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Nikon D3S versus Fujifilm GFX 50S

The Nikon D3S and the Fujifilm GFX 50S are two professional cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in October 2009 and September 2016. The D3S is a DSLR, while the GFX 50S is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a full frame (D3S) and a medium format (GFX 50S) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 12.1 megapixel, whereas the Fujifilm provides 51.1 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison: Nikon D3S vs Fujifilm GFX 50S

The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Nikon D3S and the Fujifilm GFX 50S. 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. 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 D3S – represents the basis or 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Nikon D3S vs Fujifilm GFX 50S
Compare D3S versus GFX 50S top
Compare D3S and GFX 50S rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Fujifilm GFX 50S is considerably smaller (45 percent) than the Nikon D3S. Moreover, the GFX 50S is substantially lighter (40 percent) than the D3S. 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. Hence, you might want to study the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.

Concerning battery life, the D3S gets 4200 shots out of its EN-EL4a battery, while the GFX 50S can take 400 images on a single charge of its NP-T125 power pack.

The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras 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 D3S» 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.5 in 43.7 oz 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199- i Nikon D3S
Fujifilm GFX 50S« 5.8 in 3.7 in 3.6 in 26.1 oz 400 Y Sep 2016 6,499 i i Fujifilm GFX 50S
Canon 1D X Mark II« » 6.2 in 6.6 in 3.3 in 54.0 oz 1210 Y Feb 2016 5,999 i i Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 5DS R« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS R
Canon 5DS« » 6.0 in 4.6 in 3.0 in 32.8 oz 700 Y Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS
Canon 1D Mark IV« » 6.1 in 6.2 in 3.1 in 43.4 oz 1500 Y Oct 2009 4,999- i Canon 1D Mark IV
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
Fujifilm X-Pro2« » 5.6 in 3.3 in 1.8 in 17.5 oz 350 Y Jan 2016 1,699 i i Fujifilm X-Pro2
Fujifilm X-T2« » 5.2 in 3.6 in 1.9 in 17.9 oz 340 Y Jul 2016 1,599 i i Fujifilm X-T2
Nikon D4S« » 6.3 in 6.2 in 3.6 in 47.6 oz 3020 Y Feb 2014 6,499- i Nikon D4S
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 D2Xs« » 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 44.2 oz 3800 Y Jun 2006 4,699- i Nikon D2Xs
Nikon D2X« » 6.2 in 5.9 in 3.4 in 44.2 oz 3800 Y Sep 2004 4,999- i Nikon D2X

Any camera purchase 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 D3S was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 20 percent) than the GFX 50S, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. 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 D3S vs Fujifilm GFX 50S

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. 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 more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.

Of the two cameras under consideration, the Nikon D3S features a full frame sensor and the Fujifilm GFX 50S a medium format sensor. The sensor area in the GFX 50S is 69 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 0.79. The sensor in the D3S has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the GFX 50S offers a 4:3 aspect.

Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.

Nikon D3S and Fujifilm GFX 50S sensor measures

With 51.1MP, the GFX 50S offers a higher resolution than the D3S (12.1MP), but the GFX 50S has smaller individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.33μm versus 8.43μm for the D3S). Yet, the GFX 50S is a much more recent model (by 6 years and 11 months) than the D3S, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the GFX 50S has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.

D3S versus GFX 50S MP

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"). 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 D3S» Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382Nikon D3S
Fujifilm GFX 50S« MF 51.1 8256 61921080/30p----Fujifilm GFX 50S
Canon 1D X Mark II« » Full Frame 20.0 5472 36484K/60p24.113.5320788Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 5DS R« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.612.4230886Canon 5DS R
Canon 5DS« » Full Frame 50.3 8688 57921080/60p24.712.4238187Canon 5DS
Canon 1D Mark IV« » APS-H 16.0 4896 32641080/30p22.812.0132074Canon 1D Mark IV
Canon 1D Mark III« » APS-H 10.1 3888 2592-22.711.7107871Canon 1D Mark III
Fujifilm X-Pro2« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p----Fujifilm X-Pro2
Fujifilm X-T2« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p----Fujifilm X-T2
Nikon D4S« » Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/60p24.413.3307489Nikon D4S
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 D2Xs« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848-22.210.948959Nikon D2Xs
Nikon D2X« » APS-C 12.2 4288 2848-22.110.947659Nikon D2X

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the GFX 50S provides a better video resolution than the D3S. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/30p, while the Nikon is limited to 720/24p.

