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Nikon D4 Review

Nikon D4 Review: A Professional Model With Additional Features

Nikon D4 Review

This is the review of the successful Nikon D4. The successor of this camera is the Nikon D4S that we have reviewed already and dedicated one article to it.

Nikon launched in 2012 a completely revised professional DSLR with the Nikon D4. Compared to the D3S, practically all relevant features have been revised and improved: the sealed magnesium housing is supposed to fit better in the hand and is slightly lighter, the autofocus module has been improved and the light meter now has 90 times as many measuring points.

The new FX-CMOS sensor has a resolution of 16.2 megapixels and is supported by a more powerful image processor, which enables the Nikon D4 to record eleven images per second.

Nikon has significantly revised the video function, and the Nikon D4 also uses the new XQD memory card format for the first time.

Nikon D4 Pros And Cons

Pros

  • Good noise behavior
  • Extremely robust, ergonomically shaped housing with integrated portrait handle
  • Very high serial frame rate
  • Live View with acceptable AF speed
  • Professional video functions

Cons

  • Display neither foldable nor swivelable
  • Standard zoom 2.8 24-70 not stabilized (partially negates the advantage of high noise reduction)
  • No AF auxiliary light

 

Nikon D4 ReviewWith the D3, Nikon presented a full-format DSLR for the first time in 2007, which has been on the road as a slightly revised D3S since autumn 2009. Meanwhile, the 3-series has become very old and it was high time for a modern professional DSLR from Nikon. It now comes in the form of the Nikon D4 presented today.

Nikon has invested a lot of development work in the successor model Nikon D4 and has eagerly collected feedback from professional photographers, especially to satisfy their needs. At the top of the professionals’ wish list was improved ergonomics. Nikon takes this into account with a newly shaped portrait grip, which makes the Nikon D4 lie much better in the hand.

Nikon would like to have just under 6,000 dollars for the new flagship Nikon D4. In return, the manufacturer promises a camera that is characterized by “uncompromising image quality” and “outstanding speed” – even when filming.

So the Nikon D4 is just the right thing for the photo professional, but also for the ambitious videographer. At the heart of this is a 35mm full format sensor with 16-megapixel resolution and a maximum ISO 204,800, all in a housing that seems to be built to last for the proverbial eternity.

In our test, that, as usual, encompasses the measurement with the test software and the practical use, the Nikon D4 had to prove if it can meet the expectations set by Nikon.

Nevertheless, the landscape format is still ergonomically preferable, as we were able to determine during a first hands-on.

In addition, the case has lost 60 grams of weight compared to the D3S, but is still made of a tough magnesium alloy and is protected against dust and splash water by rubber seals.

A special thermal color coating ensures less heating up in sunlight, some camera buttons on the Nikon D4 are actively illuminated in the dark.

Nikon D4 Review

Nikon D4 Review

The interfaces have also been revised, so the Nikon D4 now has a separate connection for the new WLAN module WT-5, which is also much more compact than the previous model.

The universal interface now remains free for connecting the GPS module GP-1 next to the wireless module.

IPTC data can also be integrated into the recordings. The WT-5 is powered by the camera and offers fast WLAN according to the “n” standard, but the older standards “a”, “b” and “g” are also supported.

An HTTP interface allows the transmission to mobile devices such as tablet PCs and smartphones as well as the control of elementary camera functions such as photo or video recording. Especially for the iPhone, there will also be a remote app for controlling the Nikon D4.

Another new feature is the possibility of synchronously triggering up to ten cameras wirelessly via WLAN. Another new interface is aimed primarily at studio photographers: the Nikon D4 has a LAN connection in the widely used RJ-45 plug format, which allows the camera to be controlled and images to be transferred directly to a computer.

This requires the optionally available software Nikon Camera Control Pro 2, which in the new version allows, among other things, the control of the LiveView including switching between photo and video mode and can start and stop film recordings.

Nikon D4 Review

At the heart of the Nikon D4 is a brand new CMOS image sensor in 36 x 24 millimeter FX format. It has a resolution of 16.2 megapixels and yet offers a wider sensitivity range than the D3S: ISO 100 to 12,800 is the standard range, which can be extended to Lo1 corresponding to ISO 50 to Hi4 corresponding to ISO 204,800.

Nikon D4 ReviewThe increased resolution in no way means increased noise – on the contrary, Nikon has even been able to reduce the noise with a new sensor layout and new manufacturing technologies. Nikon developed the sensor itself, but has it manufactured by contract manufacturers with Nikon tools.

