ISO performance: ISO 12800 as standard, expandable to ISO equivalent of 102400 (Hi 3)
Professional photographers can now rely on ISO 200 to ISO 12800 as the professional standard of image quality for their assignments – an incredible advantage when shooting indoor sports, stadium events at night, dimly-lit spot news or any other shooting situation where light is limited and Speedlights are not applicable. Shooting at ISOs as high as 12800, the D3S can take commercial-quality, tack-sharp images in low light at action-freezing shutter speeds – a capability that will open a new world of photographic opportunities. When needed, the D3S expands to the amazing ISO equivalent of 102400, still revealing colors and details even in extremely low-lit places where human eyes may find it difficult to discern objects. This exceptional low-noise performance also applies to D-Movie capture, which creates new potential for multimedia projects and assignments.
Large pixel pitch: the 12.1-megapixel FX-format advantage
The D3S’s image sensor has been completely redesigned from the one found in the amazing D3. This new sensor’s inner structure has been further optimized, with the pixel count and large pixel pitch maintained for even greater latitude in high ISO performance. As a result, the D3S captures and renders light in ways that no other ordinary digital SLR cameras have yet achieved, with a significantly higher signal-to-noise ratio and a wide dynamic range for unmatched image quality for both still images and movies throughout the broadened ISO sensitivity capabilities.
New and improved D-Movie function
From well-lit scenes to extremely low-lit situations, the D3S’s D-Movie mode delivers unique versatility. The newly refined D-Movie offers HD quality (1,280 × 720 pixels) Motion-JPEG movies at 24 fps. By controlling the aperture from the widest f-stop to the smallest, the large FX-format sensor renders low-noise images with beautiful bokeh effects from a large selection of NIKKOR lenses. High-Sensitivity Movie mode allows users to shoot at up to ISO equivalent of 102400 in places too dark to see clearly with their own eyes. D-Movie footage is easy to trim in-camera by simply selecting the starting and ending point. An extra bonus for sports and spot news photographers is the ability to save selected movie frames as JPEGs for immediate print and web publishing needs. The D3S has both an internal mono-aural microphone and an external stereo microphone input, enabling higher fidelity audio recording.
Image sensor cleaning: assured protection
Another important improvement from the D3 is the employment of the Image Sensor Cleaning function, which generates vibrations at four specific frequencies to optimize dust removal. This function can be set to operate automatically when the camera is turned on and off, or manually.
EXPEED: Nikon’s comprehensive approach to quality digital images
Nikon’s fast, comprehensive, and energy-efficient approach to in-camera image processing maintains the rich initial data’s integrity through 14-bit A/D conversion and a 16-bit image-processing pipeline, which shows the enormous creative potential inherent in the NEF (Nikon Electronic Image Format). Combined with Nikon’s FX-format sensor, the D3S produces an exceptional tonal range and minimized tone jumps. Users can expect more accuracy with difficult color combinations such as skin tones and strong reds in the same frame without over-saturation and finer tonal gradation in highlights, even with extremely bright subject matter.
Lateral chromatic aberration reduction: edge-to-edge sharpness
The D3S corrects color fringes caused by chromatic aberrations that, in some instances, can appear at the edges between differing subject elements. Because lateral chromatic aberrations are corrected regardless of lens type – whether telephoto, wide-angle, non-CPU and other types of NIKKOR lenses – this important aspect of the D3S contributes substantially to the highly refined, edge-to-edge image integrity that professionals demand.
Active D-Lighting: rescuing tone in highlights and shadows
Nikon’s Active D-Lighting automatically regulates the dynamic range of high-contrast scenes, pulling out shadow details and preserving highlights while maintaining proper contrast. The D3S allows photographers to choose from six Active D-Lighting settings, including the newly added Auto and Extra high, as well as High, Normal, Low and Off. You can also bracket Active D-Lighting strength levels up to five frames and select the best rendition afterwards.
Picture Control: custom-tailored tone and color
Picture Control helps you define the look and feel of your images by custom-tailoring sharpness, saturation and other parameters to match your creative intentions. The D3S comes with four pre-installed Picture Control profiles, which can be fine-tuned and saved as new custom Picture Control profiles that match your personal shooting style or particular shooting conditions. These profiles can easily be copied to additional cameras.
Speed and readiness throughout the workflow
The D3S optimizes workflow speed and fluidity throughout the entire shooting process. Start-up time is approx. 0.12 seconds* and release time lag is minimized to approx. 0.04 seconds*, exactly as fast as the D3, but the D3S’s increased buffer memory is twice as large as that of the D3S. In addition, the D3S’s autofocusing, image processing, memory card access and recording, USB interface and optional wireless transmitter all work together to keep professional photographers focused and moving forward. And for sport and spot news photographers, many of the D3S’s JPEG files are print-readywith little or no post-production: an extra edge when time is short.
