Nikon D3S, Nikon D3X

Nikon D3S

Nikon D3X


LIST PRICE: $7,999 (Nikon D3X); $5,199 (Nikon D3S); $2,699 (Nikon D700)

FEATURES: The D3S was the first full-frame camera from Nikon to include video capabilities, and it’s still the only full-frame DSLR from Nikon to include video. Nikon offered 720p HD capture in their cameras until the Nikon D3100, however, and the D-Movie mode of the D3S is able to capture Motion-JPEG video in 720p at a frame rate of 24 fps only.

Continuous shooting rates in the D3S are at 9 fps in full-resolution FX format. For photographers who need unadulterated speed, the D3S also can crop at the sensor for DX-mode image capture at up to a blazing 11 fps. This also introduces a 1.5x crop factor for extending the reach of the lens focal length.

Nikon is highly regarded for its auto-focus system, and the D3S includes the best of the best, with 51 total focus points that include 15 cross-type sensors. Manual fine adjustment is possible, and 51-point 3D AF tracking, first introduced in the D3, is available for better tracking of moving subjects.

Two Live View shooting modes are included in the D3S. Tripod mode lets photographers zoom in by up to 27x to check for pin-sharp autofocus, while Hand-held mode offers phase detection for faster autofocus.

Nikon offers three models in the $2,000 and above arena: the Nikon D3X, the Nikon D3S and the Nikon D700, each offering an FX full-frame sensor and compatibility with the long history of Nikon F-mount lenses. First introduced in July 2008, the Nikon D700 brought full frame into the realm of the affordable with a price point just below $3,000. Now, more than three years old, the D700 offers the same 12.1-megapixel CMOS image sensor and many of the same features as the D3, including EXPEED processing and 14-bit A/D conversion. Featuring a 24.5-megapixel sensor manufactured by Sony, the D3X brought the huge image resolution that Nikon users had been asking for, albeit at a much steeper sticker price. With 51 focus points, a high-quality, 16-bit color-processing pipeline, Active D-Lighting dynamic range expansion, 5 fps continuous shooting and the popular workhorse build of the D3, its predecessor, the D3X is chock-full of enough features to firmly establish it as Nikon’s flagship DSLR.
Just like the D3X, the external design of the faster and less expensive D3S is based heavily on the D3, which it replaced in October 2009. The D3S improved on the D3 internally, with 720p video capabilities and a redesigned 12.1-megapixel sensor that offers the same resolution as the D3 but better ISO capabilities. Because of this, the D3S ties the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV for first place in terms of top light sensitivity, with an expandable ISO range that runs from Lo-1 ISO 100 to Hi-3 ISO 102,400. Other new features include internal image-sensor cleaning with dust removal, an improved autofocus system and a quieter shutter.

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