Nikon D4 Digital SLR Hands-On Preview

Joshua Waller goes hands on with the new Nikon D4 Digital SLR - the new flagship model in Nikon's range.

| Nikon D4 in Digital SLRs

Nikon D4 Digital SLR Hands-On Preview: Nikon D4

The new Nikon D4 Digital SLR is Nikon's flagship professional model, featuring a new 16.2 megapixel full frame sensor, 11fps shooting, Full HD video and a number of unique features. We had a hands-on look at the new camera and give you all the details here.

Nikon D4 Features

Nikon D4 Digital SLR Hands-On Preview: Nikon D4

The camera has been designed after listening to photographers needs and offers performance better than the D3s in low light, with an increased pixel count, lower noise at high ISO settings and increased dynamic range. The camera features improved subject detection and tracking.

Nikon D4 Digital SLR Hands-On Preview: Nikon D4 Illuminated
Nikon D4 Illuminated

The Nikon D4 also offers the best video output of all Nikon Digital SLRs to date, with Full HD recording, 20 level adjustments for the microphone in port, a headphone out port with 30 level adjustments, visual sound level monitoring and professional level sound recording with the ME-1 microphone. ISO200 to ISO204,800 is also available for video recording and it's possible to take a live frame grab whilst recording video at 2 megapixels. Video is recorded as H.264 with B frame compression and the camera provides a clean HDMI out at 1080/720 with no compression allowing video to be recorded to an external device beyond the 29 minute limitation recording internally. Index marking is available to assist with editing. Multiple frame sizes are available FX, DX and a pixel matched 1920x1080.

Nikon D4 Digital SLR Hands-On Preview: Nikon D4
Nikon D4 Top

Another new feature is the ability to create time-lapse videos in the camera from time-lapse photos for immediate playback avoiding the need to put the photos together on a computer.

Nikon D4 Digital SLR Hands-On Preview: Nikon D4
Nikon D4 Ports

Key Features

  • 16.2 megapixel FX Full Frame Sensor (Brand New)
  • 11fps Shooting, 10fps Continuous AF/AE
  • ISO100-12800, expandable to ISO50-204,800
  • 3.2inch 921k dot screen, improved colour range
  • Full HD Video, 30/25/24fps
  • Slow motion 60/50fps in 720p
  • New AF system,51 AF points, focus and take picture in moonlight (-2EV)
  • AF with teleconvertor up to f/8
  • Illuminated buttons, back, side, top LCDs
  • 10/100 Ethernet - with FTP/HTTP support for instant uploads
  • IPTC can be added in camera, GPS GP-1 compatible to update time from GPS signal
  • Newly developed Kevlar/carbon fiber-composite shutter unit rated to 400,000 shots
  • Active D-Lighting, HDR, Picture Control, variety of retouch menus
  • Uncompressed HDMI output
  • Dual-axis electronic virtual horizon, also visible in the viewfinder
  • XQD and Compact Flash Slots
A new Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.8G lens also announced: 

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G Photos of Equipment

Nikon D4 Handling

The Nikon D4 has a solid body with a magnesium alloy core and is weather sealed. It certainly felt solid in the hand and extremely ergonomic and comfortable in use. The comfortable handling seemed to aid in making the camera feel lighter / smaller than it actually is and it didn't feel unweildy or overly large despite having a built in vertical grip.

Nikon D4 Digital SLR Hands-On Preview: Nikon D4
Nikon D4

Buttons on the camera have been redesigned, with a new AF switch and button that allows you to change the AF mode without taking your eye away from the viewfinder. Vertical shooting has been improved with a mirrored layout whether using landscape or portrait shooting. There is a dedication movie record button, a vertical function button and a re-designed shutter button position with a "more comfortable" 35 degree angle compared to 28 degrees which is designed to be more comfortable for extended periods of shooting.

Menu walk through video:

Menus are clearly laid out and the screen is extremely clear with excelling viewing angles. The screen has an improved colour range which is said to be very close to sRGB. It features a built in illumination sensor to automatically adjust brightness, contrast, saturation and gamma depending on the environment.

Wireless control demonstration:

New WT-5 Wireless Transmitter: The new transmitter supports 802.11 a/b/g/n, features a linked release mode to trigger up to 10 remote units simultaneously and HTTP/FTP and PC control is also available letting you remotely control the camera with any HTTP compatible device such as the iPad shown in the demonstration video above. The WT-4 will also work with the Nikon D4.

Nikon D4 Digital SLR Hands-On Preview: WT-5 Wireless
WT-5 Wireless

Battery Life: The camera gives better battery performance despite the new battery being smaller than the battery in the D3s. A new law recently introduced means they can't use the D3s battery. The camera is rated as providing 5,500 frames in continuous shooting mode or 2600 in single frame mode.

Nikon D4 Digital SLR Hands-On Preview: Nikon D4 Battery
Nikon D4 Battery

Nikon D4 Performance

Due to the model being pre-production and not running the final firmware, we were unable to assess the image quality in great depth, but from what we saw on the camera screen image quality was very high and we plan to fully evaluate image quality when review samples are available.

Shutter speed video:

Nikon D4 Verdict

Things just got interesting! Already 2012 is looking like it's going to be an exciting year in the photographic industry, with the introduction of the new Nikon D4 set to take on the new Canon EOS 1D X head-on. The Nikon D4 comes in at a cheaper price than the Canon, offers AF with teleconvertors up to f/8 and with a slightly lower megapixel count should offer better high ISO performance. The Nikon D4 will also be available to purchase sooner than the Canon and is said to be ideal for the professional sports photographer covering the upcoming Olympics. Thanks to the camera being release in February, it shouldn't be too long before we have the camera in house in order to provide a full review of the camera.

Nikon D4 Digital SLR Announcement
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 85mm f/1.4G Announcement

Nikon D4 Specifications

Effective Magnification1x
Image Sensor
Pixels16.2Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4928
Pixels (H)3280
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor SizeFull Frame
Sensor Size (width)36mm
Sensor Size (height)23.9mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3.2in
Screen resolution921k dot
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
  • Multi
  • Centre
  • AF Fine Tuning (Micro Adjustment)
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/8000sec
Shutter speeds longest30sec
Bulb modeYes
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • TTL
  • Centre Spot
ISO sensitivity50 - 204800
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Fluorescent
  • Flash
  • Bracket
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Shade
Exposure Comp+/-5
MagnificationNo Data
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting11fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
Video FPS30,25,24
Stereo SoundNo
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationNo
Card Type
  • CF
  • XQD
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLithium Ion
Battery Life (CIPA rating)2600shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsRechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL18, Battery Charger MH-26, USB Cable UC-E15, USB Cable Clip, Camera Strap AN-DC7, Body Cap BF-1B, Accessory Shoe Cover BS-2, Mic Stereo Input Jack for Stereo Microphone ME-1 UF-2

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Photographs taken using the Nikon D4

NinjaMelodyModel with Rose...Blue HourWhat a catchIncoming tideStripesDancing in the RainHuntingPheasantRabbitPheasantHello...I donít, what to be aloneWhatís the Point

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rictac2 Avatar
rictac2 19 150 England
1 Feb 2012 12:44PM
If the images accompanying the article are the best the author can produce, I am not sure how much credence I would give to his views regarding cameras.
AussieInLondon Avatar
12 Jul 2012 3:20PM
Got one a few weeks ago. Love it. Now, learning how to tame the beast...LOL.

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