      JPEG Basic

      L

      0.7MB

      130 shots

      M

      0.4MB

      130 shots

      S

      0.2MB

      130 shots

      Note: The figures above are approximate and based on figures provided by Nikon. File sizes will vary with the amount of detail recorded in a subject. For JPEG files, the figures assume JPEG compression is set to Size Priority. Choosing the Optimal Quality setting increases file sizes and reduces the buffer capacity.

      Playback and Software
      Aside from the normal video playback options, the playback modes provided on the D3s are the same as on the D3. When video clips are selected, they can be played by pressing the centre button on the multi-selector. Pressing the Down button or OK button pauses playback, while the horizontal arrows control rewind and advance and the vertical arrows adjust audio volume.

      To trim a movie clip, simply press the OK button when the movie is paused. This allows you to set start and end points or save the selected frame as a JPEG. Trimmed clips must be at least two seconds long. Pressing the shutter release returns the camera to still capture mode.

      Bundled software remains a sore point for buyers of Nikon’s high-end DSLRs. Whereas Canon supplies its top-end Digital Photo Professional (DPP) raw file converter/editor package – plus a Picture Style Editor – with all of its DSLR cameras, Nikon gives buyers of all its DSLRs the same, very basic Software Suite CD containing View NX, Nikon Transfer and Quicktime.
      You can download a trial version of Nikon’s DPP-equivalent software, Capture NX2, from Nikon’s website as well as the new, Windows-based Image Authentication Software Ver. 1.1.1 (for detecting whether images have been modified after shooting). But once the 30-day trial period for Capture NX2 expires, you must purchase the software, which costs more than $300.

      Performance
      The D3s body was tested with the AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED and AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR lenses, reviews of which have been published on the Photo Review website. (INSERT LINKS) Subjective assessment of test shots showed them to be at least on a par with shots from the D3 we reviewed in December 2007.

      However, Imatest showed the resolution of JPEG files to be slightly below expectations for a 12-megapixel camera, although 14-bit NEF.RAW images converted into 16-bit TIFF format with Adobe Camera Raw showed levels of resolution that were above expectations (2500 line widths/pixel height) with both the lenses supplied for our tests.

      Resolution remained high throughout the review camera’s sensitivity range, falling just below the 2500 line widths/pixel height at ISO 6400 and declining gradually from there on. The graph below shows the results of our tests based on test shots from the AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED.

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      Nikon_D3S_Res-vs-ISO-graph

      Like its predecessor, the D3s sets lofty standards in high-sensitivity performance. No noise was visible in test shots up to ISO 3200 and it didn’t become obvious until ISO 12,800. With the Hi 2 and Hi 3 settings, our test shots were rather noisy and liberally dotted with stuck pixels, as shown in the Sample Images section below. Noise-reduction processing tended to soften images, thereby making these defects less obvious, without actually eliminating them.

      Nevertheless, the D3s provided sharper, more saturated images than we obtained in test shots from the EOS 1D Mark IV, as shown in the sample crops from our Imatest tests below (the D3s’s larger photosites probably played a role).

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      D3s_DSC_1722_ISO-Hi3

      Crop from Imatest test shot taken with the Hi 3 sensitivity setting on the Nikon D3s.

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      CanonID4-F07C0073_ISO-Hi3

      Crop from Imatest test shot taken with the highest sensitivity setting (equivalent to the Hi 3 setting on the D3s) on the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV.

      Colour accuracy was also good, although Imatest showed slight colour shifts in reds, purples and blues with JPEG files and slightly elevated saturation for these hues plus yellows with raw files converted into TIFF format. These issues weren’t obvious in normal test shots. Auto white balance performance was similar to the D3. The review camera had problems with incandescent lighting but produced close-to-neutral hues under fluorescent lighting. Plenty of in-camera adjustments are provided for correctign colour casts, which is fortunate as the tungsten pre-set tended to over-correct.

      Video quality appears to have been improved for the D3s and was quite good, considering the camera’s limitations – even for VGA clips. However, the camera often had difficulty finding focus in sub-optimal indoor lighting, particularly when we shot SD clips. The slow autofocusing tended to aggravate this problem.

      The rolling shutter effect appeared to occur less frequently and we saw no flickering under fluorescent lighting in video clips, even with relatively high ISO settings. Audio quality was acceptable – although not crystal clear. While adequate for simple documentation of events, the video function wasn’t up to the standards of Canon’s EOS 5D II, ID IV or 7D cameras, which can all record 1080p video clips.

