Nikon D3S Review

Overall 43
Imaging 20
Features 49
Size 66
Price 0

Main 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

Nikon D3S Summary

This review is devoted to D3S that Nikon has first introduced to the public in Feb 16, 2010. This model is a Pro DSLR camera with a resolution of 12.0 MP and a Full frame (36 x 23.9 mm) sized CMOS sensor.

Initially, Nikon developed this model to replace their older product D3 and, after some time, Nikon has replaced this upgraded model with their most recent one D3. To learn more about the specs and difference between these models, check our complete comparison by following these links:
Nikon D3S vs. D4
Nikon D3S vs. D3

In Pro DSLR cameras (Top 10 DSLR Cameras) this model has taken rank #83 out of 200. Its Overall Score has reached 43/100 and it takes a rank of #587 out of 1174 in all Cameras.

Nikon D3S Compared to other DSLR Cameras

Now let's delve into more details of our Nikon D3S review by assessing its features and specs, as well as checking what pros and cons it has compared to other average products in this category.

PROs

  • Dxo Low Light Iso: 3253
  • Environmental Sealing: Yes
  • Battery Life: 4200 shots
  • Timelapse Recording: Yes

CONs

  • AutoFocus Face Detection: No
  • Microphone Port: No
  • Headphone Port: No
  • Wireless Connectivity: No
  • Dust Proof: No

Complete Comparison of Nikon D3S With Other Cameras in Pro DSLR Category

In this part of our review, we are going to take a closer look at the technical specs and features presented in Nikon D3S. In addition, we are going to define the main pros and cons of this model and, based on this info, compare it to other average Pro DSLR cameras.

Physical Characteristics Of Nikon D3S

Nikon D3S has the following external dimensions 160 x 160 x 88 mm (62.99 x 61.81 x 34.65″) with the weight of 1240 g.

The typical weight for average Pro DSLR type cameras is 1275g. If we compare the average indicator of the weight of Nikon D3S, we can conclude that this model is lighter than many other similar products.

Talking about the camera’s thickness, it is worth saying that Nikon D3S is wider than other average cameras from this class. Its thickness is 88mm.

Look at the pictures below to see the front and top view of Nikon D3S with the indication of this model’s dimensions:

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If you want to have a better idea of how big the Nikon D3S is, look at the pictures below to see how big it is compared to a credit card and a AA type battery.

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Finally, let's check how different are the weight and thickness of the Nikon D3S compared to other models from this class of cameras presented by the brand’s competitors:

Battery

Nikon D3S — 4200 shots
Min: 650 shots
Average: 2336 shots
Max: 4400 shots

Thickness

Nikon D3S — 88 mm
Min: 74 mm
Average: 85 mm
Max: 123 mm

Weight

Nikon D3S — 1240 g
Min: 735 g
Average: 1275 g
Max: 1585 g

Unfortunately, Nikon D3S comes without a waterproof feature, so if you want it to serve well and last longer, you will have to use it very carefully and avoid water.

Unfortunately, Nikon D3S comes without a dustproof feature, so if you want it to serve well and last longer, you will have to use it very carefully and protect your camera from external threats such as dust.

Nikon D3S Photo and Sensor Features

Nikon D3S comes with Expeed processor. This model also boasts of a resolution of 12.0 MP and is equipped with a Full frame (36 x 23.9 mm) sized CMOS sensor.

The base of Nikon D3S has the following ISO range 200 - 12800 and it also comes with a possibility of extending this indicator to 100 - 102400.

Also, this model comes with the support of the RAW file. This gives you more opportunities in terms of further processing of your files as you can pick to save them in a RAW format.

Nikon D3S features a 12.0 MP Full frame sensor, which is not a good pick for high-quality and detailed pictures. However, we have an alternative option for you if you were looking for higher resolution.

DxOMark Sensor Scores

DxOMark gives us a possibility to make a clear and scientific assessment of the quality of camera sensors’ image. Nikon D3S, in its turn, features a sensor that was already studied and assessed by DxO Mark. After a complete evaluation, this type of sensor has received a score of 82 for the image quality. If you are looking to see how DxO Mark has tested and evaluated the Nikon D3S’s sensor.

Anti-Aliasing Filter

Nikon D3S is known for the lack of anti-alias (Low-pass) filter. It is one of its essential features of the sensor built in this model. The absence of this filter contributes to a higher level of details and sharpness in the pictures you take. Yet, the lack of an anti-alias filter also enhances the possibility of more occurring in certain conditions.

