To Buy a Nikon D3s or D700, that is the Question?

In essence that was the question put to me today. Let me explain. I get a kick out of working on a photographic shops floor or behind the counter every now and then. I’m not quite sure what it is that drives me to this insanity – in the view of some – but I think it is enlightening to be on the other side of the counter from time to time and face the heat or questions of the consumer.

Yesterday was such a day and one where the question of “Which camera do I buy?” or more specifically “Which Nikon do I buy?” got me thinking a fair bit.

Not many of us will have the luxury of being in a position of trying to decide what to buy where we can put a Nikon D3s on our list for consideration, and had I been dependent on the outcome of this sale for my survival I may have been more biased, but in reality, there is a question to be asked that is truly relevant. Does the Nikon D3s warrant the extra, nearly double the price premium it has over the D700?

The answer in my mind is first and foremost going to come down to what your requirements are and that very much depends on what you shoot. If you say that you are a photojournalist or a rough and tumble adventure / wildlife photographer, then without a doubt I am going to say spend the extra and get the D3s, but if that is not what you do, think twice.

Video on Nikon is not quite where it should be when put against Canon on grounds of format and resolution so this is to my mind a small factor in the deciding process of D3s or D700.

Some will argue that the improved noise performance of the D3s warrants its premium but I would argue that for most, the difference in any normal circumstance is hard to tell when compared to the D700. So what should be considered for each?

Nikon D700

There is little doubt that this great camera is going to be replaced in September at Photokina, the questions is ‘with what’? For certain it will shoot video and we may even see a resolution increase to as high as 16mp but outside of that we are likely to see much of the D700 stay that has made it a success. Would I wait then to see the replacement before I buy? If its for a personal hobby camera and you don’t make money from it fine, but the price of the D700 is much lower now than when it launched and Nikons of late have a tendency not to be relegated to used camera stores or forum classifieds for a reason.

If you are shooting weddings, portraits or low light stuff where the king of full frame, low noise level sensor will be near indispensable, then the D700 is a great way to get in. You will have more money for good lenses or maybe even a second D700 body when compared to its bigger sibling. You will also have the built in flash for easy wireless flash setup with Nikon’s SB900, 800 or 600 flashes acting as TTL slaves.

All in all, a great value buy.

Nikon D3s

We then come to the D3s, and if you need the kind of camera that you can use for a self defense weapon and still take the pictures afterwards, by all means get the D3s, thats what its made for, outside of that, in my personal opinion, I just don’t know if it warrants the price.