At the sensor’s side is the powerful Expeed 3 image processor which, thanks to 16-bit data processing, not only improves the noise behavior but also increases the dynamic range and ensures improved reproduction of skin tones.

The new image processor also allows a recording speed of eleven images per second at full resolution. If the autofocus is to be actively tracked, the continuous-advance drive mode decreases to 10 frames/sec.

However, fast memory cards are required to store them. While Lexar has just upgraded CompactFlash speed with a 1000x memory card, the CF format is still reaching its electronic limits, which the recently introduced XQD memory card format will push beyond (see related links). T

The Nikon D4 has a double card slot and accepts an XQD card in addition to a CF card. Thanks to its faster bus system, the latter allows up to 200 JPEG recordings or 100 RAW recordings in rapid series at 11 frames per second.

In order to take into account the mechanical stress involved, Nikon has redesigned the shutter – it should now withstand at least 400,000 releases. Nikon was also able to reduce the shutter release delay to 42 milliseconds.

Also renovated is the screen, which has grown to a lush 3.2 inches (8 centimeters) diagonal but still has a resolution of 921,000 pixels. The new display offers a larger color space than the D3S and is now intended to cover the entire sRGB color space.

In addition, the screen reflections could be reduced and the brightness is now regulated automatically. The large pentaprism viewfinder with 100 percent field coverage and 0.7x magnification, 18-millimeter exit pupil and dioptre compensation has been retained.

In the viewfinder, the border areas can be shaded for smaller recording formats, such as Crop 1.2 or the DX-format. In addition, grid lines can be superimposed, the autofocus metering field displays can be used as a spirit level for leveling the horizon, and the side exposure meter additionally indicates whether the camera is tilted up or down.

The spirit level can of course also be displayed on the screen in LiveView mode. The autofocus also has 51 measuring fields, 15 of which are cross sensors. New, however, is the increased sensitivity of eleven of the cross sensors, which now also allow focusing with F8 and already work at a light value of -2.

This innovation becomes interesting when using a teleconverter. Thus, Nikon states that the Nikon D4 can still focus perfectly with the F4/600 mm and 2-fold teleconverter, which in fact turns it into an F8/1200mm. The control of the autofocus sensors when changing from portrait to landscape format has also been changed, which is particularly useful when only one measuring field or group is activated.

The revised video mode now allows a frame rate of either 24, 25 or 30 frames per second at FullHD resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, and even 50 and 60 frames per second at reduced HD resolution of 1,280 x 720 pixels. It saves in MOV format with H.264 compression, which results in compact video files.

The maximum recording length per video clip is 29 minutes and 59 seconds. Nikon claims to have a minimized rolling shutter effect and block artifacts.

Without interpolation, the image can be zoomed up to 2.7 times, so at the maximum digital detail magnification, the sensor pixels are captured natively 1:1. The HDMI interface also allows the video signal to be output uncompressed, but it cannot be stored on the camera memory card at the same time.

Nikon D4 ReviewA new feature is the mechanical decoupling of mirror and iris diaphragm, which can now be controlled independently.

The mirror can remain folded up without power consumption, while the aperture and film recording can be controlled without further mirror impact; this also applies to photo recordings in LiveView, which are now possible much more quietly without mirror impact.

The aperture can be set in 1/8 increments for movie recording in M and A; during recording, however, only when the video signal is output from the HDMI interface, not when recording to the memory card.

Internally, the Nikon D4 only has a mono microphone, but can be upgraded with an external stereo microphone, such as the Nikon ME-1, via the stereo jack.

The 3.5-millimeter socket provides a power supply for active microphones. Sound recordings can be manually controlled with both the internal and external microphones.

The new headphone jack with 30-step volume control can be used to control the audio signal, and there is also a line input option for external audio recording devices.

Also useful is the new video recording button next to the shutter release button. Videographers will also be pleased to know that the camera can add up to 20 index marks to each film shot, making it easier to edit later on the PC.

In addition, the Nikon D4 can take time-lapse pictures using the interval function. The playback speed is optionally 24 to 3,600x.

Nikon D4 Review

Nikon has also revised the light meter, which is now called 3D Color Matrix Metering III. The light meter sensor now has 91,000 instead of 1,005 RGB metering points. This not only enables even more precise exposure metering but also improved object tracking and thus autofocus tracking.

In addition, the resolution is already sufficient to recognize faces, so that now face recognition is also actively working in viewfinder photography.

