A first look at Nikon's new flagship camera, the Nikon D4

Sunday January 08 2012

Preview
A first look at Nikon's new flagship camera, the Nikon D4

In response to the announcement of the Canon EOS 1D X, Nikon just unveiled its new flagship camera, the Nikon D4, which replaces the D3s at the top of the Nikon DSLR line-up. This new model features impressive specs: a new 16-Mpix FX sensor with sensitivity up to 200,000 ISO, uncompressed Full HD video recording with autofocus, 11 fps burst mode, improved 51-point autofocus module, face detection, wireless control...
 
 Let's have a closer look at these promising specs.

There has been a lot of excitement about the upcoming new Nikon models in the past several days, particularly with respect to a hypothetical successor to the aging D700. It seems that we will still have to wait for that one; however, we were finally presented yesterday with a just-as-exciting Nikon D4.
 
Coming as a replacement for the not-so-old D3s, this new model is also a tough competitor for the recently-announced Canon EOS 1D X, and a weapon of choice for all photographers who will be covering the most important events of 2012, the London Olympic Games in particular. The list of improvements is impressive indeed:

  •  Sensor: The D4’s sensor gains 4 megapixels over the D3s to reach 16 Mpix. These extra pixels do not prevent it from offering record sensitivities up to 204,800 ISO. The image quality in high ISO looks to have been improved, too, and if this is confirmed, we can already announce that the D4 will set new records, as the D3s is already the best-ranked camera on DxOMark for high ISO performance.
  •  Autofocus: The 51-point layout of the D3s was retained, but the sensitivity of the autofocus points was improved to make the camera even more efficient in low light. The autofocus will also work with apertures as small as f/8 (on a limited number of points, however); no doubt that photographers shooting with teleconverters will like this improvement. A new face detection mode has been added and will be available even when using the optical viewfinder — a first!
  •  Video shooting: Nikon obviously wants to catch up with Canon in this area, and offers a lot of improvements that will most certainly appeal to videographers. Full HD at 30/25/24 fps, of course (60 fps being possible in 720p mode), microphone input with volume-level monitor, uncompressed live HDMI output (the press conference we attended was filmed by three Nikon D4 and broadcast live on the web), DX and CX crop modes (x1.5 and x2.7). Last but not least, the autofocus still works in video mode, and all shooting parameters can be changed during recording.
  •  Burst mode: The burst mode reaches 10 frames per second with autofocus and automatic exposure, and can even reach 11 fps in FX mode if users lock focus and exposure. The D3s reached “only” 9 fps in FX mode, reserving its 11 fps for DX mode.

 Various other improvements:

  •  A new x1.2 crop mode has been added to the usual DX (x1.5) crop mode for still pictures.
  •  A new 91k-point light-metering sensor.
  •  Dual card slot: one CF slot, of course, but also a brand-new XQD slot.
  •  A new Expeed 3 processor that allows all processing options to be enabled without slowing down the burst frame rate.
  •  A new WT-5 WiFi module that lets the camera act as a HTTP server so that its content can be accessed from any WiFi device (smartphone, tablet, laptop). Also allows full remote camera control.
  •  New joysticks for AF point selection, accessible both in portrait and landscape orientation.
  •  In-camera IPTC field editing.
  •  Retro-illuminated buttons, making shooting in the dark easier.

The camera will be sold starting on February 16th at a recommended price of 5799€.