Nikon D3s vs D3x

Nikon has just announced the new Nikon D3s, so I decided to post a quick comparison between the Nikon D3x and the new Nikon D3s in this “Nikon D3s vs D3x” article. Both Nikon D3s and D3x are top of the line, very specialized cameras for different needs. The new Nikon D3s is a low-noise, high performance camera designed for professional news, sports, wildlife and event photographers that need the speed and low noise while working in challenging lighting conditions. The Nikon D3x, on the contrary, is designed for studio and landscape photographers that need the higher resolution for large prints. While D3x is identical to D3, except for the sensor, there are a few differences between the D3s and D3x.

Nikon D3s Nikon D3x

Here are the differences between D3s and D3x:

  1. Very different sensors on both cameras. D3s features a 12 megapixel 36×23.9 full frame (FX) CMOS sensor, while the D3x has a 24.5 megapixel 35.9×24 full frame (FX) CMOS sensor.
  2. Having a lower number of pixels allows the Nikon D3s to have an increased pixel pitch and thus increases sensitivity of the sensor and ability to capture images at higher ISOs with low noise. On the other hand, higher number of pixels results in decreased pixel size and decreases sensor sensitivity in the Nikon D3x. Because of this, the D3s sensor by default can capture ISO levels of 200-12800, while the D3x’s default ISO is 100-1600. Both cameras also provide “boosted” ISO levels of 100, 25600, 51200 and 102400 (D3s) and 50, 3200 and 6400 (D3x) for challenging and extreme conditions.
  3. Nikon D3x is almost twice as slow as the D3s when it comes to frames per second (high speed continuous shooting). Nikon D3x is 5 FPS, while D3s is 9 FPS.
  4. The Nikon D3s now features an “image sensor cleaning” technology just like in other lower-end cameras such as the D300s and D700 that vibrates the low pass filter and reduces dust on the sensor, without impacting the 100% coverage of the viewfinder. There is no such feature on the D3x.
  5. A new 1.2x crop factor @ 8.4 megapixels is added for a “telephoto” effect on D3s for those who need the extra reach.
  6. D3s can shoot 720p video (1280 x 720 @ 24 fps). The “rolling shutter” effect is greatly reduced, thanks to a new video recording algorithm in D3s. There is no video on D3x.
  7. A couple of new white balance and image parameters are added into the D3s menu.
  8. A new release mode “Q” (quiet shutter-release) is added to D3s, just like in D300s.
  9. Just like the latest generation of Nikon cameras, “Lv” (LiveView) and “Info” buttons were added to the back of the D3s.
  10. 5×4 crop mode on D3x is at 20.4 megapixels.
  11. D3s is priced at $5,199.95, while D3x is priced at $7,999.99.

So, which camera is right for you? The biggest differences in the above list are sensor type and camera price, again, because both cameras are for specialized needs. If you have the money and you primarily shoot landscapes or capture models in a studio and need the best DSLR in the market today, go for the D3x. Low noise is not an issue for you, because you would be mounting the D3x on a tripod for landscape and would have sufficient light in a studio environment. The extra resolution will make a difference for commercial work and large prints.

If you shoot in challenging lighting conditions and need a fast camera, go for the D3s instead. Nikon D3s is currently the king of ISO – there is no comparable camera on the market today that sports a similar sensor with very high sensitivity. Just take a look at the video that I posted on my “D3 vs D3s” article and you will understand why it is such a big deal for sports and wildlife photography.


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Avatar of Nasim Mansurov About Nasim Mansurov

is a professional photographer based out of Denver, Colorado. He is the author and founder of Photography Life, along with a number of other online resources. Read more about Nasim here.

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Bryan Agoncillo

    I’m currently saving up for the D3s…. I often read about the difference between the Nikon models… reading your article made my decision firm on getting it… D3s it is then…

    • Bryan, I assume you will be using the D3s for low-light photography?

