With all those buttons, the Nikon D3s may seem complicated to operate. And if you look at all the setting possibilities in the menu, you could easily get lost. However; if you look more closely, you will find the Nikon D3s is ever so pleasant and easy to operate. The buttons are in exactly the right spot, and everything offers you the support to take a good picture. However, you do need some skills, because although you can take great snapshots with the D3s, the camera is meant to do much more than just that.
Nikon D3s user friendly SLR camera
Even without adjusting and programming the buttons to your own preference, the Nikon D3s is a very logical DSLR to work with. Operation speaks for itself, and if you have worked with a Nikon before, you will find that everything is placed in virtually the same spot. What I've always liked is the combination of the two command dials paired with the tumble switch. The front command dial to adjust aperture, the rear command dial for the shutter speed, and the tumble switch for the focus points. Without having to move your fingers a lot, you can adjust the main shooting settings, which means you never have to take your eye away from the camera. You can also keep your finger on the shutter release, something which is not possible with a Canon camera. On the other hand, the front command dial is slightly sunken, which might take some time to get used to.
Manual settings for the professional photographer
For professional photographers it is of vital importance that buttons can be programmed by the user himself. For me, this means I always detach the focus from the light metering. The first one I operate with AF-ON, and the second on the shutter release. Especially for action photography, this is an ideal combination. Even for portrait photography. You focus, make the composition, and then you activate light metering. Or you activate light metering first, press the shutter half-way down, make the composition and focus. Because thanks to the 51 focus points, you can focus on a large part of the image field without having to rotate the camera. 15 focus points are cross-type sensors, and thus sensitive on both horizontal as well as vertical contrasts. A slightly larger spreading of the fields would have been just a bit nicer, however, you really can’t complain.
Activate Live View via a special button
There is not a lot to comment about when it comes to the focus. It is very fast, accurate, and you see exactly what happens when you activate 3D tracking. It is still fascinating to see how the point moves from one place to the other, tracking the subject. Also when Live View is activated, you can use the fast autofocus, although this is rather cumbersome. In most cases, you will use the focus on the image sensor. This works significantly slower.
It does make Live View somewhat unsuitable for moving subjects, but on the other hand, it is very useful for landscapes, macro and product photography. The dedicated Live View button on the D3s is a great improvement. You are now able to switch a lot quicker between Live View and the normal recording mode.
Record videos with the Nikon D3s SLR
If you want to record a video, you have to set the camera in the Live View mode and press the center of the toggle switch. Filming starts immediately. When compared to its biggest competitor, the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV, the resolution is somewhat limited. Namely 720p. However, this should not be a problem, I think, while many of these videos are intended for Internet upload. Still, it would be nice if Nikon took this a step further and enabled 1080p. This would offer genuine Full HD, which is beautiful. Provided you work from a tripod, since every motion will be noticeable in HD.
Film in tripod mode
While recording videos, it is wise to place the Nikon D3s in tripod mode, since it enables manual control of the exposure. Also during filming, and not just before you start recording. To be honest, I don't see the use of the tripod and handheld mode function. Why not just one mode? And I am equally baffled by the default limitation of the continuous shooting mode. It now offers room to a comfortable 130 pictures, however, why this is limited, remains beyond my comprehension. Another small yet easy to overcome point is that you cannot copy the settings from one camera to another, as is possible with the EOS-1D series, using a card. On the other hand, you have three memory banks for your settings at your disposal inside the camera itself.
Nikon D3s camera operation
Other than that, nothing but praise for the operation of the Nikon D3s DLSR camera. Making a manual white balance, the shooting speed, the shutter release button, the viewfinder and so on. It's all very well done. Personally, I find the Nikon D3s the most pleasant camera that I that I am currently aware of, as far as operation is concerned. It really is an extension of your eye.