As far as professional DSLR cameras go, the brands that are ruling the roost are none other than Canon and Nikon. Over the past few years, Canon managed to dominate the highest strata of professional cameras, as they offered DSLR cameras with above average video recording capabilities. This was most notable in Canon 5D Mark II, where the camera was well-acclaimed and became a standard option for professional photographers the world over. Though it can be argued that video recording in DSLR cameras is somewhat of an add-on, this feature is quickly gaining popularity and is now being recognized as one of the must have features in a professional DSLR.

The ergonomics of the Nikon D4 is really good

The ergonomics of the Nikon D4 is really good

Facing stiff competition from Canon, Nikon upped their ante to an incredible extent and recently launched the Nikon D4, a top-of-the-line professional camera that addresses the needs of those interested in videography off a DSLR. This flagship camera from Nikon boasts of many new features over its predecessor, the D3S, besides Full HD video recording capabilities. Check out the video below to see a hands on of the D4 with Mexy Xavier, the head of photography at the Infomedia 18 group.

 

Mexy Xavier takes the Nikon D4 for a spin

Design and Build Quality
When it comes to the build quality of the Nikon D4, at first glance, one will be quite astonished at its size, as it is a lot larger than most DSLR cameras available in the market. Though the camera is larger than most others available in the market, it is smaller in comparison to the D4’s predecessor, the Nikon D3S. Though it is large, Nikon have put a lot into the design of the D4 in the process giving it great ergonomics. The size to weight ratio is really good here and one may not feel a significant amount of strain, while shooting for long periods of time. Like their previous generation models, the Nikon D4 comes with a vertical grip, allowing one to shoot portraits easily without any hassle. The brand has shifted the shutter release button slightly over here and it becomes easier to click images quickly. Another handy addition here are the thumb controllers that assist a user while shooting in either landscape or profile mode.

Nikon have added a 3.2-inch screen on the body at the rear for previewing or reviewing images. One can expect to have near perfect clarity from the screen, as it features a resolution of 921,000 dots. The rear also comprises the various buttons and dials necessary for adjusting the different settings and each of these buttons are well placed allowing you to tweak the settings without hassle. Another great thing, which we liked about the camera is that it supports two storage types, which are XQD and a compactflash card. Though we liked the fact that Nikon is embracing this new type of storage, XQD, many users would rather opt for a CF card as it has been available in the market for a long period of time and a user would not want to unnecessarily purchase a new medium, especially if they already have multiple CF cards at hand.

Controls found at the top of the Nikon D4

Controls found at the top of the Nikon D4

The connectivity options featured here are aplenty and they include a full-sized Ethernet port, an HDMI port that can stream uncompressed data, a mini USB port, Headphone Connector and stereo microphone input. By attaching the WT-5A Wi-Fi adapter to this port, you can easily connect the camera to Wi-Fi and pair it with devices, such as a PC, Mac, or an iOS device.

A neat feature about the Nikon D4 is that it is made using a magnesium alloy that is weather sealed. This allows one to shoot in those weather conditions in which other cameras would not be able to venture into without a housing to protect it.

Features
When it comes to features, the Nikon D4 is loaded with several attributes that will certainly delight a professional photographer. The Nikon D4 uses an FX format CMOS sensor that boasts a resolution of 16.2MP. Though this may not be much in terms of resolution, wherein printing large format papers is concerned, Nikon has given this camera a sizeable bump from the 12MP sensor featured on its predecessor, the Nikon D3S. Featuring an FX sensor, you can expect the camera to perform well due to its large sensor size. This FX format camera can record still images at a resolution of 4928 x 3280 with an aspect ratio of 3:2. The ISO range of this full-frame sensor camera is from 100 to 12800. While this is the native resolution, the ISO can also reach a resolution of ISO 204,800.

The Nikon D4 features a 3.2-inch display

The Nikon D4 features a 3.2-inch display

The camera features Nikon’s EXPEED3 image processing engine that along with the FX format CMOS sensor can shoot still images at a frame rate of 11fps. Being an FX format DSLR, there are a variety of lenses that are compatible with it, giving users that amount of breathing space for adding a variety of lenses, whether they are FX or DX formats.

The major upgrade found on this camera over its predecessor, is the video recording capabilities. The Nikon D3S was able to record videos at a resolution of 720p at 24 fps. Nikon has greatly improved upon this and have added Full HD 1080p video recording at 30fps, putting it above most professional DSLR cameras available in the market. With this feature, Nikon puts itself in that position of DSLR cameras, wherein it had been losing out to the Canon 5D Mark II.

