Top of camera controls
One interesting point to note, the C-3030Z refocuses (AF focus mode) when you stop zooming, so for example zooming from wide to half tele as soon as you let go of the zoom lever the camera will auto-focus just as though you'd half-pressed the shutter release.
There's also a new "Full Time AF" mode which will cause the camera to continuously refocus as you move the camera (exactly the same as Nikon has had on the Coolpix since the 900). Obviously this is a higher drain on battery power but can be preferential as it gives you a better idea of how sharply focused the subject will be (and cuts down on AF time at the instant of pressing the shutter release).
Each of the modes on the mode dial are described below:
The three manual modes below share the same dial position, to switch between each mode you must enter the record menu and select the manual mode you require. (A bit slow for me: Menu, Jog Up, Jog Right, Jog Up/Down, OK, OK).
Apertures: F2.8 - F11.0 in 1/3 stop increments (13 apertures)
The C-2020Z offered the most apertures last year,
the C-3030Z features the same flexibility in 13 possible apertures
(versus the 990's 10). It also (interestingly) has fixed apertures
through the full range zoom.
Shutter speeds: 1 second - 1/800
second (30 shutter speeds)
Apertures: F2.8 - F11.0 in 1/3
stop increments (13 apertures)
Pros: You can shoot up to 32MB of
movie or as much space as there is space on your card, you're not
limited to "60 second snaps", Movie mode also records
A good set of manual flexibility here on the C-3030Z, in manual mode you can go all the way to 16 seconds, though there's no BULB option for those nice cold weather long exposures... One slight annoyance I had with the manual modes was the number of times I accidentally set exposure compensation which is set using the left and right arrows of the jog dial, I'd consider that a design mistake.
Rear of camera controls
From the back, again looking identical to the C-2020Z, top right is the jog dial, it's used to navigate menus, change various manual settings (see above) and left / right in record mode sets exposure compensation (+/-2EV in 0.3EV steps). Other controls are detailed below:
Toggles through four flash modes:
Fill-in Flash (forced on)
Inhibit Flash (forced off)
Macro / metering
Confirms menu settings and/or leaves menu, also used to switch focus modes, pressing OK once in record mode displays the AF / MF option, cursor right onto MF and you can then manually focus with the jog dial. Doubles as protect (read/only) button in Play mode.
LCD Monitor On/Off
Enters or leaves (without saving settings) the menu for the current mode. Here's my gripe... if you make changes in the menu and forget to press OK and instead press Menu you lose your changes.
Overall the controls are logical enough, everything is within "thumb reach" when holding the camera in one hand, I'd like to have seen a command dial (they really are much better for scrolling through ranges of apertures / shutter speeds) and I'd also like to have seen Aperture / Shutter / Manual mode as an externally accessible option.
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