First Impressions: Using the Nikon D4
First Impressions: The Good...
There's a lot to like about the D4, and after spending a week with the camera I'm very pleased with a lot of the improvements that Nikon has made compared to the D3S. In this time I have barely scratched the surface of the D4's feature set, but here's a quick rundown of what has impressed me so far.
Improved vertical shooting ergonomics
The most significant impact of the D4's new body shape is a more comfortable, more effective shooting grip when the camera is held in the vertical format. A nice solid rubber nub on the base of the camera forms a comfortable thumbrest rest when the D4 is held vertically, and the new sub-selector joystick control makes AF point selection easy - something that could be cramp-inducingly awkward with the D3 and D3S.
Speaking of vertical format shooting, I am very pleased to see that Nikon has moved the vertical AF-ON button higher up the camera body. On the D3 and D3S this control was positioned poorly, right where the palm of your shooting hand rests in horizontal-format shooting. 'Phantom' AF activation, caused by inadvertant depression of the vertical AF-ON button could be hugely disorienting and it's nice to see this issue solved on the D4. The new location is just as reachable when shooting in the portrait format but is now safely out of the way when the camera is held horizontally.
Redesigned drive mode dial and illuminated controls
Another nice refinement concerns the D4's shooting mode dial. This dial, which sits on the top left of the camera is where you select the camera's drive mode. The dial is lockable, so once you've selected a mode it stays selected. But whereas in older cameras this dial was effectively free-rotating with the lock button held down, on the D4 there are firm detents at each mode position. It's a tiny change but it makes changing drive mode that little bit easier, and indeed means that once you've learned the positions of the various modes, you can confidently rotate the dial through its detents to your desired new position with your eye to the viewfinder.
I would have written 'or in poor light' at the end of that last sentence but in a first for Nikon, the D4 now features illuminated controls.
Control illumination probably won't be a big deal in everyday use, but every once in a while it could just be a life-saver. I was ejected once from a very dimly-lit concert for accidentally shooting a (loud) continuous burst of images on the D3S when I thought I'd rotated the drive mode dial to 'Quiet' advance mode. Illuminated controls on that occasion would have saved me the embarassment (not to mention the lost commission).
Improved Automatic ISO Sensitivity mode
The D4's automatic ISO mode is greatly improved over the same mode in earlier Nikon DSLRs. Previously, auto ISO customization was minimal, and consisted simply of an option to set a minimum shutter speed when the camera was used in auto ISO mode. This is fine if you're shooting with a fixed focal length lens, but less useful with zoom lenses, where a 'safe' minimum shutter speed at either end of the focal range might be several stops apart.
In the D4, Nikon has (at long last) added an 'Auto' option to the minimum shutter speed options, which allows the camera to automatically set the minimum shutter speed based on its knowledge of the focal length that you're working at. This response can be biased in 5 steps, from 'slow' to 'fast' depending on whether you'd like the camera to err on the side of slower or faster shutter speeds. A small change but one that (along with the D4's extremely wide ISO sensitivity span) finally makes Auto ISO more like the 'set and forget' function that it should have been long ago.
Improved AF sensitivity
Speaking of low light, the D4's AF system has been overhauled compared to the D3S as well, and is now sensitive down to -2EV. For those of you who don't think in exposure value, that's roughly equivalent to the light reflected from a full moon.
With this change, and the backlit controls, the D4's ergonomics are much better aligned with the low-light abilities of its sensor than was the case with the D3S. I've shot a fair amount of ultra low-light samples on the D4 since it arrived in the dpreview office and the difference in AF responsiveness in these conditions compared to the D3S is plain to see (no pun intended).
The D4 achieves AF aquisition more readily in marginal light and is noticeably more capable in conditions of near-darkness. With a fast prime lens attached I have taken accurately focussed images with the D4 in light so poor that I could barely see my subject through the viewfinder. Of course these are precisely the conditions in which control illumination is invaluable, too.
Faster in-camera NEF conversion
Another performance enhancement, but one which is much more easily overlooked, is an improved in-camera NEF (Raw) conversion interface. On the D3S, converting NEF files in camera was somewhat awkward, and required switching between navigating and setting conversion parameters with the the 4-way controller and confirming selections using the 'OK' button on the left of the LCD. The D4's NEF conversion interface is simpler (you can do everything from the 4-way controller now) and files are processed noticeably more quickly.
|My original image is a little flat and uninteresting...||...a few seconds in the D4's NEF conversion dialogue and I've created a more dynamic shot by changing the Picture Control to monochrome and boosting the contrast.|
I use this feature a lot with the D3S as a quick way of previewing adjustments to contrast and white balance in preparation for more lengthy adjustments in Adobe Photoshop / Lightroom and it's nice to see that it has been streamlined in the D4.
Improved video mode and ergonomics
Nikon has made significant enhancements to the D4's movie mode compared to the D3S, and the addition of true HD video capture, lossless recording to an external drive over HDMI and live audio monitoring have already attracted the attention of video professionals.