      • 3
        ) Bryan Agoncillo

        Actually that may be one of the biggest reasons why I’d be getting it… high ISO low noise / grain… Here in Edmonton, typical day light is always against me especially now that it is snowing…. and special events that requires flash or possibly no flash at all…. D3s would be my choice…

        • Bryan, I see! I’m sure you will love the D3s :) Without a doubt, it is the best low-ISO performer in the market today and it looks like it will remain the king of low-light photography for a while…

    • 50
      ) Pablo Quiroga

      The summary of d3s wonderful, I want to dedicate me to the photograph of weddings and need an advice, who nikon did not fail to me with low lights

  2. 5
    ) Alasdair

    I take primarily (98% of the time) HDR Images. I often find myself inside derelict buildings or wandering through abandoned scrap yards and other odd places taking photos. I am trying to find the best camera for my needs.

    I am looking for auto bracketing, 5 – 9 Shots would be my ideal. Great quality is another requirement as many prints I will want to blow up to poster size.

    I have no reall budget to hold me back. I just want to get the right camera for the job. I am considering the Nikon D300s at this point. Primarily for its auto bracketing.

    Do you have any advice you would be able to offer on this subject. Could you email a copy of your reply to me alasdair@jhcs.com as I would be very grateful for any assistance I can get on this quest.

    Thankyou in advance.

    • Alasdair, I think you have a pretty good choice of camera – the Nikon D300s will work great for HDR. Since you are primarily shooting HDR, the sensor dynamic range is not that important for you. Hence, you do not need a full-frame camera…

      • Nasim,

        Can you explain further what you mean by:

        “Since you are primarily shooting HDR, the sensor dynamic range is not that important for you. Hence, you do not need a full-frame camera”?

        @Darcy1968

  3. 7
    ) Choegon

    Thanks for your clarification, now i know which camera i should get, D3s. your information is much appreciated. Choegon Rinpoche. Seattle WA

    • Choegon, you are most welcome!

      By the way, have you ordered your D3s yet? I pre-ordered another one from Adorama and waited for three months. I then canceled my order and got it from B&H and it arrived within a week.

      Here is the link to Nikon D3s @ B&H for you. Don’t forget to get the extra battery and LCD cover!

      Good luck with your photography, your monastery pictures are amazing!

    • Oops, the link is fixed now ;-)

  4. 10
    ) HD Blog

    Good article :)

  5. 11
    ) Roger G. Sabio

    I’m sure Nikon D3s would be a great camera. I am now saving money to have one. I am using D2x right now. Comparisons made by Nasim helps a lot. Thank you sir and God bless!

    • Roger, you are most welcome! Thanks for stopping by and dropping a comment!

  6. 13
    ) Tracy Smith

    I am also trying to figure out which one to buy, The D3s or the D3x. I mostly shoot weddings, family portraits, engagement photos etc, but I just invested and bought everything for studio photography. ie: flashbox, all indoor lighting equipment, etc,. Which one would be the best for me, to begin shooting studio family shots, senior pictures etc? Would love all input and why. thanks

    • Tracy, I had a similar situation and I went with the Nikon D3s for its low-light capabilities, especially for weddings. The majority of the photos from the last wedding were shot with the D3s and I am just amazed by the high ISO performance of this camera.

      Another reason why I chose not to go with the D3x was price – for the price of a single D3x, I could have purchased a D3s with the 24-70mm f/2.8 and some accessories…

      • 15
        ) Tracy Smith

        Thank you so much……I appreciate your input, and will be getting the D3s…I got the chance to shoot with it for a day, and was amazed. I felt like a kid in a candy store….

        • Tracy, I know what you mean :) I had a similar experience and went with the D3s as well!

  7. 16
    ) Markop

    hello. Im a fashion photographer, but 90% of my work is outside on the location, with flashes and ambient lighting, moustly at night…i was gonna go for D3x, but thees days iv been reading a lot about D3s and im in a big dilema…Large prints are not my priority, but im interested does it show any big diference those megapixels on the D3x, for studio shooting…Outside i know who rules ;) how’s yours expiriance on this?

