DigitalCameraReview.com
Under the Big Top with the Nikon D3S
by Theano Nikitas -  10/21/2009

What's more fun than going to the circus? Photographing the circus with the brand new Nikon D3S.

Nikon D3S

Nikon invited a group of journalists to a shoot a dress rehearsal of The Big Apple Circus in NYC a couple of days before PhotoPlus Expo opened. We were outfitted with Nikon D3s cameras and an assortment of lenses. I shot with the new 70-200mm VRII f/2.8, the 24-70mm f/2.8, and an 8GB SanDisk Extreme III CompactFlash card.

While the D3s is identical to the D3 in many ways, there are a few differences, the most important are: a new sensor, 720p video recording and a mind-boggling high ISO of 102,400 (High 3). While photographers will probably view this as "emergency" ISO (hey, it's noisy, mostly in shadows...no surprise there), the results were better than I expected.

Nikon D3S
HI-3 ISO 102,400, no noise reduction

Nikon D3S
HI-3 ISO 102,400, no noise reduction

Drop the ISO down to 12,800 and I was even more impressed but was really blown away by the photos shot between 6400 and 8000. They're stunning, even shooting under difficult conditions with multicolored lights, smoke machines and performers with bright costumes and heavy make-up.

Nikon D3S
ISO 7200

Lighting varied throughout the show but the D3s was more than up to the task, although I got better exposures when I switched from matrix metering to center-weighted (metering and re-composing when the subject was off-center).

Nikon D3S

Video quality was impressive as well, although I could only view it on a 17-inch Macbook Pro (pardon the shaky video sample...handholding the D3s and a 70-200mm lens when shooting video isn't easy).

Needless to say, I'm anxious to receive a review sample so I can really put the D3s through its paces. But that will have to wait for another time. Meanwhile, check out these first shots. We'll have an in-depth review as soon as we can.

Additional Sample Images
Nikon D3S Nikon D3S
Nikon D3S Nikon D3S