Nikon D3 vs Nikon D3S

  • Full frame
  • 12 megapixels
  • Nikon F
  • 42
    Overall
  • 18
    Imaging
  • 42
    Features
  • 66
    Size
  • 0
    Price
  • Full frame
  • 12 megapixels
  • Nikon F
  • 43
    Overall
  • 20
    Imaging
  • 49
    Features
  • 66
    Size
  • 0
    Price

Nikon D3 vs Nikon D3S: a Complete Review and Comparison

Are you looking for the best camera to suit your needs? Due to a wide range of options, making a wise and weighted decision can be rather challenging. Which specs to keep in mind? What are the key pros and cons of each model? This comparison should give some helpful hints!

The goal of this overview is to provide a detailed comparison of two popular camera models from Pro DSLR category, introduced by Nikon. We are going to take a closer look at the technical and physical characteristics, features, and performance. The models we are going to assess and compare in this review are D3 and D3S. The first common feature of Nikon D3 and Nikon D3S that is worth mentioning is sensor. Both cameras feature CMOS sensors with a resolution of 12.0 MP.

Now, before we can move on to our comparison, let's take a moment to look at the key characteristics of Nikon D3 and Nikon D3S.

Nikon D3 Key Features:

  • 12.0 MP Full frame CMOS sensor
  • ISO 200 - 6400 (Expands to 100 - 25600)
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • 3″ Fixed Type Screen
  • ViewFinder: Yes
  • 11.0 fps Continuous Shooting
  • Built-in Wireless: No
  • Dimensions: 160 x 157 x 88 mm
  • Weight: 1300 g
  • Environmental Sealing: Yes
  • Built-in GPS: Yes
  • Replaced by Nikon D3S. Compare

Nikon D3S Key Features:

  • 12.0 MP Full frame CMOS sensor
  • ISO 200 - 12800 (Expands to 100 - 102400)
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • 3″ Fixed Type Screen
  • ViewFinder: Yes
  • 11.0 fps Continuous Shooting
  • Video: 1280 x 720 (24 fps), 640 x 424 (24 fps), 320 x 216 (24 fps)
  • Built-in Wireless: No
  • Dimensions: 160 x 157 x 88 mm
  • Weight: 1240 g
  • Environmental Sealing: Yes
  • Built-in GPS: Yes
  • Replaced Nikon D3. Compare
  • Replaced by Nikon D4. Compare

Since Nikon D3 has been around for some time, it was substituted by Nikon D3S.

Why is Nikon D3 a better choice than Nikon D3S

Screen Resolution 922k dots vs 921k dots 0.1% higher resolution screen
Battery Life 4300 shots vs 4200 shots 100 more frames with a single charge
Dxo Dynamic Range 12.2 vs 12 Better dynamic range

What are the key reasons to pick Nikon D3S over Nikon D3

Weight 1240 g vs 1300 g 60 g lighter
Dxo Low Light Iso 3253 vs 2290 Better High ISO performance

Key PROs of Nikon D3 and Nikon D3S

Screen Size 3″ | 3″ Large display
Viewfinder Optical (pentaprism) | Optical (pentaprism) Better framing and control
Raw Support Yes | Yes Better image quality
Timelapse Recording Yes | Yes Creative shooting
Storage Slots 2 slots | 2 slots Extra Storage Slots
Continuous Shooting 11.0 fps | 11.0 fps Nice continuous shooting
Flash Sync Port Yes | Yes Port for Flash Sync
Environmental Sealing Yes | Yes Shoot at tough conditions
Battery Life 4300 shots | 4200 shots Big number of frames with a single charge

Key CONs of Nikon D3 and Nikon D3S

Touch Screen No | No No touch screen
Screen Resolution 922k dots | 921k dots Small screen resolution
Screen Type Fixed Type | Fixed Type No flexible viewing angles
Sensor Resolution 12.0 MP | 12.0 MP Small sensor resolution
AutoFocus Face Detection No | No No Face Detection
Built-In Flash No | No No built-in flash
Image Stabilization No | No No image stabilization

Nikon D3 vs Nikon D3S: Comparing Two Models By Physical Characteristics

Before heading straight to the technical characteristics of each model, let’s start with comparing their physical specs. Let’s start with looking at the physical difference of the two products. Below are images that clearly show the sizes of Nikon D3 and Nikon D3S from the front view.

Nikon D3
Nikon D3S
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Now, let’s go on and see how the reviewed models are different or similar by the top view.

Nikon D3
Nikon D3S
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After looking at these images, you should get a clear idea of each model’s dimensions and how they are different from each other. However, we are not going to stop there. The next characteristic worth looking at is the weight. Of course, not every photographer is concerned about the weight, for example, it wouldn't be a decisive point for those who shoot in a studio. However, it is still an important factor because if you happen to go on a long photo session or just love having the camera with you wherever you go, you want to be sure that the chosen model isn't too heavy.

Speaking of weight, Nikon D3S is a lighter option of these two, as it weights 60g less than the Nikon D3. This difference, in fact, can become a significant disadvantage for the photographers, who prefer to have their cameras with them wherever they go.

