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Customer Review

67 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing low light camera, December 14, 2009
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This review is from: Nikon D3S 12.1 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 3.0-Inch LCD and 24fps 720p HD Video Capability (Body Only) (Camera)
The Nikon D3s is an amazing camera and I love it. The vast majority of people looking at buying this camera are talking about it's ISO and low light abilities. Even though there is alot more to this camera than it's amazing new ISO abilities, lets start with it's most unique feature and major selling point.

How good does it's ISO get? How about 12,800! The ISO can be pushed up to 102,400 using the Hi ISO settings.

My tests - Nikon D3s combined with the Nikkor 24-70 2.8 Lens.
I tested the camera at 400 ISO, 800 ISO, 1,600 ISO, 3,200 ISO, 6,400 ISO, and 12,800 ISO both inside in low light and outside at night. I have also tested the Hi 3 or 102,400 ISO setting

The ISO settings look really great up through the 3,200 mark. After that one can a little notice grain/noise up to the 12,800 ISO point. I would not hesitate at all running this camera at 1,600 or 3,200 ISO. BTW - Pictures taken at 12,800 are usable. They look really good. But there is a little noise as I said. The 102,400 setting creates all sorts of noise/grain, but that should be expected. So far the pictures I've take at the highest setting basically turns this camera into your own "night vision" camera. It can see in very dark surroundings.

More on the D3s

- This camera is rugged. Over the holidays, I had it outside in snow storms, rain, and sub freezing temperatures. It performed flawlessly.
- Info button - New to the D3s and really nice. It displays information such as f-stop, shutter speed, mode, and remaining pictures on monitor/display screen on the back
- Live view - there are 2 setting here. One for a tripod and one for handheld use. Turn this on, and you have a view of what you see through the viewfinder on your back monitor. I personally don't use this alot, but can see why others would.
- Accurate and fast auto focus using the 24-70 2.8 lens and my 14-24 2.8 lens
- HD Video at 720p
- Amazing 9 fps. Yes, I tested this, and I love it. I shoot motorsports and was hampered by the slower D2Xs as well as the smaller buffer on the D2Xs
- Sensor cleaning - done through the menu system on the back monitor.
- Quiet mode (Which isn't that much quieter than the default sound)
- 51 point Auto Focus system
- FX metering system (remember if you use a DX lens on this camera, the FX sensor with crop your photo. It appears like a gray box inside the vewfinder cropping your edges)

My Favorite addition (actually useful and I love it) - The Virtual Horizon. This looks like something you would find in the cockpit of an airplane and not a camera, but here it is in the D3s. It is a line that gives the photographer the correct horizon. Why is this so cool? Imagine anything from nature photography in the mountains (like standing on a slope) to photographing motorsports on a banked oval track (that would be me). Here is the function that allows photos to have proper alignment. I could see this function being used both on a tripod and hand held.

*Update on pictures*
- Having spent more time photographing in low light, the 12,800 ISO setting is mind blowing.

- Pictures outside at night - I took pictures of dark lawns, streets, and some holiday lights. Contrast is good as is saturation. There is some grain/noise, but it is uniform and not that bad.
- Pictures in dimly lit rooms - less noise and the colors and saturation are great. These images were sharp too. I toggled between manual mode and program mode to fool with the depth of field and bokeh. The brighter the room, the less the noise/grain. (Again these are ALL situations that would have required a flash with any other camera)
- Pictures of stars - Yup. Stars in the sky. I was actually able to hand hold this camera, aim it in the sky and snap a picture of stars. The picture didn't look that great, but considering I did it on a whim it was still really neat. (The camera picked up alot of haze in the sky. I think away from the city, the photos would be a lot better)

I've now taken well over 1,000 pictures with the D3s and it is easily the best camera I have owned. I am really impressed

Update on one D3s issue - DPreview forums have reported numerous instances of D3s with a slow focus problem. They say it is a firmware bug. I have NOT had any issues and I am 2,000+ photos into my D3s. That includes many lowlight shoots.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 1, 2010 9:12:56 AM PDT
MOJO says:
Does the senor get cleaned everytime you open and close the camera? How does it work? thank you very your help. Great review.....
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