A few days ago I was fortunate to use the new Nikon D3s camera.  I was able to put the camera through some real world shooting situations over two days, that included a wedding and two portrait sessions.  The wedding reception venue proved to be an ideal testing ground for the camera, as it provided some of the trickiest low lighting conditions that included an array of light types to make colour balance a nightmare to work with.  In fact for a wedding photographer I would say I used the camera in one of the most extreme wedding reception conditions that I know.

As I mainly use available light at my wedding shoots (in order to remain unobtrusive), the Nikon D3 and D700 have become my “go to” cameras for weddings over the past 18 months due the Nikon’s great performance in low light situations.  I had anticipated and hoped that video would be part of a new release, so the real surprise for me was to find out that the new D3S has a completely new sensor and the performance of the sensor in low light completely eclipses previous models.

After two days I’m just astounded at the quality. Shooting at ISO 12800 the quality really was a noticeable improvement.  In comparison, I believe the D3S at ISO 12800 is equivalent to ISO 3200 on the D3 and D700.

I’ve included some samples showing the high ISO performance of the D3S below at ISO 6400 and ISO 12800.

Portrait of “Jackson”

Jackson is lit by using two 40 watt tungsten household lamps, photographed in a household living room with no other ambient light.

PORTRAIT of “Jackson” – Nikon D3S with the 85mm f1.4lens  @ ISO 6400 , 160th sec @ f2

100% crop  |  PORTRAIT of “Jackson” – Nikon D3S with the 85mm f1.4lens  @ ISO 6400 , 160th sec @ f2

PORTRAIT of “Jackson” – Nikon D3S with the 85mm f1.4lens  @ ISO 12800 , 250th sec @ f2

100% crop  |  PORTRAIT of “Jackson” – Nikon D3S with the 85mm f1.4lens  @ ISO 12800 , 250th sec @ f2

These are the JPEG capture files only until I am able to convert the RAW files later in the week (stay posted).  They are from camera with no post production done.  Please note that the images are from a pre-production camera (not with the final firmware).

Wedding “Lara and George”

There was no control over the lighting conditions at the reception.  I was working with a mixture of mercury vapour, fluorescent, and candlelight all in the one room and shot. There was no natural light in the room at all.   I believe that had I been using a prior model camera at this ISO setting, these images would not have been suitable for viewing by the client.

All images are copyright by Marcus Bell and unauthorized usage and reproduction are prohibited.

All wedding images are Nikon D3s (Pre-Production) 12800 ISO – Jpeg capture

Additional sample images and custom finished images can be found with this link to Lara and George’s Wedding blog post

I felt it was only a matter of time before Nikon added video capture to their professional digital camera SLR’s and its here.  It’s an area of creativity we have been exploring in our photography studio over the past 2 years.  I’ve posted below a mix of video and stills I took on the same wedding this last weekend.

To assist in the video capture I used the new SanDisk Extreme Pro 32gb Compact Flash card that writes up to 90 MB/s and to keep the camera as still as possible I used a Hood Loupe that enabled to have the eye piece giving add contact to the body, by Hoodman.

STILLS and MOTION    |  sample using the Nikon D3S



To view recent sample images from the Nikon D3x, visit the following posts:

The Pantanal, Brazil

Darb Couture, Wedding Gown feature shoot

Additional links:

Nikon website

Marcus Bell and Studio Impressions Photography Website

Contact us

Sample images – New Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 ED VRII

Interested in the new super zoom, Cliff Mautner is one of only four photographers in the world to test it out.  He has some great findings in his blog post. CLIFF MAUTNER BLOG

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