      The autofocusing system on the review camera was fast and accurate in all but the dimmest lighting, where we noticed a few hesitations in finding focus where there were bright areas in subjects that were dark overall. This was easily overcome by switching to focus area selection and selecting the edge of the bright region. Manual focusing was another alternative, made easy by the large, bright viewfinder.

      The majority of the exposures we took were spot-on, regardless of whether we used Program AE, aperture-priority, shutter priority or manual exposure settings (guided by the viewfinder display). This was true for all metering patterns, particularly Matrix (multi-pattern), where some cameras’ systems falter.

      We noticed some slight colour differences within a set of shots taken with the high-speed continuous mode at ISO 6400 and with mixed fluorescent lighting and daylight (shown below). These were easily corrected in Photoshop so we don’t feel it’s a serious problem.

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      D3s_DSC_1889_burst

      Colour drifts within a burst of shots taken with the high-speed continuous mode.

      The ADL settings performed well in a variety of different lighting types, opening shadows without adding noise in contrasty lighting while maintaining highlight details. The Quiet Shutter setting didn’t result in silent exposures, although it did reduce shutter noise. However, it was still quite noticeable and too loud if you wish to take pictures of performances where it would be easily heard in quiet environments.

      Not unexpectedly, the response times we measured for the D3s were close to those of the D3. The review camera powered-up almost instantaneously and capture lag times were less than 0.1 seconds without pre-focusing with no measurable lag when shots were pre-focused. Shot-to-shot times in the single-shot mode averaged 0.5 seconds.

      It took 1.4 seconds to process each Large/Fine JPEG files, 1.6 seconds for each NEF.RAW file, 2.5 seconds for a RAW+JPEG pair and 2.8 seconds for each TIFF file. In the low-speed continuous shooting mode, the camera recorded 10 Large/Fine JPEG frames in 1.8 seconds, while the high-speed mode enabled the camera to record 10 frames in 1.4 seconds. It took 7.6 seconds to process each of these bursts.

      Swapping to NEF.RAW capture, we recorded 10 frames in 1.4 seconds and it took 8.5 seconds to process this burst. The same capture rate applied to RAW+JPEG capture, although processing times were extended to 9.1 seconds. With the TIFF format, capture rates were the same as for JPEG and raw files but processing time extended to 21.3 seconds.

      When the image size was reduced to DX format, the burst capture rate increased to enable 10 frames to be recorded in 0.9 seconds. Processing times were only marginally reduced.

      Buy this camera if:
      – You want a versatile ‘full-frame’ DSLR camera with excellent overall performance.
      – You require fast burst speeds and a generous buffer capacity.
      – You’d like the ability to shoot both still pictures and video clips with the same camera and would appreciate the jack for fitting a stereo microphone for video recordings.
      – You could make use of the extended sensitivity range for still photography and video capture.
      – You require a durable, weather-resistant camera for outdoor work.
      Don’t buy this camera if:
      – You’re not prepared to explore and use the multitude of user-adjustable functions this camera offers.
      – You require more automation than is provided with the available shooting modes (P, Av, Tv and M is all you get).
      – You’re only interested in shooting movies.

      IMATEST GRAPHS
      (based on test images taken with the AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED)
      JPEG images

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      D3s_DSC_1713_colorerror_JPG
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      D3s_DSC_1713_colors_JPG
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      D3s_DSC_1713_YBL77_ca_JPG
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      D3s_DSC_1713_YAR24_cpp_JPG
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      D3s_DSC_1713_YBL77_cpp_JPG

      Raw images converted to 16-bit TIFF format with Adobe Camera Raw 5.6.

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      D3s_DSC_1713_colorerror_RAW
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      D3s_DSC_1713_colors_RAW
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      D3s_DSC_1713_YBL77_ca_RAW
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      D3s_DSC_1713_YAR24_cpp_RAW
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      D3s_DSC_1713_YBL77_cpp

      SAMPLE IMAGES

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      D3s_DSC_1840_AWB-TUNG

      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.

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      D3s_DSC_1845_AWB_fluoro

      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.

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      D3s_DSC_1607_night-ISO200

      AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED V; 30-second exposure at f/4, 35mm focal length, ISO 200.

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      D3s_DSC_1598_night-ISO12800

      AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR; 30-second exposure at f/22, 35mm focal length, ISO 3200.

