The S3 has a pretty conventional compact camera look, with the lens mounted almost centrally in the case, flash and viewfinder along the top (towards the right), on top a power button and shutter release. Indeed a quick glance at the front / top of the camera and you could easily mistake it for a very compact APS film camera. The back though gives away its digital content with a 1.5" LCD, 4-way controller, mode dial and control buttons. As you can see the S3 is very small, just 87 mm (3.4 in) across and 55 mm (2.2 in) tall it's almost exactly the same size as Canon's Digital IXUS v (S110 ELPH).
The entire camera case (apart from the thin strip around the middle of the body) is constructed from strong stainless steel, this gives the camera a robust 'drop it in the bag' feel as well as a slightly reassuringly quality touch. Weighing in at just 195 g (7 oz) it's not only the lightest 3 megapixel digital camera but also one of the lightest ultra-compact digital cameras.
The 2x optical zoom lens extends a surprising inch (24 mm) from the body when powered up, this length can be immediately attributed to the slightly larger size of the 3.34 megapixel CCD. Thankfully Kyocera have integrated an automatic lens cover into the lens design, this closes over the front lens element when the lens is retracted.
Here beside Canon's Digital IXUS 300 and Nikon's Coolpix 775 the S3 is shows just how much smaller it is. It's the same width as the Coolpix 775 but noticeably shorter and narrower. Interesting to note that all these ultra-compact's have automatic lens covers.
I personally found the S3 just a little too small, there's no hand grip nor any sculpting in the body to assist in gripping the camera. Luckily the camera is light enough for this to be a non-issue to most, however I'd still recommend those with large hands to go and try holding it in a camera store before settling on the S3.
The S3's 1.5" LCD monitor has 110,000 pixels, it appears to be the same unit used in several other ultra-compact digital cameras. The screen has no protective cover (not even a plastic sheet) which was a surprise for a 'pocket camera', so obviously there's no place for an anti-reflective coating either.
The live review image didn't seem as 'sharp' as other digital cameras, and in low light it appeared grainy and lacking colour definition. That said, refresh rate was very good.
The S3's viewfinder is the normal basic 'optical tunnel' type. Just like the Nikon Coolpix 775 (which I happened to be reviewing at the same time) there are no center frame brackets or parallax correction lines.
The lights beside the viewfinder indicate:
|Shake warning / Camera busy / Battery charging|
|Focus good, ready to shoot|
|Focus bad, cannot auto focus / Battery charged|