Jump to content

The above adverts really do help Fotozones. Please click on them if they are relevant to you. Not seeing them? Just exclude Fotozones from your ad blocker. Thanks!

- - - - -

Nikon D3s

  • Please log in to reply
13 replies to this topic

#1 Dallas


    Fotozones Owner

  • Administrators
  • 18,164 posts
  • LocationDurban, South Africa
  • Edit my pics?:Yes

Posted 26 November 2009 - 09:21

Have you used this camera? If so please let others know what you thought of it by replying to this thread.

Kindly take note of the guidelines in the sticky notice on this board.

Clicking on an ad just once a day will help me tremendously with financing this site. 

You can also support the site by buying your gear from the affiliate advertisers below (use these links):

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | Adorama | B&HThinkTankPhoto | Digital REV | OWC 

Alternatively you can DONATE via PayPal (donor list)


Follow Me On: social-facebook-box-blue-icon.png social-twitter-box-blue-icon.png YouTube-icon.png google-icon.png 

#2 Len Shepherd

Len Shepherd

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 527 posts
  • Edit my pics?:Ask Me

Posted 13 January 2010 - 20:25

I have one - though with 4 weeks of continuous snow I am "walled in or out" by snow 4-5 feet high from the snow ploughs. Some drifts are 5 feet deep - getting out and about is locally very difficult.
In Single-area AF the AF reads from a much smaller area of the screen - it reads much smaller AF targets in this AF mode than the D3.
On noise and resolution it is all relative - I do not regard noise as dominant at A4 print size until Hi 2 50,000 ISO.
I regard 1600 ISO as very clean. UK's AP reports resolution (at 100% 72 dpi) in RAW as 26 lpm at 200 ISO, 24 at 1600 and 22 at 6400. The reported modest resolution loss at 1600 and 6400 is in line with my initial results.
At very low light levels with an f1.4 lens be prepared to switch to manual metering. This permits at least an extra 5 stops low light metering.
Video is fairly straightforward - once you crack the missing detail in the instructions - come out of Live-View for playback. You can have either limited speed phase detect AF OR exposure changes during recording (depending on Live-View mode) - but not both together. Video quality is as good as many digital projectors deliver.
All in all a worthwhile purchase for me as I want some video wild life during my 3 week trip to Tanzania starting next week.

#3 Doss Imaging

Doss Imaging

    Advanced Member

  • Life Member
  • 42 posts
  • LocationLouisville, KY USA
  • Edit my pics?:Ask Me

Posted 15 January 2010 - 02:46

OK; I'll bite.  I'm one of the lucky few to get one a few weeks ago.  Loved the D700 so much - I began to shop for a spare, but then decided to bite on the D3s as a "spare".  Once the white stuff outside melts - I can't wait to see what it will do with some color!  What I've observed thus far: capturing usable images in almost completely dark settings - much more so than the D700, at insanely high ISO's that are essentially noise-free (at least to my aged eyes).  Can't wait until DxO releases a module for the 17-35!  Love the 100% view; and dual CF slots are a huge step-up to the '700, as well as the solid-feel construction.  Shutter feel/quietness was a pleasant surprise; AF w/24-70, 70-200 & 200-400 are almost instantaneous.  I'm not a big B&W fan; so will report more once color returns to the Midwest.  Video: not interested; but may come in handy w/grandkids.  Overall, I think my "spare" will now relegate to the '700. 

#4 Aqualung


    Advanced Member

  • Life Member
  • 703 posts
  • LocationBoston
  • Edit my pics?:Ask Me

Posted 11 March 2010 - 17:36

I had been planning a move to FX for quite some time, but wanted to hold off one more generation than the D3/D700.  After the D3s was announced, I was hoping that we might see a D700s but it wasn't the case.  I justified the D3s for its 'best in class' AF performance and > 1 stop improvement.  There were a lot of used D3 bodies hitting the boards, but I knew that I'd be kicking myself for the next few years if I didn't extend myself to get the D3s.

