Nikon has revamped its full-frame D3 to launch the D3s, a professional DSLR boasting a redesigned imaging sensor, a top ISO of ‘102400’, plus movie capture.

Aimed at wildlife, sports and news photographer the D3s houses a 12.87-million-pixel FX-format CMOS imaging sensor (12.1MP effective).

Nikon claims to have redesigned the sensor to include a ‘large pixel’ pitch that delivers ‘even greater latitude in high ISO performance’.

The firm adds that the wide dynamic range and signal-to-noise ratio are ‘significantly higher’ than the D3, and that the D3s produces ‘low noise’ for still images and movie capture.

We understand that, to increase the camera’s effectiveness in low light, engineers have reworked the sensor’s ‘gapless’ micro lenses and modified the amplifiers and ‘pixel diodes’ to bolster light transmission. The electronic circuitry has also been altered, to help cut noise.

Equivalent ISO sensitivity ranges from 200-12,800. However, this can be boosted to ‘102400’ in a move designed to aid shooting in light situations so poor that subjects cannot be seen clearly.

Nikon claims the camera is effective when used ‘handheld at night’.

‘The camera sensor is so sensitive that it can capture subjects that are practically invisible to the naked eye and render results that are remarkably clean of noise and ready for print,’ said a spokesman.

Nikon has also tweaked the AF algorithms to help speed-up AF and tracking.

The D3s features an ‘HD’ (1,280×720 pixel) movie option at 24 frames per second, with contrast detection AF to enable autofocus when shooting videos and when using Live View.

Nikon has added a dedicated button on the back to activate Live View.

‘An extra bonus for sports and spot news photographers is the ability to save selected movie frames as JPEGs (in the same resolution as the video), for immediate print and web publishing needs,’ added a spokesman.

The D3s includes a connection for an external microphone.

Improvements over the D3 include an Image Sensor Cleaning function that generates vibrations at four specific frequencies to ‘optimise dust removal’.

The D3s also boasts additional in-camera raw image file processing options, such as the ability to alter white balance and apply picture controls before conversion to a JPEG file.

Armoury includes an in-camera chromatic aberration reduction aimed at correcting colour fringes which, explains Nikon, can sometimes appear at the edges between different subject elements.

Nikon has boosted the camera’s buffer memory to twice that of the D3, to help speed-up the photographer’s workflow when out on assignment, and help in continuous shooting mode. It is designed to shoot 124 JPEG as a continuous burst.

Following feedback from D3 users, Nikon has added a new Quiet Shutter mode to the D3s which should be useful for wildlife photography, for example.

And a new ‘1.2x’ crop option has been added to enable users to create 30:20 format images, at a resolution of around 8.4MP. This is in addition to the 5:4 (30×24) and DX (24×16) crops options.

Differences over the D3 also include the ability to use the electronic virtual horizon in Live View shooting.

The camera’s six Active D-Lighting options also now include an Auto and ‘Extra high’ setting.

The D3s is due in December carry a UK price of £4199.99.

Read our exclusive Nikon D3s hands-on preview here

Watch our UK press launch video here

Nikon D3s full specification

Read all our Nikon D3 stories here

Read all our Nikon news stories here


Nikon Digital SLR Camera D3S specification, as supplied by Nikon UK:

Type Single-lens reflex digital camera

Lens Mount Nikon F mount (with AF coupling and AF contacts)

Picture Angle Equivalent to angle produced by lens focal length (1.5 times when DX format is selected)

Effective Pixels

Effective Pixels 12.1 million

Image Sensor

Image Sensor CMOS sensor, 36.0 × 23.9 mm; Nikon FX format

Total Pixels 12.87 million

Dust-reduction System Image Sensor Cleaning, Image Dust Off reference data (optional Capture NX 2 software required)


Image Size (pixels)

Image area Large Medium Small

FX format (36×24) 4,256 × 2,832 3,184 × 2,120 2,128 × 1,416

1.2× (30×20) 3,552 × 2,368 2,656 × 1,776 1,776 × 1,184

DX format (24×16) 2,784 × 1,848 2,080 × 1,384 1,392 × 920

5:4 (30×24) 3,552 × 2,832 2,656 × 2,120 1,776 × 1,416

File Format 1) NEF (RAW): 12 or 14 bit, lossless compressed, compressed, or uncompressed,

2) TIFF (RGB),

3) JPEG: JPEG-Baseline compliant with fine (approx. 1:4), normal (approx. 1:8), or basic (approx. 1:16) compression (Size priority); Optimal quality compression available,

4) NEF (RAW) + JPEG: Single photograph recorded in both NEF (RAW) and JPEG formats

Picture Control System Four setting options: Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome; each option can be adjusted

Storage Media CompactFlash (Type I, compliant with UDMA)

Double Slot Slot 2 can be used for overflow or backup storage or for separate storage of NEF (RAW) and JPEG images; pictures can be copied between cards