    • Markop, without a doubt, the D3x will rule in a studio if you give enough flash power to it to shoot at low ISOs. Where D3s stands out is low noise at high ISOs. I was amazed by the performance of the D3s when I shot a wedding at ISO 6,400 and even 12,800 indoors.

      If you do not need the large prints, go with the Nikon D3s and you won’t regret it.

  8. 20
    ) Chris R.

    Thinking of jumping to FX (currently using D300S) since I shoot mostly landscapes and cityscapes. Due to budget constraint, I’m aiming for D700. But your article makes me want to save up more for D3S :)

    Very informative indeed. Thanks!

  9. 22
    ) Roger G. Sabio

    Just bought my D3s in hongkong two weeks ago and find the camera great for indoors. White balance was great plus the video. Big thanks to Nasim for the great infos…

    • Roger, thank you for your feedback. I love my D3s as well – it is a remarkable camera!

  10. 23
    ) Roger G. Sabio

    yes sir! Love this camera too. God bless!!!

  11. 24
    ) Hilary K.

    I’m returning to professional photography. I am a travel photographer and previously used the Nikon F5 with Fuji Velvia (50 ASA). A fellow photographer told me I need 24 mega pixels to match the Velvia. I’m considering the D3X for that reason but I would like to know if you think the D3S would be sufficient. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated! Hilary

    • Hilary, I think that the Nikon D3s would be a better for travel photography than the D3x. I’m not sure what your primary type of photography is, but if you walk around taking pictures of people and places without flash, the high ISO performance of the D3s will certainly come handy. If you are into landscapes mostly, then you should go for the D3x .

      Hope this helps.

  12. Thank you for this review, I had a panic last night if I was buying the right one! I now have a D3s in my hands. Can’t wait till the next wedding to use it. My D300s is now a back up and makes for a good pair of camera’s ;)

    • Nick, congratulations with your purchase! The Nikon D3s is a wonderful DSLR for weddings. We use it to shoot weddings and we love it!

  13. 28
    ) Eddie

    Nasim, I’ve been blessed by coming into a little extra cash that I want to put into some photo goodies. My first upgrade will be in a new camera, and it’s been between the D3S and D3X. I do a lot of landscape and wildlife photography, but have added some sporting events into my interests. After reading your comparison, I’m thinking the D3S will be the right call. Here’s another challenge for you: I’m dying to buy a 300mm or 400mm prime lens, but I was wondering if you might suggest three “must have” lenses I should give serious consideration to buying? Thanks, and I’ll look forward to your response…

    • Eddie, if you shoot more wildlife than landscapes, then go for the D3s – you will need that high ISO performance and fast shutter speeds for wildlife, especially birds. If you shoot a lot more landscapes than wildlife, then go for the D3x for much more resolution.

      In terms of buying telephoto lenses, what is your budget? What other lenses do you already have? Do you need lenses for landscapes as well?

      Let me know.

      • 30
        ) Eddie

        Okay, Nasim, I must have replied via e-mail instead of your blog. My bad. This is what I previously sent. Please take a look at it and let me know your thoughts…

        Eddie

        I definitely take more wildlife than landscapes, so the D3S is looking like the right choice. As for some new lens choices, I’ll give you some thoughts about where I am.

        This entire camera/lens purchase will be a HUGE upgrade to all facets of my personal photography kit. I’ve been shooting a D60 with two kit lenses, and this past spring I purchased a Sigma 120-400mm to help with my growing interest in wildlife shooting. I do pretty much 90% of my shooting in a south Jersey National Wildlife Refuge, and I’ve seen my skill increase in the past year or so. The Sigma is a good lens and has afforded me some great shots, but in my estimation it has been lacking in some facets of what I need. Coupled with the D60 I know it’s time to upgrade.