Furthermore, a database is used to compare exposure and colorimetry on the basis of 30,000 scene data records in order to further improve image processing in both automatic and manual photography.

Two practical improvements are also made to the white balance. There are now two automatic modes: one offers, as before, the most neutral color reproduction possible, while the new model provides atmospheric colors that look good and match the subject.

In addition, the white balance for the live image and the recording can be set separately. This is useful in studio or flash photography, for example, when the modeling light or ambient light does not match the color temperature of the flash light.

This allows the photographer to see neutral colors with correct white balance in both the live image and the captured image. Exposure compensation also has a new mode. While the exposure compensation previously affected both the flash in the foreground and the background brightness together, and the flash exposure compensation in turn only affected the foreground, there is now a third mode in which the exposure compensation only affects the background of the subject.

In addition, there is an integrated HDR function that computes two images directly in the camera. The two images are taken with either 1, 2 or 3 EV exposure differences and are offset against each other in one of three selectable strength levels. Sales of the Nikon D4 started in early 2012.

 

Nikon D4 Review

Ergonomics and Workmanship Of The Nikon D4

Already the exterior of the Nikon D4 makes it unmistakably clear: this camera is a camera in the classical sense of the word. A working device that weighs almost 1.5 kilograms without a lens.

If the Nikon D4 is then equipped with a standard zoom such as the AF-S Nikkor 24-70 mm 1:2.8G ED, more than two kilos will pull and pull on the photographer’s biceps.

As with earlier professional cameras, Nikon has also integrated the portrait format handle firmly into the housing of the Nikon D4. It accommodates the rather voluminous battery type EN-EL18, whose capacity of 2,000 mAh is sufficient for about 2,500 shots. Included with the camera is a charger that charges two of these monstrous energy sources. Despite its size and truly remarkable weight, the Nikon D4 fits the hand perfectly. This was also true for the D3S, which was tested in 2010.

However, Nikon has reworked the case of the Nikon D4 in detail. This brings the front dial closer to the shutter release and makes it easier for the index finger to reach the shutter release.

What remains is a main switch, which is a ring around the shutter release button. Since the distance to the front dial has also been shortened, there is now a greater risk of accidentally turning off the camera.

Clever detail of the main switch: When it is turned beyond the “ON” position, the Nikon D4 not only illuminates the display and top LCD but also backlights the labeled switches and buttons.

A clever idea for a camera that can be used even under the most adverse lighting conditions thanks to its outstanding Available Light characteristics (more on this in the “Image Quality” section).

 

Nikon D4 Review

 

Typical for Nikon’s professional cameras, the Nikon D4 also relies on a “two-hand control concept”. For example, the main dial on the top left of the camera is equipped with a lock. It must be held down to change the configuration.

What sounds awkward at first quickly turns out to be an invaluable advantage in the crowd of photographers: hardly anything can be accidentally adjusted, even the selected AF field can be fixed with an independent switch.

The Nikon D4 provides two small joysticks for selecting the AF area so that the focus point can now be conveniently placed on the desired part of the subject, even in portrait mode.

Nikon D4 Review

Nikon D4 Review

The Nikon D4’s optical viewfinder offers 100 percent field coverage at 0.7x magnification, making it one of the best available for money and good words.

The amount of information displayed is considerable, and the photographer is always well informed about which shooting parameters he or she has selected when looking through the viewfinder. Even more detailed information is provided by the large top LCD at the top right of the camera or the rear display.

The resolution of the monitor is still 921,000 pixels, its diagonal has increased slightly to 3.2 inches. In direct view mode, the display shows an impeccable image, whether it is recordings in playback mode or the current image section in live view mode.

Unfortunately, this no longer applies if you look at the monitor at an angle. Although Nikon states a 170-degree viewing angle for the rigidly installed display, it was rarely used in practice for overhead shots.

The display brightness is barely sufficient in bright surroundings, and it also reflects quite strongly. If Nikon had equipped the Nikon D4 with a foldable display, the greatly improved Live View would be even more useful.

Nikon D4 Review

Although the Nikon D4 can basically be operated with the dedicated knobs and switches, it only opens its full range of functions after calling up the main menu.

It is structured in a typical Nikon way, most of the options are available in the menu “individual functions”. Although the camera displays a short help text at the push of a button for many setting options, a look into the 450-page manual is often indispensable in view of the almost overflowing options.