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      D3s_DSC_1602_night-Hi3_noNR

      AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR; 8-second exposure at f/22, 35mm focal length, ISO Hi 3; no noise-reduction processing.

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      D3s_DSC_1603_night-Hi3-NR

      AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR; 8-second exposure at f/22, 35mm focal length, ISO Hi 3; with high-ISO noise-reduction processing.

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      D3s_DSC_1973

      AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR, 16mm focal length, ISO 800, 1/125second at f/5.6.

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      D3s_DSC_1865

      AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED; ISO 6400, 1/250 second at f/8.

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      D3s_DSC_1871

      AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR, 22mm focal length, ISO 12,800, 1/100 second at f/7.1.

      -
      D3S_DX-crop_HS-burst-DSC_1917

      Twelve frames covering a time span of approximately one second from a high-speed burst sequence taken with the camera set to DX image size (2784 x 1848 pixels). AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR, 35mm focal length, ISO 64, 1/250 second at f/8.

      -
      D3s_DSC_1942-HDV

      Still frame from HD video clip shot with the high-sensitivity setting on.

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      D3s_DSC_1972-DX-crop-video_VGA

      Still frame from a SD video clip at VGA resolution, with the camera in DX crop mode.

      Additional sample images can be found with the reviews of the AF-S Nikkor 24mm f/1.4G ED and AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR lenses. (INSERT LINKS)

       

      Specifications

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      leadpic_Nikon_D3S

      Image sensor: Nikon FX format (36.0 x 23.9 mm) CMOS sensor
      A/D processing: 12 or 14-bit
      Lens mount: Nikon FX format
      Focal length crop factor: 1x (DX format 1.5x)
      Image formats: Stills – NEF.RAW (12 or 14-bit lossless compressed, compressed, or uncompressed), TIFF, JPEG (Exif 2.21), Fine & Standard compression; Movies – AVI (Motion JPEG with monaural sound; Stereo sound with external microphone)
      Image Sizes: Stills -FX format: 4256 x 2,32 [L], 3184 x 2120 [M], 2128 x 1416 [S]; 5:4 (30 x 24): 3552 x 2832[L], 2656 x 2120 [M], 1776 x 1416 [S]; DX format: 2784 x 1848 [L], 2080 x 1384 [M], 1392 x 920 [S]; 1.2ø— crop (30ø—20): 3552 ø— 2368[L], 2656 ø— 1776[M], 1776 ø— 1184[S]; D-movie: 1280 x 720, 640 x 424, 320 x 216 all at 24fps
      Image Stabilisation: Lens-based only
      Dust removal: Integrated Dust Reductions System
      Shutter speed range: 30 to 1/8000 sec. in steps of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV plus Bulb; x-synch at up to 1/250 sec.
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 5 EV in 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV steps
      Exposure bracketing: 2 to 9 exposures in increments of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 or 1 steps to (+-) 1.0 EV
      Self-timer: Electronically controlled timer with duration of 2, 5, 10 or 20 sec.
      Focus system: Nikon Multi-CAM 3500FX TTL phase detection, 51 focus points (15 cross-sensors)
      Focus modes: Single-servo AF (AF-S), Continuous-servo AF (AF-C), Focus tracking automatically activated according to subject status, Manual focus (M) with electronic rangefinder can be selected from 51 focus area
      Exposure metering: 3D-Colour Matrix Metering II (type G and D lenses); Colour Matrix Metering II (other CPU lenses); Colour Matrix Metering (non-CPU lenses if user provides lens data); Centre-weighted: 75% on 12 mm circle (diameter of circle can be changed to 8, 15, or 20 mm, or weighting can be based on average of entire frame fixed at 12 mm when non-CPU lens is used); Spot: 4 mm circle (about 1.5% of frame) centred on selected focus point (or centre focus area with non-CPU lens)
      Shooting modes: Programmed Auto [P], Shutter-Priority Auto [S], Aperture-Priority Auto [A], Manual [M]
      Picture Style/Control settings: Can be selected from Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome; storage for up to nine custom Picture Controls
      Colour space options: sRGB, Adobe RGB
      Custom functions: 46
      ISO range: ISO 200 to 12,800 in steps of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV, plus HI-0.3, HI-0.5, HI-0.7, HI-1, HI-2 and HI-3 (ISO 102,400); LO-0.3, LO-0.5, LO-0.7 and LO-1 (ISO 100)
      White balance: Auto (TTL white balance with 1,005-pixel RGB sensor, and main image sensor); Incandescent, Fluorescent, Direct sunlight, Flash, Cloudy, Shade, Choose colour temp., White balance preset
      Flash: External flash only; X-contact provided (ISO 519 standard terminal, with built-in rubber cap); ISO 518 accessory shoe for Nikon Speedlights; support for iTTL and Nikon Creative Lighting System
      Flash bracketing: 2-9 frames in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 or 1 EV
      Sequence shooting: Max. 9 frames/second in FX mode; 11 fps in DX crop mode
      Storage Media: Dual slots for CompactFlash (Type I compliant with UDMA)
      Viewfinder: Fixed eye-level pentaprism with 100% FOV, approx. 0.7x magnification; built-in diopter adjustment (-3 to +1.0 m- ¹); Type B BriteView Clear Matte VI screen with AF area brackets
      LCD monitor: 3-inch, 921,000-dot, low-temperature polysilicon TFT LCD with up to 170-degree viewing angle, 100% frame coverage and brightness adjustment
      Live View modes: Tripod and Hand-held
      Video Capture: Yes, 1280 x 720, 640 x 424, 320 x 216 all at 24fps
      Data LCD: Yes
      Playback functions: Full frame, Thumbnail (4, 9, or 72 images) with playback zoom, Movie playback, Slideshow, Histogram display, Highlights, Auto image rotation, Image comment
      Interface terminals: USB 2.0 (High-speed), HDMI, Video Out (PAL/NTSC), GPS, 10-pin remote
      Power supply: Rechargeable EN-EL4a/EL4 Li-ion Battery; CIPA rated for approx. 4200 shots/charge
      Dimensions (wxhxd): Approx. 159.5 x 157 x 87.5 mm (body only)
      Weight: Approx. 1,240 grams (body only)

