Nikon D3S vs Nikon D850

  • Full frame
  • 12 megapixels
  • Nikon F
  • 43
    Overall
  • 20
    Imaging
  • 49
    Features
  • 66
    Size
  • 0
    Price
  • Full frame
  • 46 megapixels
  • Nikon F
  • 63
    Overall
  • 46
    Imaging
  • 85
    Features
  • 69
    Size
  • 0
    Price

Nikon D3S vs Nikon D850: 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!

In this overview, we are going to take a look at two different camera models that fall into different categories: the first model we are about to review, Nikon D3S is a camera from Pro DSLR category. It features CMOS sensor with a resolution of 12.0 MP. The second model we are looking at, Nikon D850, falls into a Semi-Pro DSLR category and it is equipped with BSI-CMOS sensor that has a resolution of 46.0 MP.

Now, before we can move on to our comparison, let's take a moment to look at the key characteristics of Nikon D3S and Nikon D850.

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

Nikon D850 Key Features:

  • 46.0 MP Full frame BSI-CMOS sensor
  • ISO 64 - 25600 (Expands to 32 - 102400)
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • 3.2″ Tilting Screen
  • ViewFinder: Yes
  • 7.0 fps Continuous Shooting
  • Video: 3840 x 2160 @ 30p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
  • Built-in Wireless: Yes
  • Dimensions: 146 x 124 x 79 mm
  • Weight: 1015 g
  • Environmental Sealing: Yes
  • Built-in GPS: No
  • Replaced Nikon D810. Compare

Since Nikon D3S has been around for some time, it was substituted by Nikon D4. Be sure to check out some of our other comparisons that may also interest you:
Nikon D3S vs. D4
Nikon D4 vs. Nikon D850

Being a newer model, Nikon D3S substituted Nikon D3. Be sure to check out some of our other comparisons that may also interest you:
Nikon D3S vs. D3
Nikon D3 vs. Nikon D850

Why is Nikon D3S a better choice than Nikon D850

Sensor Area 860.4 mm2 vs 858.01 mm2 0.3% larger pixel area
Continuous Shooting 11 fps vs 7 fps 4 fps faster
Battery Life 4200 shots vs 1840 shots 2360 more frames with a single charge
Dxo Low Light Iso 3253 vs 2660 Better High ISO performance

What are the key reasons to pick Nikon D850 over Nikon D3S

Wireless Connectivity Built-In vs No Better connectivity
NFC Yes vs No Easy wireless connectivity with compatible devices
Bluetooth Yes vs No Connect your camera to other devices via Bluetooth
Sensor Resolution 46.0 MP vs 12.0 MP 73.9% more pixels
Number Of Focus Points 153 vs 51 102 more focus points
AutoFocus Face Detection Yes vs No Very handy for portraits
Screen Size 3.2″ vs 3″ 0.2" larger screen
Screen Resolution 2,359k dots vs 921k dots 61% higher resolution screen
Touch Screen Yes vs No Easy control of camera functions
Weight 1015 g vs 1240 g 225 g lighter
Max Video Resolution 3840 x 2160 vs 1280 x 720 Higher Resolution Video
Microphone Port Yes vs No High quality audio recording option
Headphone Port Yes vs No Has headphone port
Dxo Color Depth 26.4 vs 23.5 Better color depth
Dxo Dynamic Range 14.8 vs 12 Better dynamic range
Viewfinder Magnification 0.75 vs 0.7 0.05 better magnification

Key PROs of Nikon D3S and Nikon D850

Screen Size 3″ | 3.2″ 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
Bracketing Yes | Yes Useful for tough lighting conditions and HDR
Flash Sync Port Yes | Yes Port for Flash Sync
Environmental Sealing Yes | Yes Shoot at tough conditions
Battery Life 4200 shots | 1840 shots Big number of frames with a single charge

Key CONs of Nikon D3S and Nikon D850

Built-In Flash No | No No built-in flash
Image Stabilization No | No No image stabilization

Nikon D3S vs Nikon D850: 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 D3S and Nikon D850 from the front view.

Nikon D3S
Nikon D850
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Now, let’s go on and see how the reviewed models are different or similar by the top view.

Nikon D3S
Nikon D850
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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 D850 is a lighter option of these two, as it weights 225g less than the Nikon D3S. This difference, in fact, can become a significant disadvantage for the photographers, who prefer to have their cameras with them wherever they go.

Comparing Nikon D3S and Nikon D850 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 D3S and Nikon D850 any different in terms of sensor type?

In fact, that's exactly what makes these two models really different. Thus, it is a good point to consider if your are choosing between these two cameras. Nikon D3S features a 12.0 MP Full frame sized CMOS sensor and boasts of a Expeed processor . Nikon D850, in its turn, comes with a 46.0 MP Full frame sized BSI-CMOS sensor , which makes it significantly different from the first model.

Take a look below to find the comparison of Nikon D3S and Nikon D850 by the size of their sensors.