Like all professional models from Nikon, the Nikon D4 allows you to create your own personal menu with up to 20 commands. This is a very welcome option that allows you to access deeply buried functions at a very fast speed. In addition, the Nikon D4 offers the possibility of storing up to four different camera configurations, which can then be quickly recalled via the Info button.

Although Nikon has equipped the Nikon D4 with a few more switches and buttons compared to its predecessor, as well as a larger display, the controls are by no means crowded on the voluminous camera body. Everything is within easy reach, even in the hectic everyday life of a photojournalist.

Not only he will also appreciate that the Nikon D4 seems to be built for eternity. This applies not only to the actual housing, which radiates unshakable robustness. The cover of the numerous interfaces, the lid for the memory card compartment or the battery slot can be trusted without a doubt to close reliably even after years of hard professional use, just like on the first day.

At the bottom of the camera, there is only a tripod thread, which is made of stainless steel and sits neatly in the optical axis. The memory card slots are accessible from the back, the battery is removed sideways so that even an oversized tripod plate (which is highly recommended considering the weight of the camera) does not block any controls or slots.

 

Nikon D4 Review

Equipment And Features For The Nikon D4

The fact that the Nikon D4 is a professional tool is impressively underlined by its range of features. One looks in vain for scene mode programs or even the currently so fashionable effect programs with this camera. But Nikon is not completely adapted to the current technology and has given the Nikon D4 the possibility of HDR recordings.

It takes at least two photos with different exposures and automatically combines them to create an image that perfectly captures even very high-contrast scenes from the darkest depths to the brightest highlights.

The autofocus also offers an option for face detection and tracking – but this portrait AF only works in live view mode. Only home cooking seems to offer exposure control at first glance, only the classic modes P, A, S and M are available. But during the exposure metering, the Nikon D4 proves to be washed in all kinds of water.

Their new “3D Color Matrix Metering III” metering system is based on an RGB sensor with 91,000 pixels – enough to even implement face recognition in the exposure sensor. And with the center-weighted integral measurement, it can be specified whether the weighting should be based on a central section of around 20, 30, 40 or 50 percent of the image field. The shortest shutter speed is 1/8,000 second, the shortest flash sync speed Nikon specifies as 1/250 second.

The Nikon D4 offers very extensive options for bracketing, controls interval shooting and offers the possibility of “bulb” long time exposure.

Nikon D4 Review

Nikon D4 Review

Compared to its predecessor, the Nikon D4 takes a giant leap forward with its video capabilities. It now films in FullHD, i.e. with 1,920 x 1,080 pixel resolution, with a maximum frame rate of 30 frames per second (25 fps when shooting in PAL format).

The integrated microphone only records film sound in mono. That’s no big deal, though, because the Nikon D4 offers a conventional jack socket for connecting an external stereo microphone.

Its level can even be controlled manually. Professional videographers will also be pleased to know that the camera will output the uncompressed video stream via the HDMI socket if desired.

Shutter speed, aperture and ISO sensitivity can be changed during video recording. The camera also adjusts the focus using contrast autofocus via the image sensor.

The variety of connection possibilities with which Nikon has equipped the Nikon D4 is outstanding. The most prominent feature here is an RJ-45 interface, which can be used to connect the camera to a network. This allows the recordings to be transferred immediately to an FTP server. Or the Nikon D4 can be completely remote controlled via Ethernet connection using the optional Camera Control Pro 2 software.

The network connection even works wirelessly, for this purpose Nikon offers the new Wireless LAN Adapter WT-5, which is directly coupled to the Nikon D4. But also the older WT-4 can still be used on the Nikon D4.

Another unusual feature is the Nikon D4’s headroom output, which can be used to follow the film sound recording. Also on board are a USB interface, an HDMI output and a system socket for connecting the optional GP-1 GPS receiver, for example.

The Nikon D4 has two memory card slots. One takes conventional CompactFlash cards, while the other is for the still rare but very fast XQD cards.

However, Nikon has saved an integrated flash in the Nikon D4. Those who cannot or do not want to do without a light dispenser despite the camera’s high-ISO capabilities will thus have to resort to an optional flash unit.

This is a pity because even a low-powered on-board flash often serves very well as a brightener under difficult lighting conditions. A system flash is also necessary if the autofocus fails under adverse light conditions.

The Nikon D4 does not have an AF auxiliary light, so the autofocus is dependent on the assistance of a system flash if necessary. Apart from these minor shortcomings, Nikon’s flash system on the Nikon D4 fulfills just about every wish a photographer can have.

