updated 12:10 am EDT, Wed October 14, 2009
D3s adds 720p, 11FPS shooting
Nikon as expected this morning launched the D3s. Its update to the mainstay pro DSLR adds 720p, 24FPS video like the D300s before it but is most notable for its dramatically improved light sensitivity. The 12-megapixel camera is one of the first to shoot up to ISO 12,800 at normal settings but can be manually set to shoot at ISO 102,400 -- four times the original D3 as well as other top tier DSLRs.
Such an improvement can lead to better shooting at concerts, nighttime news events or any other situation where a blur-free shot is critical but invoking a flash isn't an option, according to Nikon.
Added light sensitivity also comes into play in the movie mode, as users can draw on the full ISO range while recording and better capture low-light video. The camera can similarly snap JPEG photos in the middle of videos and perform basic editing on-camera.
Image quality still depends on a 16-bit pipeline with 14-bit analog-to-digital conversion, but adjustments have improved the D3s' ability to minimize chromatic aberration on the horizontal axis. A better dust removal system and viewfinder also provide a minor boost.
As before, the D3s continues to shoot at up to nine frames per second (11 at a lower-resolution DX crop) and hinges on the same 51-point autofocusing system and 3D metering system as all recent mid-to-upper range Nikon DSLRs. Storage still depends on dual CF cards and should have the option of shooting RAW+JPEG to separate cards as well as using one card either as overflow or as a backup.
The D3s should ship in late November for $5,200 and will be followed in early December by a new DX mount lens, the AF-S 85mm f3.5G ED VR. It should still work with an FX mount camera like the D3s and is meant to provide either camera a natural point of view while still allowing close-ups. Nikon plans to price the lens at $530.