        With access to some new cash, I am pretty much going to allocate $15k to new purchases. With a D3S coming in at $5,200, you can already see that I’ve spent a good–and worthy–chunk of what I have available. I’d love to have a Nikkor prime, but do I go with a 300mm, 400mm or blow the budget on a 500mm? I’ve also researched/considered the following:

        1. 70-200mm $2,100
        2. 24-70mm $1,750
        3. 17-35mm $1,750

        As for primes, they are:

        1. Nikkor 300mm $4,800 VR
        $5,800 VR II
        2. Nikkor 400mm $8,800
        3. Nikkor 500mm $8,400

        Current combinations:
        1. D3S $5,200
        Nikkor 400mm $8,800
        Nikkor 24-70mm $1,750
        Total $15,750

        2. D3S $5,200
        Nikkor 300mm $4,800 (VR, not VR II. Thoughts?)
        Nikkor 24-70mm $1,750
        Nikkor 17-35mm $1,750
        Nikkor 12-24mm $ 950
        Nikkor 105mm $ 900
        Teleconverter $ 350
        Total $15,700

        Well, this is how I’ve spent my time doing research, and this is what I’ve come up with. Obviously, the second scenario give me A LOT of quality “glass” for the same money as my first option, but I guess I need some insight from a professional. I’ll obviously use a TC for the 300mm in the second scenario.

        If you use Facebook you can see some of my shots at my page.

        http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#!/Eddie.G.TateIII

      • 32
        ) Eddie

        Nasim, were you ever able to give my original question a little more thought? It’s about the items I listed above as being options for my upcoming purchase of equipment. Another reader gave me some great advice about going with a D700 because it’s still a great camera and will cost a lot less. The lenses, though, are still a bit of a question for me. Let me know…

        E–

        • Eddie, I hope I was able to help you out with the suggestions. Let me know if you have any questions! By the way, the Nikon rebate on the 24-70+70-200mm lenses expires on October 2nd.

          • 35
            ) Eddie

            Nasim, your help and insight has been invaluable and I truly do appreciate your help. I got the links and promise to use them, too. The rebates looks awesome, but as of now I will not be purchasing any of this equipment by 10/2…unfortunately! More than likely it’ll be closer to November, providing no more obstacles get in the way. I will keep you posted.

            And for the record, the selections we agreed on will give me an awesome kit! I am so excited about making it all happen!

            • Eddie, I’m glad I was able to help out! Let me know if you have any other questions.

  14. 31
    ) Mike

    As a recreational shooter I hope there aren’t many people like me who spend the astronomical prices to get these cameras when the D700 replacement will probably trump them both.

    • Mike, the problem is, there is no D700 replacement planned any time soon. I hope Nikon will release an update early next year, but nobody knows for sure…

  15. Hi there

    I have been reading through a few of your articles, very good. Thanks. And your responses to questions are really helpful.

    I shoot portraits in a range of conditions, both in studio and on location, with flash and available light. (as on my website). I also do some weddings.

    I have heard that people can print up to 50inches wide from the D3s with help from photoshop. Do you have any info on what the maximum print size from each camera is realistically?

    I am unlikely to need to print beyond 30-40inches – if D3s is ok for that, seems like a good choice.

    However I am interested by the dynamic range of the D3x – is that likely to offer a big advantage in shooting dramatically lit location portraits??

    • Matt, take a look at my “how to enlarge photographs for printing” article that I wrote a while ago about increasing the print sizes.

      In terms of dynamic range, the D3x is only good for studio work where megapixels matter. The D3s is a much better camera for portraits when shooting in various lighting conditions with or without flash, since you can utilize high ISO. I do not know of a single wedding photographer who shoots with a D3x – most shoot either with D3 or D3s.

