Nikon D5 vs Nikon D3S

  • Full frame
  • 21 megapixels
  • Nikon F
  • 50
    Overall
  • 30
    Imaging
  • 63
    Features
  • 65
    Size
  • 0
    Price
  • Full frame
  • 12 megapixels
  • Nikon F
  • 43
    Overall
  • 20
    Imaging
  • 49
    Features
  • 66
    Size
  • 0
    Price

Nikon D5 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 D5 and D3S. Both products that we are going to review are equipped with the same type of sensor - CMOS. However, they have different resolution. Thus, Nikon D5 comes with a 21.0 MP CMOS sensor, while the Nikon D3S features a 12.0 MP CMOS sensor.

Now, before we can move on to our comparison, let's take a moment to look at the key characteristics of Nikon D5 and Nikon D3S.

Nikon D5 Key Features:

  • 21.0 MP Full frame CMOS sensor
  • ISO 100 - 102400 (Expands to 3280000)
  • Image Stabilization: No
  • 3.2″ Fixed Type Screen
  • ViewFinder: Yes
  • 14.0 fps Continuous Shooting
  • Video: 4K (UHD) 30p/25p/24p, 1080/60p/50p/30p/25p/24p, 720/60p/50p
  • Built-in Wireless: Yes
  • Dimensions: 160 x 158.5 x 92 mm
  • Weight: 1415 g
  • Environmental Sealing: Yes
  • Built-in GPS: Yes
  • Replaced Nikon D4s. 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

Being a newer model, Nikon D5 substituted Nikon D4s. Be sure to check out some of our other comparisons that may also interest you:
Nikon D5 vs. D4s
Nikon D4s vs. Nikon D3S

Why is Nikon D5 a better choice than Nikon D3S

Wireless Connectivity Optional vs No Better connectivity
Sensor Resolution 21.0 MP vs 12.0 MP 42.9% more pixels
Continuous Shooting 14 fps vs 11 fps 3 fps faster
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
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 25.1 vs 23.5 Better color depth
Dxo Dynamic Range 12.3 vs 12 Better dynamic range
Viewfinder Magnification 0.72 vs 0.7 0.02 better magnification

What are the key reasons to pick Nikon D3S over Nikon D5

Sensor Area 860.4 mm2 vs 855.62 mm2 0.6% larger pixel area
Battery Life 4200 shots vs 3780 shots 420 more frames with a single charge
Weight 1240 g vs 1415 g 175 g lighter
Dxo Low Light Iso 3253 vs 2434 Better High ISO performance

Key PROs of Nikon D5 and Nikon D3S

Screen Size 3.2″ | 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
Bracketing Yes | Yes Useful for tough lighting conditions and HDR
Continuous Shooting 14.0 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 3780 shots | 4200 shots Big number of frames with a single charge

Key CONs of Nikon D5 and Nikon D3S

Screen Type Fixed Type | Fixed Type No flexible viewing angles
Sensor Resolution 21.0 MP | 12.0 MP Small sensor resolution
Built-In Flash No | No No built-in flash
Image Stabilization No | No No image stabilization

Nikon D5 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 D5 and Nikon D3S from the front view.

Nikon D5
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 D5
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 175g less than the Nikon D5. 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 D5 — 3780 shots
Nikon D3S — 4200 shots
Min: 650 shots
Average: 2336 shots
Max: 4400 shots
Thickness values for Pro DSLR cameras:
Nikon D5 — 92 mm
Nikon D3S — 88 mm
Min: 74 mm
Average: 85 mm
Max: 123 mm
Weight values for Pro DSLR cameras:
Nikon D5 — 1415 g
Nikon D3S — 1240 g
Min: 735 g
Average: 1275 g
Max: 1585 g

Comparing Nikon D5 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 D5 and Nikon D3S 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 D5 features a 21.0 MP Full frame sized CMOS sensor . Nikon D3S, in its turn, comes with a 12.0 MP Full frame sized CMOS sensor and Expeed processor , which makes it significantly different from the first model.

Take a look below to find the comparison of Nikon D5 and Nikon D3S by the size of their sensors.

