After saying time, after time, after time, I wasn’t going to purchase the new Nikon D4, I picked one up a couple of days ago. Here are my first impressions after shooting stills and video over a few sessions.
First the bad.
One of my favorite functions on my D3 was the ability to lock both the aperture and shutter wheels. Nikon made this very simple by pushing a button on the top left of the camera and turning the wheel until a lock indicator showed up in the LCD display next to the aperture or the shutter speed.
The Nikon D4 still has the ability to lock the wheels but the function has now been moved into the menu. I firmly believe that if changes like this are made from one camera to the next, the ability to assign the button in firmware should be provided. I know this is a little thing, but when you use it as much as I do, it becomes a pain in the butt.
The next problem is also a little thing, but the screen size changed 2 microns – just enough that all of my screen protectors from the D3 no longer work on the Nikon D4. Of course.
While on the subject of the screen, resolution and display are amazing, but the color, not so much. The images displayed on the screen are just flat out green and the contrast isn’t as good as the D3. How did we go backwards in screen quality? The D3 had one of the best displays I have ever worked with – what happened on the Nikon D4?
One other negative, in my opinion, is the new card slot from Sony. I just don’t get it. There are some speed differences, but to the end user, I don’t see any huge differences at this point. Canon has been recording 1080 video to CF cards with no issues for the last few years.
I guess while we are talking about bad, the price tag certainly has to be mentioned. The new Nikon D4 is priced at a full thousand dollars more than expected. The added dollars has many asking if it’s worth it, especially with the D800′s price point, functionality and imager.
Now the good.
Let talk video first – Nikon hit a home run with the video on the D4. It has all the bells, whistles and resolutions expected on a flagship DSLR. The magic is how they did it. All of the controls are exactly where they need to be for both video and stills. Not an easy task with the ever increasing number of controls needed on a modern DSLR with video.
ISO, white balance, shutter, aperture and focus can all be changed “on the fly” while still recording! The video at 1600 ISO looks like 200 from the D7000 and the color is amazing. The autofocus works very well while recording on lenses 70mm and shorter. I had quite a bit of trouble trying to autofocus my 70-200mm Nikkor – it took a very long time to respond and most of the time, it wouldn’t find what it was looking for. Luckily, most people aren’t using long lenses for video.
Stills are what I expect from Nikon. But they are a tad bit on the magenta side and skin tones from the JPG files are not quite as good as the Canons. The JPG’s are better than the D3, and, using Capture One for raw files, the Nikon D4 files are almost exactly the same as the D3.
Incidentally, in my opinion the D3 files from Capture One are simply the best DSLR files available today.
Shooting the Nikon D4 is very much the same as the D3 except for a noticeable change in the sound of the shutter. There is something totally different inside the camera, probably due to the live view and video.
The Nikon D4 made some much needed changes to the controls layout. The D3 had issues with the AF and shutter release buttons on the vertical grip, and the AF button on the horizontal grip. The D2X had a small “shield” that protected the AF button from accidental presses with the thumb, Nikon removed this on the D3 causing all kinds of focus issues until the user figured out what was happening – the AF and vertical shutter buttons were simply in the wrong place on the D3.
Problem solved for the Nikon D4.
The Nikon D4 has the most useable vertical arrangement on any camera that they have ever produced. Vertical feels almost as good as shooting the camera “normal”. I am glad they got it right, but something tells me the D4 will spend a great deal of its life shooting horizontally for video.
Another thing that bears mention is the auto focus. The change from the D2X to the D3 was a painful one for me. The D3 focuses quite differently than the D2X and it was a painful learning curve for me to get the D3 down. The D4 is AMAZING. Auto focus is BLAZING fast and extremely accurate for stills. On top of that it will pretty much focus in the dark, all I can say is wow.
Will add a couple of images and a video soon!Nikon D4 Camera Review By Working Professional Photographer - Ken Kneringer