 

Feature comparison: Nikon D3S vs Fujifilm GFX 50S

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D3S has an optical viewfinder, which can be very useful when shooting in bright sunlight. In contrast, the GFX 50S relies on live view and the rear LCD for framing. That said, the GFX 50S can be equipped with an optional viewfinder – the EVF-TL1. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D3S and Fujifilm GFX 50S in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.

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))
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Nikon D3S»optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n Nikon D3S
Fujifilm GFX 50S«- Y 3.2 2360 tilting Y 4000 3.0 n n Fujifilm GFX 50S
Canon 1D X Mark II« »optical Y 3.2 1620 fixed Y 8000 16.0 n n Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 5DS R« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Canon 5DS R
Canon 5DS« »optical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Canon 5DS
Canon 1D Mark IV« »optical Y 3.0 920 fixed n 8000 10.0 n n Canon 1D Mark IV
Canon 1D Mark III« »optical Y 3.0 230 fixed n 8000 10.0 n n Canon 1D Mark III
Fujifilm X-Pro2« »2360 n 3.0 1620 fixed n 8000 8.0 n n Fujifilm X-Pro2
Fujifilm X-T2« »2360 n 3.0 1040 tilting n 8000 14.0 n n Fujifilm X-T2
Nikon D4S« »optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 8000 11.0 n n Nikon D4S
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 D2Xs« »optical Y 2.5 230 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Nikon D2Xs
Nikon D2X« »optical Y 2.5 235 fixed n 8000 5.0 n n Nikon D2X

The GFX 50S is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the D3S has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the D3S was succeeded by the Nikon D4.

Review summary: Nikon D3S vs Fujifilm GFX 50S

So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Nikon D3S better than the Fujifilm GFX 50S or vice versa? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.

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Reasons to prefer the Nikon D3S:

  • Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
  • Easier framing: Has an optical viewfinder for image framing and settings control.
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Can take more shots (4200 versus 400) on a single battery charge.
  • More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (20 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in October 2009).

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Advantages of the Fujifilm GFX 50S:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (51.1 vs 12.1MP), which boosts linear resolution by 102%.
  • Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (1080/30p vs 720/24p).
  • More framing options: Can be equipped with a hotshoe-mounted accessory-viewfinder.
  • Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2360k vs 921k dots).
  • More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • More compact: Is smaller (148x94mm vs 160x157mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 500g or 40 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
  • More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
  • More modern: Reflects 6 years and 11 months of technical progress since the D3S launch.

If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the GFX 50S is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 7 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera.

D3S 07:12 GFX 50S

In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the D3S and the GFX 50S in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews 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 D3S»-89/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199- i Nikon D3S
Fujifilm GFX 50S«-85/1005/55/54.5/5 Sep 2016 6,499 i i Fujifilm GFX 50S
Canon 1D X Mark II« »-89/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2016 5,999 i i Canon 1D X Mark II
Canon 5DS R« »Rec83/1005/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS R
Canon 5DS« »Rec83/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS
Canon 1D Mark IV« »-89/100-5/5- Oct 2009 4,999- i Canon 1D Mark IV
Canon 1D Mark III« »---rev- Feb 2007 4,499- i Canon 1D Mark III
Fujifilm X-Pro2« »Rec83/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Jan 2016 1,699 i i Fujifilm X-Pro2
Fujifilm X-T2« »HiRec86/1004.5/55/55/5 Jul 2016 1,599 i i Fujifilm X-T2
Nikon D4S« »--4.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2014 6,499- i Nikon D4S
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 D2Xs« »---rev- Jun 2006 4,699- i Nikon D2Xs
Nikon D2X« »-HiRec-rev- Sep 2004 4,999- i Nikon D2X

The review scores listed above should be treated 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 rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. 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 make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please contact me, and I will try to add information on that model to the database.

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