Nikon D3S
Nikon D850
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Nikon D3S and Nikon D850 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 D3S and Nikon D850 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 D3S and Nikon D850 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 D3S Nikon D850
Portrait Photography
83%
94%
Street Photography
76%
88%
Sports Photography
98%
99%
Daily Photography
80%
68%
Landscape Photography
93%
100%

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 D850 for Portrait Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (35.9 x 23.9 mm) sensor
  • High resolution sensor (46 MP)
  • Fast Max Shutter Speed (1/8000s)
  • Face Detection Focusing

Disadvantages:

  • You might not like Nikon skintone
  • 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 D850 for Street Photography

Advantages:

  • Built-in View Finder
  • Live View
  • Large Full frame(35.9 x 23.9 mm) sensor
  • Big battery life (1840 shots)

Disadvantages:

  • Big size (146 x 124 x 79 mm)
  • No Image Stabilization

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 D850 for Sports Photography

Advantages:

  • Environmental Sealing
  • Fast Max Shutter Speed (1/8000s)
  • Big Number of autofocus Points (153)
  • Big Number of CrossFocus Points (99)
  • Nice Low Light ISO (2660)
  • Big battery life (1840 shots)
  • Big size (146 x 124 x 79 mm)

Disadvantages:

  • Slow Continuous Shooting (7.0 fps)

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 D850 for Daily Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (35.9 x 23.9 mm) sensor
  • Built-in View Finder
  • Live View
  • Wireless Connectivity
  • Video is available

Disadvantages:

  • Big weight (1015 g)
  • Big size (146 x 124 x 79 mm)
  • No Built-in Flash

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)

Nikon D850 for Landscape Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (35.9 x 23.9 mm) sensor
  • High resolution sensor (46 MP)
  • Good Dynamic Range (14.8)
  • Environmental Sealing
  • Live View
  • RAW Support
  • Nice Low Light ISO (2660)

Disadvantages:

No Significant Disadvantages

Comparison of Nikon D3S vs Nikon D850: 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 D3S or Nikon D850, 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 D3S and Nikon D850 here is what we can say in conclusion:

According all the factors that we considered in the process of comparing these two cameras, Nikon D850 deserves a higher Total Score than the Nikon D3S. Thus, if you are choosing between these options, we would recommend you to choose the first model over the other one.

Nikon D3S vs Nikon D850 Table Of Technical Specs

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

Nikon D3S Nikon D850
General
Brand Nikon Nikon
Model D3S D850
Announced Feb 16, 2010 Aug 24, 2017
Body Type Large SLR Mid-size SLR
Sensor
Sensor Type CMOS BSI-CMOS
Sensor Size Full frame Full frame
Sensor Dimensions 36 x 23.9 mm 35.9 x 23.9 mm
Sensor Area 860.40 mm2 858.01 mm2
Sensor Resolution 12.0 MP 46.0 MP
Max Image Resolution 4256 x 2832 8256 x 5504
Max Native ISO 12,800 25,600
Max Boosted ISO 102,400 102,400
Min Native ISO 200 64
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 Yes
AF Continuous Yes Yes
AF Single Yes Yes
AF Tracking No Yes
AF Selective Yes Yes
AF Center No Yes
AF Multi Area Yes Yes
AF Live View Yes Yes
AF Face Detection No Yes
AF Contrast Detection Yes Yes
AF Phase Detection Yes Yes
Number of Focus Points 51 153
Number of Cross Focus Points n/a 99
Screen
Screen Type Fixed Type Tilting
Screen Size 3″ 3.2″
Screen Resolution 921k dots 2,359k dots
Live View Yes Yes
Touch Screen No Yes
ViewFinder
ViewFinder Optical (pentaprism) Optical (pentaprism)
ViewFinder Resolution 0k dots 0k dots
ViewFinder Coverage 100% 100%
ViewFinder Magnification 0.7 0.75
Photography Features
Min Shutter Speed 30 s 30 s
Max Shutter Speed 1/8000 s 1/8000 s
Continuous Shooting 11.0 fps 7.0 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 sync (normal), Rear-curtain sync, Red-eye reduction, Red-eye reduction with slow sync, Slow sync
External Flash Yes Yes
AE Bracketing Yes Yes
WB Bracketing Yes Yes
Exposure Modes
Multi-Segment Yes Yes
Average No Yes
Spot Yes Yes
Partial No Yes
AF-Area No Yes
Center Weighted Yes Yes
DxO Sensor Scores
DxO Sensor Score 82 100
DxO Color Depth 23.5 26.4
DxO Dynamic Range 12.0 14.8
DxO Low Light ISO 3253 2660
Video Features
Video Resolutions 1280 x 720 (24 fps), 640 x 424 (24 fps), 320 x 216 (24 fps) 3840 x 2160 @ 30p, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
Max Video Resolution 1280 x 720 3840 x 2160
Video Formats Motion JPEG MPEG-4
Microphone Port No Yes
Headphone Port No Yes
Connectivity
Wireless Connectivity No Yes
HDMI Yes Yes
USB USB 2.0 USB 3.0
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 1240 g 1015 g
Physical Dimensions 160 x 157 x 88 mm 146 x 124 x 79 mm
Battery Life 4200 shots 1840 shots
Battery Type Battery Pack Battery Pack
Battery Model EN-EL4a EN-EL15a
Other Features
Self Timer Yes Yes
Timelapse Recording Yes Yes
GPS Optional
Storage Type Compact Flash (Type I or II) x 2, UDMA SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-II supported) + XQD
Storage Slots 2 2

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