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Bad lighting, Nikon D3s, Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II

1/50 sec handheld, ISO 3200 pushed 2/3 stop
Nikon D3s + 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II,

Today I attended a school function for my daughter, held in a gymnasium with the usual spectrally-awful lighting. Sorry I can’t share the photos, these were minors, and too many for model releases.

I observed several things which impressed me immensely:

1) The Nikon D3s handles ISO 3200 superbly. The flag shot at right was also pushed by 2/3 stop = ISO 5000 equivalent. Yet the noise is minimal, and the color true. I also shot at ISO 12800, and I’ll be pitiqualated if I wasn’t even more impressed than I expected. The Nikon D3s is truly a breakthrough camera.

Actual pixels, high ISO noise reduction OFF
Nikon D3s ISO 3200 pushed 2/3 stop to ISO ~5000.

As I observed in my various blog entries [search] and in my in-depth Nikon D3s review in DAP, the D3s is one heck of a camera for low-light shooting, and it’s far more of a winner than just noise.

2) The Nikon D3s autofocus (with focus priority) in the dim lighting could takes a moment or two to lock on, especially in shaded areas. Yet I don’t recall better focus with any other Nikon or Canon body, and the results were spot-on (70-200VR II). I used both single sensor and multiple sensor focus modes.

3) When autofocus and vibration reduction (VR) are useful, they’re indispensable: by holding the camera and lens securely, I obtained sharp results right down to 1/20 second at 200mm. No way could I have succeeded with manual focus and without VR under those conditions. My keeper rate was very high. The Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II is also covered in my blog and in my in-depth Nikon 70-200 VR II review in DAP.

4) I’ve never before seen such good color under this kind of awful lighting, let alone at ISO 3200 and 12800. It is particularly impressive in the natural tonal rendition and color balance (once a white point is set).

You can get the Nikon D3s and Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II at our trusted sponsor B&H Photo . You might also want a high quality 77mm filter, see my recommended list.

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