  16. Hi Mr. Mansurov,
    I’ve been haunting your site for a couple days now, wrestling with this dilemma. I currently shoot with a d300. I keep coming up against low light situations and really dislike flash. I was pretty convinced I wanted the D3s until I began comparing images on the internet. Why am I continuously impressed with D3x images and left luke warm with D3S images? I’m assuming what i’m responding to is the HDR effect. I mostly shoot portraits for jobs but hobby/art-wise I dabble in just about everything and am frustrated with the flat look of a camera without good range. The bottom line seems to be that these cameras are two very different animals but i’ve given myself a headache trying to figure out which one I want to own… first , at least. If I go with the D3x, will I at least have better ISO performance than I currently do with my d300 or is it better/worse? thanks!
    Lisa

    • Lisa, don’t get stuck with looking at pictures on the Internet. The way pictures come out depends on a lot of factors, post-processing being a huge one. Different people work on images differently and if one person has some great image samples from D3x, it does not mean that everyone will get the same look. The same goes for D3s…

      Yes, the D3x and D3s are very different cameras for different needs – one (D3x) being a high-resolution camera for landscape, fashion/studio photography where megapixels matter, while the other (D3s) is for low light photography (weddings, concerts, events, etc) where high ISO performance is very important.

      If you find yourself shooting with flash a lot more than ambient light, go with the D3x, because high ISO performance is not going to be important for you. If you shoot more ambient light and if the lighting conditions are especially tough, then definitely go with the D3s. The HDR effect can be achieved with both cameras through post-processing. The cameras themselves are not going to have a huge difference in dynamic range, for sure.

      By the way, I just checked with both Adorama and B&H and they do not have the D3s in stock. B&H will not accept an order, but Adorama does. If you place the order with Adorama, they will put you in line to get the D3s when they receive it in stock. Here is the link to D3s @ Adorama.

      • 41
        ) Lisa Sellge Pachuta

        Thank you for the advice. You’re right, I was getting too wound up in internet images. I found a d3s at a local camera shop in my city… or at least one that is on order… and tied it up fast. Hopefully will be in my hands in a week or so. A huge investment but i seem to be getting more jobs lately so hopefully i will do it justice. Thanks again.
        Lisa

  17. 42
    ) aj dejavu

    muy buena esta pagina, hasta el momento soy aficionado en la fotografía, tengo una nikon D90, juntare dinero e ire por una D3s…. este mundo de la fotografía es de otro planeta… gracias por sus consejos gente.
    SALUDOS DESDE CHILE….!!!

  18. 43
    ) Nikos

    Dear Nazim,

    I already have the D3S and i am thinking about D3x for following reasons

    1. to have 200-400 d3x combo to get 50% magnification (when need) with reasonable dx crop for wildlife, animal photos
    2. for macro photos (for the moment – flowers, but i am thinking to try some more detailed and microscopic works)
    3. landscapes
    4. portraits (in the future)

    I print mainly A4 (not bigger than A3).

    So the question is – will the quality of DX format picture from D3x be significally better than one from D3s when printed on A4 (A3)?

    If the money wasn’t the first consideration, would you advice to get this camera for that kind of works?
    i am not going to make studio photography or modeling or wedding (at least for now…)
    I was thinking first about the D300s, but it is only DX…
    i wish there were D3XS model……. to solve the doubts…

    best regards,

    nikos

    • Nikos, I doubt you will see a difference between images shot on D3s or D3x when printed on A4 paper. For much larger prints, the pixels will matter, but not for A4 size…

      A friend of mine bought a D3x and ended up returning it. He already had a D3s and saw no reason to go with another $5K body. He uses medium format film for his landscape work instead and he says he can get more resolution and dynamic range out of it.

      If I were you, I would wait until D4 comes out :)

      • 58
        ) nikos

        dear Nazim,

        thanks a lot for respond.

        best regards,

        nikos

  19. 44
    ) CJ

    Great review and well done research.
    So I am upgrading from D90 to my first Full Frame body and I am literally torn between a few good ones on the market right now.
    Here’s what I am interested in the most: Landscapes, Landscapes, and a little more Landscapes, then Seascapes some Wildlife with my traveling-rounds.
    My considerations right now:
    Nikon: D3x, D3s, and D700. OR Canon 1Ds Mark III, 1D Mark IV, and 5D Mark II.