The fact that Nikon has equipped the Nikon D4 with the latest electronics under the hood is immediately noticeable in practical use. Thus, it only takes about a quarter of a second until the Nikon D4 is ready for operation after switching on.

In general, the camera reacts very fluently to inputs, only when calling up the main menu, an hourglass appears on the display in the blink of an eye. But when it comes to fast shooting series, the Nikon D4 is in its element.

In the test, the camera sprinted off with an almost breathtaking frame rate of 10.9 JPEG shots or 10.4 RAW photos per second. Aside from this extremely high speed, it is even more remarkable how long the Nikon D4 takes in these fast spurts: Equipped with a Transcend 600x CompactFlash Card, the camera lasted well over 100 JPEG photos or 71 RAW shots until it fell into the more leisurely continuous mode.

But even then the Nikon D4 was still quite fast with about four JPEG or two RAW photos per second. It is obvious that with such high continuous shooting rates, an immense flood of data is created within a very short time, which the Nikon D4 must first write away. Saving may well take a few minutes.

During this time, however, the camera – unlike usual – is still ready to record without restrictions. By the way, the number of photos for a series can be limited, a maximum of 200 photos per series is possible.

The shutter and mirror mechanism of the Nikon D4 are naturally subject to a lot of stress due to the high continuous shooting rate. According to Nikon, the shutter is designed for 400,000 releases. It can also be conserved by not constantly running the Nikon D4 at full steam – the continuous shooting rate can be set between one and ten frames per second.

The possibilities of image processing with the Nikon D4 are so extensive that they can easily replace a computer with appropriate software “on location”. For example, it is possible to develop RAW images recorded with the Nikon D4 into JPEG images directly in the camera. These can be assigned various predefined or self-configured “Picture Control” settings (picture styles).

The Nikon D4 also allows the subsequent correction of imaging errors such as distortion and vignetting, which are due to the lens used. It is even possible to combine two RAW shots into one image directly in the camera.

Nikon D4 Review

Lens

The Nikon D4 is not even offered with a set lens, it is only available “body only”. We had the camera with the standard zoom AF-S Nikkor 24-70 mm 1:2.8G ED and the tele zoom AF-S Nikkor 70-200 mm 1:2.8G ED VR II to test.

So we can test with the photographic software used for measurements, as well as in practical use. Normally, the manufacturer or distributor only provides us one lens. Here, given the professional standard of this camera, we were granted two sets of lenses to perform the test and write this review afterward.

With the latter an AF-S Nikkor 14-24 mm 1:2.8G ED was added. As it is usual for Nikon, there is an image stabilizer only if the lens is equipped with it.

The fact that the 24-70/2.8 lacks the corresponding abbreviation VR in the type designation has become painfully apparent during night-time operation. Despite the high ISO 12,800, the Nikon D4 used shutter speeds too often that did not allow blur-free shooting.

An optical image stabilizer as in the 70-200/2.8 VR II allows for at least two exposure levels longer exposure times or correspondingly lower ISO sensitivities. In this case, for example, an exposure time of 1/125 second with a stabilized lens corresponds to 1/30 second with a non-stabilized lens – a difference that, visible at a focal length of 70 millimeters, is decisive for blur-free images.

In order to achieve the same shake-free exposure times with a non-stabilized lens as with a stabilized one, the ISO number has to be doubled twice – for example from ISO 12,800 to ISO 51,200 – a considerable difference!

The autofocus of the Nikon D4 proved to be extremely reliable and quick to think, both in the testing software and in practice.

In the testing with the software, the camera had always focused and triggered after about 0.25 seconds. But the autofocus of the Nikon D4 is not only convincing under clinical laboratory conditions, but also in the tough everyday practice. This is especially true for tracking AF in continuous shooting.

I grab a car approaching the camera confidently and, the focus is perfect in all shots of the series. It is just as secure in holding a starting aircraft, even if a lamp post or apron vehicle is pushed to the fore as it is pulled along. However, this sovereignty is lost to the autofocus when the light fades.

In practice, a rule of thumb has proved to be If ISO 12.800 is sufficient for exposure, the AF of the Nikon D4 can barely cope with the light. If higher ISO values are required, the AF requires a high-contrast portion of the image, otherwise, it will not find its target. So it was no longer possible to reliably focus a toad wedding in the dim light of a garden lantern. Here the absence of an AF auxiliary light has made itself painfully noticeable.

