How to gain manual video control on Nikon D3s

The Nikon D3s is Nikon's only DSLR capable of giving the user full manual control of video capture on the camera. This means you can control aperture, ISO sensitivity and shutter speed. In this post we'll explain how you can easily gain manual control of video on the Nikon D3s.

Nikon D3s video

By default the D3s won't give you much control of video capture and you'll have to unlock the manual video control by using a secret method. Don't worry, nothing will happen to your $5,000+ camera!

All you have to do is set your Live View-setting to "Tripod Mode", enter Live View using the Lv-button on the back of the camera and then press the OK-button on the left side of the LCD. That's it. You've now gained full manual control of video on your D3s. Congratulations!

With manual control enabled, you'll be presented with an actual preview of how your still images or video will look based on your camera settings. You can actually see the live preview getting darker when you use a faster shutter speed or a lower aperture. It's really quite cool! You'll even have a 3-stop exposure indicator on the right side of the display that can be used as a guideline, and it's also possible to bring up a live histogram of the exposure. Simply press the Info-button a few times during Live View and it should be there.

For those of you with a Nikon D90, D300s or D5000, we recommend you watch the first video in our three-part series of shooting better videos with your DSLR. In this video Patrick explains how you can manually set the aperture and lock the exposure on the D300s - don't sweat, it even works on the D90 and D5000 as well!

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Patrick Hall's picture

Thanks Michell, glad to have you as part of the FS team.

Glad to be a part of it! :)

The way they built it seems quite logical to me.
I have never understood the secret issue with manual control. If I remember correctly, D3s comes with a Tripod mode enabled by default. Manual controls are explained in manual clearly as well :/
I am just wondering where from comes the myth that it is something special or hidden.

thank you!!

I have a D3s and actually everything you say is true, however, even in manual mode and with the OK button pushed, the camera will still try to change the ISO if the light changes, making the videos change in light intensity -- so I used the same trick you mentioned for the D300s (autoexposure lock/hold) and once everything is set, I hit that and it locks the exposure. This is not needed if you program the autoiso to the "off position" but then you have to remember this later.

Shaka Mayers's picture

Thanks for this!

Jonás Amadeo Lucas's picture

All nioght looking for that... in 5 seconds you help me. thanks a lot!

Julian Jones's picture

I posted a video explaining this as well. It's awesome to know!

Thanks so much for this advice!!!! I thought I was going crazy!! Works like a charm now!!!