Field Review: Nikon D3s (Day 2)

The other day I took the Nikon D3s and 24-70mm F2.8 ED on the streets with me around Rockefeller Center. I tested out the high speed abilities on two famous street sports: ice skating and hackey sack. The results surprised me not only because of the fast shutter speed but also because of the tracking autofocus system. They worked wonderfully together with the lens to the point where I’m almost considering purchasing a D3s. More after the jump.

As you probably knew already, the D3s has shot many major sporting events. The camera was essentially designed for this purpose in addition to being the photojournalists and wedding/event photographer’s companion. From the High 9 FPS shooting, to the HD video features to the superb tracking autofocus abilities, I would be proud to have the D3s at my side anytime.

Keep in mind that these were JPEGs straight out of the camera shot at ISO 1600. I admit, a bit of overexposure or some flash would have helped but I shot in aperture for convenience sakes.

Tracking Focus With Ice Skating

Tracking autofocusing with this camera was used to shoot figure skaters over at Rockefeller Center having their merry time on the ice in 74 degree NYC weather. No that was not a typo. What you basically do is set the focusing to the zone setting on the back and ensure that it is also in continuous-servo on the front of the camera. Then pick a specific autofocus point. Place the point on your target, lightly press the button down and watch it move through the frame. Also try to keep the point on your target.

While this all sounds very standard and something that we’ve been doing for years, I’ve never seen it done effectively. This goes for even companies like Olympus and Canon who are held in high regard. Nikon got it right and did it damned well. Add onto this that you can shoot at a 1.5x crop and you’ve got yourself a real winner.

Hackey Sack

As a young kid, I always used to love to play hackey sack, so when I saw a group of young kids doing it I couldn’t help but ask if I could shoot them. Once again the D3s didn’t fail. I set the focusing to full auto for this one and really just kept looking for and anticipating those really precise moments. As you can see, I got them. For something where I was this close up to the action, I didn’t need to track a specific point. In fact, I would think it would be near impossible to track such a fast moving small object.

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Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.