    Budget is not my main issue since I have been saving for this major upgrade for quite a while now, and I don’t mind switching from Nikon to Canon Full Frames and still have my old D90.
    The question is, is it worth the switching? Especially since I have heard many photographers say Canon is better at landscaping, where Nikon is better at portrait work. What are your thoughts about this? I really appreciate the time you have taken in reading this, I thank you in advance for your kind support.

    • 45
      ) Pascal Ungerer

      Hi there, your article on the d3s v the d3x was very informative. I am a semi professional photographer
      and I will be upgrading all my photography gear this year. I am still undecided about weather to buy the d3s or d3x, both have qualities that I like. I do a lot of commercial work i.e weddings, PR, Events etc so I guess the D3s would be perfect for that. However I also do Landscape photography on the side – although I dont make much money from my landscape photography yet, it is the area of photography that I enjoy the most and I would imagine that the D3x would be the best in this area. Both these cameras are very expensive as you know, and it is a big decision to make. What is your advice on the matter ?
      Thanks

    • CJ, seems like you are like me, focusing more on landscapes, but also do not mind doing some wildlife :) If I were you, I would go with the D3x or wait until Nikon releases the D4 (should be within the next couple of months). And I do not agree with Canon being better at landscapes. If you have a sub-$3K budget, then that’s true. But if you can afford to spend $7K on a body, then Nikon’s D3x is currently the best 35mm landscape DSLR you can find on the market.

  20. 46
    ) Pascal Ungerer

    Hi there, your article on the d3s v the d3x was very informative. I am a semi professional photographer
    and I will be upgrading all my photography gear this year. I am still undecided about weather to buy the d3s or d3x, both have qualities that I like. I do a lot of commercial work i.e weddings, PR, Events etc so I guess the D3s would be perfect for that. However I also do Landscape photography on the side – although I dont make much money from my landscape photography yet, it is the area of photography that I enjoy the most and I would imagine that the D3x would be the best in this area. Both these cameras are very expensive as you know, and it is a big decision to make. What is your advice on the matter ?
    Thanks

    • Pascal, for your type of shooting, definitely get the Nikon D3s. Nikon D3x is a great DSLR for landscapes and fashion, but not for weddings and other low-light photography work.

  21. 51
    ) Pablo Quiroga

    It was thinking about review that you have offered of d7000, but is not a chamber with which I will have left a little short as far as atmosphere photos (osseous environmental light) is that the flash, I cannot with him

  22. Wow! Thanks so much – I’m an event photographer, and your explanations are extremely useful!!

  23. I don’t understand why anyone (with the exception of someone photographing billboards or studio models) would need 24 megapixels?

    I had a 6.5×4.5 feet canvas print from a 12 megapixel image and it looks great. Who is going to print larger?

    • Mike, landscape photographers also need more pixels for higher resolution and larger prints.

      Other than that, I agree – 12 MP is enough for most needs.

  24. 55
    ) Peter

    Hi Nasim, you helped me a while back with a decision on a long lens – a Nikon 300f2.8 VRII – which I appreciate! I have used it a bit and am very happy with it – we took it to the jungles of Indonesia recently and the resolution & color, even in low light, is just great! Still getting used to the handling as it is big. I have another question for you if you have a minute.

    I currently have two bodies – a D700 which I use with a 24-70 f2.8 and, a D300s which I use with a 70-200 f2.8 and now the 300 f2.8. I also have the TC 1.4II and the new TC 2.0III extenders.

    I love the D700 and the images I get from it. I am not so sure about the 300s. When coupled with a longer lens shooting things that move around quickly I would like a brighter viewfinder, quicker shutter initialization, faster frame rate and, full frame resolution.

