The Nikon D4 is a professional digital SLR designed to revolutionise photography. It features a 16.2 megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor that allows up to 11 fps, the fastest ever on a Nikon DSLR. The EXPEED 3 image processing engine assists in recording images at phenomenally high ISO (up to 204,800). It is Nikon's first FX body that is capable of recording movies in full 1080p HD. The Nikon D4 is also equipped with dual card slots including the brand new XQD, a new high speed and high capacity memory format.
July 2012 - This is certainly not the easiest review to write. It should be, because the D4 is an amazing camera – the best pro Nikon DSLR out there in fact. I have only have limited space in which to cram in as much as I can, so instead, I'm going to talk a little about some of the main features, and then sum up my opinions based on what your upgrade path to this camera is. Read the full review on our Blog... »
The Key Features
- 16.2 megapixel FX-format (full-frame) CMOS sensor
- ISO 100-12800, ext. 50-204,800
- Full HD 1080p movie recording at 30p, 25p and 24p
- Single point AF, 9-, 21- or 51-point coverage
- EXPEED 3 image processing engine
- 3.2" 922k-dot LCD monitor
- 3D colour matrix metering III
- 100% optical viewfinder coverage
- 3 crop modes
- Storage media: two card slots (CF & XQD)
Video: The Nikon D4
Nikon D4: Image quality in the most diverse situation
16.2 megapixels in a newly designed FX-format image sensor
The Nikon D4 is engineered to achieve image integrity in the most diverse and difficult lighting conditions, thanks to an optimized balance between the FX-format sensor size (36.0 x 23.9 mm) and 16.2 effective megapixels. Uncompromised data readout speed delivers up to 11 fps performance in FX format - faster than any other Nikon camera.
The 16.2 megapixels yield not only stunning depth and detail, but also more flexibility in post-production cropping for magazine-quality prints and web publishing. Image quality this versatile is a direct result of Nikon's sophisticated approach to sensor design. Each pixel is as large as 7.3 µm, and painstakingly engineered to collect the maximum amount of light and render the highest possible image quality in both bright and dark conditions. Incredibly clean images with smooth gradations even at high ISO sensitivities can be realized thanks to the optimized noise-reduction design and 14-bit A/D conversion built into the sensor. Unique to Nikon, the D4 expands your still image shooting possibilities with four image area options: FX format (36.0 x 23.9 mm), 5:4 crop (29.9 x 23.9 mm), 1.2x crop (29.9 x 19.9 mm) and DX format (23.4 x 15.5 mm). The camera also offers three image area options for Full HD video thereby tripling its potential for moviemaking.
Super-charged EXPEED 3 image-processing engine
EXPEED 3 performs multiple tasks at blindingly fast speeds, a result of engineering expertise and meticulous attention to detail. This imaging engine, optimized for D-SLRs, delivers faithful, well-saturated color, natural depth and an exceptionally wide dynamic range, giving subtle and nuanced tones - from pitch black all the way to snow white. Even when shooting in dim lighting at high ISO sensitivities, the camera's intelligent noise reduction lowers noise without degrading image sharpness. Its massive, high-speed 16-bit image processing delivers smooth gradation and abundant tone and detail that can be applied to image integrity for a diverse range of usages. Submission-ready JPEGs straight out of the camera can be expected for immediate supply to magazines, newspapers or web publications. EXPEED 3 has been optimized for video as well, rendering movie with reduced moiré, false colors and 'jaggies'.
Reliable ISO 12800 performance as standard
The D4 provides low-noise performance at ISO 12800 and extends the range one EV further, compared with that of the D3S, making ISO 100 standard; a welcome addition when using slow shutter speeds in bright sunlight. For more challenging conditions, equivalent ISO 50 and ISO 204800 sensitivities are available. The Nikon D4 can shoot still images and video* confidently and clearly in nearly any light. From the harsh glare of high noon to the pale gray of dusk; from a dimly lit interior to a moonlit forest at midnight; the camera's superb ISO sensitivity controls enable photographers to take a bolder approach to their subject matter.
*D-Movie standard ISO sensitivity from ISO 200 to ISO 12800, with higher sensitivity options up to Hi 4.
Nikon D4: High-speed performance that captures the moment
Faster to winning frames: approx. 10/11 fps continuous shooting in FX format with accuracy for up to 200 frame
The Nikon D4 is built for speed, but not for speed alone. The D4's readiness and agility go hand in hand with incomparably accurate control of shutter speed, aperture value, autofocus detection and tracking, auto exposure, auto white balance and other control options that get photographers closer to capturing the decisive moment than ever before. Expect 10-fps shutter bursts with full AF and AE performance in FX format. The frame rate can also be boosted to up to 11 fps*1 in FX format. The camera's large buffer memory allows shooting up to approx. 100 frames *2 in RAW and up to 200 frames *3 in JPEG (when using SONY XQD Memory Card H series QD-H32 with 32 GB capacity), saving critical moments that were once spent waiting for the buffer memory to empty - a real advantage that cannot be measured by fps rates alone.
