Nikon D4 Review – The wrong camera, too late – 16mp -1080p 30 HD video – ISO 12000 – XQD? – is that it? V Canon 5D , Hasselblad H4D, Pentax D645

Image Manipulation. The best retouching is sometimes an art, but it can go too far.
January 1, 2012
Charles – Portrait Photography – Business Image
September 20, 2012

No camera will make you a professional photographer. Never the less we have been waiting to see the D4 for a long time, was it worth the wait? In a word: No, not on your nelly.*  (*London slang for no never!)

Shooter 1 got his hands on the new Nikon D4, the latest incarnation of “top of the range” the flagship in Nikon’s professional Camera line, (we got the camera via an old friend who was given one to evaluate by the company and who may be “killed” by Nikon if they figure out who he/she is after they read this review). Our man, pushed even button, tried every feature and ran a few hundred test shots across a wide range of subjects and lighting, all in comparison with some other top professional cameras. When he got back at Photography-Factory’s London HQ, we all sat about looked at the results in obsessive detail and finally talked long into the night about what a real top of the top professional camera should have, today in 2012. After that we had a look online at what people have been saying about this new camera and… Wow! The hype and the spin around this very unexciting offering was gut churning, so we thought we would immediately publish a full review on the Nikon D4; coming as a group of working professional photographers and not as journalists, or tech writers. These are strait talking views, with a few suggestions and ideas for you to consider, if you like and….  if any camera makers would like to talk to us, feel free to call, we are happy to share patents ideas guys, no stealing though ; ). 8th Jan 2012.




What is it? It is big, solid, ruggedised, state of the art, professional tool that can make the most precise calculations and then act instantly, sort of the “action hero” of the camera world. When you cannot fail, you will reach for the D4. It will hardly ever mess up your shot, it is tough, drilled and it is disciplined. If an out of focus shot is not an option D4! It almost loves the situations that make other cameras give up squealing for their mama. Low light, sand, rain, extreme cold or humidity, “difficult” changing lighting, super fast moving low contrast subject, into the sun, even the odd explosion, smash and grab hyaena press pack, it can handle a n y t h i n g – it feels a pity to take it out of the box for less. Though it “only” has 16 MPs, we will review it for all-around use and studio, as we all know that this will be the exact basis for the D4x, that will have 25+ megapixels, (a little bird told us). So what is wrong with it?


1. Ergonomics. The D4 is the camera that sets the standard for handling… i.e. it is almost exactly the same as the D3x… which is to say they could still be a lot better. We have always found the D1/2/3/4 shape is a little clumsy for people with big or small hands but the important stuff is where you can find it: a little easier than Canon or Sony. Modern digital SLR camera shape is a legacy feature handed down from a time when film had to go into cameras and wind across the back and be wound up again, this is not needed anymore! So the shape could change around the real needs of a DSLR and the people that use one every day: comfort, balance and ease of control. You will get comfortable with the classic layout in time, millions have. The button size, feel and pattern is fair. Menus: there is a lot to pack in here, there is little typical user consideration in the menus structure (the general way that people navigate to a feature) is not based on the way photographers think or common access need order, but just grouped by importance priority and by section within in the menu trees. At least if the menu hierarchy were fully customisable it would be a start, we (the users) could just make our best custom menu profile available on line or download someone else’s if it were better, that would be letting the public do the work, but I bet the guys and girls at Nikon might learn a thing or two. Once again as with Nikons latest offerings, in the D4 you can only set up custom modes. Canon is a lot better here. It does have a new joystick controller that is way better than the old one, but joysticks are quite 90’s tech. Nikon have back lit the buttons (AT LAST!!!) and you can link your iPad etc with an HTTP mode with the wireless controller WT5 accessory; that should have been included and built in to a slot in the body. The iPad software looked pants to us, but we have not seen it up close  (pants is more british slang meaning – crap)

2. LCD Screen. The screen is also a slight improvement on the D3 about 6% bigger and a bit more res @ and it has very good anti refection coatings (alas often pointless as most macho D4 type pros I see, put an anti scratch-film on the LCD)  The back screen has a thermal break gel between the glass layers, instead of just air, to prevent fogging in super cold or humid locations (i.e. england and japan).  So, why oh why is the whole back of the camera not a lovely big LCD? We are photographers BTW and generally we like to see the super high quality images we shoot, properly, at a glance with out zooming too much. There is a ton of space, when you look at the back of the camera all you see is the button areas on the back that could just be touch screen, when needed as input and screen when you are reviewing images (like an iPhone guys). Touch screens are a little dead but the camera could just have a little clicker or vibrate: so you know when you have actually pressed something. If a bigger screen sucks too much battery: it could be dim until a face looks at it, (i.e. put a little low res/consumption back facing camera that has face recognition, when it sees you looking at the screen it can turn up the brightness and try and guess what you would like to see next from you expression!) Hell while you are at it how about speech recognition for the most important 30 hi-speed situation commands? “full auto on!” “AE lock” “lighter” “burst mode”…..  Also a live-view monitor feature is badly compromised, if the screen can’t tilt a little, and the D4 can’t tilt at all: you are almost never sitting or standing with your face at the same hight as the camera back for a perfect 90 degree head on view, of course it should tilt up a bit and maybe down a bit at the very least, especially when the  camera is on a tripod and you can’t get down to the viewfinder. come on Nikon this one is so easy and it could be done so as to be almost just as flat when not in use and would add 12 grams. Also if you think the moving screen is not macho enough, you could always have it flip all the way over and become just tough plastic back with a few buttons for real rough stuff. The D4 view finder is brilliant, as it should be at that price, it makes almost every other DSLR camera look claustrophobic.