File System Compliant with DCF 2.0, DPOF, Exif 2.21, and PictBridge


Viewfinder Eye-level pentaprism single-lens reflex viewfinder

Frame Coverage FX (36×24): Approx. 100% (vertical/horizontal), 1.2x (30×20): Approx. 97% (vertical/horizontal), DX (24×16): Approx. 97% (vertical/horizontal), 5:4 (30×24): Approx. 100% (vertical) and approx. 97% (horizontal)

Magnification Approx. 0.7x (50mm f/1.4 lens at infinity; -1.0 m-1)

Eyepoint 18 mm (-1.0 m-1)

Diopter Adjustment -3 to +1 m-1

Focusing Screen Type B BriteView Clear Matte VI screen with AF area brackets

Reflex Mirror Quick return

Depth-of-field Preview When Pv (depth-of-field preview) button is pressed, lens aperture can be stopped down to value selected by user (A and M modes) or value selected by camera (P and S modes)

Lens Aperture Instant return, electronically controlled


Compatible Lenses 1) Type G or D AF NIKKOR*1: All functions supported (PC Micro-NIKKOR does not support some functions), 2) DX NIKKOR: All functions supported except FX-format (36×24)/1.2x (30×20)/5:4 (30×24) image size, 3) Other AF NIKKOR*2: All functions supported except 3D color matrix metering II, 4) AI-P NIKKOR: All functions supported except autofocus and 3D color matrix metering II, 5) Non-CPU: Can be used in exposure modes A and M; color matrix metering and aperture value display supported if user provides lens data (AI lenses only)

Electronic rangefinder can be used if maximum aperture is f/5.6 or faster

*1. IX- NIKKOR lenses cannot be used *2. Excluding AF- NIKKOR lenses for F3AF


Type Electronically-controlled vertical-travel focal-plane shutter

Speed 1/8,000 to 30 s in steps of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV, bulb, X250

Flash Sync Speed X = 1/250 s; flash synchronization at up to 1/250 s


Release Modes Single frame, continuous low speed, continuous high speed, quiet shutter-release, self-timer, mirror up

Frame Advance Rate ? DX (24×16): Up to approx. 9 fps (CL) or

(CIPA Guidelines) approx. 9 to 11 fps (CH)

? Other image areas: Up to approx. 9 fps

Self-timer Electronically controlled timer with duration of 2, 5, 10 or 20 s


Metering TTL full-aperture exposure metering using 1,005-pixel RGB sensor

Metering System 1) Matrix: 3D color matrix metering II (type G and D lenses); color matrix metering II (other CPU lenses); color matrix metering (non-CPU lenses if user provides lens data)

2) Center-Weighted: Weight of 75% given to 12-mm circle in center of frame, diameter of circle can be changed to 8, 15 or 20 mm, or weighting can be based on average of entire frame (non-CPU lenses use 12-mm circle or average of entire frame)

3) Spot: Meters 4-mm circle (about 1.5% of frame) centered on selected focus point (on center focus point when non-CPU lens is used)

Metering Range 1) 0 to 20 EV (Matrix or center-weighted metering), 2) 2 to 20 EV (Spot metering) (ISO 100 equivalent, f/1.4 lens, at 20°C/68°F)

Exposure Meter Coupling Combined CPU and AI

Exposure Modes 1) Programmed Auto (P) with flexible program, 2) Shutter-Priority Auto (S), 3) Aperture-Priority Auto (A), 4) Manual (M)

Exposure Compensation ±5 EV in increments of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV

Exposure Bracketing 2 to 9 frames in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 or 1 EV

Exposure Lock Exposure locked at detected value with AE-L/AF-L button

ISO Sensitivity ISO 200 to 12800 in steps of 1/3, 1/2 or 1 EV; can also be set to approx. 0.3, 0.5, 0.7 or 1 EV (ISO 100 equivalent) below ISO 200 or to approx. 0.3, 0.5, 0.7, 1, 2 or 3 EV (ISO 102400 equivalent) above ISO 12800; auto ISO sensitivity control available

Active D-Lighting Can be selected from [Auto], [Extra high], [High], [Normal], [Low] or [Off]

ADL Bracketing 2 frames using selected value for one frame or 3 to 5 frames using preset values for all frames


Autofocus Nikon Multi-CAM 3500FX autofocus sensor module with TTL phase detection; 51 focus points (including 15 cross-type sensors); AF fine tuning possible

Detection Range -1 to +19 EV (ISO 100 at 20°C/68°F)

Lens Servo 1) Autofocus: Single-servo AF (S); Continuous-servo AF (C); predictive focus tracking automatically activated according to subject status, 2) Manual focus (M) with electronic rangefinder

Focus Point Can be selected from 51 or 11 focus points

AF-area Mode 1) Single-point AF, 2) Dynamic-area AF [number of AF points: 9, 21, 51, 51 (3D-tracking)], 3) Auto-area AF

