Nikon has been designing cameras for a few years now (over 60 in fact), and has become quite good at it. Despite its tiny dimensions the S3000 handles well. The control layout is uncluttered, with decent-sized buttons and a nice responsive D-pad, leaving plenty of room to grip the camera. However for some reason best know to themselves the designers have chosen to forgo the usual well-labelled controls and instead have taken a page out of Samsung’s very poorly translated book and given all the controls engraved silver-on-silver symbols that are hard enough to see in good light, and are almost invisible in lower light.
The S3000 is a very simple camera designed for ease of use rather than creative versatility. It has only five main shooting modes; auto, scene mode (with 17 scene programs), smart portrait mode, subject tracking and video recording mode. Unlike almost every other compact camera launched in the last six months the S3000 does not have HD video recording, and is instead limited to 640 x 480 VGA resolution at 30fps with mono audio. The video quality is fairly poor, as is the sound quality, but it’s unlikely anyone will be buying this camera to shoot video anyway.
The S3000 also has no mechanical image stabilisation, relying instead on the less effective digital stabilisation and higher ISO settings to avoid camera shake. Given the relatively short focal length of the lens this isn’t really a problem.
The main menu has only two pages, and the second has only one item on it. That’s a total of seven things that can be adjusted, including image size, white balance, drive mode, ISO setting, autofocus mode and area, and a very limited selection of colour options. At least Nikon hasn’t bothered to include an “easy” mode with even fewer options, probably because they couldn’t make it much simpler without replacing the entire camera with a piece of paper and some crayons.