3. Low light performance. The C moss sensor and the processing engine work together to make this the best Camera in low light out there today. The scene/Af/meter now has 91,000 pixel sensor of it’s own and really never misses even when it is too dark to see! It is fast and locks on every time – probably the single real best reason to buy this camera. Nikon have missed a few tricks, but it would take half the night to explain why the camera needs a built in scatter burst laser pointer to evaluate reflectivity at distance in the dark, but what the hell, I just shoot a second bracket shot like everybody else.  I think, owl photographers, paparazzi hiding in bushes at 3am and night club photographers will be pretty much overjoyed in this area. Video at night is surreal, and starlight stuff photography almost possible. Win!

4. Video. Full HD uncompressed – nice, the results look slightly better than the Canon 5DmkII especially if the detail is complex, the skin tones are brilliant by comparison and as good as RED or PANASONICs $50k offerings (actually the skin tones are much better in stills performance too) But where the hell is a slow motion Mode??, Nikon have one of the best and fastest processing engines in the world on this camera it would have taken just a firm wear tweak to get real 500+ fps Slow motion vIdeo at a decent resolution. possibly by bust dumping though the cache, maybe just for few seconds of slow mo, (but hey, how much SM do you need?) Oh Nikon, if Casio can do this on a $200 camera… We love slo mo just look at some of our SM tests on this website.    It does however have a very usable time laps mode, this is menu driven and can shoot an image sequence that will be saved as a Video file. The range goes from 1 frame per second all the way up to something like 1 frame every 25 minuets or 36,000 faster than real life (at 24fps playback), the possibilities are endless: maybe you could film the almost inevitable fall of western civilisation over the summer and watch it back over a coffee and bagel?

5. Picture quality. Super duper, let me just say film is now finally dead. The latitudes are HDR like at the lower end of the curve, the shadow detail is amazing, the skin tones the best of any SLR, I just have to say the image quality was a knock out. We shot back to back with a H4 Hassleblad, a D3x and a Canon 5dII and it has the best of them all: in terms of the basics of image quality. The new sensor / processing engine just ate up everything we could think of (low light large colour areas, bands and gratings, tiny hazy blue-green detail that always messes with the algorithms. But the differences are very slight, between all good cameras and the previous models, if quality matters to you it matters a lot. All the standard cmos “big chip” woes are significantly reduced, ringing, fringing, pit to pit light spill, local contrast retention effects are below 25 millisecond. It is a great setup form the ground up, but hell what do we expect it is Nikon’s best and most expensive camera bar none? It should be sorted. If I had a complaint it might be that they could incorporate a sort of “one frame HDR type latitude boost” feature in the camera with out a second shutter actuation, a double burst frame?, sort of a Raw+,  hell it is almost there anyway with the existing HDR, just that it is no use if the subject is in movement and that the kind of what this Camera is all about? Maybe the question is why has it taken this long to make a chip that feels like you are getting most of the colour detail that film cameras were getting 30 years ago?

6. Auto focus. The Nikon D4 has the best AF in the world, bar none; The “Multi-CAM 3500FX, with 51 Af points” . This is THE deal breaker when choosing Nikon over Canon. This camera never seems to mess up focus, even in candle light, it is like a stealth helicopter gun system, god help those it has locked on to. Canon’s always seem to miss a few shots in the AF department, it might be a low as 1 in 50 but it is always THE one fame I like the most that is soft for some murphyistic reason. The D4 has facial recognition that works well, and finally, the face area is used as the basis for the focus, AND exposure and tone control (something Shooter One suggested in a coffee bar Brainstorm to the guy who heads up the Aperture team at Apple about 12 years ago!) There are so many variants of this basic tech, that could be taken in hundreds of Professional directions it is a bit disappointing that the camera can ONLY do face recognition, like a little $100 compact only a lot faster and dependably… there are a ton of “low lying fruit” modes here for the taking, that could be really great for Professional Photographers needs (and we are not talking just nipple recognition for the Britney paps (probably an idea worth about $500,000 a year to the right paparazzi)).

