The large 3in diagonal polysilicon LCD screen on the back of the camera has a resolution of 921,600 dots and a 170-degree viewing angle. With this display resolution, resorting to screen magnification for accurate focusing is flawless. Although the brightness cannot be set to automatically adjust to external lighting conditions, it can be manually regulated by ± 7 values to fit any situation.
Basic LCD screens offer at a glance status information
The camera also has two basic LCD readouts, one just below the main screen and one on the top plate of the camera, for quick data and settings viewing. Another useful feature borrowed from the D3 is the Virtual Horizon. When this option is turned on a compass-like image appears on the rear screen showing the inclination of the camera against the horizontal axis of the horizon. If you do not want to take your eyes from the viewfinder you can instead use a camera tilt indicator in the viewfinder or on the top plate LCD screen, which gives you a measure of the camera tilt in similar fashion to an exposure meter.
With the D3s, Nikon has given preference to the actual pixel size over pixel count, but added a few tweaks to the internal structure and microlenses to offer even better light gathering capabilities. Indeed, the D3s noise performance is truly exceptional. Even at 12800 ISO the image is incredibly sharp and the level of noise is more than acceptable. The in-camera noise-reduction delivers, as always with Nikon, pleasantly balanced results without over-smudging or over-sharpening. The incredibly wide sensitivity range of 200 to 12800 ISO plus 3 Hi stops, that boosts it up to the equivalent of ISO 102400, has certainly made the headlines.
Yet, what really impressed me is the consistency of the image quality and colour reproduction across the whole sensitivity range, something few cameras manage. Obviously, things change at the highest boosts – where noise and colour fringing suddenly creep in. Yet even at the highest setting of 102400, images are still usable, albeit very gritty. Arguably, the highest boosts (Hi1 to Hi3) are there for the ‘wow’ factor more than anything else. At ISO 102400 the camera can shoot in almost total darkness and capture more detail than the human eye. No doubt, photojournalists would readily trade off high levels of noise to capture that exclusive image.
For data handling and in-camera processing the D3s relies on the well-tested EXPEED engine, which is now optimised for speed and offers a 14-bit A/D conversion and a 16-bit image-processing pipeline. The D3s is built for speed delivering outstanding workflow performance at every shooting stage. It starts up in 0.12 seconds and shutter release time lag is basically non-existent – apparently, 0.04 secs.
An increased buffer size allows for more frames to be shot in burst mode
The D3s also sports an increased buffer memory compared to the original D3, which, in addition to the remarkable burst of continuous shooting of 9 frames per second in FX format (11 fps in DX format) shared with its predecessor, it now allows for new burst depth. Depending on the type of file compression used, burst depth can reach 35-44 frames in RAW or TIFF format and 119-130 in JPEG. Most importantly, the camera’s continuous shooting performs steadily at all aperture settings in a way that has never been possible before. This alone might convince sports and wildlife photographers that £4200 is a small price to pay for this level of performance.
I don't understand the wingeing about the video resolution. Who the hell uses a pro DSLR for video anyway? It's like moaning about boot space in a sports car. If you're serious about results, you will of course use the right tool for the job. Nikon should have resisted adding these consumer level features to their pro line - who cares what Canon do.
Agreed on the video...
...but i'd like to add some praise for the quality of the photos, no doubt expected from a pro but they were excellent. It's nice to have someone who clearly knows what they're on about reviewing things on here also!
The Morris Minor shot was stunning!
"Pushing the shutter button and taking the pics" is not the important thing. If it were, the mass upload of out of focus pub shots, depicting the pores in some tedious drunk's nose would be thrilling.
Taking good or interesting pictures is more important, and often requires slightly more than just "pushing the shutter button and taking the pics". Either that, or maybe Henri C-B, Robert Mapplethorpe, William Egglestone, Jane Bown and co are just making a lot of fuss about nothing.
You may find the following thrilling info-graphic fact felch instructive:
I'm in lust!
HD Video? Pah, it's a DSLR, not a video cam-corder!
Next you'll be complaining it's not comfortable to hold against your eye for 30 minutes and why can't it have a forward eyepiece halfway down the lens and sit over your shoulder like a real pro video camera!
The video mode is a nice to have, not its reason d'etre, and 720p is perfectly good. Only a few years ago we were all happy watching 625 interlaced in the UK (512 in the states I believe) until someone convinced us all that we were watching pixels the size of tennis balls. Even now I'm sure that many of us are still "only" watching 720p. Hell I've still got several CRTs and they still don't make my eyes bleed despite all the hype.
I moved from a D80 to a D300 for better low light gig shooting, but this beasty is in another league! Just look at the pictures that baby takes, at that ISO, wow.... Droooooool...
Some pros do use video
I have a friend who is a cinematographer who like me swears by Nikon.
He explained his need for video, but it wasn't necessary to do 1080.
Nikon is right in focusing on developing the body for a specific niche and make it the best that it can be.
Note that this is a *pro* camera and that it is designed for sports/nature niche. I mean if I could afford one I'd rather have a camera that had these features plus 24mb resolution. (How many years will that take?)
Oh and I swear by Nikon because I grew up using Nikon. Anyone see a Nikon F (yes the original F) take a 3.5" fall on to the ground and survive with only a minor dent in the head? Still usable, although it sits on a shelf in my brother's house because no one uses film these days.
Oh and I want one, except my wife keeps spending me in to the poor house. ;-)