Now let’s check how we can compare the size of Full frame sensor featured in Nikon D3S with other standard sensor sizes.

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Other Characteristics And Features of Nikon D3S

LCD and ViewFinder

Nikon D3S is equipped with a Fixed Type 3" LCD screen. The resolution of this model’s screen reaches 921k dots.

In addition, this model comes with a built-in Optical (pentaprism) ViewFinder.

The ViewFinder in D3S has quite nice characteristic. Its magnification ratio is 0.7x and it also provides a coverage of 100%.

Some of the main reasons why the OVF presented in this model is a handy tool are that it allows you to see a scene without any time lag or resolution limits. Besides, it also ensures the highest level of clarity that can be elaborated by the lens and the human eye. Who can benefit from this feature? The OVF is especially handy when shooting sports events. This smart system will allow photographers to see action instantly and figure out what is the right timing for capturing a specific moment.

Max Shutter speed

Some of the other highlights of Nikon D3S are its 11.0 fps max speed and 1/8000 sec max shutter speed, which allow you to shoot continuously.

Flash

Unlike some other cameras from this category, D3S unfortunately, is not equipped with a built-in flash. Luckily, it has a special slot for external flashes instead.

Focusing

One more highlight that makes Nikon D3S stand out is the fact that it features two smart AutoFocusing systems. One of these systems is called Phase Detection and the other one is Contrast Detection. Both features stand for higher accuracy and focus speed in different situations. With the smart AutoFocus system presented in this model, photographers can choose from 51 points.

Video Features

As for the video quality characteristics of Nikon D3S, it gives you a possibility to shoot videos at the highest resolution of 1280 x 720 You also have enough flexibility in terms of how you can save your files. Namely, Nikon D3S allows you to save files in Motion JPEG formats.

Comparing the technical characteristics of this model with the modern standards, we have to admit that 1280 x 720 is a rather poor indicator of video resolution. However, if you are looking for a camera that has 4K video support, we recommend you to consider our Cheapest Camera with 4K video.

Nikon D3S is not equipped with any ports that would allow you to connect external headphones and microphones to it.

Connectivity and Storage

You can connect D3S to compatible devices via its USB 2.0 or HDMI ports.

Battery Life

In concordance with generally accepted CIPA standards, the battery featured in Nikon D3S provides a shooting life of 4200, while the average battery life of cameras in this class is 2336 shots.

Compared to all models in the Pro DSLR category, Nikon D3S offers the highest battery life that reaches 4200 shots.

How Good is Nikon D3S for Different Types of Photography?

In this part of our review, we are going to focus on Nikon D3S’s performance in various fields of photography. Each sub-section stands for a specific photography area. In every part, we will review Nikon D3S’s name performance and give it an overall score. This first spider web graph indicates how we can compare the D3S to the average DSLR camera.

Hover your mouse over the points to see the score details for each photography type.

Nikon D3S for Portrait Photography

After carefully reviewing how well Nikon D3S performs Portrait Photography, we gave it a score of 83. Compared to scores of other cameras from the same class, Nikon D3S can be called a Great model for this type of photography.

If the score of this model doesn’t impress you and you are still looking for a model that is better suited for Portrait Photography, we recommend you to check out our Top 10 Cameras 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 Street Photography

After carefully reviewing how well Nikon D3S performs Street Photography, we gave it a score of 76. Compared to scores of other cameras from the same class, Nikon D3S can be called a Strong model for this type of 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 D3S for Sports Photography

After carefully reviewing how well Nikon D3S performs Sports Photography, we gave it a score of 98. Compared to scores of other cameras from the same class, Nikon D3S can be called a 98 model for this type of 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 D3S for Daily Photography

After carefully reviewing how well Nikon D3S performs Daily Photography, we gave it a score of 80. Compared to scores of other cameras from the same class, Nikon D3S can be called a Great model for this type of 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 D3S for Landscape Photography

After carefully reviewing how well Nikon D3S performs Landscape Photography, we gave it a score of 93. Compared to scores of other cameras from the same class, Nikon D3S can be called a 93 model for this type of photography.

If the score of this model doesn’t impress you and you are still looking for a model that is better suited for Landscape Photography, we recommend you to check out our Top 10 Cameras 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)

Nikon D3S Detailed Specs

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

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