Nikon updated its year-old D3 with its introduction of the Nikon D3S, a DSLR with the same 12.1-megapixel resolution packaged on a redesigned image sensor. The new D3S has a huge ISO range that expands up to 102,400 and a new HD movie mode. The D3S will retail for $5,199 when it goes on sale in late November.
The new FX-format D3S has features that make it a valuable tool in low light. It has the same resolution as its predecessor, but the 36 x 23.9mm CMOS image sensor is redesigned with larger pixel pitch to capture more light. According to Nikon, the signal-to-noise ratio has been improved. The Nikon D3S offers an ISO range of 200-12800, but the range can expand all the way up to 102,400. According to Nikon’s Oct. 14 press release, the high ISO “reveals detail in extreme low-light environments that challenge even the human eye’s ability to discern subject content.” To compare, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II has an ISO range of 100-6400 with expansion to 25,600.
The Nikon D3S shares a few similarities with the Canon EOS 5D Mark II, including the image sensor size and the ability to shoot HD video. Movie modes began appearing on entry-level DSLRs a few years ago to appeal to consumers who were upgrading from their compact digital cameras to DSLRs. The movement expanded to pro DSLRs as wedding and other photographers found an increasing need for an on-board movie mode. The Nikon D3S records 1280 x 720-pixel video at 24 fps. The Canon EOS 5D Mark II records 1920 x 1080 pixels at 30 fps, and sells for $2,699.
Like the Canon 5D Mark II, the Nikon D3S offers complete manual control in the movie mode – including control over the vast ISO range. There is an on-board mono microphone, and a jack for an optional stereo microphone. Videos can be trimmed in the playback mode and saved as separate files from the originals, either on the same CompactFlash card or on a separate one: there are dual slots that can be set to record consecutively or simultaneously.
The Nikon D3S has the same fast 51-point autofocus system with 15 cross type sensors and 36 horizontal sensors as the D3. There are three different autofocus modes and two live view autofocus modes including a tripod mode and a phase detection handheld mode that promises to be faster than the D3, according to Nikon.
Like the D3, the Nikon D3S can shoot 9 fps. While the burst speed hasn’t improved, the buffer size has been increased nearly twofold to 48 shots in a single burst. The Nikon D3’s burst maxes out at 18 RAW images, although a buffer upgrade service was unveiled in January that expanded its capacity to 43 shots for a $500 fee.
The Nikon D3S keeps the same build and operations as its predecessor and keeps typical Nikon technologies like the Picture Control System that can adjust contrast and saturation, among other parameters. The D3S has scene recognition and sensor cleaning systems. The D3S keeps the same 3-inch, 921k pixel LCD as the D3 and includes a 0.7x magnification optical viewfinder that has 100 percent coverage of the field of view. The camera body is dust, shock, and moisture resistant.
“The ruggedly constructed D3S was engineered to address the real-world needs of professional photographers and provides them with a tool that, when combined with their skills, delivers stunning images in a broad range of shooting conditions and assignment requirements,” said Edward Fasano, general manager for marketing, SLR systems products at Nikon Inc.
Nikon also announced a new lens to its Nikkor optics family today. The AF-S DX Micro Nikkor 85mm f/3.5G ED VR lens is a new medium telephoto lens built with close-up photography and portraiture in mind. The 85mm lens has a 35mm equivalent of 127.5mm and can focus as close as 0.9 ft. It is constructed from 14 elements in 10 groups and includes an ED lens element and a vibration reduction image stabilization system, along with a nine-blade aperture diaphragm. The Nikkor lens will retail for $529 when it becomes available in early December.