First shootings (sports, mainly) have been very favorable.  I've been able to shoot w/ my f2.8 lenses (also got the 24-70 and 70-200f2.8 VR II) indoors, in venues where I had never been able to use them.  So I have a new set of shot possibilities now available to me.  And, I have the AF performance, which in sports like basketball, helps tremendously to shift your target and quickly acquire focus.  It has taken a bit of adjustment to change my position/zoom for framing, but it's starting to click.

Even in well-lit venues, being able to go f4 for better DOF, is a plus.  I have also been using Dynamic focus more (9 pt).  I was never pleased with Dynamic on my D300, despite pros like Dave Black raving about it (D3).  Perhaps it's the tighter cluster of focus points on FX, and the better AF performance, but I'm a lot happier w/ Dynamic mode now.

I do intend to use the video, I think it's a great addition -- e.g. catching the jube after a hard-fought win, etc.  

Some of the niceties for me include the ability to lock the command dials, which helps a lot when in Manual mode and the camera is bumping around (I use a Black Rapid R-strap so it's banging against my hip).  I intend to use the CSM b4 which allows me to use the command dial to quickly dial in EV adjustments...when I'm shooting outdoors sports I'm in A mode so the ability to quickly dial in + or - EV to compensate for the sun will be great.  Also, the Quiet shutter mode is handy when taking a shot of a player at the free throw line; in high school or younger the crowds are still quiet (unlike college or pro) during this time so your regular shutter can be quite loud.

Two negatives I've have so far include 1) there is only one multi-selector button.  Shooting the D300 w/ MB-D10 the past few years I really like the 2nd multi-selector button on the grip.  I have what I would call average size hands (maybe 7" from thumb to pinkie when stretched out) and I like to change my focus point on the fly a lot; it's a little less convenient on the D3s, and 2) as I mentioned above I use the Black Rapid Strap (RS-7).  A few times, I've brought the camera up to get a shot after putting down my 2nd body and I've discovered that Live View is enabled (where I obviously didn't want it to be).  If you're not aware, they moved Live View off the dial on the top left (D3) to a dedicated button on the rear of the camera on the D3s.

Update:  Another thing I miss from my D300 is the grid line overlay; these really helped me keep my horizons level.  There is the virtual horizon CSM but since I'm shooting Manual right now (basketball) I prefer to keep my exposure meter active.  I am finding myself being more cognizant of the camera tilt (or lack therof) so in the end, it's not a bad thing, I guess.

I know there will be another generation next year (D4?) but I'm very happy w/ my D3s and envision using for 3-4 years, at least.

#5 Ann


    Professional Photographer

  • Life Member
  • 10,160 posts
  • LocationNew York State
  • Edit my pics?:No

Posted 12 March 2010 - 01:13

I feel that the D3S is the finest camera that I have ever owned. I thought that the D3 was unbeatable but the D3S has knocked it right off its perch and into "Back-up/ Second String status.

Apart from the refinements and improvements mentioned by the others (including the incredible low-light performance and much speedier and more precise AF even with slow lenses in less than good light); there are some other little touches that have been added that just make the whole shooting experience nicer and more efficient.

Some of the little, and rather obscure, new features that I like include:
the Quiet Mode shutter;
the ability to use RAW picture editing in camera as a Colour Temperature Meter to determine the actual color temp. of odd-ball lamps for flash filter-balancing;
the instant view of a spirit level and a grid on the LCD which you can access if you pop into LiveView mode for a moment when setting up the camera even if you don't intend to shoot in LV;
and the additional LCD access button to give you an instantaneous and editable view of your current camera settings.

I am just so happy that I was able to buy the D3S.