Battery values for Pro DSLR cameras:
Nikon D3 — 4300 shots
Nikon D3S — 4200 shots
Min: 650 shots
Average: 2336 shots
Max: 4400 shots
Thickness values for Pro DSLR cameras:
Nikon D3 — 88 mm
Nikon D3S — 88 mm
Min: 74 mm
Average: 85 mm
Max: 123 mm
Weight values for Pro DSLR cameras:
Nikon D3 — 1300 g
Nikon D3S — 1240 g
Min: 735 g
Average: 1275 g
Max: 1585 g

Comparing Nikon D3 and Nikon D3S by the type of Sensor and Resolution

Sensor is, without a doubt, the most significant element of every digital camera. Its type, size, and resolution are the factors that define the quality of future shots. Thus, it is barely possible to pick a suitable camera without looking at these specs.

Are Nikon D3 and Nikon D3S any different in terms of sensor type?

In terms of sensor type and resolution, these models are identical. Both Nikon D3 and Nikon D3S come equipped with the same CMOS that has a resolution of 12.0 MP. Thus, if you are wondering, which option to choose, this is not a factor you should be looking at.

Take a look below to find the comparison of Nikon D3 and Nikon D3S by the size of their sensors.

Nikon D3
Nikon D3S
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Nikon D3 and Nikon D3S are identical by this indicator, as each feature a sensor of the same size. Thus, both cameras will provide the same level of control in terms of the depth of field if you use them with the same focal length and aperture.

For Which Fields Of Photography Are Nikon D3 and Nikon D3S Suitable?

If you are interested in photography or has made a career in this field, you should know that different types of shooting actually require different camera characteristics. While one model can produce outstanding portraits, at the same time, it can be terrible for shooting landscapes, and so on. Thus, before you purchase a specific camera, it is vital to decide, which type of shooting you do most often and consider an option that suits it the most.

This section of our comparison is devoted to the performance of Nikon D3 and Nikon D3S in different fields of photography. Here we are going to look at the five main areas and evaluate how well each of the reviewed models performs in them. This will help you choose an option that suits your needs the most depending on your interest in one or several of these fields.

Photography Type Nikon D3 Nikon D3S
Portrait Photography
83%
83%
Street Photography
76%
76%
Sports Photography
98%
98%
Daily Photography
93%
80%
Landscape Photography
94%
93%

Nikon D3 for Portrait Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (36 x 23.9 mm) sensor
  • Fast Max Shutter Speed (1/8000s)

Disadvantages:

  • You might not like Nikon skintone
  • No Image Stabilization

Nikon D3S for Portrait Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (36 x 23.9 mm) sensor
  • Fast Max Shutter Speed (1/8000s)

Disadvantages:

  • You might not like Nikon skintone
  • No Image Stabilization

Nikon D3 for Street Photography

Advantages:

  • Built-in View Finder
  • Live View
  • Large Full frame(36 x 23.9 mm) sensor
  • Big battery life (4300 shots)

Disadvantages:

  • Big size (160 x 157 x 88 mm)
  • No Image Stabilization

Nikon D3S for Street Photography

Advantages:

  • Built-in View Finder
  • Live View
  • Large Full frame(36 x 23.9 mm) sensor
  • Big battery life (4200 shots)

Disadvantages:

  • Big size (160 x 157 x 88 mm)
  • No Image Stabilization

Nikon D3 for Sports Photography

Advantages:

  • Fast Continuous Shooting (11.0 fps)
  • Environmental Sealing
  • Fast Max Shutter Speed (1/8000s)
  • Nice Low Light ISO (2290)
  • Big battery life (4300 shots)
  • Big size (160 x 157 x 88 mm)

Disadvantages:

  • Bad Max Native ISO (6400)

Nikon D3S for Sports Photography

Advantages:

  • Fast Continuous Shooting (11.0 fps)
  • Environmental Sealing
  • Fast Max Shutter Speed (1/8000s)
  • Big Number of autofocus Points (51)
  • Nice Low Light ISO (3253)
  • Big battery life (4200 shots)
  • Big size (160 x 157 x 88 mm)

Disadvantages:

  • Bad Max Native ISO (12800)

Nikon D3 for Daily Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (36 x 23.9 mm) sensor
  • Built-in View Finder
  • Live View

Disadvantages:

  • Big weight (1300 g)
  • Big size (160 x 157 x 88 mm)
  • No Built-in Flash
  • Video is not available

Nikon D3S for Daily Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (36 x 23.9 mm) sensor
  • Built-in View Finder
  • Live View
  • Video is available

Disadvantages:

  • Big weight (1240 g)
  • Big size (160 x 157 x 88 mm)
  • No Built-in Flash

Nikon D3 for Landscape Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (36 x 23.9 mm) sensor
  • Good Dynamic Range (12.2)
  • Environmental Sealing
  • Live View
  • RAW Support
  • Nice Low Light ISO (2290)

Disadvantages:

  • Low resolution sensor (12 MP)
  • Bad Max Native ISO (6400)

