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14th October 2009
Nikon D3s FX DSLR & Micro Nikkor 85mm macro preview
by Ian Burley

Nikon introduces revamped D3s and 85mm DX Micro Nikkor macro

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Early this morning, UK time, the embargo lifted on the latest two products from Nikon's camera line up, but they aren't the rumoured compact with a DSLR sensor, instead we have a subtly enhanced D3s pro-spec DSLR, and for DX (APS-C sensor) Nikon DSLRs a new 85mm Micro Nikkor macro lens. We were briefed by Nikon about the new releases recently.

Starting with the new AF-S DX Micro Nikkor 85mm f/3.5G VR, the new VR-II stabilised lens follows the latest trend in macro lens design for internal focusing, meaning the length of the lens remains constant and the front of the lens doesn't rotate. With an 'equivalent' full frame focal length of 127.5mm, the 85mm macro will probably be popular for portraiture too. The new lens will ship in December with a guide price of 499.99, or 607.00. I wonder if, for this price, a brighter f/2.8 maximum aperture might have been expected?

Internal focusing and 1:1 macro reproduction from the new 85mm macro

Next up, the Nikon D3 gets a detailed, if subtle, make-over. The first good news is that the D3s introduces a sensor cleaning function to the D3 line up for the first time, following the D700, though retaining 100% viewfinder field of view. The D3's 12MP sensor is all-new, although the pixel pitch remains identical to the original D3. Redesigned microlenses, pixel amplifiers, and other sensor circuitry has helped Nikon enable a new Hi3 ISO mode enabling the range to be stretched an extra 2 stops from the D3's 25600 maximum ISO to a remarkable ISO 102400 ISO.

There are a couple of new autofocus fine tune modes, although the Multi-CAM3500 AF system is retained from the D3. Live view AF has been made more responsive, now has its own dedicated button, and also works with the D3s' new 720HD 24p movie mode. Nikon has persevered with AVI encapsulated motion JPEG movies, so the maximum limit per clip is about 5 minutes before the 2GB recording maximum is reached. Responding to criticisms that Nikon's previous HD video implementations exhibited some unwanted flicker or 'wobble', Nikon says this has been fixed with the D3s.

You can replay clips in the camera and pause to save a still frame from any part of the movie, though the frame will be movie resolution. Some journalists present at the briefing expressed disappointment that full 1080 HD resolution video wasn't offered even though Canon has provided this for some time. For continuous still shooting, the buffer upgrade that has been available for the original D3 is now standard on the D3s, more than doubling the buffer capacity.

New AF-ON button designed to work better when you're wearing gloves

Some of the external features of the D3s, like the AF-ON button (above), and the battery compartment, have been redesigned so that gloved users can operate the camera more positively. With press photographers in mind, Nikon has added an in-camera RAW editing function to enable users to tweak their RAW files and generate JPEG versions for convenient in-the-field workflow. Although the previous customised RAW setting can be applied repeatedly, there is no option to save custom RAW settings and recall them later. The D3s gets a 3.5mm external stereo microphone socket and to make space for this, the standard HDMI port has been replaced by the mini-HDMI variety.

With its enhanced 9fps high speed shooting and low light shooting capabilities, Nikon looks set to further consolidate its strength in the press and sports professional category. Nikon UK revealed figures indicating that 63% of photographers in these categories were now using Nikon compared to just 19% using Canon. Scheduled to ship in early December, the Nikon D3s has a guide price of 4199, or 5100.

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Nikon D3s FX DSLR Micro Nikkor 85mm macro preview

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H Nikon has updated their 12MP pro D3 DSLR to the new D3s and can now boast an incredible 102400 max... (more)

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