Technically, the AF system of the Nikon D4 also has a lot to offer. Your new autofocus module Multi-CAM 3500FX has 51 sensors, 15 of which are cross sensors. And after all, nine of these cross sensors still work with lenses with a maximum speed of F8, as is the case when using a teleconverter, for example.

Nikon has clearly improved the contrast AF in live view mode – here, just under a second passes until the Nikon D4 has focused and triggered. The optional phase AF in Live View mode and its tedious mirror flip orgies are no longer necessary.

Image Quality Of The Nikon D4

Where other full format cameras today offer a resolution of at least 21 megapixels, the Nikon D4 is content with a conservative 16 megapixels. According to Nikon, this enables a “high signal-to-noise ratio and wide dynamic range”.

As expected, the moderate resolution benefits the noise behavior of the Nikon D4. However, maybe not to the extent that one would expect from the rather generous pixel pitch on the sensor. For example, the signal-to-noise ratio of the important luminance channel already reaches the critical mark of 35 dB at ISO 6400.

In itself, this is certainly not a bad value – but other current full format cameras with higher resolution can certainly keep up. However, the noise of the Nikon D4 is quite good-natured up to about ISO 25.600, as the brightness deviations from the nominal value are not very pronounced. But this changes with increasing ISO sensitivity: Now, the brightness deviations get bigger and bigger, the noise takes on an aggressive character.

But what is much more serious is that beyond ISO 25.600, the ink noise also rises sharply. But Nikon has to be credited with the fact that the Nikon D4 is tuned very cautiously and in the standard settings (in which we perform the review) only moderately denoised and sharpened. By the way, the testing software findings are in complete agreement with the visual impression of the photographs: Up to ISO 12.800, the Nikon D4 can’t exactly be used for shooting a glossy magazine title, but it can certainly be used for press photos. If the full resolution potential is not to be exploited, the camera can also deliver useful results up to ISO 51,200.

Nikon D4 Review

That the Nikon D4 with sensitivities beyond ISO 12.800 only provides a limited image quality can be seen from other measured values: The previously good input dynamic of around ten aperture stops now decreases significantly and drops to the critical value of around eight exposure levels at ISO 25,600.

The image is similar in texture sharpness, with visible loss of detail beyond ISO 12.800. The Nikon D4’s tonal curve is professionally tuned, and the camera dispenses with sensationalism and strong contrasts in favor of finely differentiated depths.

The output tonal value range is almost excellent: The important luminance channel differentiates up to ISO 400 almost the theoretically possible maximum of eight bits, only at ISO 25.600 only 128 tonal value steps are differentiated.

The Nikon D4 shows small weaknesses in color fidelity, however, and reproduces cyan and red tones in a somewhat saturated manner.

Pictures taken with the Nikon D4 show the typical Nikon colors: Overall, the color reproduction is quite neutral, perhaps a touch undercooled but never gaudy colorful – this offers a lot of potential for subsequent editing, even of JPEG files.

Of course, the RAW format, in which the Nikon D4 also records if desired, offers even more post-processing potential. Apart from particularly difficult lighting situations, for example with strong contrasts or mixed light, RAW recording is rarely worthwhile.

Nikon has really fine-tuned the JPEG processing so that with Photoshop CS6 and Camera Raw 7.1 Beta, it was hardly possible to achieve better results in RAW development than the camera did not already deliver with its ready to use JPEG files.

Nikon D4 ReviewWhile there is little to criticize in the recording quality of the Nikon D4, the standard AF-S Nikkor 24-70 mm 1:2.8G ED zoom AF-S Nikkor 24-70 mm can afford one or two image weaknesses.

Thus, at short and medium focal lengths, pronounced chromatic aberrations of almost three pixels in circumference can occur – but on average, the CAs are inconspicuous.

Unusually high for a lens in this price range is the barrel distortion in wide-angle position. The resolution of the standard zoom could also be better. In the center, it only has an average high resolution, especially in the wide-angle range, the resolution decreases significantly towards the edges of the image. The AF-S Nikkor 70-200 mm 1:2.8G ED VR II provides a more balanced image.

Although the resolving power of the telephoto zoom is only around 40 line pairs per millimeter, it shows significantly lower resolution losses at the image edges, has no problems with CAs and only shows a somewhat strong pincushion effect at the maximum focal length.

Conclusion

The Nikon D4’s unwavering body quality, superior features, rich connectivity, and expansion options, and high price make it clear: this camera is made for photo professionals who need a reliable tool on location every day.

In comparison to its predecessor, Nikon has above all significantly improved the Nikon D4’s live view and video capabilities; the resolution of the full format sensor increases only moderately to 16 megapixels.

