Nikon D3s review

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

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nikon d3s

Amazing images? Check. Top build quality? Check. Top-notch ISO performance? Check. There are other prosumer cameras around that come close to the D3s – which is incredible, when you come to think about it – but none that match it.

We liked:

The standout feature on the D3s is its ISO capabilities.

The top end of its ISO range is a bit of a gimmick – peeping Toms and paparazzi aside it's unlikely you'll need the D3s's spectacular light-gathering detail. But the ISOs further downrange are amazing – ISO 3200 is a genuinely usable setting, which means you can shoot for longer at decent shutter speeds.

Build quality also gets a mention – the D3s feels like it could survive a bomb blast.

We disliked:

We wish the D3s had a better movie mode – 5 minutes of filming at 720p isn't earth-shattering, and of equal concern is the lack of manual control.

It's good enough for simple reportage footage, though, although well-heeled budding documentarians should consider a camera capable of 1080p or, better yet, a dedicated video camera.


At this price and performance it's a straight shootout between this and the Canon 1D MKIV, which we haven't seen yet. If you're a professional in the market for a new body and are already committed to Nikon equipment, there is no reason not to buy this 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