#6 Len Shepherd

Len Shepherd

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 527 posts
  • Edit my pics?:Ask Me

Posted 12 March 2010 - 09:42

Another advance is improved ability to assess depth of field.
A downside of modern multi point AF and multi spot metering is, to enable it to work, significant amounts of light are diverted in the central area of the mirror surface. This light never reaches the viewfinder, without "clever" screens etc the viewfinder image would be dark in the center, the apparent screen size is significantly smaller than when I started in photography, and to keep screen brightness reasonable (it is still 2 stops darker than in the OM4 era) it is ground fine.
All this results in a big reduction of one of the SLR's original advantages - the ability to reasonably assess dof in the viewfinder.
Welcome Live View tripod mode :) :)
Change the aperture on the front ring and Live View shows the new dof in less than half a second.
Better still the rear screen display size is bigger than apparent viewfinder size was decades ago.
Even better still the rear screen maintains full brightness even at effective f36 with a macro - no more squinting trying to assess dof at small apertures.
Note the dof effect does not work in Live View Hand Held mode.
One fault - as with the D3 the viewfinder mirror closure lever looses it's paint finish quickly.

#7 Chris Fabbri

Chris Fabbri

    Advanced Member

  • Life Member
  • 4,361 posts
  • LocationSao Paulo / Brazil

Posted 12 March 2010 - 10:33

Few words : the best camera, by far, I've used in my life.
8.000 shots (low light, nature, people, racetracks, etc.) and I am still trying to find something I don't like on this camera.
Best Regards,

Chris Fabbri
CFR Motorsports Media - www.chrisfabbriphoto.com/cfrmedia/
Site (All Galleries) - www.chrisfabbriphoto.com
Facebook - www.facebook.com/chrisfabbrifotografia

#8 Jason Ross

Jason Ross


  • Members
  • PipPip
  • 19 posts

Posted 05 April 2010 - 17:47

Held off getting the Nikon D700 for my move to FX and got the D3s instead, this is just an amazing camera and does what I want it to do and makes no fuss about it, that is what a pro camera should do and it does it with flying colours, it even makes a good job of the two DX lens I still have, I have a number of older auto focus lens and they all work well and I have added two new lens for my D3s, a Nikon 105 VR and a Nikon 16-35, I have a friend of mine that has had a Nikon 105 VR for nearly a year, so after seeing some great result I have bought one too, the Nikon 16-35 I just bought for the fun of it, but from 24-35mm it's a great lens, does OK at 20mm and just fun at 16mm plus it has VR so the min of f4 does not matter, that is the nice thing about the Nikon D3s, it's a work horse and a lot of fun as well, I haven't used the video on it yet, I have only used the video a couple of times on the Nikon D5000, but it is great that the Nikon D3s can do live mode if one needs it.

#9 mshi


    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 133 posts

Posted 30 April 2010 - 03:42

Just received another D3s couple days ago. Initial findings are not quite encouraging. A few issues,  among them AF issues, and certain menu selections simply just don't work.  For AF, it simply just can't obtain AF in Dynamic AF mode at AF-C setting under low light, while D700/D300/D3 can do it without any issues under the same lighting. I tried all lenses,  two-button reset, Shooing Menu reset, and Custom Menu reset, also tried 9-point, 21-point, and 51-point, and firmware flush. Nothing worked.

Secondly, AF-Assist Light on SB-600, SB-800, SB-900, and SU-800 simply don't work at all when they are mounted on the hotshoe for AF-S, and AF-C mode with Dynamic AF, Single AF point, and AF tracking for all my lenses. Also tried using SC-29 to attach speedlights, still without success.  The other bodies have no problem with those speedlights' AF Assist.

One observation is that I don't see any AF illumination light emitting from the camera body when it's in a dimly-lit lighting environment without speedlights on the hotshoe.

There are some other nasty things that I don't like.  Its shutter sounds three times louder than that of D3, and I can even hear noise from metal springs moving inside. Certain menu functions are available but simply don't work. Example is that Preview and Function programmable features are largely don't work.

Already contacted Nikon asking for solutions. This is my fourth D3s since last December, and I start to feel a little bit tired of it by now.  

#10 risling


    Advanced Member

  • Life Member
  • 41 posts

Posted 30 November 2011 - 11:46

I have had this wonderful camera for a while now. Why did I buy it? Main reason was high ISO picture quality. After many years shooting with D2Xs I was rather tired of rather poor resolution, noise level and color accuracy when using ISO 640 or above.