Full sized Ethernet port at the side of the Nikon D4

Full-sized Ethernet port at the side of the Nikon D4

The pentaprism viewfinder is one of the other highlighted features of the Nikon D4. Through the viewfinder, you can achieve 100 percent view as well as the ability to adjust the AF and AF area modes without moving away from the viewfinder as all the content is displayed there itself. Speaking of the autofocus system, the camera features a 51 point AF system that has fast focusing capabilities, allowing you to select subjects that are moving accurately. The display of the camera is great. Not only is the display large, but it also has a great resolution. This screen can be great during Live View shooting mode. A common trend featuring on cameras are flip-out displays that feature vari-angle properties that allow shooting from difficult angles. However, this camera unfortunately, does not feature it.

The Nikon D4 is not the lightest camera in the market

The Nikon D4 is not the lightest camera in the market

The camera really excels in low-light photography. Not only does it offer a native maximum ISO sensitivity of 12,800, but the camera also helps the user by having backlit keys and a lit up display that makes toggling in the interface easier. The Nikon D4 does not come with an internal image stabilizer and this would put images at risk of featuring blur. Another interesting feature of the camera that is really beneficial is that it comes equipped with an audio notes feature, allowing a user to take notes seamlessly. This can be great for those who want to add some insight to a photoshoot or in the case of product photography, add the name of the product, etc.

The camera can support RAW and JPEG formats and the supported formats, include JPG, NEF, NEF + JPG and TIFF. Videos are recorded using the H.264 format and it stores files in a MOV container. The D4 features some amount of image editing that can be done from the camera itself. This includes colour balance, distortion control, filter effects, monochrome red eye correction, straighten, trim, resize and a host of others.

Performance
To start off this section of the review, it can be safely said that using the Nikon D4 is a pleasure and professional photographers will be delighted to use it. As far as handling goes, it is on the heavier side, but the design of the magnesium alloy body allows you to grip it easily and capture images easily, whether you are using the vertical hand grip or the horizontal one. The weight of the body of the DSLR is 1180g, and will go up quite a bit, depending on what sort of lens it is paired with it. The position of the buttons is another great aspect of the camera, as it allows you to adjust the different settings, while peering through the viewfinder. Besides the viewfinder and handling, the shutter release button works incredibly fast resulting in no delay whatsoever between pressing the shutter release button and the image being captured by the camera.

Outdoor shot

Outdoor shot

The Nikon D4 is one fast camera and sports photographers will enjoy using it as it quickly locks on to the subject. The 51 point AF system does a good job in assisting photographers to get the necessary accuracy in shots. Moving on to the image quality, we noticed that in outdoor shots, the quality of the picture processed by the camera is really good. The colours render accurately across the display as well as on a PC. There was a lot of detail in the images captured and skin tones appeared accurate.

Macro shot

Macro shot

In indoor or low-light photography, the camera really comes to the fore and produces stellar quality images in almost all light settings. One can easily capture images at an ISO range of 6400 without fearing that the image will be unusable. The Nikon D4 can capture great macro images and one will notice a nice depth of field as well.

ISO sensitivity test

ISO sensitivity test

ISO Sensitivity Test
The native ISO range on this camera is from ISO 100 to ISO 12800. From the image you can see that the camera provides a lot of detail without any image noise in most sensitivities. The image grain can hardly be made out even at a high ISO of 8000. At ISO 12800, though there is image noise, there is no major loss of detail in the objects captured.

Performance Continued
With video being one of the key features of the camera, Nikon have truly delivered, when it comes to offering impressive video quality. The Nikon D4 records really great video at Full HD 1080p at a frame rate of 30fps. Through the settings, one can also fine tune the video as well, with Nikon offering the ability to adjust the shutter and aperture as well. Nikon have not held back any punches and added a large battery here as well giving users the ability to capture a maximum of 2,600 shots on a single charge.

Indoor shot

Indoor shot

Verdict
The Nikon D4 is available in India at a market operating price of  Rs. 3,10,000. This camera is easily one of the best cameras available in the world as of now and it delivers on all counts. It offers above average image quality that can easily put most other commercial DSLR cameras in the market to shame. With the D4, Nikon have turned the tables on Canon when it comes to videography and this option does exceedingly well in an area that is gradually gaining popularity in DSLR cameras, i.e video recording.

The Nikon D4 can be held in portrait mode as well

The Nikon D4 can be held in portrait mode as well

Anyone in the world would definitely love to own this camera and possess the bragging rights of owning a D4. However, it is strictly meant for professional photographers. When it comes to who should own it, the D4 is best suited for those who are into sports, fashion or wildlife photography, as it can be a camera that has been future proofed to quite a large extent, offering above average low-light performance and quick AF capabilities amongst a host of other very nifty features. On the other hand, if someone is a professional photographer and not specifically in the above mentioned fields, then this a great option worth checking out, bearing in mind the cost.

Publish date: June 22, 2012 5:00 pm| Modified date: December 18, 2013 10:35 pm

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