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1. Easy AF-Mode Selection: Just rotate the lever to C for continuous AF, S for single-shot AF or M for manual focusing. 2. Live View Button: Just press this to enter live-view operation. 3. 100% Viewfinder: 100% Viewfinder: The D3S’s pentaprism viewfinder shows approximately 100% of the actual image area in FX (full-frame) format, approximately 97% of the actual area when shooting 1.2X, or DX format, and 100% (vertical) by 97% (horizontal) in 5:4 format. Contact: Nikon, (800) NIKON-US, www.nikonusa.com.


LIST PRICE: $5,199 (body only)

NEW 12.1-MEGAPIXEL CMOS SENSOR: Like its predecessor, the D3S features a 12.1-megapixel CMOS image sensor, with a very large pixel size of 8.45 microns (compared to 5.5 microns for both the D3X and the D300S). But it’s not the same sensor. It’s been completely redesigned, with a new internal structure, and produces a higher signal-to-noise ratio and a wide dynamic range. The new sensor and new EXPEED image processor produce amazing image quality for the speeds throughout the camera’s remarkable ISO range.

HD VIDEO: The D3S brings HD video to the pro Nikon D-SLR. You can shoot 720p HD as well as standard-definition resolutions, all at 24 fps, in Motion-JPEG format. A built-in microphone records mono sound, or you can add stereo sound via an optional external mic. Focus manually, or engage contrast-based AF while shooting. For exposure control, you can use manual or aperture-priority auto and select the ƒ-stop, and even extract a still frame from a video and save it as a JPEG. You can shoot videos with the full line of AF-Nikkor lenses, achieving a cinema-like limited depth-of-field, thanks to the large image sensor. And you can shoot videos at all the ISO settings.

9 FPS SHOOTING: Like the original D3, the D3S can shoot full-frame FX-format images at 9 fps, but a larger buffer lets you do up to 82 JPEGs or 36 14-bit RAW NEF images at that rate. Put a DX-format lens on the camera (or manually select DX format), and you can shoot cropped 5.1-megapixel DX-format images at 11 fps.

SENSOR CLEANING: The D3S finally brings automatic sensor-cleaning to the pro full-frame Nikon D-SLR (the D700 has it, but the pro D3 and D3X don’t). Nikon’s Dynamic Integrated Dust Reduction System uses vibrations at four specific frequencies to remove dust from the sensor each time you turn the camera on or off, and also can be activated on demand.
When Nikon introduced the original D3 back in fall 2007, it revolutionized digital low-light photography, with amazingly good image quality at ISOs up to 25,800. Now, its successor improves on that by two full stops with no loss in image quality.

The new D3S’s powerful EXPEED processor accelerates camera performance, enhances image quality and makes HD video possible. As with the D3 and D3X, you can select 12- or 14-bit A/D conversion, and the processing pipeline is 16-bit. Like the D3, the D3S is super-quick, starting up in 0.12 seconds, with a mere 0.04-second shutter lag.

The new D3S features the same rugged build as the D3, with a magnesium-alloy body, external cover, chassis and mirror box. Comprehensive sealing provides excellent protection against moisture, dust and even electromagnetic interference. The shutter has been tested to 300,000 cycles and even re-calibrates itself as it ages.

Like the D3 and D3X, the FX-format (full-frame) D3S can take all AF-Nikkor lenses, even those designed for the smaller DX (APS-C) format. When a DX lens is attached, the camera automatically crops to DX format, producing 5.1-megapixel images (and upping the maximum shooting rate).

Also like the D3 and D3X, the D3S provides two Live-View AF modes: Quick, which uses the camera’s standard speedy phase-detection AF, but momentarily disrupts the live view during focusing; and Tripod, which uses contrast-based AF off the image sensor and doesn’t disrupt the live view. There’s now a handy Live View button on the camera back that makes it much easier to enter live view (and now video) shooting.

STANDOUT FEATURE: With its large pixels and cutting-edge technology, the D3S offers a low-noise normal ISO range of 200-12,800, expandable up to an incredible ISO 102,400. And the full range is available for both still and video shooting.
VERDICT: Move over D3 and D700, there’s a new high-ISO image-quality king.

Nikon D700
For half the cost of the D3S, you can get the D700, which offers the same pixel count, AF and metering systems and excellent image quality in a smaller, lighter (albeit less rugged) package. You give up the video and some shooting speed (the D700 tops out at 5 fps), and ISO goes “only” to 25,600, but you save $2,500.
Nikon 3DX
The D3X is Nikon’s top-of-the-line, “do-it-all” camera, with a 24.5-megapixel, full-frame sensor and a 5 fps top shooting rate. You get the same rugged body, superb image quality and shooting features as the D3S (but no video feature) for $7,999.


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