7. Resolution. 16.2 MP full frame cmos sensor – Ok we are not fools, anything over 10 mp is “enough”, but a 40mp camera blows away any 16mp SLR in certain common situations, thats just pixel horse power for ya. The D4 has about the best 16 megapixels I have ever seen, it is that good. But why not 32? the tech is there on the shelf, the chips exist as do the buffer and processing. We all wanted it yesterday….D4x? We shot most of our tests as 12 and 14 bit raw  uncompressed to try and get the most direct information from the sensor, but we experimented with tiff and jpeg and to be honest unless you are in a colour critical situation jpeg at 1 to 4 compression is great. We found that this setting gave us a 180 frame burst into the buffer at full 11fps speed (an actual 10.7 frames per second by my stopwatch). If you look at some of the more detailed areas of the frame one thing is slightly strange, and that is the massive amounts of processing that are going on before the image is written even as a 14bit uncompressed raw, the work path id is full 16bit then the image processor does “stuff” to the image, this is all back room stuff and each brand has it’s own secret recipe for these unseen image adjustments. If you blow up shots with a lot of fine detail and look at these at 1 to 1 you will see that “identical shots” can be made to change how they handle the fine detail and colour just by turning the camera on and off, and recomposing very very slightly, this can occasionally fool the processor into thinking the scene needs a different algorithm and so the result in particular areas is suddenly very different. I guess there is always going to be a lot of black box tech that we must just accept, but I am slightly unsettled that I can’t know how rubbish those “cheaper” cmos chips actually might be, without all the hidden state of the art digital magic!

8. Connectivity. Ok the Nikon D4 has all the usual suspects and an ethernet connection; as they like to stream Video that way, in Japan. Not putting the new super super super fast thunderbolt in, for these big video files, and because we are professionals and our time is money, that omission seems stupid to me (not even USB3!). Thunderbolt makes the simple things faster too and supports an external monitor better than HDMI. Maybe it was the extra $8 who knows. Just buy the thunderbolt or USB3 card reader I guess. “best camera in the world? hmmm”        Nikon added a XQD memory card slot. This is a new format card, but the read speeds are not all that much faster than the best CF cards, so why? So we buy a lot of new cards? Who has a XQD reader? I guess we will find out if this is a smart move at the same time Nikon do. Having a backup CF slot was a nice feeling,  I guess you will have to buy at least one XQD card now; in case you bend a pin pushing a CF card in! Finally there is no Bluetooth (good for wireless headphones when shooting Video) and no GPS, the later seems a little ” Target market insensitive” when this camera is aimed at news, sports and wildlife shooters all of whom have a real need for GPS metadata in every image they take and sell.

9. Exposure. Does a great job 99.7% of the time and I am convinced that Nikon have the best exposure set up of any Camera maker, though the Canon EOS1 mkIII is superb here too. The Nikon can mess up, but lets face it, it is only a little computer trying to please all the people all the time… Still it is funny how the ambient meter on my 1963 Rolleiflex 2.8f is only about 1 or 2% worse in almost every situation and the meter on an old Nikon F4 is a probable halfway between the two and just as quick as the D4. There is a lot of progress in the scene recognition, but all that is achieved, is you need to think less…. I have a feeling all that computer power could be put to a lot cleverer ways of sorting out the trickier but common light situations, there is room for improvement. This camera, like every other I have ever tried, still messes up when the sun is in the frame, and just like my Rolleiflex.

10. Battery Life. The D4 uses a new bigger battery pack, the EN-EL18 is a nice Li ion unit. It slots along the bottom of the unit and snaps into place in a reassuring sort of VW golf kind of way. We got over 3k shots out of it, so you could probably get away with just 2 batteries even between two bodies. It uses a quick charger, and we stupidly did not time the recharge, it was about 40 mins ( a lot shorter than you could ever realistically burn though 3000 shots before the spare was dry)

Buying Advice. In a word there is no point buying this camera at this price, unless your daddy or boss is buying it. It should be half the price or a lot better than the D3x in major ways. The improvements over the D3 are Ok but there is no inovation at all. So what should you buy? For almost everyone, inc video heads: probably a pair of Canon 5DmkII (or the MKIII ; )) unless you are going to loose a low light money shot that might be worth the difference in price, i.e. in that “can’t do it again ever” situation were you need the best AF and exposure that there is: the Nikon D4. If you are the kind of professional photographer that would like something to take the ultimate picture, then a device with more MP res is what you need: (you might try a D3x or wait for the D4x but this is our suggestion)  there are some brilliant digital medium format cameras out there now, and coming soon, that have serious pixel power and great lenses, people do not buy them in very great numbers because they are expensive, but if you have D4 money you would be in the running and your images would love you. However you might have to do some thinking on your feet compared to a D4, as they will almost certainly not have the state of the art focus and metering. We think the Pentax 645D is a tremendous camera for value v resolution, the big Blad (Hasselblad 200MP H4D to you and me) is better but it is quite big write when you are putting down six figures for the whole kit.



So, hang on a minute, we love Nikon here, no? Why are we bagging on the D4 when it seems pretty decent? Especially while a lot of other people are blowing gold plated trumpets for the D4 from their roof tops?

