The Nikon D3s shoots at up to 11 frames per sec, at up to ISO 102,400, but is it the ultimate DSLR?

Product Overview

Overall rating:


Nikon D3s

Overall score:95%
Image Quality:95%


  • A solid workhorse that really delivers the results. High ISO is stunning, as is the focus system, and everything else is a bonus


  • Movie mode could do more, price is limiting


Nikon D3s Review


Price as reviewed:


Performance and Value

Nikon D3s review – Performance


The focusing on the D3s is one of its main strengths and certainly lived up to expectations. Locking on to still images using any of the 51 AF points is as quick as the lens takes to get there, which (when using the 24-70mm) is almost no time at all. The focus tracking is perhaps even more impressive, switching automatically using certain modes from continuous focus; it behaves how tracking should, in that it’s so good you have no reason to doubt it.

The only slight criticism is that none of the focus points extends to the outer areas of the frame, unless you use the contrast detect of the live view in Tripod mode.

Nikon D3s test image

Nikon D3s review – AF tracking: The AF tracking automatically deploys in continuous AF (if the menu is set to allow it). Even in these low-light conditions these fast- moving Caterham 7s caused no hassle. Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8, 200mm, f/2.8, 1/60, ISO 2200

Metering is also very reliable and gives an even range of tones in most cases, though tends to hold back on the brighter tones to avoid overexposure – something that would be expected from a pro camera.

Using a SanDisk Extreme Pro card (capable of write speeds up to 90MB/s) the D3s delivered impressive speeds. JPEG images took just 1sec to write and allowed a burst of 76 shots at nine frames per second before filling the buffer. Raw and TIFF files took 1.5 and 3secs to write respectively and offered a 33-shot burst.

The battery life from the large rechargeable unit is designed to live up to the rest of the camera and its specs suggest it is capable of up to 4,200 shots. It certainly seemed at ease with the thousand shots taken during testing.

Nikon D3s review – Value


Certainly not a camera you could justify for casual usage but, for those making money from photography, the £3,600 body price is a sound investment. The advance in ISO improves upon the D3 of old considerably, which alone is a good enough reason for purchase.

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Features
  3. 3. Design
  4. 4. Performance and Value
  5. 5. Key features
  6. 6. Image Quality
  7. 7. Verdict
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