Nikon D2X vs D3S
The Nikon D2X and the Nikon D3S are two professional cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in September 2004 and October 2009. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D2X) and a full frame (D3S) sensor. The D2X has a resolution of 12.2 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.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D2X 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Nikon D2X and the Nikon D3S is provided in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. 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 D2X. However, the D3S is slightly lighter (1 percent) than the D2X. 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 (D2X). 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, you can move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|1.||Nikon D2X||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Sep 2004||4,999||ebay.com|
|2.||Nikon D3S||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1240 g||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199||ebay.com|
|3.||Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499||ebay.com|
|4.||Nikon D4||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999||ebay.com|
|5.||Nikon D300S||147 mm||115 mm||81 mm||938 g||950||Y||Jul 2009||1,799||ebay.com|
|6.||Nikon D3X||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1260 g||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999||ebay.com|
|7.||Nikon D700||147 mm||123 mm||77 mm||1074 g||1000||Y||Jul 2008||2,999||ebay.com|
|8.||Nikon D3||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon D300||147 mm||114 mm||74 mm||925 g||1000||Y||Aug 2007||1,799||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon D2Xs||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1252 g||3800||Y||Jun 2006||4,699||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D200||147 mm||113 mm||74 mm||920 g||400||Y||Nov 2005||1,699||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D2H||158 mm||150 mm||86 mm||1070 g||2900||Y||Jul 2003||3,499||ebay.com|
|13.||Nikon D1H||157 mm||153 mm||85 mm||1100 g||1200||Y||Feb 2001||4,499||ebay.com|
|14.||Nikon D1X||157 mm||153 mm||85 mm||1100 g||1200||Y||Feb 2001||5,999||ebay.com|
|15.||Nikon D1||157 mm||153 mm||85 mm||1100 g||..||Y||Jun 1999||5,499||ebay.com|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will obviously take relative prices into account. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The D2X was somewhat cheaper (by 4 percent) than the D3S at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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.
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the 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 D2X features an APS-C sensor and the Nikon D3S a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D3S is 131 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.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Nikon D2X offers a higher resolution of 12.2 megapixels, compared with 12.1 MP of the Nikon D3S. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 5.52μm versus 8.43μm for the D3S). Moreover, it should be noted that the D3S is much more recent (by 5 years) than the D2X, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The Nikon D2X has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 800, which can be extended to ISO 100-3200. 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.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors. Both cameras use a Bayer filter for capturing RGB colors on a square grid of photosensors. This arrangement is found in most digital cameras.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. 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 D2X (overall score 23 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.4 bits higher color depth, 1.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.8 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|2.||Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|3.||Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|4.||Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|6.||Nikon D3X||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||24.7||13.7||1992||88|
|7.||Nikon D700||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2303||80|
|8.||Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The D3S indeed provides for movie recording, while the D2X does not. The highest resolution format that the D3S can use is 720/24p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The D2X 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 D2X (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 D2X, the Nikon D3S, and comparable cameras.
|1.||Nikon D2X||optical||Y||2.5 / 235||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|2.||Nikon D3S||optical||Y||3.0 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|3.||Nikon D5||optical||Y||3.2 / 2359||fixed||Y||1/8000s||14.0/s||n||n|
|4.||Nikon D4||optical||Y||3.2 / 921||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|5.||Nikon D300S||optical||Y||3.0 / 920||fixed||n||1/8000s||7.0/s||Y||n|
|6.||Nikon D3X||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|7.||Nikon D700||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0/s||Y||n|
|8.||Nikon D3||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||11.0/s||n||n|
|9.||Nikon D300||optical||Y||3.0 / 922||fixed||n||1/8000s||6.0/s||Y||n|
|10.||Nikon D2Xs||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|11.||Nikon D200||optical||Y||2.5 / 230||fixed||n||1/8000s||5.0/s||Y||n|
|12.||Nikon D2H||optical||Y||2.5 / 211||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0/s||n||n|
|13.||Nikon D1H||optical||Y||2.0 / 120||fixed||n||1/16000s||5.0/s||n||n|
|14.||Nikon D1X||optical||Y||2.0 / 120||fixed||n||1/16000s||3.0/s||n||n|
|15.||Nikon D1||optical||Y||2.0 / 120||fixed||n||1/16000s||1.5/s||n||n|
|Notes: *) Information refers to the mechanical shutter, unless the camera only has an electronic one.|
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 D2X 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 D2X 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 D2X and Nikon D3S and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
Mic / Speaker
|1.||Nikon D2X||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|2.||Nikon D3S||Y||stereo / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|3.||Nikon D5||Y||stereo / mono||Y||Y||mini||3.0||-||-||-|
|4.||Nikon D4||Y||mono / mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||-||-||-|
|5.||Nikon D300S||Y||stereo / mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|6.||Nikon D3X||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|7.||Nikon D700||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|8.||Nikon D3||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|9.||Nikon D300||Y||- / -||-||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
|10.||Nikon D2Xs||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|11.||Nikon D200||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|12.||Nikon D2H||Y||- / -||-||-||-||2.0||-||-||-|
|13.||Nikon D1H||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
|14.||Nikon D1X||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
|15.||Nikon D1||Y||- / -||-||-||-||FW||-||-||-|
Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.
Both the D2X and the D3S have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on ebay. The D2X was replaced by the Nikon D2Xs, while the D3S was followed by the Nikon D4. Further information on the features and operation of the D2X and D3S can be found, respectively, in the Nikon D2X Manual (free pdf) or the online Nikon D3S Manual.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Nikon D2X better than the Nikon D3S or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D2X:
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2004).
Arguments in favor of the Nikon D3S:
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (23 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.4 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.1 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (2.8 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 235k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 5 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 3800) 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 5 years of technical progress since the D2X launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D3S is the clear winner of the contest (13 : 1 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 wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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 D2X 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 says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the D2X and the D3S in practical situations. 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 why expert reviews are important. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], digitalcameraworld [DCW], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). 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.
|1.||Nikon D2X||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Sep 2004||4,999||ebay.com|
|2.||Nikon D3S||5/5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199||ebay.com|
|3.||Nikon D5||..||..||4/5||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499||ebay.com|
|4.||Nikon D4||..||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999||ebay.com|
|5.||Nikon D300S||5/5||+ +||..||82/100||4/5||4.5/5||Jul 2009||1,799||ebay.com|
|6.||Nikon D3X||..||..||..||86/100||4/5||5/5||Dec 2008||7,999||ebay.com|
|7.||Nikon D700||..||89/100||..||+ +||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2008||2,999||ebay.com|
|8.||Nikon D3||..||..||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999||ebay.com|
|9.||Nikon D300||..||+ +||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||1,799||ebay.com|
|10.||Nikon D2Xs||..||..||..||..||..||..||Jun 2006||4,699||ebay.com|
|11.||Nikon D200||..||+ +||..||+ +||o||..||Nov 2005||1,699||ebay.com|
|12.||Nikon D2H||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jul 2003||3,499||ebay.com|
|13.||Nikon D1H||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Feb 2001||4,499||ebay.com|
|14.||Nikon D1X||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Feb 2001||5,999||ebay.com|
|15.||Nikon D1||..||..||..||+ +||..||..||Jun 1999||5,499||ebay.com|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Nikon D2X 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 D2X||Nikon D3S|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Digital single lens reflex|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Nikon F mount lenses|
|Launch Date||September 2004||October 2009|
|Launch Price||USD 4,999||USD 5,199|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D2X||Nikon D3S|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.7 x 15.7 mm||36.0 x 23.9 mm|
|Sensor Area||372.09 mm2||860.4 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.4 mm||43.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||12.2 Megapixels||12.1 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4288 x 2848 pixels||4256 x 2832 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.52 μm||8.43 μm|
|Pixel Density||3.28 MP/cm2||1.40 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||no Video||720/24p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 800 ISO||200 - 12,800 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 3,200 ISO||100 - 102,400 ISO|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||59||82|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||22.1||23.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||10.9||12.0|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||476||3253|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D2X||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||2.5inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||235k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D2X||Nikon D3S|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||Phase-detect AF|
|Continuous Shooting||5 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|
|Single or Dual Card Slots||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D2X||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 D2X||Nikon D3S|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||3800 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||1252 g (44.2 oz)||1240 g (43.7 oz)|
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