Focus Lock Focus can be locked by pressing AE-L/AF-L button or by pressing shutter-release button halfway (Single-servo AF)


Flash Control 1) TTL: i-TTL balanced fill-flash and standard i-TTL flash for digital SLR using 1,005-pixel RGB sensor are available with SB-900, 800, 600 or 400

2) Auto aperture (AA): Available with SB-900, 800 and CPU lens

3) Non-TTL auto (A): Available with SB-900, 800, 28, 27 or 22S

4) Range-priority manual (GN): Available with SB-900 and 800

Flash Modes 1) Front curtain sync, 2) Slow sync, 3) Rear-curtain sync, 4) Red-eye reduction, 5) Red-eye reduction with slow sync

Flash Bracketing 2 to 9 frames in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 or 1 EV

Flash-ready Indicator Lights when Speedlight such as SB-900, SB-800, SB-600, SB-400, SB-80DX, SB-28DX or SB-50DX is fully charged; blinks after flash is fired at full output

Accessory Shoe ISO 518 hot-shoe with sync and data contacts, and safety lock

Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS)

Advanced Wireless Lighting supported with SB-900, SB-800 or SU-800 as commander and SB-900, SB-800, SB-600 or SB-R200 as remotes; Auto FP High-Speed Sync and modeling illumination supported with all CLS-compatible flash units except SB-400; Flash Color Information Communication and FV lock supported with all CLS-compatible flash units

Sync Terminal ISO 519 sync terminal with locking thread

White Balance

White Balance Auto (TTL white balance with main image sensor and 1,005-pixel RGB sensor), Incandescent, Fluorescent (7 options), Direct Sunlight, Flash, Cloudy, Shade, preset manual (up to 5 values can be stored), and color temperature setting (2,500 K to 10,000 K), all with fine tuning

White Balance Bracketing 2 to 9 frames in steps of 1, 2 or 3

Live View

Modes Tripod, Hand-held

Autofocus ? Tripod: Contrast-detect AF anywhere in frame ? Hand-held: TTL phase-detection AF with 51 focus points (including 15 cross-type sensors)

Flicker Reduction 50 Hz and 60 Hz


Frame Size (pixels) 1,280 × 720/24 fps, 640 × 424/24 fps, 320 × 216/24 fps

File Format AVI

Compression Format Motion-JPEG

Audio Microphone sensitivity can be adjusted

ISO Sensitivity ISO 200 to 12800 (ISO 6400 to Hi 3 in high-sensitivity movie mode)


LCD Monitor 3-in., approx. 921k-dot (VGA), 170-degree wide-viewing-angle, 100% frame coverage, low-temperature polysilicon TFT LCD with brightness adjustment


Playback Function Full-frame and thumbnail (4, 9 or 72 images) playback with playback zoom, movie playback, slide show, histogram display, highlight display, auto image rotation, image comment (up to 36 characters), and voice memo input and playback


USB Hi-Speed USB

Video Output NTSC or PAL; simultaneous playback from both the video output and on the LCD monitor available

HDMI Output Type C HDMI connector; camera monitor turns off when HDMI cable is connected

Audio Input Stereo mini-pin jack (3.5-mm diameter)

10-pin Remote Terminal Can be used to connect optional remote control, GPS Unit GP-1 or GPS device compliant with NMEA 0183 version 2.01 and 3.01 (requires optional GPS Cable MC-35 and cable with D-sub 9-pin connector)

Supported Languages

Supported Languages Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish

Power Source

Battery One Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL4a/EL4

AC Adapter AC Adapter EH-6 (optional)

Tripod Socket

Tripod Socket 1/4 in. (ISO 1222)


Dimensions (W x H x D) Approx. 159.5 x 157 x 87.5 mm/6.3 x 6.2 x 3.4 in.

Weight Approx. 1,240 g/2 lb. 12 oz. without battery, memory card, body cap or accessory shoe cover

Operating Environment

Temperature 0-40°C/32-104°F

Humidity Under 85% (no condensation)


Supplied Accessories* Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL4a, Quick Charger MH-22, USB Cable UC-E4, Audio Video Cable EG-D2, Camera Strap AN-DC5, Body Cap BF-1B, Accessory Shoe Cover BS-2, Eyepiece DK-17, Battery Chamber Cover BL-4, USB Cable Clip, Software Suite CD-ROM

* Supplied accessories may differ depending on country or area

Main Optional Accessories

Wireless Transmitter WT-4A/B/C/D/E*, GPS Unit GP-1, Magnifying Eyepiece DK-17M, AC Adapter EH-6, Capture NX 2 Software, Camera Control Pro 2 Software, Image Authentication Software

* Product name varies according to region, depending on local frequency channels available.

Nikon D3s imageRead our exclusive Nikon D3s hands-on preview here

Watch our UK press launch video here

Read all our Nikon D3 stories here

Read all our Nikon news stories here