Because in a few words,we are ashamed of the D4, and we are professionals that do not wish to waste our money buying last years ideas, it is only a lot of tiny advances on the D3 in real terms there are no game changing ideas in this camera, and yet we managed to think of about 70 real features that a could easily have been a part of “the latest best camera from the Pros best company” All our ideas were just hybridising existing technologies, we are not engineers, just looking and thinking outside the box for a second. If we can do this with no formal training in camera design, why can’t Nikon? What is this Vanilla with low fat update all about?

As great fans of Nikon for most of our lives, we have been holding out for at least some REAL technical, ergonomic or video advance from Nikon for some years now. The D4 was their last chance to keep us from buying a serious amount of Canon stuff next time we upgrade…. True, we will not be selling our 40 odd Nikon lenses on ebay just this week (the primes do come in handy on the RED I must say), but basically Nikon have blown it with this new Camera for us and I dare say a lot of other people. There are no excuses for this camera in 2012! This is mostly the camera you should have brought out 4 moths after Canon put out the 5DmkII in 2008 not a few weeks before they relase the MkIII in 2012. We think that the reason the guys at Nikon think they can dust off a few improvements on their old camera as something exciting is because the guys running the company are accountants and the engineers were sent home early when they finalised the D4. (Photographers have obviously been nowhere in the building for several years) Well screw you Nikon, I am buying something else, we might hire a D4 from time to time if we need infallible or bullet proof. I guess the Nikon guys will be laughing to themselves when my Canon breaks down, but what the hell… I shall just go out and buy another, with the money I saved!







  1. Frank says:

    It’s a Vanilla with low fat update because of the fact that they won’t sell a lot of camera’s in the 3 coming years if they would release the holy grail of photography today. They want to include just enough features to get you slightly excited, not instantly wet yourself. It’s marketing and it sucks.

  2. maico says:

    “These are strait talking views”

    LOL. A strait is a channel of water.

    • Shooter One says:

      Thanks Macio, I will have the fool who wrote this flogged at dawn, and if you can confirm that English is not your first language? I will have her flogged again. ; )
      “just as things were going so well”

  3. John Gabris says:

    What can I say, Nikon has really F****d up yes this camera has slight improvements, but to the owners of the D3 and D3x it is not enough to justify the purchase.

    For resolution the D3X is a much better buy you can crop more and have better portraits and more detail in landscapes. No matter how much you tweak the electronics sheer raw pixel power wins so why is the D4 so poor on this.

    The vast majority of pros who take sports and action shots will be published in newspapers and the subtleties of graduation are totally lost in the print process. Even Glossy mags produce second generation prints, think about it.

    For weddings and supper high quality prints the D3X is a better buy, and either Photoshop or Nikon Capture or both can bring out the best in most cases.

    People always harp about speed and either nine frames per second or more, well in the real world with full resolution uncompressed images in both formats that is RAW and JPG backup you only get about 10 shots before buffer is full.

    What is more important is shutter lag and in the real world again the difference between D3 & D4 makes no actual difference they are both very good.

    Video probably still best with a dedicated video camera, but OK to have certainly not essential and how the hell do you print video!!! LOL

    What was really needed was a camera to of the highest pixel count possible with a fast processing power so if the subject is only a small part in the image you can crop and still get a decent result, look at the BLAD 200 meg camera.

    It would have been better with at least 24 meg but 32 or more would have made more sense.

    I am sure Nikon knew this and will bring out the D4X just to screw everybody up and to sell yet another model.

    This is only my take

    Comment welcome

  4. Eric says:

    I am confused, you say “The D4 was their last chance to keep us from buying a serious amount of Canon stuff next time we upgrade”, but you also say Nikon has the best focus, best exposure, best low light, etc. Seems to me that is what I want out of my camera. Why would I switch to Canon, if according to you, Nikon has the best focus, low light, and exposure?

    • Shooter One says:

      Thank you for your polite comment, I guess what Shooter 1 was trying to say was not that the D$ is a bad camera, just it is a very expensive one, and a very very disappointing 4th generation DSLR for Nikon, our D3x’s are a bit tired but Ok for now, and so we can afford to wait a little while for the Canon 5D mkIII or even the 4Dx if they are better priced (unfortunately probably not until mid 2013). Nikon could even have an amazing D800 in the wings? But one thing is for sure, we are definitely not buying any 4D bodies (as we had hoped to), they are just not worth it.

      • WillieG says:

        You can’t expect a monumental increase in features every time a new camera is introduced. In between you have to expect some polishing to be done. If we could make huge leaps in technology every few years our cameras would holographic by now and not photographic.

    • mark says:

      I think you and most of the others here do not get the tongue in cheek. The Brits have a rare knack for understated irony. Translation: bar none – this is the most incredible camera on the planet for what it is supposed to do. It could use some other features and is a little pricey – but for the low light, fast focus, FPS, gotta have shot on the spur of the moment – there is no equal.