    My shooting is primarily travel related with family thrown in whenever possible. From what I can tell either the D3x or D3s will do what I am looking – the x goes for maximum resolution at normal ISO and the s goes for maximum ISO at somewhat diminished resolution when compared to the x. However the s has sensor clean which is a must these days.

    If I were do to something in the next six months or so, do you have any thoughts about either of these cameras based on what I think I am looking for or would you suggest waiting for the rumored D4, whenever that is.

    Thanks for your help,

    Peter

    • Peter, you are in the same boat as me – I used to have a D300 as my second body and after the D700, I did not want to use it anymore ;-) I eventually sold it and I am FX only now.

      If I were you, I would sell the D300s while you still can and then wait for the D4 to come out this summer.

  25. 59
    ) bexnella

    Hi,

    I am looking to buy a professional camera as I am hoping to set up a small photography buisness. I am trying to decided between either the d3s, d3x or the d700…..The thing is I need to be able to use the camera on the beach ( I am shortly moving to the gold coast, Australia from the uk) to get some action shots in the bush as well as studio for portraits etc… I am also wanting to go into wedding photography and new born shoots. I need a camera that is versitile in all weather conditions especially bright sunny conditions, but also low light such as dawn, dusk and night time, that also produces greats shots that can be printed in large size. I have read many reviews on the camera’s I have mentioned above and I am now as confused as ever.
    If you could please recommend which of the above three camera’s would be the best buy for me.

    Kind regards

  26. 60
    ) aaron

    Hello,

    I’m looking at both the D3X and D3S but I’m not exactly sure which way to go…… I’m leaning towards the D3X as I want to use it for landscapes which I would like to blow up into large panoramas, but saying that I would also like to use it for weddings, portraits and studio work. Can you please give me some advice?

    Regards,
    Aaron

    • 61
      ) aaron

      Also I should have added I’m leaning towards the d3x also because the I can get the D3x for $400 more than the d3s which I’m finding hard to say no to. I also understand I’m wanting to do everything with this camera and maybe thats just asking too much

  27. 62
    ) Cecil Gray

    If landscapes and wildlife are the primary targets can the D3s produce marketable prints and what limit would you suggest for print size?

    • Cecil, sorry for a late response – somehow missed your comment. Of course you can make marketable prints. You can stretch 12 MP over very large prints, as long as you decrease DPI and perhaps even enlarge the resolution through Photoshop and other third party plugins. I have 20×30 prints at home and people print billboard-sized promotion material shot with 10 MP cameras. If you want to print 150-300 DPI, then I suggest using a print size calculator (use Google to find it) to find out the exact size of the print.

  28. 63
    ) Jack Mitchell

    I currently own the Nikon d3s which obviously is a great camera with fast shutter speed and a great ISO range but now I have second thoughts and was wondering if I should have bought the d3x. The reason for my change of heart is that I almost always shoot landscapes and always use a tripod and a remote for my shutter.

    I like to blow these up quite large and have had the opportunity to sell some of my work. I realize this is a hard question to answer and has many variables, but how big a print can I get from my d3s without loosing quality. Most of the time my ISO is at 100 or 200 to keep the noise down and always on a tripod. Would I be better off buying the d3x to get maximum usage of the 24mp or just try and work with the d3s.

    I sure would value your opinion in this matter. Thank you in advance

    jack mitchell

    • Hi Jack,

      I just purchased the D3s, moving from a D300. I do mainly landscape work and environmental portraits. My worked has been published widely. Even with the D300, I was able to produce stunning prints at 20×30 or larger (similar MP on a DX body). Like you, I do a lot of work at ISO 100 and 200 with a tripod and remote. Of course, I purchased the D3s for nocturnal photography and environmental portraiture. But I also purchased it knowing the the base ISO quality would be excellent.

      While the camera can play a big role in sharpness, the right lens and the right technique can be equally if not more important (along with good print output and proper post processing to include sharpening, etc.).

