Nikon D2H vs D3S
The Nikon D2H and the Nikon D3S are two professional cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in July 2003 and October 2009. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D2H) and a full frame (D3S) sensor. The D2H has a resolution of 4 megapixels, whereas the D3S provides 12.1 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Nikon D2H||Nikon D3S|
|Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Nikon F mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|4 MP, APS-C Sensor||12.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|no Video||720/24p Video|
|ISO 200-1600 (200-6400)||ISO 200-12800 (100-102400)|
|Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|2.5" LCD, 211k dots||3.0" LCD, 921k dots|
|Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)||Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|8 shutter flaps per second||11 shutter flaps per second|
|Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|2900 shots per battery charge||4200 shots per battery charge|
|158 x 150 x 86 mm, 1070 g||160 x 157 x 88 mm, 1240 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D2H and the Nikon D3S? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D2H and the Nikon D3S. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are available. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D3S is notably larger (6 percent) than the Nikon D2H. Moreover, the D3S is markedly heavier (16 percent) than the D2H. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor (as in the D3S) will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, while more compact options are available for the smaller-sensor camera (D2H). You can compare the optics available in the Nikon Lens Catalog.
As can be seen in the images above, both cameras have a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Nikon D2H»||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1070 g||2900||Y||Jul 2003||3,499||-||Nikon D2H|
|Nikon D3S«||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1240 g||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199||-||Nikon D3S|
|Nikon D850« »||146 mm||124 mm||79 mm||1005 g||1840||Y||Jul 2017||3,299||Nikon D850|
|Nikon D5« »||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499||Nikon D5|
|Nikon D810« »||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||980 g||1200||Y||Jun 2014||3,299||-||Nikon D810|
|Nikon D4« »||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999||-||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D800« »||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||2,999||-||Nikon D800|
|Nikon D800E« »||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||3,299||-||Nikon D800E|
|Nikon D300S« »||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799||-||Nikon D300S|
|Nikon D3X« »||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1260 g||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999||-||Nikon D3X|
|Nikon D700« »||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999||-||Nikon D700|
|Nikon D3« »||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999||-||Nikon D3|
|Nikon D300« »||147 mm||114 mm||74 mm||925 g||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799||-||Nikon D300|
|Nikon D200« »||147 mm||113 mm||74 mm||920 g||400||Y||Nov 2005||1,699||-||Nikon D200|
|Nikon D2X« »||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Sep 2004||4,999||-||Nikon D2X|
|Nikon D1H« »||157 mm||153 mm||85 mm||1100 g||1200||Y||Feb 2001||4,499||-||Nikon D1H|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The D2H was launched at a markedly lower price (by 33 percent) than the D3S, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D2H features an APS-C sensor and the Nikon D3S a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D3S is 138 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 12.1MP, the D3S offers a higher resolution than the D2H (4MP), but the D3S has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 8.43μm versus 9.50μm for the D2H). Yet, the D3S is a much more recent model (by 6 years and 2 months) than the D2H, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Nikon D3S implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D3S for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 21.3 x 14.2 inch or 54.1 x 36 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 17 x 11.3 inch or 43.2 x 28.8 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 14.2 x 9.4 inch or 36 x 24 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D2H are 12.3 x 8.2 inch or 31.3 x 20.7 cm for good quality, 9.9 x 6.5 inch or 25 x 16.6 cm for very good quality, and 8.2 x 5.4 inch or 20.9 x 13.8 cm for excellent quality prints.
The Nikon D2H has a native sensitivity range from ISO 200 to ISO 1600, which can be extended to ISO 200-6400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D3S are ISO 200 to ISO 12800, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-102400.
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the D3S offers substantially better image quality than the D2H (overall score 42 points higher). The advantage is based on 4.6 bits higher color depth, 2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 3.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Nikon D2H»||APS-C||4.0||2464||1632||-||18.9||10.0||352||40||Nikon D2H|
|Nikon D3S«||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82||Nikon D3S|
|Nikon D850« »||Full Frame||45.4||8256||5504||4K/30p||26.4||14.8||2660||100||Nikon D850|
|Nikon D5« »||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88||Nikon D5|
|Nikon D810« »||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.7||14.8||2853||97||Nikon D810|
|Nikon D4« »||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D800« »||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.3||14.4||2853||95||Nikon D800|
|Nikon D800E« »||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.6||14.3||2979||96||Nikon D800E|
|Nikon D300S« »||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||720/24p||22.5||12.2||787||70||Nikon D300S|
|Nikon D3X« »||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||-||24.7||13.7||1992||88||Nikon D3X|
|Nikon D700« »||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||-||23.5||12.2||2303||80||Nikon D700|
|Nikon D3« »||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||-||23.5||12.2||2290||81||Nikon D3|
|Nikon D300« »||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||-||22.1||12.0||679||67||Nikon D300|
|Nikon D200« »||APS-C||10.0||3872||2592||-||22.3||11.5||583||64||Nikon D200|
|Nikon D2X« »||APS-C||12.2||4288||2848||-||22.1||10.9||476||59||Nikon D2X|
|Nikon D1H« »||APS-C||2.6||2000||1312||-||-||-||-||-||Nikon D1H|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The D3S indeed provides for movie recording, while the D2H does not. The highest resolution format that the D3S can use is 720/24p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D2H and the D3S are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the D3S has a higher magnification than the one of the D2H (0.70x vs 0.57x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D2H, the Nikon D3S, and comparable cameras.