*Based on CIPA Guidelines.
9-frames-per-second* shooting rate in FX-format, 11 fps* in DX crop
The D3S’s continuous shooting rates are quite impressive, and what makes them truly unique is that the D3S’s powerful stepping motor allows for a more steady delivery of fast continuous shooting speeds at a wider range of aperture settings than lesser cameras can claim. Professionals will now have greater control and fewer limitations when making the images they desire. With the DX crop, photographers can also add a 1.5x picture angle and a faster frame rate to their arsenal. Furthermore, the factory-installed buffer memory is twice the capacity of the D3, dramatically increasing the power of continuous shooting.
*Based on CIPA Guidelines.
Scene Recognition System: enlightened accuracy and intelligence
Nikon’s exclusive 1,005-pixel RGB sensor precisely reads brightness and color information to raise the overall accuracy of AF, AE, i-TTL flash control and auto white balance to new heights, thanks to the Scene Recognition System. The D3S’s AF delivers superb subject tracking and subject identification performance. Highlight analysis used for AE reproduces brightness faithful to what your eyes see, and light source identification makes auto white balance uniquely precise and reliable.
51-point AF: fast and accurate subject acquisition
The D3S’s strategically positioned 51 AF points deliver faster focus, even with quick and/or erratic subject movement. The 15 cross-type sensors in the center of the frame maintain the same outstanding performance with any AF NIKKOR lens f/5.6 or faster. There are four Dynamic-area AF options, including 51 points (3D-tracking), which accurately follows your subject by shifting focus points using color and brightness information from the Scene Recognition System. This gives users an extra advantage when composition is important but your subject’s movement is extremely erratic. Single-point and Auto-area AF modes are also available.
Sophisticated AE with highlight analysis
Nikon’s exclusive 3D color matrix metering II is highly praised for its outstanding performance and faithful exposure results – even in complex, unforgiving lighting conditions. The D3S takes accurate exposure further, using highlight analysis from the Scene Recognition System and then carefully selecting from a database containing information from over 30,000 actual shooting situations.
Informed auto white balance
Leading professionals often note that Nikon’s auto white balance exhibits remarkable results, even in challenging conditions with mixed light sources. With the D3S, auto white balance makes even further progress. Professionals can expect white as truly white in a wider variety of settings.
Approx. 100% frame coverage
The D3S’s large prism gives you the FX-format visual advantage when you shoot. The viewfinder image is not only larger and brighter, but the focusing screen is also carefully designed to help you to more intuitively sense sharp focus, be it manual or autofocus.
For the reliability professionals demand, the shutter of the D3S has been tested for up to 300,000 cycles in fully assembled cameras under rigorous conditions. The ruggedly constructed D3S employs a strong yet lightweight magnesium alloy for its body, exterior cover, chassis and mirror box. Furthermore, a comprehensive series of O-rings and other specialized seals, combined with additional Nikon engineering, protect the D3S against invasive moisture, dust and even electromagnetic interference.
Twin CF card slots
The D3S lets you designate each card slot for certain tasks: record two full CF cards of data sequentially for a large amount of storage, record the same data onto two cards (backup), record RAW and JPEG simultaneously onto separate cards, and transfer data from one card to another. You can also designate the slot for data-heavy D-Movie recording.
The D3S uses the EN-EL4a rechargeable batteries. Power consumption and power management systems have been engineered for greater operating efficiency, so you can expect long battery life, shooting up to 4,200 images* per charge.
*Based on CIPA Standards.
Easy-to-access Live View mode
The dedicated Live View button gives you instant access to two Live View modes: Tripod mode for accurate AF operation and Hand-held mode for more versatile shooting angles. The speed for Contrast-detect AF in Tripod mode has also been improved for enhanced practicality.
Quiet Shutter-release mode for non-intrusive shooting
Photographers can select “Q” on the release mode dial to substantially reduce the sound of the camera’s mirror-down during shooting. This is particularly useful when shooting in restrictive conditions such as when photographing theatrical performances or wildlife.
3-in., approx. 921k-dot color, 170° viewing angle LCD monitor
The D3S;s large, high-resolution LCD monitor delivers bright, crisp image playback with up to 27x enlargement for immediate and precise image confirmation. Each LCD is covered with scratch resistant tempered glass and individually calibrated and fine-tuned at the factory to deliver consistent performance.
- Newly added image area of 1.2x crop (30 × 20) format with approx. 8.4 Megapixels.
- Multiple exposure operation that can be repeated by designating the function to the bracketing button.
- Electronic virtual horizon that is available in Live View shooting.
- Extended menu banks that stores up to four combinations of exposure mode, shutter speed and aperture value.
- Versatile in-camera Retouch Menus, including RAW processing to enhance your images without using a computer.
- Compatible with HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) output. Type C connector (mini size) is employed.
- With the optional GPS Unit GP-1, location information such as latitude, longitude, altitude and time are automatically recorded to each image’s EXIF data. The Time Adjustment feature, which adjusts your camera’s time zone, is also available using the GP-1. Especially useful for group assignments that require several D3S cameras to be synchronized.
- Exclusive Nikon Software – Nikon Transfer and ViewNX software packages (supplied) for a range of basic photo browsing and editing operations; Capture NX 2, Camera Control Pro 2, and Image Authentication Software (all optional) enable more advanced operation and image editing.
|Type of Camera
||Single-lens reflex digital camera
||Nikon FX format (36.0 × 23.9 mm) CMOS sensor
|Image Size (Pixels)
||FX format: 4,256 × 2,832 [L], 3,184 × 2,120 [M], 2,128 × 1,416 [S]; 5:4 (30 × 24): 3,552 × 2,832[L], 2,656 × 2,120 [M], 1,776 × 1,416 [S]; DX format: 2,784 × 1,848 [L], 2,080 × 1,384 [M], 1,392 × 920 [S]; 1.2× (30×20): 3,552 × 2,368[L], 2,656 × 1,776[M], 1,776 × 1,184[S]; D-movie: 1280 × 720 / 24fps, 640 × 424 / 24fps, 320 × 216 / 24fps
||ISO 200 to 12,800 in steps of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV, plus HI-0.3, HI-0.5, HI-0.7, HI-1, HI-2 and HI-3 (ISO 102,400); sensitivity decreases approx. LO-0.3, LO-0.5, LO-0.7 and LO-1 (ISO 100)
||NEF (12 or 14-bit lossless compressed, compressed, or uncompressed RAW), TIFF (RGB), JPEG (Baseline-compliant); AVI movie (Motion JPEG compression format with monaural sound; Stero sound with external microphone)
||CompactFlash & trade; (CF) Card (Type I compliant with UDMA)
||1) Single frame shooting [S] mode, 2) Continuous low shooting [CL] mode: 1-9 fps, 3) Continuous high shooting [CH] mode: 9 fps (9-11 fps with DX format), 4) Quiet shutter-release, 5) Self-timer mode, 6) Mirror-up mode, 7) D-Movie
||Auto (TTL white balance with 1,005-pixel RGB sensor, and main image sensor); Incandescent, Fluorescent, Direct sunlight, Flash, Cloudy, Shade, Choose colour temp., White balance preset
|LCD Monitor Size
||3.0", 921,000-dot, low-temperature polysilicon TFT LCD, allows up to 170-degree viewing angle, 100% frame coverage, and brightness adjustment
||1) Full frame, 2) Thumbnail (4, 9, or 72 images) with playback zoom, 3) Movie playback, 4) Slideshow, 5) Histogram display, 6) Highlights, 7) Auto image rotation, 8)Image comment
||1) Card format, 2) All frames delete, 3) Selected frames delete
||USB 2.0 (High-speed)
|Picture Angle (in 35mm (135) format equivalent)
||FX Format 1:1, DX Format approx 1.5x focal length
||Fixed eye-level pentaprism; built-in diopter adjustment (-3 to +1.0 m-¹)
||Type B BriteView Clear Matte VI screen with AF area brackets
|Viewfinder Frame Coverage/Magnification (with 50mm lens at infinity; -1.0 m-1)
||Approx. 100%/ Approx. 0.7x
||TTL phase detection, 51 focus points (15 cross-sensors) by Nikon Multi-CAM 3500FX autofocus module; Detection range: -1 to +19 EV (ISO 100 at 20°C/68°F); Focal-plane contrast [in Liveview (Tripod) mode]
||1) Single-servo AF (AF-S), 2) Continuous-servo AF (AF-C), 3) Focus tracking automatically activated according to subject status, 4) Manual focus (M) with electronic rangefinder can be selected from 51 focus area
|Exposure Metering System
||1) 3D-Color Matrix Metering II (type G and D lenses); Color Matrix Metering II (other CPU lenses); Color Matrix Metering (non-CPU lenses if user provides lens data); 2) Center-weighted: Weight of 75% given to 12 mm circle in center of frame; Diameter of circle can be changed to 8, 15, or 20 mm, or weighting can be based on average of entire frame (fixed at 12 mm when non-CPU lens is used), 3) Spot: Meters 4.0 mm circle (about 1.5% of frame) centered on selected focus point (on center focus area when non-CPU lens is used)
|Exposure Metering Range (at normal temperature [68°F/20°C], ISO 100 equivalent, f/1.4 lens)
||1) 0 to 20 EV (3D-Color Matrix or Center-weighted metering), 2) 2 to 20 EV (Spot metering)
||1) Programmed Auto (P), 2) Shutter-Priority Auto (S), 3) Aperture-Priority Auto (A), 4) Manual [M]
|Auto Exposure Bracketing
||2 to 9 exposures in increments of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 or 1 steps to (+-) 1.0 EV
||Electronically controlled vertical-travel focal plane shutter; 30 to 1/8000sec in steps of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV plus bulb
||X-contact only; flash synchronization at up to 1/250 sec
||1) TTL: i-TTL balanced fill-flash and standard i-TTL flash for digital SLR using 1,005-pixel RGB sensor are available with SB-900, SB-800, SB-600, or SB-400, 2) Auto aperture: Available with SB-900 or SB-800 and CPU lens, 3) Non-TTL auto: Supported flash units include SB-900, SB-800, SB-28, SB-27, and SB-22S, 4) Distance-priority manual: Available with SB-900 and SB-800
|Flash Sync Modes
||1) Front-curtain sync, 2) Red-eye reduction, 3) Red-eye reduction with Slow sync, 4) Slow sync, 5) Rear-curtain sync
||ISO 519 standard terminal, with built-in rubber cap
||Electronically controlled timer with duration of 2, 5, 10 or 20 s.