    • Donald says:

      I fully agree especially when you already have a few good Nikon lenses

  5. Lou says:

    Can I just say one thing here in terms of the 16MP which people seem to be ignoring – and which probably is a very valid reason why they haven’t gone too high on MP. The higher the megapixel, the more grainy the pics go at a lower ISO.
    So no, the D3X is not a very good camera for weddings – because you know what, so often will you have to deal with really low light conditions. Imagine a nearly pitch dark December ceremony at 3000 ISO – obviously not with a D3X. If you wanna get shots that don’t go way too “pixely” looking when set above 1200 ISO, you should probably steer fre from the 24 MP D3X.
    And having not tried the D4 yet though, I’m pretty convinced that the lower MP will work better against grain in low light with high ISO setting. (I guess that’s why Canon is also taking down their megapixels now to 16?)

    • Shooter One says:

      Thank you for you kind words. We agree with you totally about the 30+ MP cameras having some additional grain above 800ISO (though the pentax 645D is pretty good) And no one can argue aside for the $ layout: if you are a high ISO/low light shooter the 4D is as great as it gets. Luckily we don’t shoot weddings… (Please take a look at our slow motion video in the gallery section, on this exact subject and you will understand how we feel.

  6. Chris says:

    Thanks for sharing. This is a horrible review in my eyes. My wife and I run a full time wedding business and this looks like the camera we want. Only a few hundred more bucks than the d3s. Looks like a stop better ISo performance. Better metering in low light. Little higher resolution. Better portrait mode controls and battery life. Better low light af. Tons of video options, which we are getting for free when you factor in inflation. Bigger LCD. 10 fps. Better image quality. Why wouldn’t I buy this? If I Owened a brand new d3s or d3 I would hold off probably. My two d700s are gettin long in the tooth so I put money down on this. The canon 5d mk2 has crap autofocus and piss poor metering. Fine for an amateur but I need to made every shot count. The truth is that we are all lucky to have such amazing tech at affordable price. Thanks for moving ahead Nikon you earned my money because almost every system on this camera has been improved.

    • Shooter One says:

      I (shooter1) have only ever shot ONE wedding, it was very stressful as i remember (even for the 25,000 dollars my then agent charged), but i have been to a few and they seem fairly tame and predictable events on the whole, and I feel if you need a better auto focus and metering than a Canon 5D mkII or a Hasselblad H4 and feel the need for 10 fps; you must be shooting some pretty crazy weddings! But hey knock yourself out, if you think it is worth that extra cash, and in many ways it is…

    • mark says:

      You have to understand british sarcasm and irony to appreciate this review. It really says for the purpose intended – there is no better camera on the planet bar none. I have D3s and shoot indoor action sports and events where no flash is allowed – I will definitely check this out as a rental to see if it is worth the upgrade.

  7. John Gabris says:

    I have seen the end results from a 200 meg Blad and the amount of detail is enormous even at 50 meg it is so much better than any 16, 24, 30 meg camera.

    Suppose this is why the medium format and the plate cameras were made in film models the bigger the plate the more “pixels” there are simple law of physics.

    This comes into there own when you need to crop the photos there is so much there to start with that the cropped picture will not start to pixelate or in old fashioned terms go grainy.

    As to night weddings in December, this will always be a problem. Not done one of those, but have shot night scenes with a borrowed Blad at 200 meg 800 iso the detail just knocks the socks of.

    Try taking a picture of a crowed at 50 meg or higher you can zoom in to see individual faces this is used by law enforcement agencies with computer recognition and in a street with over a thousand in it anybody with facebook, twitter and police records which we cannot see will be flagged up quite uncanny.

    This is due to the enormous pixel power to start with.

    Back to the article, the vast majority of stuff gets printed in low quality newspapers and mags at a small size so for that almost any resolution camera is just fine.

    Take a decent group picture with whites, folds and light reflecting on them as in a wedding with a 16 meg camera and one with a 50 meg camera and put them side by side and see for yourself.

    I have not used the D4 but from the specs yes it is a better camera, but not the WOW must have after all it is another £4000.

    Am very interested in the views of others as so many reviews are so biased to the products that are being reviewed.

    • Shooter One says:

      Makes you think (however naively) …. Nikon is a much bigger company than all of the digital medium format guys, if they took all that autofocus and exposure tech and put a decent 50 meg chip in there… but that is another blog post. We should be getting a 200 H4 for professional photographer duties here at the factory, any day now, and we will write up our opinions right here; if anyone is interested.

  8. John Gabris says:

    Shooter 1 is 100% correct why on earth do you need super fast autofocus as the subjects should be standing still

    You need the sharpest pos lesnes and the best graduation as possible. Slowe iso the higher the iso the more contrasty the result.

    Where are your film days try taking trees at iso 400 in bright sunlight then the same at iso 50 you will see detail burnt out in the dark part of trees at the higher iso this is why iso 25 & 50 were made

    D3X has iso 100

    Lens is important for convenience I use 24-70 f2.8 and 14-24 f2.8 they are sharp probable the sharpest in zooms and sharper than most primes.

