Nikon D3s DSLR

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D3SIf this wasn’t more camera than I really need, and if I didn’t need a car, I think I might be tempted to sell the car and buy the camera. Except the car’s leased. Drat.

All I can do is go to the Henry’s Photo Show at the International Centre out by the airport, and look and perhaps touch, because the FX-format Nikon D3s DSLR will makes its Canadian debut there.

The D3s builds upon the success of the D3, a pro digital SLR, and utilizes a newly-designed, Nikon 12.1-megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor that also utilizes its low-light ability with High Definition (HD) video.

The base sensitivity of the D3s is ISO 200 to 12,800. But . . . and oh what an amazing “but” it is . . . photographers can select expanded ISO settings of 25,600 (Hi 1), 51,200 (Hi 2) and an incredible 102,400 (Hi 3), revealing detail in extreme low-light conditions that challenge even the human eye’s ability to discern subject content. Additionally, a setting of ISO 100 (Lo 1) is available.

Photojournalists using long lenses, sports photographers, this buts for you. (Okay, okay, really bad Dad humour.)

Nikon says this low-light ability, as well as astounding image quality, is attributable, in large part, to the engineering in CMOS sensor. While the pixel size and count that served the D3 maintained dynamic range, tonal gradation and outstanding colour, other aspects were engineered in. Individual pixels measure a large 8.45 microns, which support enhanced sensitivity to light and other qualities leading to superior image fidelity. The D3s captures light
and renders images with a higher signal-to-noise ratio and an unmatched dynamic range for both stills and HD video throughout its broadened ISO range, says Nikon.

The D3s adds an image sensor cleaning function. The optical low pass filter oscillates at four specific frequencies, and sensor cleaning can be set by the user to cycle automatically when the camera is powered on, turned off or on demand.

The newly refined D-Movie mode for the FX-format offers smooth 1280 x 720 video at a cinematic 24fps, with a new algorithm that severely reduces the phenomenon of “rolling shutter” typical to DSLRs while panning. The motion JPEG codec makes it easy to extract single frames from a video clip and save it as a JPEG file, while the 720p HD format eases storage, provides faster wireless transfers and offers video files that are generally easier to use in the field. Photographers can also trim movie clips on the fly by revising the start and end points, and save the edited clip as a copy while maintaining the original.

There’s a built-in monoaural microphone; a stereo microphone input lets you use your own mic.

High Sensitivity Movie Mode allows the utilization of the entire ISO range. While recording, users also have the ability to control exposure, and will enjoy the added benefits of improved contrast-detect type AF while in Tripod Live View mode.

Photographers are able to capture images at 9 frames per second (fps) in the FX-format or at up to 11 fps in the DX crop mode, while data is transferred through a 16-bit pipeline for optimal processing speed. Additionally, the buffer has been increased, enabling continuous bursts approximately twice that of the D3 in the JPEG, TIFF or NEF (RAW) formats. Files also can be captured in either 12- or 14-bit compressed or uncompressed formats to maintain image data integrity.D3S back

The D3s also features two UDMA compatible CompactFlash card slots that can be used for consecutive recording (overflow), simultaneous recording (backup), separating recording of RAW and JPEG files or even copying pictures between the two cards. One or both can also be designated for data-heavy D-Movie recording. Images can be displayed directly from the camera to a high-definition monitor using the camera’s High-Definition Multi-Media Interface (HDMI) port and an optional cable.

The D3s employs Nikon’s Multi-CAM 3500FX focus module, with 51 AF points, 15 cross type sensors and 36 horizontal sensors that easily track and lock onto moving subjects, delivering the same fast and accurate AF performance of the D3. Users can select any of the AF points. Three AF-area modes – Single point, Dynamic-area AF and Auto-area AF – are available to maximize the use of the 51 focus points by selecting the most suitable one to match subject conditions. AF is also available in one of two Live View modes optimized for the studio, including a phase detection handheld mode and a tripod mode.