       

      Retailers

       

      CamBuy

       

      www.cambuy.com.au
      Digital cameras, lenses and accessories with 100% genuine Australian manufacturer’s warranties.
      Ph: (02) 9029 2219

      Camera House

       

      -
      CH_Logo120

      www.camerahouse.com.au
      Ph: 133 686
      The largest speciality photographic retail chain in Australia.

      Camera Pro

       

      www.camerapro.net.au
      CameraPro Pty Ltd
      Suite 607, 180 Queen St, Brisbane 4000
      Tel: 07 3333 2900
      Australian owned and run company based in Brisbane.

      Camerasdirect

       

      -
      CamerasDirect133

      www.camerasdirect.com.au
      Retailer of digital camera equipment and more.
      Secure online shopping and delivery across Australia.
      Ph: 1300 727 056

      Camerastore.com.au

      Camerastore.com.au
      Ph: 1800 155 067

      Camera-Warehouse

       

      -
      camera-warehouse120

      www.camera-warehouse.com.au
      Comprehensive range of digital cameras and accessories online (www.camera-warehouse.com.au) and an online print service (www.royalexpress.com.au).

      Digital Camera Warehouse

       

      www.digitalcamerawarehouse.com.au
      174 Canterbury Road 367 High Street
      Canterbury Northcote
      NSW 2193 VIC 3070
      Ph: 1300 365 220

      Electronics Warehouse

       

      www.electronicswarehouse.com.au
      1300 801 885
      Australian retailer of Vapex rechargeable batteries offering factory direct prices and fast, free shipping Australia wide.

      Greg Smith’s Photo Accessories

       

      www.dvdreamtime.com.au
      1800 50 80 82
      Big range of photographic accessories, Australia-wide shipping.

      Paxtons

       

      www.paxtons.com.au
      285 George St
      Sydney NSW 2000
      Ph: (02) 9299 2999

      Photographic Equipment & Supplies – Retail & Repairs. Click here for list of stores.

      Ted’s Cameras

       

      -
      Teds-Logo120

      www.teds.com.au

      1800 186 895
      Big range of cameras and photographic products with stores in most states and online.

      Rating

       

      -
      PR-EdChoice-web-100

      RRP: $6,995

      Rating (out of 10):

      • Build: 9.5
      • Ease of use: 8.5
      • Image quality: NEF.RAW – 9.5; JPEG – 8.0
      • Video Quality: 8.5
      • OVERALL: 9.0

      Buy