Its fast, reliable autofocus and very high continuous shooting rate make the Nikon D4 ideal for all kinds of sports and action photos.

The picture quality of the Nikon D4 is, on balance, flawless, and its high-ISO capabilities are particularly impressive and give the camera very good available light characteristics. Only sensitivity settings from very high ISO 25,600 upwards lead to clearly visible losses in dynamic range, detail reproduction, and color differentiation.

Handling and ergonomics of the Nikon D4 are very good, the camera fits perfectly in the hand despite its heavy weight.

In detail, however, the camera has to put up with one or the other point of criticism: The very useful Live View would be even more practical if the display could at least be folded up and down. And you could benefit even more from the Nikon D4’s high-ISO capabilities if an auxiliary light would assist the autofocus in adverse lighting conditions.

But the biggest drawback in practice is that the standard zoom AF-S Nikkor 24-70 mm 1:2.8G ED is not equipped with an image stabilizer – so you need at least two steps higher ISO settings than with a stabilized lens.

Profile

Profile
ManufacturerNikon
ModelNikon D4
Price approx.5930 at market launch. Much cheaper now
Sensor Resolution16.6 megapixels
Max. Image resolution4.928 x 3.280
(aspect ratio)(3:2)
LensAF-S Nikkor 24-70 mm 1:2.8 ED
Filter thread77mm
ViewfinderPentaprism
Field of view100 %
Enlargement0,7-fold
Dioptre compensation-3 to +1 DPT.
LCD monitor3,2″
Resolution921.000
rotatable
swiveling
as Viewfinderyes
Video outputHDMI
as Viewfinderyes
Automatic programmingyes
Automatic aperture controlyes
Automatic timeryes
manual exposureyes
BULB long time exposureyes
Scene mode programs
Portrait
Children/baby
Landscape
Macro
Sports/action
further
Exposure meteringMulti-field, center-weighted Integral, Spot
Flash
Guide number
Flash connectionSystem hot shoe, PC sync socket
Remote releaseCable
Interval recordingyes
Storage mediumCompactFlash, XQD
Video mode
FormatMOV
CodecH.264/AVC
Resolution (max.)1.920 x 1.080
Frame rate (max.)30
Sensitivity
automaticallyISO 200-204.800 (upper limit adjustable)
manuallyISO 50-204.800
White balance
Automaticyes
Sunyes
Cloudsyes
Fluorescent lampyes
Incandescent lampyes
MiscellaneousShadows, flash, metal halide lamps, fine correction
Manuallyyes
Autofocus
Number of measurement fields51
AF auxiliary light
Speedapprox. 0,25 s
LanguagesEnglish
More13 additional languages available
Switch-on time0,3 s
One-hand operation
(zoom and shutter release)
Weight
(Ready for operation)
approx. 1,349 g (housing only
)approx. 2,321 g (with lens**)
Continuous shooting function*
Number of serial images107 (JPEG
)71 (RAW)
Frequency (frames/s)10.9 (JPEG) 10.4 (RAW)
Continuous run
(images/s)
3.9 (JPEG
)2.1 (RAW)
with flash
Zoom
Zoom adjustmentat the lens
Zoom levelsinfinitely variable
Time WW to Tele
Memory speeds*
JPEG0.2 (2.8 MByte)
RAW0.7 s (15.3 MByte)
Trip during
.Saving possible.
yes
Battery lifeapprox. 2,600 images (according to CIPA)
– = “not applicable
“* with Transcend 32 GByte 600x CompactFlash memory card**

with lens AF-S Nikkor 24-70 mm 1:2.8 ED***
without lens

 

Brief assessment

Pros

  • Good noise behavior
  • Extremely robust, ergonomically shaped housing with integrated portrait handle
  • Very high serial frame rate
  • Live View with acceptable AF speed
  • Professional video functions

Cons

  • Display neither foldable nor swivelable
  • Standard zoom 2.8 24-70 not stabilized (partially negates the advantage of high noise reduction)
  • No AF auxiliary light

Firmware Update for the Nikon D4: Functional extension

The released firmware update brings the Nikon D4 to the firmware version A 1.10 / B 1.10. The version includes a new individual function (f17) and allows us to configure function keys for radio remote controls.

In addition, with the firmware update, the Nikon D4 is able to use CompactFlash memory cards with 128 gigabytes or more.

Furthermore, the individual function a4 (AF release) has been changed so that under certain conditions no more release is possible.