While in Live View, the graphic indication of a virtual horizon is also available.

The D3s has a Quiet Shutter Mode to substantially reduces the sound of the camera’s mirror-down cycle, which is perfect for shooting in sensitive environments such as movie sets, meetings, ceremonies, or while photographing wildlife.

The latest generation of the EXPEED advanced digital image processing system technologies has found its way into the D3s. The latest iteration of this system is specially designed to keep pace with the D3s’ performance, providing superior image quality, faster processing speeds and lower power consumption. This advanced system is able to achieve extremely precise colour reproduction for a broad spectrum of hues, in addition to vivid saturation and smooth gradation. Nikon’s advanced noise processing function is engineered to minimize noise at all sensitivities and operate seamlessly without interfering with other image colour parameters.

The D3s’ accelerated Scene Recognition System analyzes information from the 1,005-pixel RGB light sensor for use in auto exposure, auto white balance detection and autofocus calculations. The Scene Recognition System also assists autofocus by tracking subject position and automatically shifts the AF points used to match the subject’s movement within the frame.

Nikon’s exclusive 3D Colour Matrix Metering II assists in ensuring accurate exposures, even in the most challenging lighting conditions. Instantly evaluating each scene before capture, input data from the system’s sensor is automatically referenced against an internal database of more than 30,000 images derived from actual photographs to calculate correct exposure values. Active D-Lighting (ADL), used in combination with 3D Matrix Metering II, helps to determine proper exposure, and creates realistic contrast while compensating for lost shadows and highlights. Photographers can also use ADL bracketing for up to five frames of ADL compensation.

Nikon’s Picture Control System allows selection of settings including Standard, Neutral, Vivid and Monochrome. Additionally, adjustment can be made to image sharpening, contrast, brightness, saturation, hue and more. Photographers then have the flexibility to save up to nine personalized Picture Controls in camera and 99 additional controls externally.

Moisture, dust and shock resistance, a self-diagnostic shutter system tested to 300,000 cycles, rigid magnesium alloy construction – they’re all there.

A bright and accurate viewfinder provides 100 per cent coverage with 0.7x magnification. There’s also a 920,000 dot, 3.0-inch LCD monitor, viewable up to 170 degrees, safeguarded by a tempered glass cover.

Thanks to what Nikon calls “incredibly efficient” internal circuitry, the D3s can capture up to 4200 shots per single charge of the camera’s Lithium-ion battery.

While Nikon Canada has said the camera will be available in stores in late November (I must reinforce my Christmas stocking), no pricing has been announced yet. I’m guessing more than $6,000 for the body.

Nikon has added a new lens to its repertoire, the AF-S DX Micro Nikkor 85 mm f/3.5G ED VR lens. While the new lens is designed specifically for extreme close-up photography, it is also can be used for portrait, nature and general imaging. Focusing as close as 27 mm, the new lens allows photographers to capture close-up images with life-size reproduction ratios up to 1:1. Used on a Nikon DX format DSLR, the lens is the equivalent of 127.5 mm (on a full-frame camera).

The lens incorporates Nikon’s Silent Wave Motor (SWM) technology, Extra Low Dispersion (ED) glass and an Internal Focusing (IF) design, and incorporates Vibration Reduction (VR II) Image Stabilization technology.

Optical construction consists of 14 elements in 10 groups, while the addition of an ED glass element minimizes chromatic aberration, enhancing the lens’ ability to deliver stunning, high-contrast images with accurate and well-saturated colours. A rounded nine-blade diaphragm opening allows out-of-focus background or foreground scene information to appear more naturally blurred.


One thought on “Nikon D3s DSLR

    Stephen K Lee said:
    November 4, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    Wonderfully thorough preview! Has definitely made my mouth water and wallet whimper. Can’t wait to listen to this silent shutter. I hope to see you review it soon!

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