Body & Design

If you put the two cameras side-by-side, you'd be hard-pressed to see the difference between the D4 and D4s. Indeed, the only changes are related to how you hold and operate the camera, and they're quite subtle. The grip is a bit 'deeper' now, which allows the area around the front dial to protrude a bit more. On the back, the AF-point selector is now plastic instead of rubber, and the AF-On button is easier to press (according to Nikon). In addition, the thumb block on the portrait orientation grip has been redesigned.

The D4s is one of the largest DSLRs out there, though it's not quite as giant as Canon's EOS 1D X (it is, however, heavier). As you'd expect from a camera with this high a price tag, build quality is exceptional. The majority of the body is made of magnesium alloy, while a few parts are composite. The D4 is fully weather-sealed, so it can handle being out in the rain (the body, at least).

Top of Camera

Toward the left you'll find buttons for adjust flash, bracketing, and metering settings, with the drive wheel below that. At the center of the photo is the hot shoe, of course, with the diopter correction for the viewfinder to its right.

Near the right edge of the top plate is the D4s' LCD info display, with the mode, movie record, shutter release (surrounded by the power switch), and exposure compensation buttons above that. To change shooting modes on the D4s, you simply hold down the mode button and turn the front or rear control dial.

In your hand

At first glance it's difficult to tell the D4s and D4 apart, but Nikon has made subtle revisions to the former's design. The grip is slightly deeper, and the 'thumb block' on the portrait orientation controls is more substantial. Despite its size and weight, the D4s is comfortable to hold.

The D4s' larger grip makes it feel more secure in the hand (not that the D4 was bad). The camera has an enormous amount of buttons and dials, plus a four-way controller and joystick. As with Nikon's other top-end DSLRs, the D4s has no mode dial.

Unless you're a seasoned pro - as we expect most D4s buyers to be - the camera can be very overwhelming at first. Once you get the hang of things, you'll find that Nikon has put all the important controls within close reach of your fingers.

A great feature carried over from the D4 is backlighting on select buttons and dials, which makes shooting in the dark a breeze. Now if only all cameras offered such a feature...


The D4s has the same viewfinder as its predecessor, and I don't think anyone will complain about that. It has 100% coverage (of course), a magnification of 0.70x, and support for numerous eyepieces and adapters.

While large, the D4s' viewfinder still falls short of Canon flagship EOS 1D X as well as the less expensive 5D Mark III.