Nikon D4 Review: For Professional Nikon Photographers
|October 1, 2012||Posted by admin under Nikon|
Can this new pro-level sharp-shooter leave the competition in the dust?
Billed as a “multimedia” camera, this rugged, well-sealed 16-MP pro DSLR with full-frame (24 x 35.9 mm) sensor is indeed loaded with features for both stills and video. It’s also exceptionally fast, able to fire full-resolution photos at 10 fps with AF (11 fps with manual focus) thanks to the new 16-bit (30% faster) Expeed 3 processor.
The Nikon D4 can record full HD video at 24 fps or 30 fps with complete manual control for maximum versatility and superb quality.
- 3.2-inch LCD (921,000-dot resolution)
- Large viewfinder with 100% coverage
- New 91,000-pixel RGB light meter
- ISO expandable to 204,800 equivalent
- Revised, super fast 51-point AF system
- Accepts external mic and headphones
- Ethernet compatible
- Built for rugged use
- Body alone weighs 1.18 kg. Will require a rig for stabilizing when shooting video
- Priced for full-time professionals
- Only one CF card slot
- Battery life reduced to just 2200 shots
Nikon D4 sets new benchmark
With a top continuous shooting rate of 10fps, it’s clear from the outset that Nikon’s new top-of-the-range professional DSLR is no slouch when it comes to capturing the action. Launched just in time for the London 2012 Olympics and aimed squarely at sharp-shooting photojournalists or sports photographers, the D4 is designed to appeal to those who never want to miss a moment of the action.
Reading through its extensive top-notch feature-set reveals how Nikon has refused to pull any punches with their latest launch. With a 16.2-megapixel full frame (FX format) CMOS sensor and EXPEED 3 image processor, the new leader of the Nikon pro-DSLR pack promises to deliver the legendary low-light performance for which its predecessors have attracted critical acclaim: no small feat given that its top native sensitivity setting stretches right the way up to ISO 12,800 (expandable to include ISO 204,800).
The EXPEED 3 processor also enables the camera to afford 14-bit A/D conversion and 16-bit processing, which bodes well for the camera’s potential when it comes to image quality.
Replacing the formidable Nikon D3S, the D4 introduces a number of significant improvements over the older model. As well as an increased resolution (16.2-megapixels compared to the DSS’s 12.1), the D4 is capable of bettering its forebear’s 9fps full resolution continuous shooting speed, offering a speedy 10fps as standard, which can be bumped up to 11fps if you don’t mind sacrificing AF and exposure control.
Other welcome changes include an upgraded pixel metering system – up to a 91,000 pixel system in place of the DSS’s 1,005 pixel version – that communicates with Nikon’s excellent Scene Recognition System to help maintain accuracy across the board.
The D4 looks and feels every bit as robust as the professional models that precede it, toting a solid-feeling magnesium alloy body with environmental sealing that features large and comfortable rubberized portrait and landscape orientation grips on the right-hand side and bottom of the camera.
Just as with the previous pro bodies in Nikon’s range, there’s a wealth of dedicated buttons, dials and switches spread liberally across the D4′s outer surface, allowing for fast access to important functions, as well as plenty of scope to customize the interface to suit your individual way of working.
The top panel features a large LCD to help you keep track of your current settings, with an additional smaller version around the back with a reduced amount of information on display at all times. Exposure compensation, ISO, WB and more are all readily accessible without having to venture into the menu system, as is the camera’s top-notch full HD movie recording mode – initiated via a red button adjacent to the shutter release (while in Live View mode).
The D4′s new 16.2-megapixel sensor delivers a supreme level of image quality, producing sharp shots imbued with natural-looking colors by default.
As standard, JPEGs taken straight out of the camera look excellent: crisp, highly detailed and with beautifully rendered, rich colors; results that most would be more than happy with. Shoot RAW files and spend some time processing them post-shoot however and you really unlock the true potential of this magnificent camera. With a high degree of sharpness and unprecedented level of clarity, processed RAW files have the potential to look absolutely stunning.
