Rear of camera controls
The rear of the D3 has been subtly redesigned compared to the D2X, however importantly Nikon hasn't messed too much with the control layout. Button layout is identical apart from: the shifted AE-L/AF-L button, a new separate 'SET' button in the center of the multi-selector, ENTER renamed to OK and switched vertical grip AF-ON and command dials. Buttons are large and easy to locate, learned quickly and logical.
Buttons (single press)
Enters or leaves playback mode, display mode used depends on the last used (left / right press of the multi selector) or thumbnail display mode. As with all shooting priority cameras the D3 immediately removes the playback display if you half-press the shutter release button although interestingly you can trigger AF (press AF-ON) without clearing the screen).
In playback or record review, pressing this button displays a 'Delete?' confirmation dialog, press again to confirm deletion. Nikon's now de-facto 'double press delete' feature is very easy to use and understand and much faster than other delete implementations (why can't all cameras be this simple?). If you have a voice memo attached to the image the delete? confirmation dialog allows you to select between just deleting the sound or both the image and sound.
|Format (Delete + Mode)
Hold the Delete and Mode (top right of camera) buttons simultaneously for approximately two seconds for a shortcut to format the Compact Flash card, the camera first blinks 'For' on the top display and you must release the buttons and press once more to confirm the card format.
|AE / AF Lock
Pressing this button locks the current exposure and focus, in its default mode both AE and AF remain locked as long as you hold the button. CSM f6 allows you to change the function of this button with a range of AE / AF hold / lock options as well as other camera functions (such as metering, bracketing etc.)
Display or cancel the camera menu, as with playback mode the menu is automatically cancelled if you half-press the shutter release button.
Playback zoom / thumbnail index *p Live view zoom
Protect / Info / Menu Help *p
The OK button is used to confirm menu selections and dialog options.
With no image displayed on the screen the multi selector is used to choose AF area, note that this function can be locked by turning the lock lever which surrounds the multi selector (this doesn't affect function in playback or menu mode). The multi selector is also used to change playback display modes (left / right), browse images in playback (up / down) and navigate menus / select dialog options. Various options are available for customizing this control: CSM f1, CSM f2 and CSM f3.
*p - In record review or playback mode
Auto Focus Area Mode selector
Note that the exact function of the AF area mode also depends on the focus mode (AF-S or AF-C), a full summary of all combinations of focus mode and AF area mode can be found at the bottom of this page.
The camera uses all focus areas and automatically selects the correct focus points. From the user manual: "If type G or D lens is used, camera can distinguish human subjects
from background for improved subject detection."
Allows you to manually select one of the fifty-one focus points, however the camera will use information from multiple focus areas to determine focus. Useful for focusing on specific subjects which may move out of the focus area briefly. CSM a3 allows you to choose between 9 points, 21 points, 51 points or 51 points with 3D tracking.
Allows you to manually select one of the fifty-one focus areas, the camera will only use this area for auto focus.
Front of camera controls
On the left side of the camera front are two buttons, both of these buttons can be customized to perform a range of functions via CSM f4 and f5. By default the top button is is depth of field preview, press and hold this button to stop the lens down to the selected aperture, the button button performs flash value lock. On the right side of the camera front is the focus mode dial and above this the flash mode / compensation button.
Focus Mode selector
servo AF (AF-S)
Camera focus when shutter release button is half pressed and locks when the in-focus indicator (a solid dot) appears on the viewfinder status LCD. If the subject is moving when the shutter release button is half pressed the camera will focus track until a lock can be obtained. In this mode the default is for focus priority, this means that a shot can only be taken with a good focus lock, you can also choose release priority via CSM a2.
servo AF (AF-C)
The camera will focus continuously while the shutter release button is half pressed, if the subject moves the camera will adjust focus to compensate. In this mode the default is for release priority, this means that a shot will be taken whether or not the camera has a good focus lock, you can also choose focus priority via CSM a1.
Focusing is achieved manually by turning the lens manual focus ring. Focus indicator on the viewfinder status LCD will still indicate whether or not the selected manual focus is the same as the calculated auto focus. This mode is always release priority.