      I have many pro colleagues who shoot landscapes with the D3s and find the quality to be superior. Unless you plan on blowing your prints up to billboard size or do extreme post process crops, I just can’t see any justification for putting down another $8K. You’re better off waiting for the D800 to come out in a few months, which will supposedly have 36MP. I think too many people only focus on the high ISO qualities of the D3s. But if you look at the entire package, it’s pretty darn impressive. In most cases, any limitations are within ourselves. Just my .02 ~Dan

    • Jack, as Dan stated below, you can print pretty large if you use lower DPI and some good plugins to increase the resolution of the image. For landscape work, the D3x is a better camera due to better dynamic range at base ISO and higher resolution, however, its steep price is not attractive and it is a camera that will be updated with a new version very soon. If you want large 150-300 DPI prints, the D3x is the best camera from Nikon. As Dan suggested, I would wait till a new camera comes out either later this year or Q1 of 2012.

  29. 67
    ) sam

    Hi, its great for me to read these comments and understand how to improve my knowledge of NIKON D3.

  30. Greetings Nasim,

    I own the D3s; as you stated, a great camera. I am planning a year of travel to Europe, South Africa, Tanzania, Paris in April and three months in Croatia. I want to photograph cultural events, people, sporting events, and an occasional landscape, although landscape photography is not my passion. I enjoy garden photography as well. If you look at my web page slideshow you will see what I like to photograph.

    The idea of making large prints is very appealing, although I have yet to make a large print, I want to have this capability.

    I am considering the new D800, but also the D3x. Which one do you suggest?

    • Robert, the Nikon D3x is now dead, don’t buy it – get the Nikon D800 instead! Pre-order now and you should be able to get it within the next 1-2 months.

  31. 70
    ) Joe

    Nasim,

    Hello and thanks in advance for all the time and effort including the time you spent on such wonderful write ups/reviews.

    I am somewhat long overdue for an upgrade as I am currently doing a fair amount of studio work as well as weddings. I have gotten to the point or am at least getting to where I am looking for an increase in these 3 areas: 1, durability, 2, resolution and 3, high ISO performance (In that order). Based upon your most recent reply you have now made my decision even more perplexing. I am currently doing my work with the use of 3 D300′s (plural D300) with grips.

    Up until I read your last reply, I have been debating between a D3s and a D3x from reputable sellers. Both of which would be 2nd hand models and somewhat near the same price. I have considered the D800 but am honestly concerned about the rumored chatter of the left focus issue and green cast to the display. I suspect that Nikon may have resolved this issue by now but none the less that is one of the reasons I have considered the D3s and D3x above the D800. In addition, I’m not sold (for lack of a better word) on 36 MP. Additionally, the build and rated shutter life on the D3s/x is also appealing to me. Unfortunately, the D4 is a little out of my reach in regard to budget.

    Oh yes, I am prepared to make the jump to FX from my D300′s as I have been accumulating FX glass over the past several years (instead of buying more bodies).

    I feel that since I’m able to function within the limits of what the D300 has to offer in regard to limited ISO and that is perhaps one reason why I am looking at the D3x.

    Can you tell me how the D3x and D300 compare (with first hand experience if possible) at higher ISO’s? Personally, I try to limit my D300′s to an ISO of between 800 up to 1600 ( and that is where the consideration of a D3s begins). At the same time, I do receive requests for enlargements that push the 12MP limit.

    I feel as though I am stuck and again, I realize that the styles of shooting for which I am getting paid (studio vs weddings) are the reason I feel this way. On one hand I have all the light I could use in the studio with strobes and on the other I am on the other end of the spectrum I’m inside a dimly lit environment. Lastly, my clients from both of those genres want photos that may require more detail than what 12MP might be able to offer on occasion.

    Any suggestions/advice or input would be appreciated. Thanks again!

    Joe

  32. 71
    ) william hwang

    I need help to buying camera I normally take picture in church once while landscaping and wedding at our church only. please tell me which camera should i buy d4, d3s , d3x thanks

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