D800 vs D3s

Started 10 months ago | Discussions
pcm81
Contributing MemberPosts: 682
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D800 vs D3s
10 months ago

I already have D800, so not making a buying decision, rather curios of peoples opinions for educational purpose only.

Nowadays it is occasionally possible to find D3S on ebay for around $3k, which puts it just about at the price point of d800. So the question is this:

Why would you buy d800 vs d3s or why would you buy d3s vs d800 for the same price. This is functional question, so for all practical purposes lets assume the cameras are in identical shape.

My $0.02 is that if you want to shoot studio/landscape you would go for extra res of d800, but for sports or reporting you would go for d3s for extra FPS. What did i forget? Focus speed? Focus accuracy? Useful functions like focus priority with non-AF lenses? etc.

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1. D800 is the first camera with resolution so high that it simply does not matter.
2. Most people who do not own/shoot d800 misunderstand it. Color depth and accuracy in addition to resolution is what makes d800 great. Resolution alone is over rated.

Nikon D3S Nikon D800
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Photo Pete
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Re: D800 vs D3s
In reply to pcm81, 10 months ago

Had D3s, have D800. Only changed because I'm doing architectural work and need resolution.

IMHO the D3s is the better camera. Exposure seems more reliable, Autofocus is less 'fussy'. Better build quality and better high ISO performance (not so much noise as colour and dynamic range... far more useable files above 3200 ISO). If you HAVE to get the shot under time pressure then the D3s will get it. The D800 just seems to get in the way a bit more.

However, if you have time to get the shot then the D800 will produce much better results at lower ISO.

Other benefits of D800 include built in flash that can be used as commander for off camera flash, Auto ISO linked to focal length.

Other benefits of D3s include voice recording for notes and much better frame rates.

The D3s shutter also feels slightly more dampened giving far less of the impression that it will cause camera vibration.
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Brandon birder
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Re: D800 vs D3s
In reply to pcm81, 10 months ago

I made that choice nearly 2 years ago. The D800 for wildlife has given me a great deal of pleasure. It certainly is fast enough for birds in flight and has amazing crop ability, allowing me to use lenses I can carry. The D3s I tried simple didn't have enough resolution. It also focussed less well (hit and miss) with a 500 and 2TC than the D800 which is fast using the centre point. Don't regret the decision at all.

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IainD
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Re: D800 vs D3s
In reply to Brandon birder, 10 months ago

I am lucky enough to have both and I use them for different purposes. In 2011 I went to Alaska to photograph eagles in Haines It was much colder than usual for November, with temperatures down below -20 at times. My D3s and D3x functioned normally, and interestingly, almost all my good shots came from the D3s. High frame rate, rapid and accurate autofocus all worked in my favour.

I did not have my D800 then. For shots where resolution is important, the D800 is king but it is not far ahead of my D3x. There is something I really like about the images from the D3x, but that is another story. For speed and low light, the D3s wins easily, but for resolution, including cropping the D800 is superb.

IainD

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MPA1
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Re: D800 vs D3s
In reply to IainD, 10 months ago

IainD wrote:

I am lucky enough to have both and I use them for different purposes. In 2011 I went to Alaska to photograph eagles in Haines It was much colder than usual for November, with temperatures down below -20 at times. My D3s and D3x functioned normally, and interestingly, almost all my good shots came from the D3s. High frame rate, rapid and accurate autofocus all worked in my favour.

I did not have my D800 then. For shots where resolution is important, the D800 is king but it is not far ahead of my D3x. There is something I really like about the images from the D3x, but that is another story. For speed and low light, the D3s wins easily, but for resolution, including cropping the D800 is superb.

IainD

I too run the D3s/D3x combination and am very happy with that.

D3x files are plenty big enough for my requirements and are I think very pleasing to the eye in how they render.

The D3s just 'does it' and to be honest, the 12Mp files from that camera are absolutely fine for most uses.

The only 'D800' I would consider would be the D800 body with the D4 sensor in.

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coronawithlime
Senior MemberPosts: 2,199Gear list
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Re: D800 vs D3s
In reply to pcm81, 10 months ago

I already have D800, so not making a buying decision, rather curios of peoples opinions for educational purpose only.

Nowadays it is occasionally possible to find D3S on ebay for around $3k, which puts it just about at the price point of d800. So the question is this:

Why would you buy d800 vs d3s or why would you buy d3s vs d800 for the same price. This is functional question, so for all practical purposes lets assume the cameras are in identical shape.

My $0.02 is that if you want to shoot studio/landscape you would go for extra res of d800, but for sports or reporting you would go for d3s for extra FPS. What did i forget? Focus speed? Focus accuracy? Useful functions like focus priority with non-AF lenses? etc.

-- hide signature --

1. D800 is the first camera with resolution so high that it simply does not matter.
2. Most people who do not own/shoot d800 misunderstand it. Color depth and accuracy in addition to resolution is what makes d800 great. Resolution alone is over rated.

Been watching eBay for some time and have not found a D3s in the condition I would want for anywhere clost to $3000, but would take it in a heartbeat if I did. We have a D800 and a D800e.
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dwight3
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Re: D800 vs D3s
In reply to pcm81, 10 months ago

Have D800E and D4. They both get used, but for different things. There's not really a lot of difference between the D3S and the D4. Some difference in focus speed and color rendition, but not earth shaking. More of an incremental improvement. The D800E rules in resolution. I use the D4 indoors for high ISO.

The D4 can get full resolution images to ISO 12800 with minimal noise reduction in post. Images up to ISO 50K are possible with significant work on noise reduction in post. ISO 50K-200K is not advised except in real emergencies. You can get usable images at 200K if you could have gotten the image at 50K, but the color balance starts to go out. I haven't had the D800E long enough to really test it at high ISO but I hear it works to 6400 pretty well and you can always downsample and still get pretty good resolution.

The one problem I have with the D800 is that now my computer needs to be upgraded because of the file size. Not so much the normal processing, but when I have to combine several shots (panorama or focus stacking) the computer either bogs down or crashes. The old computer only has 4 Gbytes of RAM and that seems not to be sufficient.

For single shots, no problem.

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Nikon Coolpix S52c Nikon D200 Nikon D4 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8G ED-IF +9 more
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kk123
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Using D7100 and D3s
In reply to pcm81, 10 months ago

D3s for close-ups, fast moving objects and shooting in low light.

D7100 for landscape, long distance, good light. Resolution of D7100 is significanlty higher than D800.

And the good thing, you don't get unnecessary large files. D7100 with 24MPx2,25 equals FF of 54MP.

For wide landscapes I use Photomerge in Photoshop and usually merge 2 or 4 images.

Missing something? For studiowork/portraites I guess D800 would be the better camera.

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