Nikon D3s review

The D3s offers the ultimate in performance, build and image quality

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See video in full-size HD

An inevitable addition is the D-movie function, whose top setting is 24fps at 720p. It's more of a tempting tick box than a compelling reason to buy a D3s, though.

There's no arguing that the video mode produces excellent quality - it captured colours accurately and reproduced pin-sharp detail - but there are a few disclaimers to be made.

Unlike the Canon 7D and 1D MKIV you don't get to control the D3s's shutter speed or ISO. And, although the five-minute recording time can be overlooked (except in the case of time-lapse video), the D3s also falls behind in resolution - Canon's HD-capable DSLRs shoot up to 1080p.

A lonely advantage is that the D3s's Motion-JPEG footage is easier for non-linear editing suites to process.

Weak overall video performance

Of course, you almost certainly shouldn't buy one. Tipping the scales at around £3,500, the D3s offers far more power than most photographers need. 9fps continuous shooting is a great feature but most will be happy with the 7fps of the Nikon D300s, or the 8fps of the Canon 7D.

Prospective shoppers might also consider that this much money could buy the D300s' body with enough left over for Nikon's 70-200mm f/2.8 telephoto lens.

You could justify it, of course - the £3,500 D3s is a camera likely to last well into the next decade (and possibly the one after that), and one whose images are more than likely to stand the test of time.

It would be deeply irresponsible, of course, to recommend such an expensive camera to non-professional photographers, but while you might regret the consequences of spending this much money, you won't be disappointed with the camera.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDigital SLR Camera Body Only
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Maximum Video Resolution1280 x 720
Effective Camera Resolution12.1 Megapixel
Wide AngleNo
Product FamilyD
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedCompactFlash (CF) Card
Brand NameNikon
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsMotion JPEG (AVI)
Viewfinder TypeSLR
Weight (Approximate)1.24 kg
Maximum Image Resolution4256 x 2832
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height157 mm
Width159.5 mm
Depth87.5 mm
Product SeriesD
Image FormatsJPEG, RAW, TIFF
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerNikon Corporation
Product ModelD3s
Product NameD3s Digital SLR Camera
Manufacturer Part NumberVBA-270-AE
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

Nikon's first FX format camera to feature high-definition movie recording offers photographers a whole new level of creative flexibility. The D3S features a highly sensitive 12.1 megapixel FX format CMOS sensor that boasts an ISO range of 200 to 12800. The D-movie function offers superior movie capture in stereo* sound and features a Save Selected frame option to speed up productivity. Nikon's acclaimed 51-point AF system offers high sensitivity in low-light and superb performance when tracking fast moving subjects. An advanced image sensor cleaning function reduces the impact of dust spots and three alternative crop modes enhance shooting flexibility. The EXPEED image processing engine and expansive buffer enables you to shoot up to 9 fps for extended bursts

Package Contents
  • D3s Digital SLR Camera
  • 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
  • CD-ROM
Limited Warranty1 Year