Field Review: Nikon D3s (Day 5)

The Nikon D3s and 24-70mm F2.8 ED went along with me to a Pokemon battle tournament at Nintendo World in Rockefeller Center. As News Editor for, and also a photographer/editor for years, I demand great quality images. This posting is  reflection on how the D3s served me at this recent event. All images were shot in JPEG mode and at very high ISO settings. As you may probably know already, many other reviewers have crowned the D3s to be king of the High ISO range. As you’ll be able to see from the JPEGs this is true. However, there is a lot more besides great quality images that goes into shooting events.

Editor’s Note: These photos were downsized for web purposes.

Big Pikachu at ISO 6400

When shooting events, I’ve known after years of experience that the photographer needs to be like a fly on the wall. Additionally, they need to be able to rely on their equipment to do what they need to: such as their lenses and their camera. You need a good autofocus and if not, you need to figure out how to do things manually. You also need good High ISO abilities. These are really just the technicalities, I’ve got loads more of useful tips here.

Squirtle ISO 12800

If you’re using the Nikon D3s for events, you won’t be let down. The High ISO abilities combined with the good autofocus, durability, fast shutter capabilities, HD video additions with manual control, and the ability to select which area of the sensor you are using (1.2x crop factor, 1.5x crop factor or full frame) allows you total versatility on top of being able to carry less gear around.

Fast Shutter

ISO 12800 part 2

Something that all most event photographers want is faster shutter capabilities. Being a sports camera, the D3s does this well so you know that you’ll be able to shoot couples on the dance floor in essentially slow motion. On top of this, you also need to be able to crank up your ISO and not worry so much about noise. This is where the camera also excels and does so very well.

With this also comes the need to preserve the dynamic range of colors of the image. As you can see above, 12,800 ISO still yields wonderful colors and lighting.

To be fair though, put it this way: your clients are probably not going to be doing 100% crops of the images you hand them and scrutinize them painstakingly. Unless you’re working with an advertising agency or making enormous prints, you’ll be safely in the clear.


Pokemon Display at ISO 6400

This is something that has become more and more demanding/critical in event photography over the years. People are always moving around and the lighting isn’t always the best so that can mess with your cameras autofocusing abilities. The D3s has a superb autofocus system that can tackle the biggest problems. For example, in the image above, other cameras I’ve used would have tried to focus on the glass instead of the products. The D3s was smart enough to know that I wanted the products. I didn’t have have to use spot focusing!

ISO 12800 Part 3

This is great for when you need to photograph critical items to an event: such as the birthday cake at a 50th birthday party or a sweet 16.

Pokemon Table ISO 6400 D3s

At the event, this enabled me to get in, snap the picture and get out quickly.

Selective Sensor Area

Dude at ISO 12800

Being a fly on the wall is important during event shooting as I mentioned previously. Therefore, you either need a big lens or need to move very carefully through the crowd. Using the D3s you’re able to turn your 24-70mm lens into a 36-105mm lens using the 1.5x crop factor. This helps out tremendously so as not to disturb your subjects and catch them candidly and acting totally natural.

When you give these shots to your clients, they’ll be even happier.

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Chris Gampat

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