If you are used to working with Nikon, you won't encounter many problems working with the Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro. The main photographic functions are found on a typical Nikon spot. The step from an analogue reflex to a digital reflex therefore is easy to make. But also if the FinePix S3 Pro is used as second camera it is handy to find the main functions on the same spot. The on/off switch is placed together with the release button. A logical spot, but there is a chance of activating the camera unintentionally. Start-up time is very quick, you can start taking pictures almost immediately. The Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro has two release buttons. Each button has a different pressure point. The normal release button is rather unclear when pressing it, like the one on the D100 and F80. The vertical release button has a clear pressure point, which I find more enjoyable to work with. The wire connection in the horizontal button is a luxury. A common wire release can be connected to it, much cheaper than an electronic remote control.
The settings are roughly divided in two sections. The pure photographic functions can be set on top of the camera, and the digital functions are controlled on the back of the camera with the aid of the monitors. Top left the command dial is found for the exposure programs. Program settings through pictograms, like Portrait, are missing. This is not a camera for the inexperienced photographer, that’s obvious right away. On the command dial we find the settings to adjust the sensitivity and the custom functions. It is not the most obvious place, specially where sensitivity is concerned. This latter one is adjusted frequently, depending on the amount of light. The button has to be switched to ISO on the S3 Pro, and after that you have to adjust the sensitivity with the command dial. To be able to photograph again, you have to turn the button back to the required exposure program. Many times I forgot to turn the button back to the right spot, so I was unable to take a picture. The same thing happens with the custom functions, but these are adjusted less frequently. It would have been better if these two functions could be operated through the menu, or even: also through the menu. The remaining photographic functions are positioned in a more logical spot. Typically Nikon, and adopted by Fujifilm is the switch on the front of the camera next to the lens. This button decides whether continuous focus takes place, or capturing can only happen when focus is ready, or manual focus takes place. There are many different views concerning the position of this switch. I myself think of it as a good spot, but that might be so because I worked with Nikon cameras for years.
The light metering adjustment is placed around the exposure lock. A logical place to put it, because everything that has to do with exposure can be found at the same spot. The button lets itself turn rather heavily which is more of an advantage than a disadvantage. The viewfinder shows which metering system is set. And that is very pleasant. The Fujifilm FinePix S3 Pro has one button for the exposure and focus lock. I would have rather seen two separate buttons. Although you can separate the two locks through the custom menu by putting selection of the two buttons to the release button.
Particularly functional is the second monitor on the back of the camera with the function buttons. Func lets you browse through the various functions that appear in a group of four on the screen. Pressing the button below the concerning function will change the value of it. The main digital settings, like white balance and quality are housing here. No more searching through the menu, but directly accessible. You might have to get accustomed to working this way, because no other camera works like this, they all work with menus. In play mode, different functions appear, like the easy way to delete a captured photo.
The menu can be operated easily. Just press the menu and browse through it by means of the 4-way controller. Pressing the OK button confirms a setting, and Back cancels the setting and puts you one step backwards.