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Canon S3 IS Operation

While the Canon S3 IS's user interface may seem a little cryptic at first approach, it's actually very efficient in practice. Most camera functions are controlled externally, and a few of the external control buttons serve multiple functions. When you do need to enter the LCD menu system, navigation is straightforward with only two main pages of options. The Canon PowerShot S3 IS's external controls cut down on the amount of time spent searching menu screens, and I particularly like the "Function" menu, which became standard on Canon digicam models as of the 2003 model year. Combined with the instruction manual, the Canon S3 IS's user interface shouldn't take more than an hour to get comfortable with.

Record Mode LCD Display: In Record mode, the PowerShot S3 IS's LCD reports various exposure settings, including camera modes, the resolution and quality settings, number of available images, a live histogram, etc. Half-pressing the Shutter button reports the aperture and shutter speed settings, in all modes except Manual. Pressing the Display button cycles through the available display modes, including the image with some information, more information, and no information with the electronic optical viewfinder showing some or more information (it's otherwise off when the LCD is active).

Playback Mode LCD Display: In Playback mode, the LCD reports the image series number, resolution and quality setting, file name, and the date and time of image capture. Pressing the Canon S3 IS Display button once pulls up an enhanced information display, with a histogram for checking the exposure and general exposure details. A third press cancels the information overlay entirely. Unlike its behavior in Record mode, the Display button will not let you view images through the electronic optical viewfinder, although you can force the electronic viewfinder to be used by rotating the LCD monitor so that it is closed pointing towards the camera body. In Playback mode, pressing the zoom control in the wide-angle direction switches to a 9-up thumbnail display of previously captured images. Pressing it in the wide-angle direction a second time produces a "jump bar" at the bottom of the screen, which shows where the current group of nine thumbnails is relative to the total collection of images on the memory card, and that lets you jump through them nine images at a time. Toggling the zoom lever in the telephoto direction takes you back out of the thumbnail displays, and if continued beyond the point at which you see the full-sized image, zooms in on the image up to 10x, letting you check focusing and very fine details.

Canon S3 IS Modes and Menus

Record Mode: Marked on the Mode switch with the red camera icon, this mode sets up the Canon PowerShot S3 IS for capturing still and moving images. The Mode Display LED lights in orange to indicate this mode is active. The following exposure modes are available:

Record Menu: Pressing the Canon PowerShot S3 IS's Menu button in Record mode pulls up the following options (not all options are available in all modes):

Playback Mode: This mode lets you review captured images and movies on the memory card, as well as erase them, protect them, or tag them for printing and transfer. The traditional green Playback symbol denotes this mode on the Mode switch, and the Mode Display LED lights in green to indicate this mode is active. Pressing the shutter button in Playback mode takes you immediately to Record mode, something we describe as a Shooting Priority design, because the Canon PowerShot S3 IS is always ready to shoot. Pressing the Menu button displays the following options:

Print Menu: This menu is available in the Canon PowerShot S3 IS's Playback mode, simply by pressing the Menu button and selecting the Print tab. The bottom line of the display shows how many images are selected for printing and the print method that is active.

Setup Menu: This menu is available in all modes on the Canon S3 IS, simply by pressing the Menu button and selecting the Setup tab.

My Camera Menu: This is the third menu tab on the Canon PowerShot S3 IS's menu screen, and appears in every mode.