I have found the camera really designed for speed in all respects; shooting, customizing, on-the-fly changes etc.

What I had to work with for some time was getting the colors to my taste when shooting landscapes. There the D2Xs did a great job from start. But now I can be happy about all details in a picture. I don't have the need for those extreme details provided by D3X

#11 general


    Advanced Member

  • Life Member
  • 72 posts
  • LocationNebraska, USA

Posted 17 December 2011 - 16:46

First of all, I am NOT a wedding photographer but an acquaintance was getting married and they couldn't afford a "real wedding" photographer. So, in a weak moment, I agreed to photograph their wedding. Bad communication etc ensued and at the rehearsal I learned I would not be able to use flash and the church was not lit for photography. To make a long story longer, I shot the wedding with the 24-120 f/4 Nikkor and the D3S at 10,000 ISO. With a little Define 2.0 here and there I was able to deliver the wedding photographs to a happy bride. My D3 was good but the D3S is fantastic.

D2X, D3S, D800, D7100, D7000, D3200, J1 and a raft of lenses and other NIkon cameras.

#12 TGB


    Advanced Member

  • Life Member
  • 1,240 posts
  • LocationAsker, Norway
  • Edit my pics?:Ask Me

Posted 18 December 2011 - 20:35

Only issue with D3s is that AF sometime fails in dark environment, my D3 is better here; I've heard some rumors about a bug in the AF-algorithm. And in addition, the dynamic range is 1/3 stop better on the D3 compared to D3s. Both are fantastic cameras, so really no need to wait for the D4 if you need the best right now :)

#13 Alan7140


    Advanced Member

  • Life Member
  • 5,622 posts
  • LocationTasmania, Australia
  • Edit my pics?:Ask Me

Posted 19 December 2011 - 08:28

Heh, heh, a few weeks ago I photographed my son's wedding. As the ceremony commenced I started taking shots with the D3s - I had already determined that the space was small and not using a flash would be less disruptive for all concerned, so I upped the ISO to a very modest 3200 and pressed the shutter.

A loud admonishment emanated from the front row at my left - "FLASH!", the source being my ex-wife. Some people.... divorced 26 years ago & still trying to control the show. Thank you, D3s, for effectively raising your middle finger :) :) .

#14 helioer


    Advanced Member

  • Life Member
  • 667 posts
  • LocationHelsinki

Posted 09 July 2012 - 17:56

I bought one today. I have been very pleased with my D3 over the years but the D3s seems to be way better in low light situations. Increased buffer size does not hurt either. Now the D3 serves as the backup body or second body in a situation where changing of lenses is undesired. I got a used D3s with only 12k clicks at the price of a D800 and could not be happier. Even the battery included is in better shape than my three current batteries. Next I'll be waiting for the release of a D4s...


D3s, D3, D200, D70
FX: Nikon 14-24/2.8G, 24-70/2.8G, 28/1.8G, 70-200/2.8G VR, 300/2.8G VR, 60/2.8D+105/2.8D micro, 85/1.4D, 16/2.8D, 50/1.4G, 500/8 reflex C, Sigma 8/3.5 EX, 12-24 EX, 150/2.8 OS EX...
TC: TC-14 E II, TC-17 E II, TC-20 E III
DX: 10.5/2.8, 18-70, 18-200
4*SB800's, R1C1 kit with 3*SB-R200, YN-622 kit (TX+4*RC)...

0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

The above adverts really do help Fotozones. Please click on them if they are relevant to you. Not seeing them? Just exclude Fotozones from your ad blocker. Thanks!

An appeal to all Fotozones visitors: please help me to keep this site going by starting your gear purchases using any one of the affiliate links shown below:

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | Adorama.com | thinkTank Photo | DigitalRev.com | OWC | B&H or Donate via PayPal

Starting your shopping here doesn't cost you anything more, but by using the links above (or any others found on the site) you are advising the affiliate that you support this website. This results in a small commission that helps with the running costs. If your preferred outlet isn't among those listed above you can also support the site by making a donation of any amount via PayPal (no PayPal account required). Any donation will be most appreciated.