Monday 8 August 2011

First Nikon D3s results

So, I received my new photographic equipment on Friday...and took it for a test run on Saturday at the Rietvlei Nature Reserve in Pretoria, South Africa.

Let me say right off the bat that I am by no means a technical gear-tester-cum-review-writer...for that there are many fine websites all over the world where they do extensive testing with colour charts, sharpness metrics and fancy lab results. I can only reflect here how I experience the equipment based on my techniques and preferences in real-world shooting.

Anyhow, here are some initial results obtained with the Nikon D3s and the Nikkor 500mm f4 VR-II lens (with and without the TC-14E-II teleconverter).

This first image is of a male ostrich walking towards me. This is basically full frame and is chock full of details. The image quality is something else and there is no grain visible at all on this shot (taken at ISO-800).

f4  |  1/1250 SS  |  ISO-800

Here is a close-up of the same ostrich's face. This was cropped from 12 megapixels down to 3.5 megapixels, and have a look at the detail retained.

f4  |  1/2500 SS  |  ISO-800

This herd of zebra shows how beautifully the 500mm lens renders the out-of-focus background:
f5.6  |  1/1600 SS  |  ISO-400

It's a well-known fact by now that this camera excels in low-light situations because of its excellent handling of high ISO settings. The benefit for bird/wildlife/sports photographers is not just that it handles poor light well, it's also that the excellent image quality attainable at high ISO settings translates to a much faster shutter speed being possible when the light is decent. Here are a few shots taken on this particular morning with higher ISO settings. These were taken with the 1.4 teleconverter attached.

f5.6  |  1/3200 SS  |  ISO-1600
f5.6  |  1/1250 SS  |  ISO-1600

I also went one step further to test the high ISO capabilities of the D3s. I took the camera to church this morning with the aim of doing some low-light photography on our stage. For this purpose I also took along 2 of my new lenses in my bag: the Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8G ED and Nikkor 14-24mm f2.8G ED.

Both these lenses excel in low-light situations...and I was amazed by the overall results. The following photos are directly out-of-camera, I did not even apply slight adjustments in the conversion of the RAW files (NEF files).

Test Shot 1: ISO-3200
Most of you won't know that my other favourite pastime is making music. Before photography came along and completely ruined my budget and time allocation I was a very active touring musician (vocalist/guitarist), now I mostly play and sing at our church and for friends and family. This is my favourite electric guitar, a PRS Custom-22. This was photographed with the ambient light from the stage lights and no camera flash was used.

f2.8  |  1/30 SS  |  ISO-3200

Test Shot 2: ISO-12800
I photographed our drummer, Mike Botha, on stage using the 14-24mm lens and some fill flash from the Nikon SB-900 speedlight. Again, this is straight out of the camera at a ridiculously high ISO setting...

f22  |  1/60 SS  |  ISO-12800

Well, there you have my initial images taken with some of my new kit. I might post some sample images of my experience with the Nikon D7000 at a later stage.

Curious to know what you think?


Morkel Erasmus


  1. Impressive Morkel!

  2. I am glad you are stunned with your Nikon gear. Excellent photos and it don't even show any grain with your ridiculously high ISO setting. And not even to speak about the detail...amazing. A bit jealous but congrats with your new gear, I think you are going to enjoy it.

  3. I must say one to not see noise present using such high ISO settings.Outstanding captures.
    God Bless.

  4. Thanks for your comments Felix, Johannes and Rudi!