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Nikon D3s | Digital Camera Review | Camera
The Nikon D3s is a real animal! There is no way to describe it as a compact or light camera, because to put it bluntly: it simply isn’t! The D3s DSLR camera is one piece of solidness, and this is exactly what it feels like, too. The famous Italian designer Giuigiaro has done a great job by giving the D3s an extremely sophisticated appearance. Not loud or aggressive, but rather elegant and approachable.
Nikon D3s | Digital Camera Nikon D3s | Digital Camera
Nikon D3s camera body
Despite the fact the Nikon D3s is large and heavy, the camera has a perfect hand-fit. The weight even turns out to be an advantage, since it helps to keep the camera steady while shooting. You can also safely use the Nikon D3s in the rain, thanks to the many excellent seals of the camera. Dust and rain simply don't stand a chance!

Nikon D3s camera operation
The set-up of the camera has remained virtually the same as its predecessor. So if you have worked with an analog F5 camera, you will be able to find your way on the Nikon D3s. Three buttons are found top left on the camera for bracketing, flash mode and a lock key. Although the latter often gets ignored, it is in fact a really handy button. By pressing the L and rotating one of the mode dials, you can lock the shutter speed or the aperture. This prevents an incorrect exposure or effect when rotating the mode dial. Below the three buttons, a dial for the frame rate is placed. The Q has been added to it, the silent mode. In this mode, the mirror freezes until you release the shutter button and then goes quietly downwards. This does make a difference to the noise volume. The dial is locked, just as it should be on a professional camera.

Toggie switch & mode dial
The dedicated Live View button has been moved from the command dial on top of the Nikon D3s camera, to the bottom right next to the sound recording button. This is a much more logical spot. By pressing the button just once, Live View can be activated. If you then press the central spot of the toggle switch on the back, video capture is activated. This is so logical, you don't need the menu to find out. The lockable toggle switch allows you to select the focus point during shooting. I still find Nikon's solution the most charming and the most enjoyable. Below the toggle switch, you can select the way the focus points are divided: field, dynamic or wide. Above the toggle switch, buttons are found for exposure and autofocus lock and activating the autofocus. Alongside, the mode dial for the shutter speed is placed. This mode dial and AF-ON button are also found mirrored at the bottom, enabling portrait mode. However, strangely enough Nikon never mirrors the AE-L/AF-L button. Although that fact can be overcome by programming the buttons differently, I have to say I still find it strange.

Review Nikon D3s pictures on the LCD display
The buttons for the menu and the ones dealing with play-back of pictures are placed on the left side of the large 3-inch screen. Entirely at the bottom, there is an INFO button that allows you to see a lot of information about the settings on the screen situated on the back of the camera. It lets you quickly browse and change the settings. Below the big screen, a smaller LCD display is placed, which displays information about the white balance, the quality, ISO and the amount of pictures.

Nikon D3s review
Naturally, an optical viewfinder is also available. It is a pleasantly large and bright one, and shows exactly what will be captured, which means 100% field of view. A small switch on the left allows you to cover the viewfinder, which comes in handy when you shoot from a tripod at slower shutter speeds. In that case, light that comes in through the ocular will no longer influence the light metering, among other things.

Nikon D3s external flash
The hot shoe to mount an external flash is placed on top. Naturally, all Nikon flashes fit the shoe. A built-in flash is missing, as with all models in this segment. Although you would of course rather use a flash with enough power. And Nikon has plenty. The Nikon i-TTL flash system is unsurpassed, it is without doubt the best system that currently exists. The light metering switch is positioned on the right side of the prism. This has been its spot for years now, inherited from the time you could switch the viewfinder. And depending on the viewfinder, you'd obtain either more or less light metering possibilities.

Exposure programs and correction
Right of the prism house, we find an LCD display showing all shooting information, such as the exposure values. Right in front, the buttons for the exposure programs and exposure correction are positioned. The shutter release is obviously placed on top of the handgrip and typical for Nikon, encircled by the command dial. Also on the handgrip is the front command dial that allows you to adjust the aperture.

Nikon D3s lens unlock button
Left of the F-bayonet is a programmable function button as well as a depth of field control button. You can also program these differently, which goes for many buttons on this camera. Right of the bayonet you can find the lens unlock button and autofocus selector. The latter allows you to select from manual, single or continuous focus. This button has been in the exact same spot since the first autofocus Nikon; the F-501 from 1985! The connections for a flash via PC connection and the 10-pin connection are safely hidden behind a rubber cover. Here, you can connect a remote control or a GPS receiver.

Connect the Nikon D3s to a TV
The external connections to connect to a computer or TV are found on the right side of the camera. The HDMI connection on the D3s is the C type. It is not possible to view the image on the camera and the external monitor at the same time through the HDMI. You need to use the regular video out for this. You can also connect an external microphone here, which comes in handy while shooting videos. The bottom of the D3s contains the Li-ion battery compartment. The memory cards are inserted in the back of the camera. Like the D3, the Nikon D3s also features two slots for CompactFlash memory cards.

Nikon D3s test
Nikon D3s Nikon D3s
   
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