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|| News Item: Posted 2009-12-18

Photographer's Toy Box: The Nikon D3s files look fantastic
By Robert Beck, Sports Illustrated

Photo by Nikon D3s

Photo by Nikon D3s
I thank my lucky stars every day that I am a Nikon shooter. The glass is sharper with better color and contrast. The flash system works ten ways to Sunday and better than any other on the planet.

With the new D3s, now I thank my lucky stars every night as well because I can shoot anywhere from ISO 4000 to 6400 and the images will look incredible. They are sharp and noiseless (is that a word?). That means I can shoot fights, football games and anything else under dank lights without sacrificing faster shooting/shutter speeds.

That means less shots lost to motion and more images for my editors to choose from. I'll say it again, the files look fantastic. I hate to admit it, but they blow away the 3200 files from the D3. That alone is reason enough to take all of that dough you got for Christmas and order one. Or two.

The auto-focus system, already potent in the D3, seems a bit quicker. There is an expanded "focus tracking menu" (custom setting menu>a4) that now allows five choices instead of three. I used the bottom selection (short) at the recent Oregon versus Oregon State football game with superb results. I switched from player to player without missing a beat.

I still love the "flash synch speed" option in the Custom setting menu (e1). I set it to 1/250 (auto FP) and I can shoot at any shutter speed with my SB900. The D3 does this as well. If you have not tried it you should. The function allows you to shoot fast moving subjects in bright light without any ghosting, or you can shoot wide open in bright light to drop out the background.

The LCD screen is improved too. Sharper and clearer, allowing you to check out every little detail of the image you just shot.

How 'bout a quiet shooting mode for all of you golf nuts out there? It only shoots one frame but that's all you need on the backswing baby.

How 'bout shooting a movie? In 1280x720 HD? With an on-board stereo microphone, right to your CF card and into iMovie or whatever you want to run?

I attach a Hoodman Loop to the LCD to focus and prefer a solid tripod for longer glass but shooting "video" with the D3s is very intuitive and the results are stunning. Not sure if your image is sharp? Expand the image in LiveView to check it out.

Want to make sure the scene is level? Use the virtual horizon function. I like that I can control the depth of field. I think that allows me to get more of a filmy look versus a video look. I can use any lens: tilt-shift, fisheye or a 400 2.8. It is a lot of fun. New and fresh.

Branch out now!

(Robert Beck is a staff photographer with Sports Illustrated based in Southern California. You can see his member page here:

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