In spite of the resolution hike, the D4′s sensor proves that it can uphold the Nikon DSLR’s well-respected reputation as masters of low-light shooting. Its improved AF system responds brilliantly under dim conditions, but perhaps most impressive is just how well noise is controlled across much of the D4′s native sensitivity range.
With results on a par with its star-performing predecessor in terms of actual noise levels, the D4 manages to bring the added bonus of more resolution to the table, delivering sharper, more detailed images across the board.
HD movie recording with the D4 is blissfully simple and the camera is capable of producing highly detailed, smooth footage. Added extras, like lossless recording to an external drive via an HDMI cable, the facility to add an external microphone and live audio monitoring, are vast improvements over the previous system. Timelapse and interval timer shooting options are also features worth mentioning, along with Nikon’s excellent Active D-Lighting and in-camera HDR processing features; all of which expand the creative possibilities open to D4 owners.
So many good features
- 10/11 frames per second continuous shooting in FX-format for up to 150 frames
- Nikon FX- format (35.9 x 24.0mm) CMOS Sensor with 16.2 effective megapixels
- Full 1080p HD broadcast quality video
- View simultaneous Live View output on external monitors and record uncompressed video via HDMI terminal
- Multi-Area Mode Full HD D-Movie: FX, DX (1.5X crop) and New 1920X1080 (2.7X) Crop modes settings
Total Professional Imaging Machine
D4 sets new benchmark
The D4 is a camera that is designed for speed. It can start, focus, and fire in about half a second. Its autofocus speed is extremely fast and shutter lag is unperceivable.
So many good features: Newly-introduced illuminated controls add another dimension of flexibility to the D4′s design, particularly for low-light photographers.
The LCDs on Nikon’s DSLRs have long been class leading in terms of their resolution and clarity, and the D4′s slightly-enlarged 3.2-inch offering continues this tradition. In playback, images are crisp, detailed and faithfully colored, making it easy to check them for focus and sharpness. It’s equally as useful when using the camera’s excellent Live View and HD movie modes too, displaying a clear, bright picture and boasting a very wide viewing angle from all directions, enabling shooting from high/low and otherwise obscure perspectives.
Speed, a gazillion useful features, and excellent high-ISO-sensitivity photos are among the Nikon D4′s standout qualities.
Broadcast-quality and outstanding control
If you’re comfortable shooting with a large D-SLR and value speed and image quality at higher ISOs over pure resolution, the D4 could be the perfect camera for you.
The menu system remains true to Nikon’s tried-and-tested format, with color-coded tabs splitting the options into their respective categories. As we’ve come to expect from the manufacturer’s cameras across their entire range, the D4 affords a very high degree of scope for customization, with options to dictate everything from how the dual memory card slots function, which controls operate the AF system and the size of the area used for center weighted metering to the flash sync speed, bracketing order when shooting different exposures and the number of stops between ISO, exposure compensation and flash compensation values, for example.
There are also scores of opportunities to customize the functions performed by many of the controls on the D4′s body, with the prospect of assigning the movie record, Fn, shutter, preview, BKT and multi-selector buttons to access your choice from a wide range of options – plus many more besides. You can fine-tune just about everything as regards how the camera operates, including tweaking the exposure, the size of the area and number of AF points you want the system to utilize the white balance, range of ISO sensitivity values you want it to stick to when the Auto function is enabled, the functions performed by the secondary controls on the integral vertical grip… I could go on!
Subtle tweaks to the ergonomics and control layout improve handling in most respects, particularly when using the integral vertical grip and while shooting HD movies.
In use, the D4 lives up to the promises made on paper by its impressive feature-set. The AF system is blisteringly quick and very accurate, with speedy 3D Subject Tracking being particularly noteworthy, putting in a superb performance when in the thick of the action.
The D4 is the ultimate tool for the discerning professional whose work demands the utmost level of precision and control over results. As well as boasting a more capable AF system and widened array of movie recording features, the D4 betters its predecessors with its incredibly crisp and bright viewfinder, increased level of creative control, higher resolution sensor, subtly enhanced ergonomics, new illuminated controls, XQD card compatibility, all-round more responsive performance and much more besides.
