New Nikon D3s, 85mm DX Micro announced

Well, it’s official.  The much-rumored Nikon D3s has now been announced, along with a new DX-format macro (micro) lens. 

The big news on the D3s is that the sensor has been tweaked to offer an in-spec ISO range of 200-12,800!  The Hi-range mode now goes to Hi-3, or the equivalent of ISO 102,400!  Of course, keep in mind that the “Hi” range in all Nikon DSLRs should be considered an “emergency” mode– good for low-res or black and white images when ANY shot is better than no shot at all.
Other cool features of the D3s:
  • HD (720p) movie mode
  • Integrated sensor cleaning (sonic)
  • “Quiet mode” release– I agree that the original D3 is pretty loud compared to other Nikon DSLRs
  • Expanded buffer supports 42 NEFs in continuous shooting
  • 1.2 (8MP) crop mode
  • Better battery life (4200 shots)

Also announced today is a new 85mm VR macro lens dedicated to DX shooters. The 85mm focal length is approximately equivalent to a 127mm angle of view on 35mm cameras, so this new lens is not a 105mm replacement for DX shooters. However, the lens has VR II image stabilization. Because it is a DX lens, it will not cover the full-frame FX format unless you use cropped mode on a D3/D700.
Editorial commentary after the jump.

So what do I think?

Well, the D3s is certainly a welcome addition to the Nikon stable.  This gives the already dominant D3 a nice tech refresh and the incorporation of a couple more nice features that PJ/sports shooters will likely want.  In under two years, the D3 has become well-entrenched in the sports/PJ market as evidenced by the scores of black lenses that I now see dotting the sidelines of major sporting events.  While video isn’t that important to me personally, there are situations where it can come in handy, especially for reportage work.
The 85mm DX micro lens will likely live up to Nikon’s reputation for excellent macro lenses.  However, I’m a little surprised by this particular release.  The 200mm f/4 Micro Nikkor would have been an excellent choice for a macro redesign, especially since the 105 VR Micro works just fine on DX bodies.  I’m not sure that there is a real need for a 126mm equivalent macro lens.  On the other hand, I’m probably most disappointed right now in what we didn’t get:
  • 80-400VR replacement
  • fast wide prime (24/1.4 or similar)
  • 85 1.4 VR
  • f/4 constant aperture telephoto zooms (ie, 70-200 f/4 VR)

Hopefully, we’ll see more in the spring during the PMA release cycle.  Until then, be happy with what you got!

One thought on “New Nikon D3s, 85mm DX Micro announced”

  1. The 85/3.5 DX VR micro looks like another relatively inexpensive addition to the DX line-up. It’s a high-value lens for today’s still tight budgets. Nikon sure knows how well they’re doing with the 35/1.8 DX. As with the 105 AF-S VR Micro, the new 85 gives DX shooters VR plus more working distance compared to a 60mm Micro, but at about 40% savings. It’s also a better fit for the smaller bodies. The 85’s MTF charts look as stellar on DX as those of the 60 AF-S Micro or the 105. We’ll see how it is in the real world. I own & love the 60 AF-S, which covers FX, but it might lose out to the 85 if I were choosing today.

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