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Nikon D3s
12MP FX, 9 FPS, 720p, $5,200.
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Intro   Specs    Recommendations

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Nikon D3s

Nikon D3s with Nikon 50mm f/1.4 AF-S (52.6oz/1,492g with battery and cards but no lens, about $3,600 used). enlarge. My biggest source of support is when you use any of these links, especially this link directly to them at eBay (see How to Win at eBay) or at Amazon, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thanks! Ken.

14 October 2009    Nikon Reviews   Nikon Lenses    All Reviews


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Package Discounts March 2010


Introduction         top

Intro   Specs    Recommendations

The D3s is mid-model freshening of the two-year-old Nikon D3.

The D3s is the same camera as the D3, with a few new features thrown in to give it a little more catalog life. No big deal, Nikon has been doing this since the 1980s; adding an -s to a model while adding a couple of new things, like the N4004s, F4s, N8008s, N90s and most recently the D300s.

Nikon's pro DSLRs are on a four-year product cycle, so the D3s freshening is right on target, with a Nikon D4 expected in two more years, in summer 2011.

The Nikon D3, and now the D3s, is an absolutely killer camera for shooting sports and action in any light.

It is my first choice for shooting anything that moves.


The D3s adds:

Video (still with no real autofocus or stereo mic).

Sensor cleaner.

8MP, 1.2x crop (20 x 30mm) mode.

Dedicated Live View button.

Dedicated INFO button (on the wrong side of the camera).

Even stupider stupid-high ISOs to ISO 102,400.

Quiet Mode as first seen on the D5000.

$300 higher price.


ISO 102,400 sounds nice, until you realize that I can shoot under moonlight — hand-held — at ISO 6,400. I never have any need for ISO 6,400 indoors, much less anything higher. These stupid-high ISOs are gimmicks and look terrible, at least above ISO 12,800. I shoot everything at ISO 200 - 3,200, which is fast enough.

Nikon D3S back

Nikon D3s. enlarge. Note new INFO and [Lv] buttons.


Specifications         top

Intro   Specs    Recommendations


Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear.

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

I use these stores. I can't vouch for ads below.


12MP FX (24 x 36mm).

4,256 x 2,832 pixels.

Sensor cleaner.


Crop Modes

10MP 4:5 3,552 x 2,832 pixels.

8MP 1.2x 3,552 x 2,368 pixels

5MP DX 2,784 x 1,848 pixels.



ISO 200 - 12,800.

ISO 100 - 102,400 in a whacky mode. Yes, that's a stupid 102k ISO.



14-bit ADC.

16-bit DSP.

Electronic lateral color fringe correction (same as D3).



Same as D3:

0.7x (50mm lens)

100% coverage.

18mm eyepoint.



52 points (same as D3).



30s - 1/8,000.

Flash Sync: 1/250.

Tested to 300,000 cycles.


Frame Rate

9 FPS.

(11 FPS in DX with no focus and no metering)



1,280 x 720 p @ 24 fps.

Also non-standard 640 x 424 @ 24 fps and 320 x 216 @ 24 fps.

AVI files holding motion-JPG.

Mono mic (stereo external input jack).

Focus while rolling? No.



3" diagonal.

921,000 dots

640 x 480 RGB.




Two CF slots.






EN-EL4a battery (same as D3).

Rated 4,200 images, claimed more than D3.



6.3 x 6.2 x 3.4 in. (159.5 x 157 x 87.5 mm).



44 oz (1,240 g or 2 lbs. 12 oz) stripped butt-naked without the heavy battery, memory card, lens, cap or strap or even the accessory shoe cover.

This is the same as specified for the D3, which actually weighs 52.630 oz (3 pounds, 4.630 oz. or 1,492.0g) with a battery and CF cards.



14 October 2009



Late November 2009


Price, USA

About $3,600 used, September 2012.

$5,199.95, March 2010.

$5,199.95 (£4,199.99 inc. VAT, UK), October 2009.


Recommendations         top

Intro   Specs    Recommendations

If you're considering a Nikon D3, pass and get this new D3s.

For $300, I presume a better menu structure similar to the D90, D700 and D300s lets you get into the menu system with one hand, and a sensor cleaner. These are easily worth $300 more when sold new.

I already have a D3. I see no reason to trade it in, unless I shot sports or used it full-time, in which case I would replace it.

See Is it Worth It.


More Information

Nikon, Japan: Product Info   Specs   Lenses   Sample Images

Nikon, Japan: Press Release


Help me help you         top

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Thanks for reading!



Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.


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