Nikon D3s announced



front-001The Nikon D3s has just been announced. It looks like a really impressive stills camera but it feels like Nikon still haven’t risen to the challenge when it comes to the video mode.

I have been a Nikon user for years and have a huge amount of lenses, so am still waiting to see their reply to the 5dmkII and even the 7D. I haven’t seen any video from this camera yet or held one/ used one. But the specifications for video are somewhat disappointing.

Full frame sensor: GREAT!

Only 720p 24p: Not so great, we need full HD and different frame rates. In the EU we need 25p. Even the relatively ” cheap” Canon 7D does 720p 50 and 60p (although not 720 24p, that is limited to full HD only)

Autofocus in video mode: Now this is very interesting as it uses the same autofocus system that the stills mode uses but in video. Not sure how this will work in practice as changing focus in video needs to be subtle and smooth rather than fast and jarring which stills camera autofocus generally tends to be. The Panasonic GH1 is the best “DSLR” I have come across for autofocus, in fact it has one of the best autofocus systems I have come across period, with it’s facial recognition and tracking. There are many times when it comes in handy (even with my inbuilt knee jerk reaction to autofocus for video being a big fat NO!) like steadicam and really fast moving shallow DOF shots. But then that is rare and there is nothing better than manual focus for me. So be interesting to see just how smooth the autofocus will be whilst actually rolling. Do you have to hold down the shutter button for it to continuously track focus?

Motion JPEG AVI: Not a great recording format, nor is the Canon’s H264. So again, a shame. This is recording format for point and shoot cameras, not big bold competitors for the video camera market.

Twin card slots: Great for still but less interesting for video guys like me as am sure the clips are going to be length limited and don’t span for continuous recording, but I could be wrong.

Record time: I believe just 5 mins at a time?

Price: This really is a very high end stills camera with a bonus video mode and is priced for that high end stills market at $5199.95! Wonder how much the Canon 1dMkIV will be when that comes out?

So take a look at full specs here, really really impressive stills camera. But for what lights my fire, the video mode, disappointing. Let’s see what they do with the D700s/x. Please Nikon, look at the competition and rise to the video challenge!! But if you are interested in 99.9% stills this is a beautiful camera. Don’t forget the Canon 1dmkIV looks like it won’t be full frame, probably  a 1.3x crop.

So shame about the 720p 24p



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  1. Yeah… I love the D3 as a stills camera. But since yesterday i have the 7D as an addition to the 5D2. And we have shitloads of various cheap M42 Russian and GDR-German lenses… 😉 Oh this is going to be fun.

  2. Philip i get your disappointment about the video but u know this camera is made for pro sports photographers so video is only in there because they could, its far most a still camera than a video.
    And i’m intrested in the autofocus and the new algorythm to fight jello, but all those things are good for maybe quick vids of a sport event (although 24p sucks for sports).

    1. absolutely, not knocking it’s stills capability at all. It’s just a shame that’s all. It could be third generation video for Nikon by now. Canon 1dmkIV is going to made for sports guys/ news guys but looks likely to have very powerful video, albeit with a 1.3x crop

          1. it’s a shame it looks like it’s not going to be a real contender for serious video as it’s frustrating using both nikon and canon now – the 5d2 is a brilliant camera but it is so cheap and light compared to Nikon’s better cameras – even the d700. i was hoping to be able to give it away or convert it to IR or something and just move back to nikon – but have to wait for d700x maybe…

  3. A disappointment indeed. But I had a feeling that Nikon would drop the ball again. I hope that the minimal amount of video improvements since the release of the D90 just means they’ve got something really great cooking behind the scenes. That may be overly optimistic, but I guess we shall see…

  4. definitely a disappointment – however Im interested in seeing the quality of Motion Jpeg avi – wonder what bitrate that would be at??

    aren’t M jpeg / Photo jpeg generally higher quality + preserve more detail + closer to raw than H264 is ?

    also would’ve thought M jpeg would be easier to edit ? (also I assume the AVI container doesnt effect the quality compared to if it was .MOV ?)

    1. MJPEG is a great format depending on the quality setting. It has 4:4:4 color space.

      At lower settings you get a lot of jpeg artifacts, but at higher quality settings it is a great archiving file format. I hope Canon moves to MJpeg mov files soon.