    For stills I still use an old film Blad (120roll) the amount of detail in the whites still brings tears to my eyes digital is close the H4 Blad is there but for £30,000 it should be.

    Just bought a D3x from a guy with less than 2000 actuations tried some test shots focus is as good as the D3, but the pics can be cropped much more and for that extra mile can be set to DX mode with 10megs to give that little extra reach.

    Do not set camera to anything but standard all is done on computer and shoot both raw and jpg at the same time 80% of the time jpg ok for most, but RAW has the edge when coulours are out.

    If one does weddings then the extra pixel is a big bonus, with my Blad I still use a light meter and it work better than most metering on modern cameras, yes it is tiresome but results are better.

    • Toni says:

      Hi John

      how would a HB H3dII-31 compare to a D3x or D4? I shoot fashion beauty portrait and nudes.
      So Skin tones are very important.

  9. OsoSolitario says:

    If I’m enough satisfied with a D3s, why need I to buy a brand new D4? (because is “the most up-to-date”?) I actually will buy a D4 if I’m working yet with an old D2x and need up to date… not if my camera is 2years old (like D3s) and is the queen of ISOs!!
    I’m just a photographer.. I don’t want a camera that also is an-ipad-wifi-MP3-GPS-HD cinema-Windows-Android-DTS…..
    Also is very easy to say fukin’shit to a new camera because: doesn’t have 50Mpix AND 405.000 ISO, a 100% viewfinder but compact size or just to be pro without the price of an D3000!!
    No sense World, we live!
    Sorry about my English.. I’m from the warm Mediterranean sea..

  10. WillieG says:

    Good luck just running out and buying another Canon when the first one breaks down while you’re on a location shoot out in the wilds. You’ll wish you’d forked out the extra bucks, then. But maybe you could use all that money you saved to pay the guy next to you with the D4 for his photos.

    • Shooter One says:

      To be fair Willy, Shooter 1 did recommend buying a pair (two) Canons 5dmkIII’s to replace a D4 so break downs are covered, and you would still have quite a huge chunk of change as they are less than half the price. Then you will not need to buy the D4 shot, also because all other things being equal (from what I hear) picture editors presented with similar images by different photographers, will choose and buy the work that is more detailed i.e. from a Canon.
      Yours Shooter 5

  11. John Gabris says:

    Hi Tony

    With regard to the comparison between D3, D4 & H3dII-31

    Lets start with some basic physics this applies to all systems:-

    The lens focuses light onto a plane the CCD (for arguments sake) the smaller the CCD the more light is focused onto the CCD rather like a magnifier burning hole in paper in sunshine.

    The larger the area the more spread out the light therefore the graduation can be better detected as they fall onto a larger area, consequently the smaller the area the brighter the light (better for low light), but the gamut (colour rendition) is more difficult to define and there comes a point of light pollution as well, that is to say a very small CCD that has a lot of bright light tends to excite the neighboring pixels more, this is to a small degree but it is a factor.

    Therefore the H3dII-31 has a larger CCD the lenses are usually better as well so for sheer quality of lens & shading/colour rendition and the amount of detail the larger format wins. Focus may not be as quick, sports togs were just fine with manual focus at one time, sets the men from boys apart!!!

    Hope this helps


  12. John Gabris says:

    Does anybody know anything more about the new Nikon D800
    this is supposed to be a 36meg cameras and is due out now. Samples have been given out.

    Seems really odd as the D4 is 16meg. NOW THIS WILL CONFUSE the issue

  13. j says:

    This is from Nikons site

    So what does this camera have to offer? Let us explain. The camera is suspected to have much of the following features. The Nikon D800 review suggest it will be much smaller and lighter than the little brother, the d700. Resolution is suspected to be around 36MP, or 7360×4912. The camera will be able to be equipped with both a CF and a SD memory card to provide an expanded allowance of memory options. The display is sought to be several cm bigger on the D800 with superior video quality to the D3s, shooting at a marvelous 1080p. The autofocusing system with be identical to that of the d3 and d700. For sports photography the Nikon D800 will pack a whopping 30 FPS (Frames per second). This camera’s preliminary specs seem amazing, but remember this is all just rumors so far and no date has been set to release the new Nikon camera.

  14. John Gabris says:

    Further to my pop above J says

    Seems like Nikon have confused the issue even more see my above post

    does anybody know more about this here is the front

  15. Jappr says:

    For a D3s owner there is nothing to justify the price.
    I will wait for D4s

  16. Ken Elliott says:

    >> “All our ideas were just hybridising existing technologies, we are not engineers, just looking and thinking outside the box for a second. If we can do this with no formal training in camera design, why can’t Nikon?”

    Because they ARE engineers and know what the trade offs are. You want a 50MP sensor? Can you live with diffraction at medium apertures? I was under-whelmed at first by the D4, until I studied it in depth. Do you know it can shoot 10 FPS @ 2MP totally SILENT? That one ability lets a D4 shoot when no other dSLR can, like a play, wedding service vows, movie set, etc. Uncompressed video over HDMI? Headphone jack, and level controls? I agree that it is not a revolution, but frankly that time is over. We are now in the refinement phase for dSLRs and in the case of Nikon, the D3 was so good, that there is not much to really improve on. I don’t think Canon’s new body is a big leap either.

