Nikon Canada has announced the new D3s digital SLR camera, enabling new opportunities in low-light photography with extreme ISO sensitivity for stills and video. Here are the feature highlights:
ISO performance: ISO 12,800 as standard, expandable to ISO equivalent of 102,400
Professional photographers can now rely on ISO 200 to ISO 12,800 as the professional standard of image quality for their assignments – an incredible advantage when shooting indoor sports, stadium events at night, dimly lit spot news or any other shooting situation where light is limited and Speedlights are not applicable. Shooting at ISOs as high as 12,800, the D3s can take commercial-quality, tack-sharp images in low light at action-freezing shutter speeds. When needed, the D3s expands to the amazing ISO equivalent of 102,400, still revealing colours and details even in extremely low-lit places where human eyes may find it difficult to discern objects. Its exceptional low-noise performance also
applies to D-Movie capture, which opens up new opportunities for multi-media projects and assignments.
Large pixel pitch: the 12.1-megapixel FX-format advantage
The D3s’ image sensor has been completely redesigned from the D3, with the inner structure further optimized and the pixel count and large pixel pitch maintained for even greater latitude in high ISO performance. As a result, the D3s captures and renders light in ways that no other camera has yet achieved*, with a significantly higher signal-to-noise ratio and a wide dynamic range for unmatched image quality for both still images and movies throughout the broadened ISO sensitivity capabilities.
*As of October 14, 2009
New and improved D-Movie function
From well-lit scenes to extremely low-lit situations, the D3s’ D-Movie mode delivers unique versatility. The newly refined D-Movie offers HD quality (1,280 x 720 pixels) Motion-JPEG movies at 24 fps. By controlling the aperture from the widest f-stop to the smallest, the large FX-format sensor renders low-noise images with beautiful bokeh effects from a large selection of NIKKOR lenses. High-Sensitivity Movie mode allows users to shoot at up to ISO 102,400 in places too dark to see clearly with their own eyes. D-Movie footage is easy to trim in-camera by simply selecting the starting and ending point. An extra bonus for sports and spot news photographers is the ability to save selected movie frames as JPEGs for immediate print and web publishing needs. The D3s has both an internal monoaural microphone and an external stereo microphone input, enabling higher fidelity audio recording.
Image sensor cleaning: assured protection
The D3s’ Image Sensor Cleaning function generates vibrations at four specific frequencies to optimize dust removal. This function can be set to operate automatically when the camera is turned on and off, or manually.
EXPEED™ image processing system: Nikon’s comprehensive approach to quality digital images
Nikon’s fast, comprehensive and energy-efficient approach to in-camera image processing maintains the rich initial data’s integrity through 14-bit A/D conversion and a 16-bit image-processing pipeline, which shows the enormous creative potential inherent in the NEF (Nikon Electronic File). Combined with Nikon’s FX-format sensor, the D3s produces an exceptional tonal range and minimized tone jumps. Users can expect more accuracy with difficult colour combinations such as skin tones and strong reds in the same frame without over-saturation and finer tonal gradation in highlights, even with extremely bright subject matter.
Lateral chromatic aberration reduction: edge-to-edge sharpness
The D3s corrects colour fringes caused by chromatic aberrations that, in some instances, can appear at the edges between differing subject elements. Because lateral chromatic aberrations are corrected regardless of lens type — whether telephoto, wide-angle, non-CPU and other types of NIKKOR lenses — this important aspect of the D3s contributes substantially to the highly refined image integrity that professionals demand.
Active D-Lighting: rescuing tone in highlights and shadows
Nikon’s Active D-Lighting (ADL) automatically regulates the dynamic range of high-contrast scenes, pulling out shadow details while also preserving highlights. Photographers can choose from six settings: Auto, Extra high, High, Normal, Low or Off. Users can also bracket ADL strength levels up to five frames and select the best rendition afterwards.
Picture Control: custom-tailored tone and colour
Picture Control helps define the look and feel of images by custom-tailoring sharpness, saturation and other parameters to match creative intentions. The D3s comes with four pre-installed Picture Control profiles, which can be fine-tuned and saved as new custom Picture Control profiles that match the users personal shooting style or particular shooting conditions. These profiles can easily be copied to additional cameras.
Speed and readiness throughout the workflow
The D3s optimizes workflow speed and fluidity throughout the entire shooting process. Start-up time is approximately 0.12 seconds* and release time lag is minimized to approximately 0.04 seconds.* Autofocusing, image processing, buffer memory, memory card access and recording, USB interface and the optional wireless transmitter work together to keep professional photographers focused and moving forward. And for sport and spot news photographers, many of the D3s’ JPEG files are print-ready with little or no post-production: an extra edge when time is short.
*Based on CIPA Guidelines
Nine-frames-per-second* shooting rate in FX-format, 11 fps* in DX crop
The D3s’ continuous shooting rates are impressive, and what makes them truly unique is that the D3s’ powerful stepping motor allows for a more steady delivery of fast continuous shooting speeds at a wider range of aperture settings than lesser cameras can claim. Professionals will now have greater control and fewer limitations when making the images they desire. With the DX crop, photographers can also add a 1.5x picture angle and a faster frame rate to their arsenal. Furthermore, the factory-installed buffer memory is twice the capacity of the D3, dramatically increasing the power of continuous shooting.