      1. is the 5min time limit a factor of the mjpeg codec ? and is this why nikon couldn’t manage 1080p as that mjpeg codec’s issues with that also ?

        All i know is that mjpeg men instant editing, no converting like canon’s codec needs, and smaller files which means faster uploading to our news servers.

        but having all the different recording options like on the 7D WOULD OF BEEN BLOODY NICER NIKON!

  5. I think that Canon, unlike Nikon, are already well established in the Pro Video market that they are taking the video aspect of the 5D Mark II and 7D very seriously indeed. I do not see Nikon taking on Canon in the new VDSLR market.

  6. We should be seeing quite a few more sports oriented SLRs coming out soon. the winter Olympics are just a few months away. Prime marketing and real world testimonials coming up soon … I imagine a bit of the video will take a back seat for still quality , ISO and auto focus till then

  7. I for one like the camera. Great for grab and go work….video is still a bonus. But as for the convergence between still and video I’ll hold onto my money until I see what The Red people put out.

    1. dude, that rolling stutter looks gnarly. is this going to continue to be a problem for cmos sensors or what?

      btw, that looks like a weird shot, as the cameraman was so jerky with his moves (like, literally super sudden). I don’t think that’s typical of normal pans.

  8. I know a number of pro photographers who gave up on Nikon and switched to (mainly) Canon some years ago exactly because of this… Nikon’s inability to keep up. Its not just the video issue, its Nikon’s inability to read what’s needed by photographers, embrace (useful) new technology, and bring it to market quickly. Canon wins hands down on that score.

  9. Don’t forget the gaping holes in Nikon’s lens line-up! They need to address the shorter fast primes issue.

    I left Nikon for the original 5d which had no video and compared to its Nikon counterpart was a pretty crappy box – but it makes wonderful images.

    Wouldn’t move back to Nikon unless there was a; 24L, 35L, 50L & 85L equivalent. Those Nikkor zooms are wonderfully sharp but “where’s the mojo” as that greatest of all British photographers would say:-)

  10. ok guys – help me out here..

    on their special D3s microsite, they state

    ‘ In either mode, flicker reduction function is available to ensure comfortable and accurate movie recording, even under fluorescent or mercury lamps. Choose between two frequencies: 50 Hz or 60 Hz. ‘

    so that means what to us in PAL countries like Australia.. ?

  11. I think this only barely makes it into the convergence category. I think the point we need to realise is that these cameras are effectively now light recording computers and the problem is in the hardware. We are only to get the great leap forwards when we get new chips and they take longer to develop than the traditional camera lifespan. What we get from Canon is based on Digic IV technology. What was revolutionary in the 5D2 is now filtering down into Powershots for them to recoup the development costs.

    Nikon was there a bit earlier and even this latest camera is still tinkering with the same basic technology as the D90 and its not really moving the game on. The video here is a minor feature on an otherwise very focussed Pro camera. For an amateur like myself who likes film making and landscape photography, I can’t think of a single thing that on the D3s that would tempt me from my 5D…..Thank God at over £4000 body only

  12. A few things to note. Nikon is not a video company and they could care less about video.

    Canon is both a video and still camera company and is well positioned cash in on a great opportunity. A great opportunity to stick it to Sony as well, I believe the one to watch will be Sony and their line of DSLR’s, they are most likely to turn up the heat on Canon with HD video.

    In fact Sony’s Alpha 850 is a full frame camera that retails for US$2000, it would be a game changer if they came out with HD video capability like the 7D. Rumors have it that the Alpha 950’s replacement will have HD video and you can bet Sony is watching the 7D very closely.

    So all you Sony fans may end up in the arms of your former lover again.

  13. Additionally I’ve heard that many (uppity) pro photographers hate the addition of video to their sacred camera’s. So Nikon may be responding to this vein in their core market.

  14. The you tube video clip, was great for a arty wildlife film, but the weakness of the autofocus with video showed I suspect most was manually focused and it a good job that second Puffin knew how to hit’s mark. The choice is usually between that great photo you can sell and that Clip of video you may sell. As you can’t do both at once which is it to be. Also until you can see what video you shooting in the view finder I fine hard use with big glass on the front.

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