Nikon D3S Review

 
Camera Reviews / Nikon Cameras / Nikon D i Full Review

Nikon D3S High ISO Noise Reduction

As noted elsewhere in this review, the Nikon D3S delivers a noticeable advance in high-ISO image quality over the D3, especially at very high ISOs. Its different noise-reduction settings also allow you quite a bit of flexibility in choosing how you want to make the trade-off between subject detail and noise levels. Noise levels are so low that the D3S only starts to apply high ISO NR at ISOs higher than 3,200. (The D3 applied it over ISO 2,000). Also note that "Off" isn't truly off for ISOs above 16,000 (6,400 for the D3) as the D3S still does some minimal NR at those very high ISOs when set to "Off". The combination of shooting with NR turned Off and using a good noise-filtering program after the fact can produce very clean images with lots of fine detail in them. (And of course, the D3S's NEF files have no high ISO noise-reduction processing applied to them at all, adhering to the true philosophy of RAW shooting.)

See for yourself how the various noise reduction settings work. Click on any of the crops below to see the corresponding full-sized image.

High ISO Noise Reduction Comparison
In-Camera JPEGs
Simulated Daylight
Off
Low
Normal
High
I
S
O

3
2
0
0
Off
Low
Normal
High
I
S
O

6
4
0
0
Off
Low
Normal
High
I
S
O

1
2
8
0
0
Off
Low
Normal
High
I
S
O

2
5
6
0
0
Off
Low
Normal
High
I
S
O

5
1
2
0
0
Off
Low
Normal
High
I
S
O

1
0
2
4
0
0

The above crops show the effects of the 4 levels of high ISO noise reduction, under the HMI lighting we use to simulate standard daylight. As you can see, the high ISO noise reduction setting has no effect at ISO 3,200. At higher ISOs where noise reduction is active, the trade-off between detail and noise can easily be seen.

 

To see how Nikon D3S High ISO JPEGs compare to other professional SLRs (including its predecessor) at default noise reduction settings, see the crops below.

Nikon D3S
versus
Nikon D3, Nikon D3X, Canon 1D Mark IV
In-Camera JPEGS
Default High ISO Noise Reduction
Simulated Daylight
D3S
D3
D3X
1D Mark IV
I
S
O

3
2
0
0
D3S
D3
D3X
1D Mark IV
I
S
O

6
4
0
0
D3S
D3
D3X
1D Mark IV
I
S
O

1
2
8
0
0
N/A
(ISO 12,800
not supported)
N/A
(ISO 12,800
not supported)
N/A
(ISO 12,800
not supported)
D3S
D3
D3X
1D Mark IV
I
S
O

2
5
6
0
0
N/A
(ISO 25,600
not supported)
N/A
(ISO 25,600
not supported)
N/A
(ISO 25,600
not supported)
D3S
D3
D3X
1D Mark IV
I
S
O

5
1
2
0
0
N/A
(ISO 51,200
not supported)
N/A
(ISO 51,200
not supported)
N/A
(ISO 51,200
not supported)
N/A
(ISO 51,200
not supported)
N/A
(ISO 51,200
not supported)
N/A
(ISO 51,200
not supported)
D3S
D3
D3X
1D Mark IV
I
S
O

1
0
2
4
0
0
N/A
(ISO 102,400
not supported)
N/A
(ISO 102,400
not supported)
N/A
(ISO 102,400
not supported)
N/A
(ISO 102,400
not supported)
N/A
(ISO 102,400
not supported)
N/A
(ISO 102,400
not supported)

As you can see, the Nikon D3S is the top performer; not only within this group, but of all digital SLRs at this time. Its high ISO performance is an improvement over the D3, especially at very high ISOs, and easily beats the Canon 1D Mark IV. To see how much is due to clever processing versus actual sensor performance, see our Nikon D3S RAW page.

 

Print the hi_iso_nr page for the Nikon D3S digital camera reviewPrint this Page

Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.

Follow Imaging Resource

Purchase memory card for Nikon D3S digital camera
Enter this month to win:

1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate