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Nikon D2Xs vs D3S

The Nikon D2Xs and the Nikon D3S are two professional cameras that were announced, respectively, in June 2006 and October 2009. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-C (D2Xs) and a full frame (D3S) sensor. The D2Xs has a resolution of 12.2 megapixels, whereas the D3S provides 12.1 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their sensors, their features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.


Headline Specifications
Nikon D2Xs   Nikon D3S
Nikon D2Xs Nikon D3S
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
12.2 MP, APS-C Sensor 12.1 MP, Full Frame Sensor
no Video 720/24p Video
ISO 100-800 (800-3200) ISO 200-12800 (100-102400)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
2.5" LCD, 230k dots 3.0" LCD, 921k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
5 shutter flaps per second 11 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
3800 shots per battery charge4200 shots per battery charge
157.5 x 149.5 x 86 mm, 1252 g 160 x 157 x 88 mm, 1240 g

Body comparison: Nikon D2Xs vs D3S

The physical size and weight of the Nikon D2Xs and the Nikon D3S are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the D2Xs – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Nikon D2Xs and Nikon D3S
Compare D2Xs versus D3S top
Compare D2Xs or D3S rear

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 (7 percent) than the Nikon D2Xs. However, the D3S is slightly lighter (1 percent) than the D2Xs. 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 (D2Xs). 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 following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. 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.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Nikon D2Xs» 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 44.2 oz 3800 Y Jun 2006 4,699- i Nikon D2Xs
Nikon D3S« 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 43.7 oz 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199- i Nikon D3S
Canon 1D Mark III« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 40.7 oz 2200 Y Feb 2007 4,499- i Canon 1D Mark III
Nikon D5« » 6.3 in 6.3 in 3.6 in 49.9 oz 3780 Y Jan 2016 6,499 i i Nikon D5
Nikon D4« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.3 oz 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999- i Nikon D4
Nikon D300S« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 3.2 in 33.1 oz 950 Y Jul 2009 1,799- i Nikon D300S
Nikon D3X« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 44.4 oz 4400 Y Dec 2008 7,999- i Nikon D3X
Nikon D700« » 5.8 in 4.8 in 3.0 in 37.9 oz 1000 Y Jul 2008 2,999- i Nikon D700
Nikon D3« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 45.9 oz 4300 Y Aug 2007 4,999- i Nikon D3
Nikon D40X« » 4.9 in 3.7 in 2.5 in 18.4 oz 520 n Mar 2007 729- i Nikon D40X
Nikon D300« » 5.8 in 4.5 in 2.9 in 32.6 oz 1000 Y Aug 2007 1,799- i Nikon D300
Nikon D80« » 5.2 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 23.6 oz 600 n Aug 2006 999- i Nikon D80
Nikon D200« » 5.8 in 4.4 in 2.9 in 32.5 oz 400 Y Nov 2005 1,699- i Nikon D200
Nikon D2X« » 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 44.2 oz 3800 Y Sep 2004 4,999- i Nikon D2X
Nikon D1H« » 6.2 in 6.0 in 3.3 in 38.8 oz 1200 Y Feb 2001 4,499- i Nikon D1H
Nikon D1« » 6.2 in 6.0 in 3.3 in 38.8 oz .. Y Jun 1999 5,499- i Nikon D1

Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The D2Xs was somewhat cheaper (by 10 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Nikon D2Xs vs D3S

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better 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 D2Xs 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.

Nikon D2Xs and Nikon D3S sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the Nikon D2Xs 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 3 years and 4 months) than the D2Xs, 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 D2Xs has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 800, which can be extended to ISO 800-3200. 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..

D2Xs versus D3S MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 D2Xs (overall score 23 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.3 bits higher color depth, 1.1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 2.7 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Nikon D2Xs» APS-C 12.2 4288 2848-22.210.948959Nikon D2Xs
Nikon D3S« Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382Nikon D3S
Canon 1D Mark III« » APS-H 10.1 3888 2592-22.711.7107871Canon 1D Mark III
Nikon D5« » Full Frame 20.7 5588 37124K/30p25.112.3234388Nikon D5
Nikon D4« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589Nikon D4
Nikon D300S« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848720/24p22.512.278770Nikon D300S
Nikon D3X« » Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032-24.713.7199288Nikon D3X
Nikon D700« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832-23.512.2230380Nikon D700
Nikon D3« » Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832-23.512.2229081Nikon D3
Nikon D40X« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.411.451663Nikon D40X
Nikon D300« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848-22.112.067967Nikon D300
Nikon D80« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.111.252461Nikon D80
Nikon D200« » APS-C 10.0 3872 2592-22.311.558364Nikon D200
Nikon D2X« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848-22.110.947659Nikon D2X
Nikon D1H« » APS-C 2.6 2000 1312-----Nikon D1H
Nikon D1« » APS-C 2.6 2000 1312-----Nikon D1

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The D3S indeed provides for movie recording, while the D2Xs does not. The highest resolution format that the D3S can use is 720/24p.

 

Feature comparison: Nikon D2Xs vs D3S

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The D2Xs 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 following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Nikon D2Xs, the Nikon D3S, and comparable cameras.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Nikon D2Xs»optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Nikon D2Xs
Nikon D3S«optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n Nikon D3S
Canon 1D Mark III« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 10.0 n n Canon 1D Mark III
Nikon D5« »optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 8000 14.0 n n Nikon D5
Nikon D4« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n Nikon D4
Nikon D300S« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 7.0 Y n Nikon D300S
Nikon D3X« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Nikon D3X
Nikon D700« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 8.0 Y n Nikon D700
Nikon D3« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n Nikon D3
Nikon D40X« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D40X
Nikon D300« »optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 8000 6.0 Y n Nikon D300
Nikon D80« »optical n 2.5 230 fixed n 4000 3.0 Y n Nikon D80
Nikon D200« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 Y n Nikon D200
Nikon D2X« »optical Y 2.5 235 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Nikon D2X
Nikon D1H« »optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 16000 5.0 n n Nikon D1H
Nikon D1« »optical Y 2.0 120 fixed n 16000 1.5 n n Nikon D1

Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the D2Xs and the D3S write their files to Compact Flash cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.

Connectivity comparison: Nikon D2Xs vs D3S

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 D2Xs and Nikon D3S and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Nikon D2Xs»Y-----2.0---Nikon D2Xs
Nikon D3S«Ystereo---mini2.0---Nikon D3S
Canon 1D Mark III« »Y-----2.0---Canon 1D Mark III
Nikon D5« »YstereomonoYYmini3.0---Nikon D5
Nikon D4« »Ymonomono--micro2.0---Nikon D4
Nikon D300S« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0---Nikon D300S
Nikon D3X« »Y----mini2.0---Nikon D3X
Nikon D700« »Y----mini2.0---Nikon D700
Nikon D3« »Y----mini2.0---Nikon D3
Nikon D40X« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D40X
Nikon D300« »Y----mini2.0---Nikon D300
Nikon D80« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D80
Nikon D200« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D200
Nikon D2X« »Y-----2.0---Nikon D2X
Nikon D1H« »Y-----FW---Nikon D1H
Nikon D1« »Y-----FW---Nikon D1

Both the D2Xs and the D3S have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D2Xs was replaced by the Nikon D3X, while the D3S was followed by the Nikon D4.


Review summary: Nikon D2Xs vs D3S

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Nikon D2Xs and the Nikon D3S? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.


Reasons to prefer the Nikon D2Xs:

  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in June 2006).


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 (1.3 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 (2.7 stops ISO advantage).
  • Broader imaging potential: Can capture not only stills but also 720/24p video.
  • 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 230k dots).
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (4200 versus 3800) out of a single battery charge.
  • More modern: Reflects 3 years and 4 months of technical progress since the D2Xs launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D3S is the clear winner of the contest (10 : 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.

D2Xs 01:10 D3S

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the D2Xs or the D3S. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased.

Expert reviews: Nikon D2Xs vs D3S

This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Nikon D2Xs»---rev- Jun 2006 4,699- i Nikon D2Xs
Nikon D3S«-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199- i Nikon D3S
Canon 1D Mark III« »---rev- Feb 2007 4,499- i Canon 1D Mark III
Nikon D5« »-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 6,499 i i Nikon D5
Nikon D4« »--4.5/5-4.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999- i Nikon D4
Nikon D300S« »HiRec82/1004/55/54.5/5 Jul 2009 1,799- i Nikon D300S
Nikon D3X« »-86/1004/55/55/5 Dec 2008 7,999- i Nikon D3X
Nikon D700« »89/100HiRec4.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2008 2,999- i Nikon D700
Nikon D3« »-HiRec5/5rev4.5/5 Aug 2007 4,999- i Nikon D3
Nikon D40X« »79/100HiRec4/5rev4/5 Mar 2007 729- i Nikon D40X
Nikon D300« »HiRecHiRec5/5rev4.5/5 Aug 2007 1,799- i Nikon D300
Nikon D80« »RecHiRecrev4.5/54.5/5 Aug 2006 999- i Nikon D80
Nikon D200« »HiRecHiRecrev5/5- Nov 2005 1,699- i Nikon D200
Nikon D2X« »-HiRec-rev- Sep 2004 4,999- i Nikon D2X
Nikon D1H« »-HiRec-rev- Feb 2001 4,499- i Nikon D1H
Nikon D1« »-HiRec--- Jun 1999 5,499- i Nikon D1

The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.

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    Specifications: Nikon D2Xs vs Nikon D3S

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Nikon D2Xs Nikon D3S
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date June 2006 October 2009
    Launch Price USD 4699 USD 5199
    Sensor Specs
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format APS-C Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 23.7 x 15.7 mm 36.0 x 15.7 mm
    Sensor Area 372.09 mm2 860.4 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 28.4 mm 43.2 mm
    Crop Factor 1.5 1.0
    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
    Movie Capability no Video 720/24p Video
    ISO Setting 100-800 ISO 200-12800 ISO
    ISO Boost 800-3200 ISO 100-102400 ISO
    Screen Specs
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    Rear LCD Size 2.5 inch 3.0 inch
    LCD Resolution 230k dots 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/8000s 1/8000s
    Continuous Shooting 5 shutter flaps/s 11 shutter flaps/s
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF cards CF cards
    Connectivity Specs
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 2.0
    HDMI Port no HDMI mini HDMI
    Wifi Support no Wifi no Wifi
    Body Specs
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type EN-EL4a power pack EN-EL4a power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)3800 shots per charge4200 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 157.5 x 149.5 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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