If you’re a full-time pro who wants to keep up with the very latest technology, avid low-light shooter and/or speed is of the essence when it comes to your work, then upgrading to the D4 is a no-brainer.
Sensor 36.0 x 23.9mm CMOS sensor (Nikon FX format)
LCD 3.2″, 921,000 -dots
ISO Auto, ISO 100-12,800, (Equiv. ISO 50-204, 800 with boost)
Video Full HD, 1,920 x 1,080 (30 fps)
Memory cards XQD/Type I CompactFlash memory cards (UDMA compliant)
Weight 1,340 g (inc. batt & XQD card)
Dimensions 160 x 156.5 x 90.5 mm
All in all, this camera is everything a pro would want: High quality, innovative, fast, big, weather sealed, and backwards compatible.
Canon EOS 5D Mark III
- Newly designed 22.3 Megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, 14-bit A/D conversion, wide range ISO setting 100-25600 (L:50, H1: 51200, H2: 102400) for shooting from bright to dim light and next generation DIGIC 5+ Image Processor for enhanced noise reduction and exceptional processing speed.
- New 61-Point High Density Reticular AF including up to 41 cross-type AF points with f/4.0 lens support and 5 dual diagonal AF points (sensitive to f/2.8).
- iFCL Metering with 63 zone dual-layer metering sensor that utilizes AF and color information for optimizing exposure and image quality.
- EOS HD Video with manual exposure control and multiple frame rates (1080: 30p (29.97) / 24p (23.976) / 25p, 720: 60p (59.94) / 50p, 480: 30p (29.97) / 25p) with 4 GB automatic file partitioning (continuous recording time 29 minutes 59 seconds), selectable “All i-frame” or IPB compressions, embedded timecode, manual audio level control while recording, and headphone terminal.
- 3.2-inch Clear View II LCD monitor, 170° viewing angle, 1,040,000-dot VGA, reflection; magnesium-alloy body with shutter durability tested up to 150,000 cycles, enhanced dust-and-weather resistance, and updated EOS Integrated Cleaning system for improved vibration-based dust removal.
Finally, the power of a 24.3 MP Nikon FX-format CMOS sensor in a compact, streamlined HD-SLR body. Create brilliant full-frame images and 1080p videos. Capture every detail in stunning clarity with Nikon’s superior 39-point AF system with Scene Recognition. Empower your inner filmmaker with cinema-quality HD video recording features. Nikon FX-format quality has never been more attainable.
- Nikon’s most compact FX-format HD-SLR
- Newly developed 24.3 MP FX-format CMOS sensor
- Share D600 images with the optional WU-1b Wireless Mobile Adapter (sold seperately)
- Cinema-quality Full HD (1080p)
- Compatible with all NIKKOR lenses, FX and DX formats
Hold in your hands an HD-SLR able to capture images rivaled only by those produced with a medium-format camera: extremely low noise, incredible dynamic range and the most faithful colors. Meet the Nikon D800, a 36.3 megapixel FX-format HD-SLR for professional photographers who require end results of the highest quality, who demand superior performance, speed, handling and a fully integrated imaging system. For cinematographers and multimedia professionals, 36.3 MP means true 1080p HD cinematic quality video.
- Extreme resolution 36.3-megapixel FX-format (35.9 x 24.0mm) CMOS sensor
- Full 1080p HD broadcast quality video and minimized rolling shutter
- View simultaneous Live View output on external monitors and record uncompressed video via HDMI terminal
- Multi-Area Full HD D-Movie Video Recording Mode
- Comprehensive high fidelity audio recording and playback control
Nikon D4 Guide
If you’re hoping to use your new Nikon D4 to explore the world of digital photography, to flex your creativity, or to do your job better, this is the book for you. With clear how-to steps and full-color illustrations, David Busch’s Nikon D4 Guide to Digital SLR Photography covers all the features of this capable camera in depth, from taking your first photos through advanced details of setup, exposure, lenses, lighting, and more, and relates each feature to specific photographic techniques and situations.
With David Busch as your guide, you’ll be in full creative control, whether you’re shooting on the job, as an advanced hobbyist, or are just out for fun. Start building your knowledge, creativity, and confidence with the Nikon D4 today.
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