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Nikon D3s at ISO 1600, 3200 — wow!

I previously reported on the phenomenal low-light performance of the Nikon D3s at ISO 12800. I’ll be posting more sample images very soon, an ISO 12800 page is already present in my nascent D3s review in DAP.

Today, I shot in the forest late in the day at ISO 3200 and 1600. I am very impressed with the D3s image quality, and I wish to reiterate my previous advice: if you enjoy low-light shooting, the D3s is simply stunning, you won’t believe how good it is. At about $5199, it’s not cheap, but wow, what a workhorse it will be. It’s clearly a distinct step forward from the original D3. Get one before word gets out about just how good it really is, and it becomes hard to find!

Geniuses elsewhere have studied specifications and determined that the D3s is just a marginal step forward over the D3. I have to shoot real images and look at them real careful-like, cuz I’m not quite that smart. Shooting the D3s gives me an involuntary and rarely-experienced thrill I haven’t felt for a while, that’s a fact. It’s a camera that changes the way I think about shooting in dim light.

I wonder if Nikon will move the D3x forward with similar improvements. A 12-megapixel camera is a far cry from 24 megapixels, so if the already top image quality of the 24MP D3x can be ramped up some more as Nikon has done from the D3 to D3s, then Canon is going to need to work extremely hard.

I shot the Nikon 105/2.8 VR macro on the D3s in dim light, and it was a great combination. The astonishing quality at high ISO and VR makes shooting handheld in previously impossible scenarios a very satisfying experience. The 105/2.8 VR is a steal at about $889, and it interacts beautifully with the D3s. No noise reduction whatsoever on the image below, of course my review in DAP will have far higher resolutions as well as crops.

Mushroom forest
Nikon D3s + Nikon 105/2.8 VR, f/8 @ 1/100 sec handheld, ISO 1600 pushed 1.5 stops
Actual pixels: ISO 3200 pushed 1.5 stops, noise reduction OFF

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