Nikon D3S for Landscape Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (36 x 23.9 mm) sensor
  • Good Dynamic Range (12.0)
  • Environmental Sealing
  • Live View
  • RAW Support
  • Nice Low Light ISO (3253)

Disadvantages:

  • Low resolution sensor (12 MP)
  • Bad Max Native ISO (12800)

Comparison of Nikon D3 vs Nikon D3S: Final Verdict

Hopefully, our detailed overview of these models has helped you consider all the main specs, pros and cons of each cameras. Maybe, after reading this comparison, some of you have already decided which option to opt for depending on your needs and preferences. However, if you are still wondering which option is a better choice, Nikon D3 or Nikon D3S, below you can see what scores each of them received in five different aspects. To wrap up, we have used our unique Decision Algorithm that assesses different camera models upon 63 different factors including their price, and, if possible, DxO Mark scores. This algorithm allows us to make our verdict more consistent and objective.

What is our final verdict? Based on our comparison and the final scores of Nikon D3 and Nikon D3S here is what we can say in conclusion:

According all the factors that we considered in the process of comparing these two cameras, Nikon D3S deserves a higher Total Score than the Nikon D3. Thus, if you are choosing between these options, we would recommend you to choose the first model over the other one.

Nikon D3 vs Nikon D3S Table Of Technical Specs

For better understanding of each model’s technical characteristics, find the detailed comparison below:

Nikon D3 Nikon D3S
General
Brand Nikon Nikon
Model D3 D3S
Announced Apr 18, 2008 Feb 16, 2010
Body Type Large SLR Large SLR
Sensor
Sensor Type CMOS CMOS
Sensor Size Full frame Full frame
Sensor Dimensions 36 x 23.9 mm 36 x 23.9 mm
Sensor Area 860.40 mm2 860.40 mm2
Sensor Resolution 12.0 MP 12.0 MP
Max Image Resolution 4256 x 2832 4256 x 2832
Max Native ISO 6,400 12,800
Max Boosted ISO 25,600 102,400
Min Native ISO 200 200
RAW Support Yes Yes
Lens
Manual Focus Yes Yes
Lens Mount Nikon F Nikon F
Number of Lenses 287 287
Focal Length Multiplier 1x 1x
Macro Focus Range
AutoFocus
AF Touch No No
AF Continuous Yes Yes
AF Single Yes Yes
AF Tracking No No
AF Selective Yes Yes
AF Center No No
AF Multi Area Yes Yes
AF Live View Yes Yes
AF Face Detection No No
AF Contrast Detection Yes Yes
AF Phase Detection Yes Yes
Number of Focus Points n/a 51
Number of Cross Focus Points n/a n/a
Screen
Screen Type Fixed Type Fixed Type
Screen Size 3″ 3″
Screen Resolution 922k dots 921k dots
Live View Yes Yes
Touch Screen No No
ViewFinder
ViewFinder Optical (pentaprism) Optical (pentaprism)
ViewFinder Resolution 0k dots 0k dots
ViewFinder Coverage 100% 100%
ViewFinder Magnification 0.7 0.7
Photography Features
Min Shutter Speed 30 s 30 s
Max Shutter Speed 1/8000 s 1/8000 s
Continuous Shooting 11.0 fps 11.0 fps
Shutter Priority Yes Yes
Aperture Priority Yes Yes
Manual Exposure Mode Yes Yes
Exposure Compensation Yes Yes
Custom White Balance Yes Yes
Image Stabilization No No
Built-in Flash No No
Flash Range 0 0
Flash Modes Front curtain, Rear curtain, Red-Eye, Slow Sync Front curtain, Rear curtain, Red-Eye, Slow Sync
External Flash Yes Yes
AE Bracketing No Yes
WB Bracketing No Yes
Exposure Modes
Multi-Segment No Yes
Average No No
Spot No Yes
Partial No No
AF-Area No No
Center Weighted No Yes
DxO Sensor Scores
DxO Sensor Score 81 82
DxO Color Depth 23.5 23.5
DxO Dynamic Range 12.2 12.0
DxO Low Light ISO 2290 3253
Video Features
Video Resolutions n/a 1280 x 720 (24 fps), 640 x 424 (24 fps), 320 x 216 (24 fps)
Max Video Resolution 1280 x 720
Video Formats n/a Motion JPEG
Microphone Port No No
Headphone Port No No
Connectivity
Wireless Connectivity No No
HDMI Yes Yes
USB USB 2.0 USB 2.0
Physical
Environmental Sealing Yes Yes
Water Proof No No
Dust Proof No No
Shock Proof No No
Crush Proof No No
Freeze Proof No No
Weight 1300 g 1240 g
Physical Dimensions 160 x 157 x 88 mm 160 x 157 x 88 mm
Battery Life 4300 shots 4200 shots
Battery Type Battery Pack Battery Pack
Battery Model n/a EN-EL4a
Other Features
Self Timer Yes Yes
Timelapse Recording Yes Yes
GPS Optional Optional
Storage Type Compact Flash (Type I or II) x2 Compact Flash (Type I or II) x 2, UDMA
Storage Slots 2 2

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