Picture Control — Custom-tailored tone and color

Universal tones for all Nikon digital SLRs to come

Picture Control — Nikon’s powerful and intuitive image adjustment tool — gives you the freedom to define the look and feel of your images, custom-tailoring sharpness, saturation and other parameters to match your own particular creative intentions.


Versatile, for a broad range of situations

• Lens: AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED • Exposure: [M] mode, 1/500 second, f/4 • White balance: Auto • Sensitivity: ISO 2500 • Picture Control: Standard
©Bill Frakes


Less contrast, for natural-looking results

• Lens: AF Micro-Nikkor 200mm f/4D IF-ED • Exposure: [A] mode, 1/200 second, f/4.2 • White balance: Auto • Sensitivity: ISO 12800 • Picture Control: Neutral
©Vincent Munier


Enhanced saturation of red and green producing sharper contrast

• Lens: AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED • Exposure: [M] mode, 1/1,250 second, f/4.5 • White balance: Auto • Sensitivity: ISO 640 • Picture Control: Vivid
©Bill Frakes


Black and white, for a timeless, classic look

• Lens: AF-S VR Zoom-Nikkor 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6G IF-ED • Exposure: [M] mode, 1/1,000 second, f/5 • White balance: Auto • Sensitivity: ISO 200 • Picture Control: Monochrome
©Bill Frakes


Natural texture, gives the skin of portrait subjects a smoother feel

• Lens: AF-S NIKKOR 600mm f/4G ED VR • Exposure: [M] mode, 1/640 second, f/5.6 • White balance: Auto • Sensitivity: ISO 400 • Picture Control: Portrait
©Bill Frakes


Brighter greens and blues for more vibrant landscapes and cityscapes

• Lens: AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED • Exposure: [M] mode, 1/800 second, f/6.3 • White balance: Auto • Sensitivity: ISO 200 • Picture Control: Landscape
©Bill Frakes

Picture Control is similar to how photographers used to select certain types of film for specific shooting situations. Changing the look of your images is remarkably easy. Simply choose from different Picture Controls to find a look that matches both your subject matter and your creative intentions. With the D3X and D3S, four types of Picture Control are preinstalled: “Standard,” “Neutral,” “Vivid” and “Monochrome.” “Standard” offers bright, balanced images suitable for any application. “Neutral” is designed to reproduce accurate color and gradation, leaving it up to you to control post-production image enhancement later. “Vivid” is ideal for emphasizing primary colors, delivering distinct, colorful, fresh-looking images with just the right emphasis on your subject’s contrast and contours. “Monochrome” produces classic styles such as black-and-white and sepia.

You'll also have access to optional Picture Controls such as “Portrait” and “Landscape” that can be downloaded from the Nikon website. Tones defined by the Picture Control will remain consistent with Nikon digital SLR cameras that are compatible with Picture Control, making it easy and efficient to apply identical Picture Control profiles to multiple cameras.

Intuitive and direct control of the image for your desired tone

Picture Control can be displayed either by list or in grid form. With the grid display, you can intuitively confirm the degree of contrast and saturation for each Picture Control.
In addition to the detailed bank of manual adjustments Picture Control offers, Standard and Vivid Picture Controls let you make quick adjustments easily. By simply moving the sliders, you have access to five parameters: sharpness, contrast, brightness, saturation and hue. This level of simplicity offers a rapid learning curve. You can also save adjustments as Custom Picture Controls, under your chosen name for desired shooting scenarios.

Picture Control display (List)

Picture Control display (List)

Picture Control display (Grid)

Picture Control display (Grid)

Quick Adjustment display

Quick Adjustment display

Collaboration with Nikon’s exclusive software

Another aspect unique to the Picture Control System is its collaboration with ViewNX and Capture NX 2 software via Picture Control Utility. Importing and exporting Custom Picture Control parameters between your Nikon D-SLR and software further expands creative flexibility. You can apply Picture Control settings defined in your D3S and D3X to Capture NX 2 post-production work. Picture Control parameters minutely defined on a personal computer can then be applied to your own D3S or D3X. You can even trade your favorite Custom Picture Controls with colleagues for enhanced potential and productivity.

Picture Control Utility display

Active D-Lighting — rescuing tone in highlights and shadows

Active D-Lighting comes to your rescue in high-contrast situations when previously photographers were forced to choose between sacrificing shadows or highlights. By automatically regulating the dynamic range of a scene such as clouds, Active D-Lighting allows you to depict shadow details while preserving highlights. In this way, both dark and bright sections are more pleasantly detailed and exposed to achieve the desired contrast.
Simply choose the preferred setting — Auto, Extra High, High, Normal, Low or Off — prior to shooting. In Auto setting, you can leave the camera to automatically control the regulation value appropriately to varying situations. For further options in achieving the desired tone, the D3S also allows you to bracket a series of images, varying the level of Active D-Lighting applied, for up to five frames.


Active D-Lighting bracketing

Off <---> Extra High

Live View

Live View for greater shooting versatility

Live View delivers tremendous creative freedom for a broad spectrum of shooting situations, from still life in a studio where precise focus is essential, to outdoor environments where you may not always be able to physically see your subject through the viewfinder. The 3-in., high-definition, approx. 921k-dot LCD monitor utilizes a wide viewing angle, so you’re always aware of what’s happening in your composition. You can also access four information displays in Live View mode — information on, information off, Virtual Horizon, and framing guides. The D3S and D3X offer two Live View modes: Tripod and Hand-held, and with the D3S, the dedicated Live View button is newly employed. Just press it for instant access.

