Nikon D3S Reviews

First published on: Thursday, 15 October 2009

This post is a compilation of Nikon D3S digital SLR camera professional and user reviews, owner opinions and experiences, tests, conclusions, ratings and feedback.

Full attribution is given by linking to the source and where available, the author’s homepage or photo gallery.

Nothing but praise for the D3S: — Thom Hogan says:

D3s. Wow. If six months ago Nikon had said to me that they could improve the high ISO output of the D3, I would have said maybe. But if they had said they could do it by a stop or more, I’d have called them nuts. Well, the joke’s on me. I’ve been shooting in my gym at ISO 12,800 and liking the results. Yes, liking. The D3s is a game changer (pardon the pun). We sports guys always used to have to shoot at maximum aperture and find faster lenses. For the first time we can actually think about using a smaller aperture for a bit of depth of field. That’s new. And useful. And welcome. Nice job, Nikon. And the little changes also improve the D3 experience, too. If there’s a category above Highly Recommended you’ll find that I give that to this camera when I review it.

And later, here’s Thom’s review of the D3S (note that he gives the camera a full, 5-star rating for every category), where he concludes:

So the incredible has happened. Nikon took the best low-light sensor yet made and pushed it another stop further. There’s no excuse for bad results in poorly lit venues any more. It isn’t the camera’s fault (at least if you’ve got a D3s). Funny thing is, only 15 years ago I remember being impressed by ISO 1600 film in a dim arena. Impressed that I could get any usable image at all, that is. The D3s is like having a boundary lifted: low light is just low light now. Low light doesn’t automatically mean bad pictures.

Lloyd Chambers expresses great enthusiasm for the D3S — Lloyd has the following comments at his blog post Nikon D3s ISO 3200 examples posted:

I reiterate my enthusiastic recommendation to get the D3s — in my view it’s by far the world’s best low light camera, combining noise and color rendition to stunning effect. In fact, I like it so much that I might just have to buy the loaner camera I’m testing (even though I have a D3x). See yesterday’s comments below, as well.


This is ISO 3200! It’s not just noise, there is something exceptional about the Nikon D3s images, highly unusual and stunning in its luminosity and depth. This example and all the others in the review have noise reduction OFF.

Thom Hogan speculates on the possible origin and manufacture of the D3S FX sensor

DPReview forum post #1:

The two top theories are Renesas or leasing the new Sony fab that’s underutilized. The markings on the sensor itself seem consistent with some other Renesas chips I’ve seen. But it doesn’t matter. As far as anyone should be concerned, the D3, D700, and D3S sensor are “Nikon designed and manufactured.” Nikon did the design, there’s no disputing that. Even if they use a fab elsewhere, from what I hear Nikon is in charge of the process pretty much from start to stop. The toppings (Bayer, microlenses) is clearly a Nikon manufacturing process, too.

DPReview forum post #2:

Actually, the sensor change is one of the most significant aspects of the D3s upgrade. We haven’t seen Nikon do significant sensor design changes this fast before. They’ve obviously put more resources into the sensor side.


Nikon D3S — Main page

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