The Nikon D4 is, as of 2013, the flagship pro camera that Nikon offers. Its is the culmination of years of research, development and work with professional photographers – all wrapped up in Nikon’s highest price-point offering. So does this camera live up to the hype and marketing?
The Nikon D4
With cameras at this price point, you get everything you pay for even though it is extremely expensive. The Nikon D4 is perfect for action or sports photography and is the top choice of top professionals today. The high performance ISO is the main attraction here. I remember when the Canon 5D came out and 1600 ISO with no noise was possible. This was amazing. Now you look at something like the Nikon D4 that shoots useable, noiseless photographs up at 12,800 ISO and its mind blowing. You can just about snap in the dark and your only concern is white balance. Its really amazing. Cameras like this are on the forefront of technology and are a photographer’s dream. At good shutter speeds, this camera shoots 10 frames per second. This is a complete god-send when you’re shooting sporting events or any action-based subject where every frame counts to get the perfect moment captured.
The camera is built like a tank. This alone is worth a trip to the camera store just to hold one. No plastic feel here – as with the best high-end cameras, you know it when you pick it up. Its astonishing. The sculpted body fits the hand perfectly, feeling like a natural extension to you as a photographer.
Auto-focus is laser fast just like anything else from Nikon. If you need to react to the moment, Nikon is usually the superior choice to other camera manufacturers. Canon’s autofocus is extremely good, but just not as fast as what Nikon offers.
Interestingly to some, the D4 resolution is 16mp. This is more than enough to get excellent printed results. In fact, its rather nice that Nikon designed the camera to this resolution. Higher mega-pixel counts are not only unnecessary, but the file storage is problematic. 16mp seems to be a wonderful sweet spot for this camera.
Almost all of the buttons are backlit on the Nikon D4 which is really a nice touch. This is a low-light performance camera and its designed to be used in low light. This is particularly useful for shooting wedding receptions and low-light video.
Another highlight of this camera, in fitting with the Nikon line in general, is the ability to vary the auto shutter speed to the focal length of the lens. I’ve always liked this – even the basic version on the old D40. It simply means that when you do need to use it in automatic modes for sports or other fast moving subjects, you can set a criteria for what you want to get the shot and the camera will simply work within the parameters you give it. Canon does this to a much more crude extent – Nikon nails it.
A Few Caveats
The Nikon D4 features dual slot storage, but its one CF slot and one XQD slot. XQD? Really? Well this is very specific for a format and pretty much keeps most shooters to use this for backup only. That’s not a bad thing at all, but XQD? How about something really obscure next time?
That and cards go in backwards for some reason. You’ll get used to this, but its odd that the camera was designed this way.
Caveats aside – this is an incredible machine that garners much respect. If you can afford it, this is the camera for you. If you can’t, its worth saving for. This is a professionals dream and if you spend the time with your camera, this is the best Nikon offers. Its certainly expensive, but if you need a camera of this caliber, its worth every penny.
Specifications of the Nikon D4
Sensor: 16.2MP Full-frame CMOS
Image Processor: EXPEED3
LCD: 3.2″ Rear Screen LCD (921000)
Auto Focus: 51 Point
ISO Range: 100-12800 (Extended Mode: 50-204800)
Shutter: 1/8000 – 30 sec
Flash Sync: 1/250 sec
Frame Speed: up to 10.0 FPS Continuous Mode
Storage: Dual CF/XQD
Viewfinder: 0.70x magnification
Video: MPEG-4 AVC/H.264, Mov
Video Frame Rates:
1920×1080: 30fps, 25fps, 24fps,
1280×720: 60fps, 50fps, 30fps
640×480: 30fps, 25fps