*1 AE/AF may not be activated depending on subject conditions.
*2 Image quality: 12-bit compressed RAW, under test conditions established by Nikon.
*3 Image quality: JPEG (FINE/Medium)
Faster total workflow speed
The D4's speed runs across its entire workflow. The camera is ready to shoot in approx. 0.12 s*1, and release time lag is minimized to a mere approx. 0.042 s*1. The camera's precise sequential mechanism has been redesigned to reach 10/11 fps even more accurately, and optimum card recording speed is ensured with the CF card compatible with UDMA 7, and the next-generation recording media, the XQD memory card, that can be set simultaneously with dual card slots. The XQD memory card's data transfer speed is 125 MB/s*2 - the industry-leading speed*3. High-speed data transfer to a PC is achieved with the memory card reader*4 that supports USB 3.0, delivering outstandingly faster workflow. The D4's powerful data communication and control system makes both wired and wireless LAN file transfer speeds both faster and easier than ever.
*1 Based on CIPA Guidelines.
*2 SONY XQD Memory Card H series QD-H32 with 32 GB capacity. Under test conditions established by SONY; may vary according to measurement conditions.
*3 Among compact memory cards as of January 6, 2012. (According to research conducted by SONY.)
*4 SONY XQD Memory Card Reader MRW-E80. Under test conditions established by SONY.
Advanced Scene Recognition System
A new level of accuracy in auto operation with 91K-pixel RGB sensor
With Nikon's original Advanced Scene Recognition System, the D4 achieves new standards of accurate autofocus, auto exposure, i-TTL flash, Active D-Lighting and auto white balance results. At the heart of the system is a precise RGB sensor that meticulously reads each scene via 91K-pixels. With unprecedented precision, the data that has been collected pixel-by-pixel is then used to meter and analyze the scene's color information and brightness levels. The system also recognizes human faces when shooting with the optical viewfinder. This rigorously analyzed pixel data then automatically triggers a variety of in-camera controls that help the image files appear more natural and appealing. Advanced Scene Recognition System delivers incredibly high accuracy for various auto controls by flawlessly calculating vast amounts of scene information - even at up to 10 frames per second
Face detection for improved AF, AE, i-TTL balanced fill-flash and Active D-Lighting
When people's faces are priority subjects, the Advanced Scene Recognition System delivers particularly outstanding performance. The camera's autoarea AF mode accurately recognizes human faces and achieves sharp focus immediately and automatically - useful when there's no time to manually choose focus point. It focuses on a subject's body when the face is out of the AF area. Better auto exposures can be anticipated with Nikon's 3D color matrix metering III, even in situations where exposure compensation is required, such as a dark face against a bright background or conversely, a bright face against a dark background. With the D4's enhanced i-TTL balanced fill-flash paired with Nikon Speedlight(s), human faces can be illuminated in relation to their surroundings with outstanding precision. Moreover, face detection, when paired with Active D-Lighting, delivers images that retain highlights and shadows in high-contrast scenarios, making faces look as they are seen, whether in sunlight or shade.
Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX autofocus sensor module
Faster, sharper subject detection with all 51 AF points with any AF NIKKOR lens, even in low light
Experience the speed needed to capture fast-moving subjects in sharp focus. The Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX autofocus sensor module utilizes 51 strategically placed AF points that are designed to capture your subject as chosen. Like a net, they work individually and together to capture moving subjects. For absolute accuracy, a single AF point allows the precise placement of the focus point on the subject. All 51 AF points of the D4 are usable with every AF NIKKOR lens of f/5.6 or faster. The Nikon D4 delivers high performance even in extremely low-lit situations. AF detection is fast and accurate down to an impressive -2 EV (ISO 100, 20°C/68°F), which is approximately the physical limit of human visibility through an optical viewfinder. Consistent, reliable performance can be expected at night stadium assignments, in poorly lit indoor arenas, theaters and any other low-lit venue.
Fast initial AF detection speed
The Nikon D4's AF is designed to work as fast as a professional's reflexes. Its faster initial AF detection nails decisive moments like never before and is especially capable in sports photography. Volleyball, soccer, track and field and swimming - whatever the sport, the D4 is ready. A new "Focus+release" is provided as an AF-C priority selection option, enabling high-speed continuous shots that are sharply focused from the initial frame. Even when the subject unexpectedly changes position or distance from the camera, such as in football games, AF servo is constantly active during continuous shutter bursts, and quickly detects the subject again.