Last but not least, a bug was fixed that could occur when an XQD card and certain types of CF cards were used together.

The update can be carried out by the user himself, but it is recommended to follow the update instructions exactly. Those who do not feel confident to update the software should contact the Nikon service or their dealer or distributor.

Nikon D4 Review

Nikon D4 with AF-S 24-70 mm 2.8 G IF ED [Photo: Nikon]

Nikon D4 Datasheet

Electronics

SensorCMOS sensor 36.0 x 24.0 mm (crop factor 1.0
)16.6 megapixels (physical) and 16.2 megapixels (effective)
Pixelpitch7.3 µm
Photo resolution
4.928 x3.280 pixels(3:2)
3.696 x2.456 pixels(3:2)
2.464 x1.640 pixels(3:2)
Image formatsJPG, RAW, TIF, TIF compressed
Color depth42 bits (14 bits per color channel)
MetadataExif (version 2.3), DCF standard
Video resolution
1.920 x1.080(16:9)30p
1.280 x720(16:9)60p
Maximum recording time29 min 59 sec
Video format
MOV(codec n.a.)

Lens

Lens mount
Nikon F

Focus

Autofocus modePhase comparison autofocus with 51 sensors, 15 cross sensors
Autofocus functionsSingle auto focus, continuous auto focus, manual
Sharpness controlLive view

Viewfinder and Display

SLR viewfinderReflex viewfinder (prism viewfinder) (100 % image coverage), 18 mm interpupillary distance, dioptre compensation (-3.0 to +1.0 dpt), replaceable focusing screens
Display3.2″ TFT LCD monitor with 921,000 pixels
Info displayadditional information display (top and rear)

Exposure

Exposure meteringCenter-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement over 1,000 fields, spot measurement
Exposure times1/8,000 to 30 s (Automatic) Bulb function
Exposure controlProgrammed automatic, Shutter priority, Aperture priority, Manual
Exposure bracketing functionStep size from 1/3 to 2 EV
Exposure Compensation-5.0 to +5.0 EV
PhotosensitivityISO 100 to ISO 12.800 (automatic) ISO 100 to ISO 12.800 (manual)
Remote accessRemote triggering
Scene modesNo scene mode programs
White balanceAutomatic, clouds, sun, fine-tuning, shadow, flash, fluorescent lamp with 7 presets, incandescent light
Continuous shooting11.0 frames/s at the highest resolution
Self-timerSelf-timer with 2 s interval, special features: or 10 s (optional)

Flashgun

Flashno built-in flash, available shoe: Nikon, standard center contact
Flash functionsAuto, fill-in flash, flash on, flash off, slow sync, red-eye reduction

Equipment And Features

Image stabilizerno optical image stabilizer
Memory
CF (Type I)
second memory card slot
XQD
GPS functionGPS external
MicrophoneMono
Power supply1 x Nikon EN-EL18 (Lithium-ion (Li-Ion))
Playback functionsImage index
Image parametersContrast
Special functionsLive view
ConnectionsData interfaces: USB USB type: USB 2.0 High SpeedWLAN
: available
AV ConnectionsAV output: HDMI output Micro (Type D)
Tripod thread1/4″
Special features and miscellaneousAdditional image resolutions in 1Additional
ISO levels LoHi1Hi2Hi3and Hi4 according to ISO 5025
.60051
.200102
.400 and 204.800AF Motif recognitionActive-D-LightingSystem15 AF cross sensors
from 51 AF sensors11
Focus measuring fields with support of F816-bit
Expeed 3 processor waterproof
magnesium housingAutomatic
sensor dust removal integrated
mono microphone Manual
level control for internal and external microphoneIndex marks
for video films

Size and weight

Dimensions W x H x D160 x 157 x 91 mm
Weight1.340 g (ready for operation)

Miscellaneous

standard accessoryNikon AN-DC7 Storage AccessoriesNikon
BF-1B (case cover)
Nikon EN-EL18 Special battery Nikon
MH-26 Charger for special batteries Nikon
UC-E15 USB cableNikon
View Pro SoftwareUSB cable clipBS-2Hot shoe cover picture editing software
Nikon Picture ProjectPicture editing software
Nikon Capture NX2 trial version
additional accessoriesNikon WT-5 (WiFi adapter
)Nikon WT-6 (WiFi adapter)
Nikon WT-7a (WiFi adapter)
EH-6b Network adapter (requires battery compartment EP-6)
GPS receiver GP-1

 

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