Nikon D5
Nikon D3S
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Nikon D5 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 D5 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 D5 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 D5 Nikon D3S
Portrait Photography
94%
83%
Street Photography
79%
76%
Sports Photography
100%
98%
Daily Photography
68%
80%
Landscape Photography
97%
93%

Nikon D5 for Portrait Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (35.8 x 23.9 mm) sensor
  • High resolution sensor (21 MP)
  • Fast Max Shutter Speed (1/8000s)
  • Face Detection Focusing

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 D5 for Street Photography

Advantages:

  • Built-in View Finder
  • Live View
  • Large Full frame(35.8 x 23.9 mm) sensor
  • Big battery life (3780 shots)

Disadvantages:

  • Big size (160 x 158.5 x 92 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 D5 for Sports Photography

Advantages:

  • Fast Continuous Shooting (14.0 fps)
  • Environmental Sealing
  • Fast Max Shutter Speed (1/8000s)
  • Big Number of autofocus Points (153)
  • Big Number of CrossFocus Points (99)
  • Nice Low Light ISO (2434)
  • Big battery life (3780 shots)
  • Big size (160 x 158.5 x 92 mm)

Disadvantages:

No Significant Disadvantages

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 D5 for Daily Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (35.8 x 23.9 mm) sensor
  • Built-in View Finder
  • Live View
  • Wireless Connectivity
  • Video is available

Disadvantages:

  • Big weight (1415 g)
  • Big size (160 x 158.5 x 92 mm)
  • No Built-in Flash

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 D5 for Landscape Photography

Advantages:

  • Large Full frame (35.8 x 23.9 mm) sensor
  • Good Dynamic Range (12.3)
  • Environmental Sealing
  • Live View
  • RAW Support
  • Nice Low Light ISO (2434)

Disadvantages:

  • Low resolution sensor (21 MP)

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 D5 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 D5 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 D5 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 D5 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 D5 vs Nikon D3S Table Of Technical Specs

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

Nikon D5 Nikon D3S
General
Brand Nikon Nikon
Model D5 D3S
Announced Jan 05, 2016 Feb 16, 2010
Body Type Large SLR Large SLR
Sensor
Sensor Type CMOS CMOS
Sensor Size Full frame Full frame
Sensor Dimensions 35.8 x 23.9 mm 36 x 23.9 mm
Sensor Area 855.62 mm2 860.40 mm2
Sensor Resolution 21.0 MP 12.0 MP
Max Image Resolution 5588 x 3712 4256 x 2832
Max Native ISO 102,400 12,800
Max Boosted ISO 3,280,000 102,400
Min Native ISO 100 200
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 Yes No
AF Selective Yes Yes
AF Center Yes No
AF Multi Area Yes Yes
AF Live View Yes Yes
AF Face Detection Yes No
AF Contrast Detection Yes Yes
AF Phase Detection Yes Yes
Number of Focus Points 153 51
Number of Cross Focus Points 99 n/a
Screen
Screen Type Fixed Type Fixed Type
Screen Size 3.2″ 3″
Screen Resolution 2,359k dots 921k dots
Live View Yes Yes
Touch Screen Yes No
ViewFinder
ViewFinder Optical (pentaprism) Optical (pentaprism)
ViewFinder Resolution 0k dots 0k dots
ViewFinder Coverage 100% 100%
ViewFinder Magnification 0.72 0.7
Photography Features
Min Shutter Speed 30 s 30 s
Max Shutter Speed 1/8000 s 1/8000 s
Continuous Shooting 14.0 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 Auto, Red-eye, Slow sync, Rear curtain Front curtain, Rear curtain, Red-Eye, Slow Sync
External Flash Yes Yes
AE Bracketing Yes Yes
WB Bracketing Yes Yes
Exposure Modes
Multi-Segment Yes Yes
Average No No
Spot Yes Yes
Partial No No
AF-Area No No
Center Weighted No Yes
DxO Sensor Scores
DxO Sensor Score 88 82
DxO Color Depth 25.1 23.5
DxO Dynamic Range 12.3 12.0
DxO Low Light ISO 2434 3253
Video Features
Video Resolutions 4K (UHD) 30p/25p/24p, 1080/60p/50p/30p/25p/24p, 720/60p/50p 1280 x 720 (24 fps), 640 x 424 (24 fps), 320 x 216 (24 fps)
Max Video Resolution 3840 x 2160 1280 x 720
Video Formats MPEG-4, H.264 Motion JPEG
Microphone Port Yes No
Headphone Port Yes No
Connectivity
Wireless Connectivity Yes No
HDMI Yes Yes
USB USB 3.0 USB 2.0
Physical
Environmental Sealing Yes Yes
Water Proof No No
Dust Proof Yes No
Shock Proof No No
Crush Proof No No
Freeze Proof No No
Weight 1415 g 1240 g
Physical Dimensions 160 x 158.5 x 92 mm 160 x 157 x 88 mm
Battery Life 3780 shots 4200 shots
Battery Type Battery Pack Battery Pack
Battery Model EN-EL18a EN-EL4a
Other Features
Self Timer Yes Yes
Timelapse Recording Yes Yes
GPS Optional Optional
Storage Type Dual CompactFlash or dual XQD Compact Flash (Type I or II) x 2, UDMA
Storage Slots 2 2

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