15 cross-type sensors in the central area and 11 focus points compatible with f/8
The Nikon D4 aligns its 15 cross-type sensors in the central viewfinder area to detect contrast in both vertical and horizontal lines for better AF performance. Each cross-type sensor is responsive with f/5.6 and provides its full performance with all AF-NIKKOR lenses. Moreover, the five central focus points and three points to the left and right of them in the middle line are compatible with f/8. Highly accurate focusing is realized even with the effective aperture value of f/8 by combining a 2.0x teleconverter with super-telephoto NIKKOR lenses, that are frequently used for sports shooting. This delivers a new level of potential when shooting distant subjects, such as sports or wildlife.
Nikon D4: Broadcast quality video
Multi-area mode Full HD D-Movie with three image area options.
The D4 can record 1080p Full HD video at 30/25 or 24p in H.264/MPEG-4 AVC format with broadcast quality full of fine tones and natural colors. Located next to the shutter-release button, the dedicated recording start button makes operation intuitive and easy to access. Maximum recording time for a single clip is 29 min. 59 s. Thanks to Nikon's latest image-processing algorithms, the D4's video ensures a smooth look with fewer "jaggies" and less moiré while maintaining sharp edges, even in dark conditions, by using noise-reduction technology designed specifically for video. With the D4, Full HD video is at your disposal in three formats: FX-based, DX-based or 1,920 x 1,080 crop movie format. The FX-based format renders exquisitely shallow depth of field (DOF) as well as wide-angle shooting. It ensures beautiful movies even at high ISO sensitivity with minimal noise. When a DX lens is attached, DX-based format is automatically selected. This format is useful for creating an extension to the focal length of an existing lens. For an even stronger telephoto effect, the 1,920 x 1,080 crop format brings an approx. 2.7x crop of the picture angle while delivering outstanding video quality and detail, obtaining 1080p Full HD. Versatility like this lets you explore different moods with the large and comprehensive selection of NIKKOR lenses.
Excellent audio control
The D4 is designed for crisp stereo recording with a built-in external stereo microphone connector. Attach the compact Stereo Microphone ME-1 to record clear sound while significantly reducing mechanical noise. An external headphone connector enables use of headphones to effectively monitor and control audio in isolation. The indicators offer visual confirmation of audio level and the microphone sensitivity can be precisely controlled in 20 incremental steps.
Nikon D4: Professional reliability
Improved operability in every situation
The D4 is designed to make operation in both horizontal and vertical orientations as intuitive as possible. Each orientation has identically laid-out controls, consisting of a main command dial, a sub-command dial, an AF-ON button and a multi selector. The vertical hold is also now more secure with a newly added thumb grip and an extended grip area for the fingers. For frequent use in the vertical orientation, the function button can be customized to quickly access certain functions, such as exposure compensation. When shooting in the dark, the illuminated buttons allow quick and confident identification of function.
Durability in severe environmental conditions
The D4's body is comprised of strong yet lightweight magnesium alloy. This assures the camera's superb reliability even in the most demanding environmental conditions. The D4's shutter has been tested for 400,000 cycles on fully assembled cameras at demanding continuous burst rates and over extended time periods. Thorough measures have been taken to seal and protect against invasive moisture, dust and even electromagnetic interference. Its comprehensive sealing, combined with additional Nikon-engineered measures keeps the camera operational in a wide range of severe conditions. What's more, thanks to meticulous re-engineering at a detailed level, the D4 is actually lighter than a D3S yet maintains the same exceptional durability.
Optical viewfinder with grid line option
The D4 offers approx. 100% frame coverage for FX format, with a viewfinder that is designed to minimize visual fatigue over long periods of use. The approx. 0.7x magnification enhances the confirmation of every visual element in the frame. The large, bright viewfinder image and focusing screen are carefully designed to aid precise focusing in both manual and autofocus modes. In addition, grid lines can optionally be placed across the viewfinder for accurate vertical and horizontal orientation.
Nikon D4: Professional expandability
Wired and wireless communication system
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The D4 employs a built-in wired LAN function of IEEE802.3u standard (10BASE-T, 100BASE-TX). Moreover, the D4 is compatible with the compact, easy-to-connect, newly developed Wireless Transmitter WT-5* (optional) that realizes high-speed wireless transmission. Also, IPTC (International Press Telecommunications Council) data can be automatically added to the images within the camera. In addition to input with a camera, it is possible to add information to a series of images at high speed using an IPTC file created on a PC in advance.
*Wireless Transmitter WT-4 is also compatible.