I’ve been reading some great reviews about the new Nikon D3S released October 2009 and I’m in the market for a new camera, so I went to my local Jessops have a looksee.

The last camera I had a look at was Nikon’s 25mp D3X which I was unimpressed with due to the amount of noise in the resulting files. No-one mentioned that when the D3X was reviewed (unless I was testing a ‘Friday’ Camera(?)), so I approached the D3S with some trepidation.

I performed the test in exactly the same why as I did with the D3X and the D700. I set up the D3S to the same settings I have on my D700 although I may have left the D3S in matrix metering rather than center weighted (it was capturing images about 2/3 stop brighter than my D700).
Both camera set to RAW (is there any other format?) and lossless compression. I tested the cameras using my 14-24 @ 14mm ,24-70mm @ 24mm and 70-200mm @ 70mm
The main reason behind this was to see how the camera handled potential vignetting at each lens’ widest focal range.
I set the camera to aperture priority @ f/4 and ran them through the ISO range from Lo1 (ISO100) to HI3 (102,400)

I ran off the initial shots with the D700 then switched to the D3S

My first impression when I put it to my eye was how quiet it was. I’m used to the loud clatter of the D700/D3 shutter, but this was much more muted – similar to sound of the Canon 5dMkII.
1st image off so I checked the back of the camera to make sure I was exposing correctly and the second thing struck me …. 100% viewfinder

Before I got the D700 I convinced myself that 95% was ok and I just have to compensate to frame accordingly. But it’s been the one thing that’s driven me semi-nuts about the D700 . Lovely camera and a real performer, but every shot needs to be re-adjusted. Becomes a nagging thorn over time.

But now with the D3S we get Dust removal, 35mm sensor and 100% viewfinder coverage – Glorious

So I carried on with the test and left the shop with a wave and the shop’s number in my pocket. Back home to load up the files and after a quick upgrade to Lightroom 2.6, in they come.
The results are …… astonishing.
With High ISO NR off and Long Exposure NR off, the D3S created files at ISO6400 that are equal if not slightly better than the D700 at ISO1600. I expected it to be good, but it still caught me a little by surprise.

At 200%, you can see the images Have a slightly ‘botox’ plasticky feel to them which doesn’t seem to hold as much contrast or sharpness as the D700, but the overall result when viewed normally is nothing short of amazing.

Below is a sample @ 200% of the D3S at ISO 6400 and the D700 @ 1600


Here are the full sized images:


Do I want one, hell yes, but at £4200 RRP for the camera it’s too steep. I shopped around and found a best price, so called the guy back in Jessops. He was unable to match the proce and so unfortunately I didn’t pick it up from them.
In fact – as much as I like it, I’m not getting one(!)

The reason is simple, as with the D3, the D700 followed about 6 months later as being basically the same camera, but in a smaller body and 2/3 the price.
This is still silly expensive, but for me more than just the cost. One of the reasons I like the D700 over the D3 is because I put my grip on the D700 and I have the full size camera, but if I want to travel lighter or a bit more incognito then I remove the grip and I become just another ‘tourist’ ;)
Unofficially ;) …. the D700S  is out in March – I can wait ’till then :)

Contrary to the roumour mills – it will be the same 12.1Mp sensor and 720p HD video, not 16 or 18Mp and 1080p HD video (why would anyone bother with the D3S if it was a better spec?)
So until March ……

In case you want one now, here’s a link to the D3S in Amazon:

I was contacted recently by the Schmap team when they requested use of a picture I took of RAF Cosford to be included in their online mapping system

Schmap are a mapping service like Google maps, only Google maps focus more on their road mapping technology with the occasional user supplied picture.
Schmap on the other hand are more of a classic mapping service like Streetmap, only they actively seek decent photographs of surrounding areas so people can see what’s nearby in every location possible.

With that, I was contacted by them for one of my pictures to be added into their 9th edition.

The picture I took was from my recent trip to Cosford for the BIPP annual conference. I was a bit surprised they used the picture they did as I had some other ones that I thought were much better/more interesting, but the client often has their own preference.

If you get the chance to visit the RAF museum in Cosford then it is worth the trip. Lots of memorabilia housed in it’s

Here’s a direct link to Schmap so you can see it’s features:
To see my image on an iPhone in schmap, click here:
To visit the series of images I took at RAF Cosford, click here: CallumW BlogPage



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