|Depth of Field Preview Button
||Via 10-pin Remote Cord MC-22/30/36 (optional) or Wireless Remote Control WT-4 (optional)
||GPS Unit GP-1 or GPS device compliant with NMEA 0183 (Ver. 2.01 and 3.01) interface standard supported with 9-pin D-sub cable (optional) and GPS Cable MC-35 (optional)
||Total of 20 languages:Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish
||Rechargeable EN-EL4a/EL4 Li-ion Battery, EH-6 AC adapter (optional)
|Battery Life (on a fully charged battery)
||Approx. 4200 shots
||1/4 in. (ISO1222)
||Approx. 159.5 × 157 × 87.5 mm
|Weight (without battery, memory card or body cap)
||Approx. 1,240 g
|Supplied Accessories (may differ by country or area)
||Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL4a, Quick Charger MH-22, USB Cable UC-E4, Audio Video Cable EG-D2, Camera Strap AN-DC5, Body Cap BF-1B, Accessory Shoe Cover BS-2, Eyepiece DK-17, Battery Chamber Cover BL-4, USB Cable Clip, Software Suite CD-ROM. * Supplied accessories may differ depending on country or area
||Retouch menu, Info Display on LCD monitor, Intergrated Dust Reductions System, Live view, D-Movie (with external stereo microphone input; in-camera movie editing),Dual card slots
Shot on D3S
CNET – Editor’s Choice
Overall rating of 9.5 out of 10. “True night vision is a step closer with the Nikon D3S, a stunning professional DSLR on all accounts from still images to video.”
Out on assignment
Bill Frakes – Sports/Photojournalism (U.S.A.)
From the bustling metropolis of Sydney to aboriginal villages in the Outback, from a cold and dusty Aussie rules football pitch in Tasmania to the sun-baked desert in Nambung National Park, Sports Illustrated staff photographer and award-winning photojournalist, Bill Frakes roamed Australia for three weeks, testing the D3S relentlessly to serve his seemingly limitless photographic imagination.
Every time I put the D3S to my eye, it’s like opening a surprise present. It makes the child in me come out and play. Everything I see can be captured accurately and fluidly, and by combining still capture and D-Movie, I can meld motion and emotion into multidimensional expressions of visual and audio exploration.
I make career-defining decisions in milliseconds, and I want the best possible image quality every time I push the button. No matter who you are, or how you work, you never know when the cosmos will align in such a way that the perfect image is available.
When it happens, I have to be ready in every conceivable way. This is why the D3S excites and motivates me. I need a camera that responds precisely, quickly and consistently. The D3S does that and more, and this kind of power gives me enormous freedom.
Vincent Munier – Nature/Wildlife (France)
As an artist with an immense respect for nature, award-winning wildlife photographer, Vincent Munier waits patiently in severe weather until his animal subjects grow to accept his presence.
Only then will he begin photographing them. Vincent recently took the D3S on assignment with him to Norway and Finland. There, he and the D3S sat quietly in the wind and rain while getting to know the creatures of the Nordic forest.
Animal photography is a passion more than a profession. Sometimes I sit in the rain and snow for weeks just to experience a single brief moment with an animal. I need the best and most reliable equipment available so that I can take full advantage of the rare opportunities inherent in my work.
Many of my subjects are active only after the sun goes down. Yet with the D3S, I managed to photograph things that my eyes were practically unable to see. For example, I remember a brown bear that was just meters from my cabin in the Finnish taiga. It was the middle of the night, but just a short glimpse of his wet nose permitted me to focus, resulting in a surprisingly sharp picture. Capturing images like this is what makes the D3S invaluable.