|Nikon D2H»||optical||Y||2.5||211||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0||n||n||Nikon D2H|
|Nikon D3S«||optical||Y||3.0||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n||Nikon D3S|
|Nikon D850« »||optical||Y||3.2||2359||tilting||Y||1/8000s||9.0||n||n||Nikon D850|
|Nikon D5« »||optical||Y||3.2||2359||fixed||Y||1/8000s||14.0||n||n||Nikon D5|
|Nikon D810« »||optical||Y||3.2||1229||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||n||Nikon D810|
|Nikon D4« »||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D800« »||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||Y||n||Nikon D800|
|Nikon D800E« »||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||1/8000s||4.0||Y||n||Nikon D800E|
|Nikon D300S« »||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0||Y||n||Nikon D300S|
|Nikon D3X« »||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n||Nikon D3X|
|Nikon D700« »||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0||Y||n||Nikon D700|
|Nikon D3« »||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0||n||n||Nikon D3|
|Nikon D300« »||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0||Y||n||Nikon D300|
|Nikon D200« »||optical||Y||2.5||230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||Y||n||Nikon D200|
|Nikon D2X« »||optical||Y||2.5||235||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n||Nikon D2X|
|Nikon D1H« »||optical||Y||2.0||120||fixed||n||1/16000s||5.0||n||n||Nikon D1H|
The Nikon D3S has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the D2H and the D3S write their files to Compact Flash cards. The D3S features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the D2H only has one slot.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon D2H and Nikon D3S and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Nikon D2H»||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D2H|
|Nikon D3S«||Y||stereo||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3S|
|Nikon D850« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||Y||Y||Nikon D850|
|Nikon D5« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Nikon D5|
|Nikon D810« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||Y||-||-||Nikon D810|
|Nikon D4« »||Y||mono||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D800« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Nikon D800|
|Nikon D800E« »||Y||mono||mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-||Nikon D800E|
|Nikon D300S« »||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D300S|
|Nikon D3X« »||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3X|
|Nikon D700« »||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D700|
|Nikon D3« »||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D3|
|Nikon D300« »||Y||-||-||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D300|
|Nikon D200« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D200|
|Nikon D2X« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-||Nikon D2X|
|Nikon D1H« »||Y||-||-||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-||Nikon D1H|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Both the D2H and the D3S have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D2H was replaced by the Nikon D2Hs, while the D3S was followed by the Nikon D4. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon website.
So how do things add up? Which of the two cameras – the Nikon D2H or the Nikon D3S – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D2H:
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 170g or 14 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (33 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in July 2003).
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D3S:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (12.1 vs 4MP), which boosts linear resolution by 73%.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (42 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (4.6 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (2 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (3.2 stops ISO advantage).
- Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/24p video.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.57x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.0" vs 2.5") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (921k vs 211k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 8 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (4200 versus 2900) out of a single battery charge.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More modern: Reflects 6 years and 2 months of technical progress since the D2H launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D3S is the clear winner of the contest (14 : 3 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D2H and the Nikon D3S place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D2H or the D3S perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|Nikon D2H»||-||+ +||-||o||-||Jul 2003||3,499||-||Nikon D2H|
|Nikon D3S«||-||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199||-||Nikon D3S|
|Nikon D850« »||+ +||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jul 2017||3,299||Nikon D850|
|Nikon D5« »||-||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499||Nikon D5|
|Nikon D810« »||-||86/100||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jun 2014||3,299||-||Nikon D810|
|Nikon D4« »||-||-||4.5/5||-||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999||-||Nikon D4|
|Nikon D800« »||+ +||82/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||2,999||-||Nikon D800|
|Nikon D800E« »||-||84/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||3,299||-||Nikon D800E|
|Nikon D300S« »||+ +||82/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799||-||Nikon D300S|
|Nikon D3X« »||-||86/100||4/5||5/5||5/5||Dec 2008||7,999||-||Nikon D3X|
|Nikon D700« »||89/100||+ +||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999||-||Nikon D700|
|Nikon D3« »||-||+ +||5/5||o||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999||-||Nikon D3|
|Nikon D300« »||+ +||+ +||5/5||o||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799||-||Nikon D300|
|Nikon D200« »||+ +||+ +||o||5/5||-||Nov 2005||1,699||-||Nikon D200|
|Nikon D2X« »||-||+ +||-||o||-||Sep 2004||4,999||-||Nikon D2X|
|Nikon D1H« »||-||+ +||-||o||-||Feb 2001||4,499||-||Nikon D1H|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (-) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Nikon D2H vs Nikon D3S
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Nikon D2H||Nikon D3S|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||July 2003||October 2009|
|Launch Price||USD 3499||USD 5199|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D2H||Nikon D3S|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.3 x 15.5 mm||36.0 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||361.15 mm2||860.4 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||4 Megapixels||12.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||2464 x 1632 pixels||4256 x 2832 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||9.50 μm||8.43 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.11 MP/cm2||1.40 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||720/24p Video|
|ISO Setting||200-1600 ISO||200-12800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||200-6400 ISO||100-102400 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||40||82|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||18.9||23.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.0||12.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||352||3253|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D2H||Nikon D3S|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Optical viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||2.5 inch||3.0 inch|
|LCD Resolution||211k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D2H||Nikon D3S|
|Autofocus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||8 shutter flaps/s||11 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||150 000 actuations||300 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||no Intervalometer||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF cards||CF cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D2H||Nikon D3S|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||PC Sync socket|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||no HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||no Wifi|
|Body Specs||Nikon D2H||Nikon D3S|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||2900 shots per charge||4200 shots per charge|
158 x 150 x 86 mm
(6.2 x 5.9 x 3.4 in)
160 x 157 x 88 mm
(6.3 x 6.2 x 3.5 in)
|Camera Weight||1070 g (37.7 oz)||1240 g (43.7 oz)|
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