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:


Image Quality

Nikon D3s test image

Nikon D3s review – Colour: The images from the D3s have a certain richness to them, while skin tones are handled very accurately, giving a natural look to portrait shots. Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, 70mm, f/8, 1/100, ISO 6400, AWB


Nikon D3s review – Exposure


The metering system does an impressive job at delivering an accurate exposure under the toughest of conditions.

On occasion the image can appear slightly underexposed as the metering works to maintain highlight detail, but this is no bad thing and can easily be adjusted for in compensation or metering mode.

In contrast, due to the high ISO capabilities, it is sometimes necessary to reduce the exposure in dark scenes to maintain the impression of darkness.



Nikon D3s test image


Nikon D3s review – Colour & White Balance


The colours the D3s delivers certainly give it an edge over the competition and share the richness of the D700 and D3 models.

White balance is very well catered for and the Auto mode is able to correctly predict the right setting in most scenes. However, indoor lighting and high ISO shots can cause problems on occasion. Not that this would worry anyone shooting in Raw format and is not severe enough to be a worry in JPEG for most either.



Nikon D3s test image


Nikon D3s review – Raw/JPEG


At close inspection there is very little visible difference in quality between the JPEG and Raw files. Fringing appears to have been softened in the JPEG processing, whereas the Raw files appear more severe before any kind of adjustment.



Nikon D3s test image

Nikon D3s review – Image Quality: Both JPEG and Raw files provide a high level of detail, though on close inspection the JPEG processing offers smoothing which can reduce sharpness fractionally. Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, 24mm, f/8, 1/100sec, ISO 2500, AWB


Nikon D3s review – Sharpness & Detail


Sharpness is excellent with the right lens choice, though due to the large sensor the resulting depth of field can be much narrower than you are used to. With a relatively moderate pixel count, the level of detail is not breathtaking but does offer as much as the pixels will allow – which is plenty for prints up to A2.



Nikon D3s ISO


Nikon D3s review – ISO Sensitivity & Image Noise


Image noise remains well controlled throughout the camera’s standard range – even at ISO 12,800. Meanwhile, the results at the staggering Hi3 setting (102,400) aren’t far off those you would expect at ISO 1600 on a DSLR just a few years ago.

  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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