Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Nikon By D3S Review

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Based on a production Nikon by D3S, firmware version 1.0, 1.0 (note: As we were finalizing this test for publication, Nikon released a firmware upgrade for the by D3S to Firmware 1.0.1, which corrects some minor bugs relating to video performance. We did not experience the issues which the update is designed to fix, and all samples (and the majority of gallery images) taken for this this review were created with firmware 1.0) When the Nikon D3 was launched in August 2007, it had an immediate impact on the DSLR market, and not only in the professional sector. The D3 was Nikon's first DSLR with an FX (full frame) CMOS sensor, but its major selling point, in the minds of many photographers at the time, was its unparalleled image quality at high ISO settings. With the D3, photographers could shoot at ISO settings up to 6400 without a significant penalty in noise, and in a pinch, even go up to ISO 25,600 (equivalent)-unheard of at the time. This versatility, coupled with a very capable AF system and rugged, weatherproof build, did much to reverse Nikon's James fortunes in the professional DSLR market. Professional Canon users, many of whom were disillusioned by the seemingly endless problems that plagued the flagship EOS 1 d Mark III at the time, flocked to the D3 in large numbers. In the process, Nikon mounted a formidable challenge to Canon in the sports and action segment of the pro marketplace.
A little over two years later, and Nikon is trying to build on the foundations laid by the D3 's runaway success. Enter the by D3S. Ergonomically, very little has changed. In fact the by D3S and its predecessor are difficult to tell apart at a casual glance, but the by D3S does offer some significant improvements, not least in new 720x1280p video capture mode, and several minor tweaks designed to make the new camera more competitive. These include a new ' Quiet ' shutter release mode (first seen in the D5000), in-camera dust reduction, and a choice of four image area formats, including DX, and a new 1.2 x crop option. The by D3S offers the same resolution as the D3 at 12 million pixels, but its redesigned sensor can hit new heights of ISO performance, offering a ' native ' range of ISO 200-12,800, expandable up to ISO 102,400. Is the promise of even better low light performance enough to answer those critics that are clamoring for higher resolution? Read our in-depth test (which includes comparisons with the new Canon EOS 1 d Mark IV) to find out.

Note: Because of the active drawing between the by D3S and the older D3, (and to a lesser extent the D300S and D3X), especially as regards handling and certain key features, portions of this review, including some product images, are taken or adapted from from previous reviews. Model Launch Continuous highest (JPEG) LCD Video monitor

* 1 Also 8 fps in cropped mode (6.7 MP)
* 2 Up to 11 fps with DX format (5.1 MP)
* 3 Up to 7 fps with DX format (10.5 MP)

Newly redesigned 12.1 megapixel Full-Frame (36 x 24 mm) sensorISO 200-12,800 (ISO 100-102,400 including extension settings) 720 p/24 fps HD movie modeEleven frames per second in continuous and DX modeLarger buffer for more than 30 RAW frames in one burst multi-cam module Auto Focus sensor (51-point, 15 cross-type, more vertical coverage), fine-tuned for improved acquisition and trackingIn camera RAW-processingAlso supports DX lenses, viewfinder automatically masks (5.1 megapixels with DX lens) 14-bit A/D conversion, 12 channel readout Nikon EXPEED image processor Super fast operation (power-up 12 ms, shutter lag 41 ms, black-out 74 ms) Kevlar/carbon fibre composite shutter with 300,000 exposure durability Auto-focus tracking by color (using information from 1005-pixel AE sensor) Auto-focus calibration (fine-tuning) available (fixed body or up to 20 separate lens settings) Scene Recognition System (uses AE sensor, AF sensor) Dual Compact Flash card slots (overflow, back-up, RAW on 1/JPEG on 2, Stills on 1/Movies on 2, copy) Compact Flash UDMA support3.0? 922,000 pixel LCD monitor, Live View with either phase detect (mirror up/down) or improved (30% faster) contrast detect Auto Focus Virtual horizon indicates if camera is level, available on the LCD during video captureHDMI HD video output ' Active D-Lighting ' ' Extra High ' setting (adjusts metering as well as applying D-Lighting curve) Detailed ' Control Panel ' type display on LCD monitor, changes in dark conditionsButtons sealed against moistureDual battery charger as standard

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