Nikon D3S Review

February 3, 2010 | Zoltan Arva-Toth |


If you've read the entire review, you'll know by now that the Nikon D3S is an exceptionally good camera. It inherits everything that was good about the D3, improves on a few things that weren't, gains a few new features, and takes image quality to a whole new level from what was already top notch in its predecessor. The build quality is excellent, and so is the handling. The camera is about as rugged as it gets, and the ergonomics is first class. The viewfinder is among the best I have used, and the AF system is extremely versatile. The Nikon D3S takes just about any F-mount lens you can dig up, and will let you use them as if they were designed specifically for this camera. There is a multitude of ways to check and modify settings, and you can set up the camera to work just about any way you like it.

If I had to come up with a slogan for the Nikon D3S, it would be something like "hand-held photography anytime, anywhere, without flash". About the only time you would put it on a tripod is when you deliberately wanted to use a slow shutter speed. And while you might still opt to use a flash for fill or creative lighting effects, you certainly do not need one just to take a sharp photo in a dark place.

So, is the Nikon D3S the world's best digital camera then? Well, statements like that are always controversial to say the least, but for most intents and purposes; yes, it is. Avid landscapists, professional fashion, commercial and stock photographers might look for a higher-resolution offering, while street photographers will almost definitely opt for something smaller and more discreet. The Nikon D3S would not be my first choice if I went on a strenuous hike either - but for most other areas of still photography, the D3S is the best tool available today, bar none. Video is a slightly different thing, as there are cameras out there that can record Full HD footage while allowing a greater degree of control - but you can definitely get high-quality results with the D3S too.

All this goodness obviously has to come at a price - and it does. The eye-watering price tag of £4199.99 / €5100.00 / $5199.95 means that for most of us mortals, the Nikon D3S will remain nothing but a large chunk of solid unobtainium - however, those who can cough up the asking price will be rewarded with a camera that almost never feels lacking, and will serve them for years, if not decades, to come.

5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 5
Features 5
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 5
Value for money 3.5