Just published in DAP is a still-life comparison of the 12MP Nikon D3s to the 24MP Nikon D3x. What happens when you shoot the D3x at higher ISOs and then downsample it to D3s resolution...which camera wins? (This technique is already shown in DAP in D3x vs D3 Matched Resolution)
After all, it’s a fair question: why not get a D3x for its high resolution, then at higher ISOs reduce noise by downsampling to the same resolution as the D3s: same number of pixels in the end, but the D3x is more versatile. Or is it? The results clearly show that an extra helping of secret sauce made its way into the new D3s.
My eclectic test scene is shown below. I compared at ISO values 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800 so that a clear picture could emerge across the range.
With street prices about $7499 (D3x) and $5199 (D3s), the two top Nikon cameras are very close in terms of system cost. I have a feeling that the D3s is going to have a lock on the high ISO shooting market (sports and similar) for some time to come. I’d also see it as a terrific wedding camera for its great color and low noise at high ISO, all without the annoyance of flash. A big beast that might be the ultimate street camera too, simply by virtue of shooting in the near-dark with quality. And if Nikon can extend the improvements I see in the D3s into a D3xs, Canon had better aim high. Somehow even though the D700 and D3 were good, the D3s jumps out at me as a camera that might someday be referenced as a classic, a breakthrough camera.
Will Nikon introduce a D700s mimicking D3s image quality? I think it would be foolish of Nikon to do so (as much as I’d want one). That’s because the D3s is so good that it stands alone in the world of DSLRs today as the king of high ISO— no substitute exists.
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