Rear of camera controls

The rear of the D3S has been subtly redesigned compared to the D3, but not enough to seriously confuse a seasoned D3 or D3X owner. The most obvious difference is the addition of 'info' and 'LV' buttons, although the slightly larger, better differentiated center button on the 4-way control dial makes a greater than expected difference when changing settings with the camera held to the eye.

Shooting information

The 'info' screen in dark ambient lighting conditions (with CSM d6 set to 'auto') The 'info' screen in bright ambient lighting conditions (with CSM d6 set to 'auto')
Exposure compensation is set using the dedicated button near the shutter release, but the info screen shows how much compensation is applied. A second press of the 'info' button allows various settings to be accessed directly, including assigning the depth of field preview button

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 D3S 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).
Delete *p

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

In playback mode with a single image displayed press and turn the command dial to the right to zoom into (magnify) the image or to the left to zoom out or switch to thumbnail index display (first four images then nine images). The same zoom function is available in Live View mode.

Protect / Info / Menu Help *p

In playback mode press to toggle the 'read only' flag on the displayed / selected image. This button can be used in both playback and record review modes. In shooting mode press this button to toggle the shooting information display on the LCD monitor. In menu mode (with a menu option selected) you can press and hold this button to display a page of help about the currently highlighted function, this is especially useful for the custom functions.

Live View *p
In the D3S, Live View is activated using this dedicated button on to the lower right of the LCD screen. The option to set Live View via the shooting mode dial (like the D3 and D3X) is no longer available. When Live View is activated, video recording is initiated using the depth of field preview button or the center button of the multi-selector on the rear of the camera.
Microphone *p

The D3S has two microphones, one on the front of the camera, and one on the rear. The front microphone records audio on video footage, but the rear mic is there to capture voice notes on a selected image or video clip. Press and hold the microphone button beneath the LCD screen to record a note, and press it again to play it back. When a file has been marked with an audio note, pressing the delete button gives you the option to delete only the audio, or delete both the image and attached audio file.
Info Info *p
The Info button brings up a status screen on the rear LCD screen that shows key shooting parameters. Pressing it again makes these parameters editable. This is the quickest way to change functions like Active D-Lighting, noise reduction, Picture Style settings and color space, which can be hard to find in the D3S'sextensive menu system.
Multi selector

Slightly redesigned compared to the D3 and DX3, 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).

Auto-area AF

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."
Dynamic-area AF

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.
Single-area AF

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 (which is now labeled). Press and hold this button to stop the lens down to the selected aperture, or initiate video recording in Live View mode. The 'Fn' button can be customized to perform a wide range of different functions, and one of the most useful in our opinion is an on-demand virtual spirit level for ensuring straight horizons.

Focus Mode selector

S Single 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.
C Continuous 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.
M Manual Focus

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.