To those of us who capture movies only occasionally, the biggest change - and a very welcome one - is that shooting video is simply easier on the D4 than it was with the D3S. You still have to be in live view mode before you can initiate recording, but you don't need to poke at the small center button on the rear 4-way controller. Instead, a direct movie recording button is situated on the camera's top-plate within easy reach of your right index finger. At first glance this might seem is a small change but crucially it means that recording can be initiated quickly when holding the D4 in a firm shooting grip.
|Montréal Dépaneur Out of Business DP by MarioSS|
from Your City - Out of Business
|Wish You Were Here by Dutch Newchurch|
from Street musician playing
|Flight of a Puffin by cjf2|
After successfully crowdfunding the Biotar 75mm F1.5, Oprema Jena is at it again. This time they're bringing back the Biotar 58mm F2: the world's only lens with a 17-blade aperture.
Adobe's move to a subscription model is treating it very well indeed. The company has posted record revenue for the second quarter in a row, hauling in a mind-boggling $1.84 billion.
More details have emerged about the potential sale of Blackstone's 45% stake in iconic camera brand Leica.
Popular mobile editing app Snapseed just got a major update that includes a new interface and 11 new presets for both Android and iOS, as well as adding the Perspective tool to the iOS version.
It might sound like a strange idea, but taking macro photos of boiling water can actually result in some really cool photographs. A good photo experiment for a rainy day.
The database was created to "break with the narrow lens through which history… has been recorded" by equipping those who commission photography with "the resources to discover photographers of color available for assignments.
Lensbaby has released two new optics for their special "optic swap system." The Lensbaby Sweet 80 Optic gives you that trademark sweet spot of focus, while the Creative Bokeh optic gives you 9 different drop in aperture plate options to play with.
TechCrunch has already posted their review of the upcoming iPhone 8 (not yet the iPhone X), and they're calling it "a look into the augmented future of photography."
Affinity Photo is a $50 photo editing software with no subscriptions. That's it – pay for it once and you're done. And we think it's actually pretty darn good.
Instagram is currently testing a major change to the app's profile layout: replacing the 3-photo across grid with a 4-photo grid... and some users are NOT taking the news well.
A report by USSRPhoto is shedding some light on the return of the famed Zenit camera brand. It seems the full-frame mirrorless camera they're working on will be made in part by Leica using components from the Leica SL.
According to a reliable Korean report, Samsung is developing a smartphone sensor that's capable of super slow motion. Translation: Samsung's next batch of Galaxy smartphones may be able to shoot 1,000fps.
This simple photograph of a seahorse and Q-tip has taken the internet by storm. We spoke to photographer Justin Hofman about how it was captured, and what it means to him.
After a massive leak last week, Profoto has officially debuted the Profoto A1: the company's first on-camera flash system that they're calling "the world's smallest studio flash."
"When the first hyperfocal distance charts were designed, someone decided that an acceptably sharp background contained some blur — enough to notice in a medium-sized print [...] After that point, nearly every other hyperfocal chart followed suit."
The Canon EOS Rebel SL2 (also known as the EOS 200D) is the company's impressively compact entry-level DSLR. Packing a 24MP APS-C sensor, DIGIC 7 processor and Dual Pixel AF, it promises a lot of bang for the buck. And while not mind-blowing, it handles most tasks very well.
Correct these four common composition mistakes and your photos will be more balanced, tell a better story, and lead your viewer's eye where you want it to go.
The rugged, compact 360° action camera Kodak unveiled at Photokina in 2016, the Kodak PixPro Orbit 360, is finally available in the United States.
iOS 11 launches tomorrow, and it'll save all of your pictures in a new high efficiency image format called HEIC. Fortunately, there's now a converter that will let you turn those photos back into JPEGs.
Photo protection company ImageRights recently released a new service that lets non-subscribers take advantage of their streamlined copyright registration system that checks for errors and fills out all the required forms for you.
What's the difference between a $200 circular polarizing filter and a $100 circular polarizing filter? Roger Cicala at Lens Rentals put six different filters through a few tests to find out.
A flurry of leaks reveal that GoPro's upcoming Hero6 will shoot 4K at 60fps, 1080p at 240fps, will cost $500, and is scheduled for announcement/release on September 28th.
Before he became the iconic director whose name we've all heard, a teenage Stanley Kubrick struck up a business relationship with New York’s Look magazine. No surprise: he was an incredibly talented photographer.
WD's new G-Technology G-Drive mobile SSD R-Series is a portable solid state option for photographers who want the reliability of an SSD in a rugged water and dust-resistant package.
Fast, stabilized and affordable is an appealing combination when it comes to lenses. With its latest 24-70mm F2.8, Tamron aims to upgrade autofocus speed and stabilization. We've got a full gallery from this updated full-frame zoom.
Photographer Clay Cook tells the story of his most ambitious photographic dream and career goal coming true: photographing A-list actress Jennifer Lawrence.
In an interview with a Chinese website, Nikon Japan's Director of Development dropped a bombshell, saying that a Nikon mirrorless camera "must be full-frame."
Here's a side-by-side spec comparison of two flagship devices with particular attention to the things that really matter – at least to people who prioritize photography features.
A month and a half after revealing the finalists of the 2017 EyeEm Awards, the photo sharing community and licensing marketplace has finally revealed the winners.
Photographer Josselin Cornou tells the breathtaking story behind two beautiful photos captured while snorkeling with humpback whales in Tonga.