The FX-format D4 retains what worked so well in the D3S and then moves on to add improvements and a host of new features and technologies.
Subtle design changes reflect the camera’s role: a workhorse machine that pros will be using during long days of shooting at events, in the studio, in the field and at the Olympics. The changes bring improved balance, greater comfort and even smarter placement of controls. The vertical grip now features a thumb rest; a function button has been added; and two joysticks provide control of the camera’s focus points—plus, you can customize the joysticks to control features you want to access quickly.
Speaking of quick access, because pros have taken to Nikon picture controls in a big way, the D4 has a button that’ll access those settings directly, with no need to go to the camera’s menu.
Also added, a dedicated Live View button for stills and video. And speaking of buttons, all those on the back of the camera now light up for easy viewing, so if you’re shooting in low light, you’ll be able to quickly make setting changes. Of course, low light is a place in which the D4 will be quite comfortable: the standard ISO range of the camera is 100-12,800, and High 1, 2, 3 and 4 will take you up to ISO 204,800.
A 91,000-pixel RGB sensor enhances color analysis for focus tracking and increases the sensitivity of the camera’s light metering systems. In addition, face recognition has been added to the focusing system.
The 51-point AF system is improved as well, with 15 cross-type sensors. Overall, image-processing speed and dynamic range get a boost from the new EXPEED3 processing system.
The D4 offers Full HD 1080p broadcast quality video and the ability to shoot at 24 or 30 fps for clips up to nearly 30 minutes in length at normal quality. You can also shoot 720p at 60 fps for super smooth video and slow motion effects. The D4 is also capable of shooting 24- and 30-fps video in DX format at a 1.5 magnification factor. The camera also offers a crop mode at 2.7x magnification for 1080p at 30 fps. Which means that a wildlife photographer working with the longest NIKKOR tele lens, the 600mm f/4, and a NIKKOR 2x teleconverter will have not only a 1200mm reach for his video, but the potential of getting even closer by choosing DX mode, which will give him an 1800mm reach. Still not close enough? He can use the 2.7x magnification of the camera’s crop mode for a reach of just over 3000mm. We’ve seen the results of just such a video exercise—they’re stunning.
Additional mind bogglers in the video area: The D4 provides a dedicated stop/start button for your videos, but you can also change the function of the shutter release button to stop and start your video imaging. The idea is that it’s the button with which you are most familiar for making images, and the most comfortable spot for your index finger. And you can also program the shutter release button to shoot stills while you’re shooting video, without interrupting the video. Essentially the D4 will take a snapshot of the video frame and save it as a JPEG file; it’s a frame grab from the video with all the clarity, definition and resolution of the video.
Then there’s the ability to connect via an HDMI cable to an external recorder, bypassing the camera’s video compression to directly capture uncompressed video.
Did we mention that you can simultaneously view footage on the camera’s LCD monitor and an external monitor as you’re filming and, if you wish, view it on both during playback? And that because sound is such an important part of the presentation, the D4 offers a headphone jack input so you can monitor the sound as it’s being recorded?
Seeing is believing; so is shooting.
• 16.2-megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor.
• Full HD 1080p D-movie capability in FX, DX or 2.7x crop mode.
• Picture controls include Neutral, Standard, Vivid, Monochrome and user-customizable settings.
• In-camera image editing options include color balance, color sketch, D-lighting, filter effects, perspective control, red-eye correction, straighten, trim.
• Shutter speeds from 1/8000 to 30 seconds; flash sync to 1/250 second.
• 3.2-inch 921,000-dot LCD display.
• ISO Sensitivity from 100-12,800; Lo-1, ISO 50; Hi-4, ISO 204,800.
• Continuous shooting speed at full resolution at ten frames per second.
• Movie recording at 24 or 30 fps for nearly 30 minutes at normal quality.
• Built-in HDMI allows viewing of footage on external monitors or recording directly to an external device.
• Two-shot HDR function at one, two or three EV differences.
• Card slots for one CompactFlash card, one XQD memory card.
To see more of Bill's work, visit his website at www.billfrakes.com.