    BTW, Thunderbolt is too new, and chip sets don’t exist for camera use. Besides, the key feature of Thunderbolt is that it is based on extending PCI express, which is what XQD is based upon. This raises the possibility that you might see a XQD addaptors that allow a high speed bus to any number of standard PCI-e glue chips. Ethernet is far more useful than a interface that only exists in a single brand of computer.

    I’m afraid you may have greatly underestimated the D4, as I did.

    • Shooter One says:

      Thanks Ken,
      You are correct, the engineers did make the decision to make the best possible D3, you are and very polite with it.
      Still ….
      2mp totally silently, is what my Red or any HD video camera does all day every day. Diffraction can be a problem at high pixel densities admittedly but there are lots of ways of dealing with it, i.e. turning some pixels off during capture etc, i think if small companies like Pentax can beat this problem, Nikon should have a way forward… that have had a long time to think on it. Thunderbolt may seem a small detail and too far away right now, but in 12 months when it is everywhere and most other cameras have it the D4 will seem a very slow Video Camera. With thunderbolt they could have run uncompressed Video to a drive, a real advantage over Canon. We genuinely appreciate the D4, but we just feel it is not a new generation of camera and not deserving of the 4. (it is more a 3.5) : )

  17. Mary says:

    Cool blog!

  18. Ben says:

    Have to say I disagree. As a d3s owner I can’t wait to get my D4. Nikon has improved on every minor issue I had with the D3s. My only issues with the D4 is I wish they used a full size hdmi connector; a mini xlr or at least a locking stereo plug.

  19. john gabris says:

    there are many out there who photograph with equipment rather than an eye for pictures, i agree equipment helps, but there come a point of diminishing returns and a badge on the camera gives confidence rather like “go fster” stripes. i think real photographers will understand and so will the “poser togs” LOL.

    all flack wecome HeyHey

  20. jas says:

    Anyone not happy with their D4, please respond with number

  21. skeptic says:

    Is this a tutorial on how to do a hands-on review on something you don’t have access to?
    keep it anonymous
    don’t provide pictures you took of the D4
    don’t provide pictures you took with a D4
    don’t provide sample video from the D4
    do a review on the specifications


    • Shooter One says:

      Hi Skeptic, Why did you put your email down as ? Anonymous who? Everyone in London knows who we are, we are just far too humble to take credit for out outstanding professional photography…. we think good work speaks for itself.

      The “person” that Shooter One borrowed this D4 from is a trusted Nikon prototype tester, he/she told us he believes that Nikon have very special meta data buried in the image file (that can not be removed) and can identify the exact camera that took the image even after compression etc. As he signed a long legal contract stating he would not allow any journalists/rivals/terrorists etc etc to see/examine or use the late prototype Camera, he/she therefore asked Shooter One (who is someone he/she trusts a lot) not to post any images or video from his/her camera tests on line as this would identify him/her instantly. So sorry about that, I suggest you buy a lovely $6000 D4 yourself, do a little review and see if we are correct or not? While you are at it, post it at “” and maybe make some of this profit stuff too. And btw tell us how you do it, because we would love to know how to turn a profit from telling the truth about big camera companies prized new offerings thereby probably making a whole lot of enemies. Of course… you could just write a “kiss butt” review and keep sweet with the hand that feeds you, and after a few years of back slapping and taking, the industry becomes stale and stagnant, inovation stops, and everyone is happy with the next big nothing-much…. This is just misguided loyalty and will weaken the products we need to use every day, there was a time when nikon would never have considered making a D3.3 and calling it a D4!

      P.S. Your Ip address is which is very similar to the IP address of a certain nikon supported person who has; to quote a website at that IP, worked for practical photography magazine and digital camera magazine and currently works for a camera retailer…. my oh my… not you I take it?

      Shooter 5

  22. Matt says:

    “Shooter 1 is 100% correct why on earth do you need super fast autofocus as the subjects should be standing still”.

    Ha, ha that’s so funny it’s almost unbelievable. So the Olympic games competitors will be standing still the same as all the football players do?

    The D4, like the D3/D3s is basically an action camera for sports, events and PJ work. Super fast auto-focus is of major importance to people who earn their living from shooting sports.

  23. Jim Nicholls says:

    Nikon have always speciallised in building beautifully made and expensive pro digital cameras cameras whose mechanical utility far exceeds that of the sensor. Great if you’re a sports photographer but I dont want to pay for all this mechanical sophistication when the sensor will be obsoleted fairly quickly myself.

  24. Dizzychoonz says:

    Looks like they jumped the gun somewhat..but Nikon have a habit of that.. Take the d7000. That pretty much killed off the 700 and the 300.. At nearly half the price.For most prosumers the raw capacity and video functions negate the need for fx sensors. And that body is pretty weatherproof .
    Hard to take Nikon seriously in the fully pro market really. a one trick pony when all others are jack of all.

