I knew Nikon D4 is a fantastic camera before I got it for review. But so are many others and they do not cost as much as this one. So what is so special (expensive) about D4? Well, this one really works as advertised. Almost all other cameras on the market failed at one or more aspects of their performance. Sooner or later, they left me mumbling to myself something like: “…if it just focused better on this shot,had less noise on this pic or had better control layout I would have caught a perfect photo”. Well, Nikon D4 is the first camera that did absolutely everything I wanted it to, and left me mumbling to myself: “Shi*, I’m a lousy photographer”. If you have mastered a certain level of technical skills, D4 will very soon reveal all that’s bad in your artistic skills. It is that good.
Interested? Read on.
Nikon D4 SPECS:
- Announced: 2012.
- Type: DSLR
- Dimensions: 160 x 157 x 91 mm
- Weight: 1340 (with battery)
- Sensor: CMOS, 16 MP (4928 x 3280 pixels)
- ISO range: Native 100 – 12,800, Extended 50 – 204,800
- Image stabilization: No
- Dust and moisture protection: Yes
- Flashlight: hot-shoe
- Continuous shooting: 11 fps
- LCD screen: 3.2″, 921,000 dots
- Memory card: CF + XQD
- Battery: Li-Ion EN-EL18
- Video: 1920 x 1080 @ 30, 25, 24 fps, 1280 x 720 @ 60, 50, 30, 25 fps
- Connectors: USB 2.0, mini HDMI, 3,5mm mic input, 3,5 mm headphone output, remote, LAN
NIKON D4 CONSTRUCTION AND HANDLING
Nikon D4 is built around magnesium alloy chassis. Exterior materials are as good as you can get; plastic parts are very solid, and grip is covered with high quality rubber. Grip shape is a personal thing but to me D4 felt as a part of my body. All the buttons are big with well defined pressure feel. Of course, the camera is weather sealed and able to withstand rain, dust and sweat.
Nikon D4 weight is around 1300 grams with battery. It’s a lot, and carrying it with large zoom lenses might be a challenge if you’re not used to it.
One detail could have been made better though: horizontal grip is less pronounced than vertical… camera felt kind off awkward to hold when shooting in portrait orientation.
D4 has two status LCD’s beside the main 3.2″ LCD unit. They are used to show all the info regarding camera setting, and are backlit with gentle blue glow. All of the buttons on the left side of the camera are also back lit, and that’s a life saver: there are a lot of them, and I sometimes couldn’t find the right one when reviewing photos in dark environments.
NIKON D4 VIEWFINDER
D4 viewfinder has large and very bright pentprism and offers 100% frame coverage. It is a joy framing shots throgh it, as is the case with most full frames DSLR’s.
NIKON D4 LCD
LCD has a standard 3.2″ diagonal and 921,000 dots. There is nothing to complain here; it is amongst the best LCD’s on the market. I just wonder if they could have used a bigger unit; D4 is large enough even for 4″ LCD, especially if some buttons were rearranged, and bottom status LCD was left out. I guess that’s something to expect from Nikon D5 when it comes out in a couple of years.
NIKON D4 SENSOR
I’ll skip with the boring technicalities and just say it: Nikon D4 has the best high ISO performance on the market. Canon 1DX is very very close, but from limited time spent with both cameras I personally prefer D4 output. Depending on what I was shooting, I was able to get away with ISO 12,800 shots that required absolutely no noise reduction (example on the left). Now this is really something!
Highest setting of ISO 204,800 is noisy, but capable of taking a picture in almost pitch-black environments.
Nikon D4 Auto ISO implementation is the same as on other Nikon cameras. There is an option to choose maximum ISO and minimum shutter speed. If shutter speed is left to “Auto”, D4 will choose it own values depending on focal length of the lens attached. Auto ISO is available even in manual mode, which is a great detail. I like to shoot choosing aperture manually for DOF control combined with manual shutter speed for action-freeze. Auto ISO only has to select value required for perfect exposure.