Information on

Information on

Information off

Information off

Virtual Horizon

Virtual Horizon

Framing guides

Framing guides

Note: Information displays shown above are for Tripod mode (D3S).

Tripod mode with contrast-detect AF

Tripod mode is designed for shooting still subjects with a precision focus using contrast-detect AF in a stable tripod setup. Because the image sensor itself works for AF detection, you can focus anywhere within the frame. When pinpoint focus needs to be visually verified, rotate the main command dial while pressing the thumbnail/playback zoom button to zoom into a designated magnification up to 13x. With the D3S, AF performance has been improved in various ways, including a higher AF speed than the D3 and enhanced AF accuracy, both in low-light scenes and with a dot light source.

Hand-held mode

In situations where you’re unable to look through the viewfinder — such as when shooting from a high or low angle — Hand-held mode is an invaluable ally. It’s easy to compose your shot using the wide, 170-degree viewing angle, even when holding your camera over heads in a crowd. This mode employs TTL phase-detection AF, which uses all 51 AF points.

Flicker reduction D3S

The D3S employs new technology to reduce the flicker effect that might occur while using Live View or D-Movie under fluorescent or mercury vapor lighting. Simply select the frequency from the menu — 50Hz or 60Hz — according to the power source.

Quiet Shutter-release Mode


There are times when the shooting scenario can be hindered by the normal sounds that a D-SLR makes. Simply select “Q” on the release mode dial to reduce the sound of the camera’s mirror-down during shooting. Press the shutter-release button down firmly and the camera will hold the mirror in the up position, allowing you to delay lowering the mirror. Therefore, more effective quiet shooting is possible by keeping the shutter depressed after shutter release, then removing your finger from the button after covering the camera or carrying it to another place.

Multiple Exposure

The multiple exposure function available on both cameras further enhances ease of use with the D3S. You can also designate this function to the bracketing button for repeated multiple exposure operation. That way you can continue multiple exposures without coming back to the menu each time.

Extended Menu Banks


The D3S lets you store set shooting combinations, including exposure mode, shutter speed and aperture in any of four shooting menu banks A, B, C and D. This saves precious minutes for photographers who regularly shoot in the same location using the same fixed shooting combinations (same press conference room for photojournalists, same church for wedding photographers, etc). When combined with a function assigned to the Fn button, quick setting changes are easy.

Image Area Options

Both the D3S and the D3X offer FX-format (36 x 24), DX-format (24 x 16), and 5:4 (30 x 24) image areas. DX format uses the center of the viewfinder, providing a picture angle of the equivalent focal length, magnified by 1.5x. The D3S allows up to 11 frames per second in DX format, while the D3X delivers 7 fps. For when you need both the telephoto effect and a large enough file size, the D3S now offers 1.2x (30 x 20) format with approx. 8.4 megapixels. When a DX NIKKOR lens is used, DX mode is automatically selected, or can be manually selected through Custom Settings with any AF NIKKOR lens.

Image area options (finder screen image)

FX format (36 x 24)
(Approx.12.1 MP)


1.2x (30 x 20)
(Approx. 8.4 MP)

DX format (24 x 16)
(Approx. 5.1 MP)

5:4 (30 x 24)
(Approx. 10.1 MP)

Image area options in Shooting menu (D3S)

Image area options in Custom menu (D3S)

Retouch Menus — a variety of in-camera editing features

The Retouch Menus on the D3S and D3X offer a dynamic range of in-camera editing options for creativity, convenience or professional expedience. Whichever enhancement you decide to try after shooting, the D3S and the D3X create duplicate images, leaving your original shot intact.

NEF (RAW) Processing D3S

Converts NEF (RAW) images to JPEG files while preserving your original file. You can also change the image quality, size, white balance, exposure compensation, Picture Control settings (including fine details), high ISO noise reduction, color space and vignette control.

Note: The value for exposure compensation (–3 to +3) in NEF (RAW) Processing differs from the steps used for conventional exposure compensation.

Resize D3S

Converts the file to a smaller size while maintaining your original file — particularly useful for transmitting images.


Brightens shadowy areas, making it ideal for photographs taken in backlit situations.

Red-eye Correction

Corrects red-eye effect caused by the flash. To confirm whether red-eye correction has been effective, simply check the preview image on the LCD monitor before saving it.


Lets you create a copy of the selected area of a photograph to enhance composition via cropping.


Creates a monochrome photograph. Options are: black-and-white, sepia (as in antique photos) or cyanotype (black-and-white with a blue tint). Each gives your picture its own special mood.

Filter Effects

Create filter effects with two options — Skylight (makes the picture less blue), and Warm filter (gives the image a warm, red cast).

Color Balance

Lets you modify the color balance. The effect is displayed in the monitor together with red, green and blue histograms showing the distribution of tones in a copy.

Image Overlay

Places one selected NEF (RAW) image over another, for a unique composite photograph.

Side-by-Side Comparison

Compare retouched copies to the original photographs.

Edit Movie D3S

Trim footage to create edited copies of movies or save selected frames as JPEG stills.