  25. Stefon says:

    Thank you for this preview, i’m not ok with your conclusions, guess we all have needs and preferences.

  26. David H Dennis says:

    Your review is very interesting, since it implies the D4 is not a great camera, but every detail in it says the D4 is in fact a great camera.

    I am considering an upgrade from a D300 to get superior low light performance. I am in the nightclub/drum circle photography world, where the best low light performance is absolutely critical. Your review confirms my suspicion that the D4 is pretty much my dream camera, and although the $6,000 price is stiff, it will be well worth it for me.

    You are right that the D4 does not rethink the form and design of the camera. I sympathize with your feelings about lack of innovation in design and ergonomics. The D4 is indeed pretty staid in design. On the other hand, look at the audience: People who have memorized the D3 and D3S layout, who know where everything is by touch. These customers really need things to stay the same or very close.

    I find your desire for a large touch screen to be particularly interesting, since the ergonomics of that are awful. A touch screen with a device that’s frequently held up to your eye is going to be a big problem thanks to accidental activation. Even if you ignore this problem (or fix it through a proximity sensor, hopefully one that works better than my iPhone’s), owners of professional DSLRs want to be able to access the controls by touch. For instance, their fingers know the ISO control is in such and such a place, so they use it without reading the label. This kind of muscle memory is impossible if you use a touch screen.

    It sounds like you are greatly influenced by the design of the RED EPIC camera. This is great; I hope you have a nice EPIC-M and you’re enjoying it; I am a big fan of Jim Jannard and his company, even if I can’t afford his products :(. The ergonomics of the EPIC are clearly designed for shoulder or tripod mounted video shooting, and as a result the touch screen works well for it. But even RED has a REDMote with actual buttons for people who prefer them.

    Jim Jannard is a big fan of Canon and Canon glass, so you might want to switch to Canon since their Canon lens mount is probably always going to be better supported than Nikon. It sounds like you make sufficient money that the price of switching and buying lenses isn’t that significant to you, especially if you are sharing them with your RED. In any event, the resale value of Nikon lenses is pretty strong and so if you wanted to sell off and switch, you wouldn’t lose much.

    But my impression of the Canon 1DX is that the ergonomics are about the same as older Canon DSLRs, for the same reason the D4 is very similar to the D3S. So to me the lack of change in the Nikon is no reason to switch to Canon; you are literally leaping from one tippy canoe to the other, with no net change other than the chance of falling in the water during the switch. No water here, but getting used to the Canon way of doing things will probably take some time, lose your productivity and cause needless mistakes.

    If I had a D3s already and wasn’t interested in video, I probably wouldn’t be too excited about the D4. But I would certainly rather have its video capacity than the 3Ds’s, and hopefully I’ll gain a stop or two of already awesome low light ability in the process. As an upgrade from the D300 the D4 looks very compelling, albeit mind-bendingly expensive.

    Well, it’s cheap compared to a RED EPIC. But although an EPIC is very light compared for an Alexa, it’s a millstone compared to a D4. Even if I had $50k+ for an Epic I’d probably be better off with the D4, as long as my output is primarily stills and short documentaries, as opposed to theatrical films.

    Finally, we have to admire the subtlety of this review. It starts being downright hostile to the D4. This gives people the impression that you know what you are talking about. But when you review the actual features of the camera, you give it close to a rave. The rave has more credibility than it might otherwise have thanks to that initial skepticism. Clever.

    But I suspect the real conclusion of your review should be that if you are in the target market for the D4, which is high-speed shooters needing extreme low light ability, you should buy a D4; by your own admission it truly shines in low light ability and is a sizable step above the D3S. If you are a high-powered video shooter with $60k or so to burn, get a RED EPIC. And if you need a camera that takes great pictures but doesn’t need the extreme low light ability, stick with a D700 or 5D. You’ll save a lot of money, and your neck will thank you.

  27. Lora Lidel says:

    Wonderful! You guys are some of the smartest Nikon reviews on the web. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you are just extremely excellent. I really like what you have said here you professed the new nikon before and any other website in the world and you guessed the specifications 100%, I can’t wait to for the Nikon D800 and you called it before all others. This is really a wonderful website.

  28. Shooter One says:

    I think you will find we called that one correctly too….

  29. Gandalf says:

    Very interesting review – very honest and original, and seldom seen this objective findings and at the same time your personal view.

    The funny thing is , that I begin to lust after the Nikon D4 after this review because of your objektive findings, and I trust them even more, than a biased review from a fan boy.

    What I like is

    – we might hire a D4 from time to time if we need infallible or bullet proof

    -but if you have D4 money you would be in the running and your images would love you. However you might have to do some thinking on your feet compared to a D4, as they will almost certainly not have the state of the art focus and metering

    And I have understood your point: Nothing really new and too expensive, but your objective findings are so good for me.


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