*Based on CIPA Guidelines
Scene Recognition System: enlightened accuracy and intelligence
Nikon’s exclusive 1,005-pixel RGB sensor precisely reads brightness and colour information to raise the overall accuracy of AF, AE, i-TTL flash control and Auto White Balance to new heights, thanks to the Scene Recognition System. The D3s’ AF delivers superb subject tracking and subject identification performance. Highlight analysis used for AE reproduces brightness faithful to what the users eyes see, and light source identification makes Auto White Balance uniquely precise and reliable.
51-point AF: fast and accurate subject acquisition
The D3s’ strategically positioned 51 AF points deliver faster focus, even with quick and/or erratic subject movement. The 15 cross-type sensors in the centre of the frame maintain the same outstanding performance with any AF NIKKOR lens f/5.6 or faster. There are four Dynamic-area AF options, including 51 points (3D-tracking), which accurately follows the subject by shifting focus points using colour and brightness information from the Scene Recognition System. This gives users an extra advantage when composition is important but the subject’s movement is extremely erratic. Single-point and Auto-area AF modes are also available.
Sophisticated AE with highlight analysis
Nikon’s exclusive 3D Colour Matrix Metering II is highly praised for its outstanding performance and faithful exposure results — even in complex, unforgiving lighting conditions. The D3s takes accurate exposure further, using highlight analysis from the Scene Recognition System and then carefully selecting from a database containing information from more than 30,000 actual shooting situations stored in the camera.
Informed Auto White Balance
Leading professionals often note that Nikon’s Auto White Balance exhibits remarkable results, even in challenging conditions with mixed light sources. With the D3s, Auto White Balance makes even further progress. Professionals can expect white as truly white in a wider variety of settings.
Approximately 100 per cent frame coverage
The D3s’ large prism gives the user the FX-format visual advantage when shooting. The viewfinder image is not only larger and brighter, but the focusing screen is also carefully designed to help the user to more intuitively sense sharp focus, be it manual or autofocus.
For the reliability professionals demand, the shutter of the D3s has been tested for up to 300,000 cycles in fully assembled cameras under rigorous conditions. The ruggedly constructed D3s employs a strong yet lightweight magnesium alloy for its body, exterior cover, chassis and mirror box.
Twin CF card slots
The D3s lets the user designate each card slot for certain tasks: record two full CF cards of data, record the same data onto two cards (backup), record RAW and JPEG simultaneously onto separate cards, and transfer data from one card to another. Users can also designate the slot for data-heavy D-Movie recording.
The D3s uses the EN-EL4a rechargeable batteries. Power consumption and power management systems have been engineered for greater operating efficiency, so users can expect long battery life, shooting up to 4,200 images* per charge.
*Based on CIPA Standards
Easy-to-access Live View mode
The dedicated Live View button gives the user instant access to two Live View modes: Tripod mode for accurate AF operation and Handheld mode for more versatile shooting angles. The speed for Contrast-detect in Tripod mode has also been improved for enhanced practicality.
Quiet Shutter-release mode for non-intrusive shooting
Photographers can select “Q” on the release mode dial to substantially reduce the sound of the camera’s mirror-down during shooting. This is particularly useful when shooting in restrictive conditions such as when photographing theatrical performances or wildlife.
Three-inch, 920k-dot colour, 170 degree viewing angle LCD monitor
The D3s’ large, high-resolution LCD monitor delivers bright, crisp image playback with up to 27x enlargement for immediate and precise image confirmation. Each LCD is covered with scratch resistant tempered glass and individually calibrated and fine-tuned at the factory to deliver consistent performance.
Nikon D3s Additional Features
- Electronic virtual horizon that is available in Live View shooting
- Extended menu banks that store up to four combinations of exposure mode, shutter speed and aperture value
- Multiple exposure operation that can be repeated via designating the function to the bracketing button
- Newly added image area of 1.2x crop (30 x 20) format with approx. 8.4 megapixels
- Versatile in-camera Retouch Menus to enhance images without using a computer
- Compatible with High-Definition Multi-media Interface (HDMI) output. Type C connector (mini size) is employed
- With the optional GPS Unit GP-1, location information such as latitude, longitude, altitude and time are automatically recorded to each image’s EXIF data
- Exclusive Nikon Software — Nikon Transfer and ViewNX software packages (supplied) for a range of basic photo browsing and editing operations; Capture NX 2, Camera Control Pro 2 and Image Authentication Software (all optional) enable more advanced operation and image editing
Price and Availability
Canada: Late November 2009. Pricing will be announced at a later date.
US: Late November 2009. US $5,199.95
UK: December 2009. RRP: £4199.99 / €5100.00
– Nikon D3s Hands-on Preview @ LetsGoDigital
– Nikon D3s Hands-on Preview @ Imaging Resource
– Nikon D3s Brief Hands-on Preview @ DPReview
– Nikon D3s Main Features
– Nikon D3s Technical Specifications
– Nikon D3s Image Samples
– Nikon D3s HD Movie Samples
– Nikon D3s Lens Compatibility
– Nikon D3s Brochure [pdf]
– Nikon D3s micro site