Nikon D3S

Released October, 2009
  • 12.1 MP
  • Full frame 36 x 23.9 mm CMOS
  • 3" LCD
Raw output on the other hand responds much better to sharpening post-capture (in Adobe Camera RAW in this instance).
by DPReview (Feb, 2010)
9.6 Out of 10

Camera Rocket Review Our evaluation of the Nikon D3S

Image Quality

RAW image quality independent of lens

Nikon D3S
Nikon D3
Nikon D3X
DxOMark Low light, DxOMark Color depth, DxOMark Dynamic range and 1 more


How fast and easily does the camera nail focus

Nikon D3S
Nikon D3
Nikon D3X
focus points


How much delay is there between you and your photo?

Nikon D3S
Nikon D3
Nikon D3X
continuous shooting


What do the experts think?

Nikon D3S
Nikon D3
Nikon D3X
Reviews from,,, and 3 more


Camera Rocket Score

Image Quality, Focusing, Responsiveness and Reviews

Nikon D3S
Nikon D3
Nikon D3X

Benchmarks Real world tests of the Nikon D3S

Low light image quality Highest ISO setting that still achieves great image quality

Nikon D3S
3,253 ISO
Nikon D3X
1,992 ISO
Nikon D3
2,290 ISO

Resolution Results from photos of standard resolution charts

Nikon D3S
1,700 LPH
Nikon D810
3,100 LPH
2,800 LPH

Focus lag Delay between fully pressing shutter to image capture

Nikon D3S
197 ms
Nikon D3
88 ms

Shutter lag Delay to take a photo when prefocused

Nikon D3S
43 ms
Nikon D750
54 ms

Startup delay Delay from power on to first photo

Nikon D3S
120 ms
Nikon D3
300 ms

Continuous shooting Delay between fully pressing shutter to image capture

Nikon D3S
9 fps
Nikon D5
14 fps
Nikon D3X
5 fps

Photo Gallery Wallpaper quality closeups of the camera

Reviews Word on the street for the Nikon D3S

For more advanced processing, Nikon offers the considerably more sophisticated Capture NX2, which is a truly professional-grade platform for in-depth raw and JPEG adjustment.

As detailed on the previous page, the Nikon D3S is a highly responsive professional DSLR camera that has great ergonomics, build quality and a fantastic feature set - but it’s the image quality department where the real news is.

An inevitable addition is the D-movie function, whose top setting is 24fps at 720p.


9.1 Out of 10

What People Are Saying Give it to me straight


Raw files were 14-bit NEF, shot in lossless (uncompressed) mode for maximum quality.
by DPReview (Feb, 2010)
Slot 2 can be used for overflow or backup storage or for separate storage of NEF (RAW) and JPEG images; pictures can be copied between cards.
by Photography Blog (Feb, 2010)
In fact, in the hands of a skilled practitioner, acceptable images can be captured right up to the D3S's ISO ceiling, of ISO 102,400 (equivalent).
by DPReview (Feb, 2010)


We have found that images taken with the Nion D3S up to and including ISO 1,600 were astoundingly clean and hard to tell from each other, and even ISO 12,800 is completely usable for printed output.
by Photography Blog (Feb, 2010)
The standout feature on the D3s is its ISO capabilities.
by TechRadar (Jan, 2010)
It is no surprise that at their native base ISO sensitivity setting of ISO 200 (equivalent) both the D3 and D3S offer essentially indistinguishable image quality.
by DPReview (Feb, 2010)

Image quality

As to other aspects of image quality, they are also top notch: colours are pleasing, tonality is superb, dynamic range is wide.
by Photography Blog (Feb, 2010)
We'll see how the three models stack up in terms of performance and image quality in the following pages, but for now, here's the breakdown of their key specifications.
by DPReview (Feb, 2010)
This is impressive stuff, and there can be no doubt that the D3S sets new standards for image quality in extremely low light.
by DPReview (Feb, 2010)


We wouldn't normally devote two pages to discussing a DSLR's AF performance, partly because AF - and especially AF tracking - is difficult (to say the least) to test in a consistent and clear way.
by DPReview (Feb, 2010)
If speed is of the essence or if your subject is moving, accurate focus and composition are far from guaranteed.
by DPReview (Feb, 2010)
Note that the exact function of the AF area mode also depends on the focus mode (AF-S or AF-C).
by DPReview (Feb, 2010)


The new video mode is definitely an improvement over similar modes in previous Nikon DSLRs, and you'll find a detailed account of exactly why in the video page of this review.
by DPReview (Feb, 2010)
It's good enough for simple reportage footage, though, although well-heeled budding documentarians should consider a camera capable of 1080p or, better yet, a dedicated video camera.
by TechRadar (Jan, 2010)
There's no arguing that the video mode produces excellent quality - it captured colours accurately and reproduced pin-sharp detail - but there are a few disclaimers to be made.
by TechRadar (Jan, 2010)

Specifications Full list of technical specs


Megapixels 12.1 MP
Resolution 4256 x 2832
Size Full frame
Area 36 x 23.9 mm
Crop factor 1.0x
Pixel size 71.4 microns
Light sensitivity 200 ISO to 12,800 ISO
Light sensitivity (Boost) 12,800 ISO to 102,400 ISO
  1. RAW
  2. JPEG
Self cleaning sensor Yes
Tested vertical resolution 1,700 LPH
Tested horizontal resolution 1,700 LPH

focus system

Type Phase detection
Focus points 51
Cross type focus points 15
Supports continuous No


Min 30 s
Max 1/8000 s

form factor

Size 160 x 157 x 88 mm
Thickness 88 mm
Weight 1,240 g
Is weather sealed Yes


Is a smart camera No
Includes a GPS No
Supports HDR No
Automatic panorama No
Create realistic 3D images No
Image stabilization None


Video 1280 x 720 @ 24 fps
Shoots video in 24p Yes
Shoots high speed video No
External mic jack 3.5mm
Autofocus while shooting video


Type LCD
Size 3"
Resolution 921 k dots
Has a touch screen No
Has a flip out screen No
Supports live view Yes


Viewfinder mirror Opaque
Viewfinder Viewfinder
Type Pentaprism
Coverage 100%
Magnification 0.7x
Viewfinder size 0.7x


Max continuous shooting 9 fps
Battery life 4,200 photos
Continuous shooting 9 fps, JPEG
Focus lag 197 ms
Shutter lag 43 ms
Startup delay 120 ms
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