Thanks to Steven McConnell for this personal look into the new Nikon D4 DSLR! An exclusive review to pixelogist.me!
Steven McConnell is a professional family photographer at Family Photography Sydney. To see more of his work, click here
Cameras are like dogs. They have personalities. They have a temper. They sometimes refuse to play. But they mostly exist solely to to please you. And after a while, they die.
You need to do your research carefully before you buy one, or you’re in for a lifetime of trouble.
I’ve been a Canon 5DMKII shooter for years. It’s the Labrador of camera world. Reliable, no-nonsense. Friendly. A bit lazy by nature, but when you take the lead, it happily follows you wherever you want to go. A photographer’s true best friend.
A few months ago I had to rent a Nikon D4 because my Labrador got sick.
I chose the D4 not because I was curious about it, but because the local rental shop had a good deal on – I the D4 retails for about twice the price, but that week I could rent it for about the same price as a 5DMKII.
My lack of curiosity about the D4 ended the first time I pressed the shutter.
I’ve always been a fan of working things out by feeling my way through them rather than analysing them logically.
So we could compare the megapixel counts, ISO limits, read/write speeds of the two cameras – which would all be irrelevant anyway because the cameras are hardly in the same price bracket and are almost 10 years apart. And besides, the Internet is already full of such reviews.
What I’d like to point to is how the D4 feels. That first shutter click was not so much a “click” but a “chop”.
And it was already under way as soon as my brain registered my desire for it to happen and my finger just began to apply downward pressure. And it was finished with long before I realised it started.
“Chop. Done. What next? I’m ready”, the D4 said. Metaphorically. And probably in Japanese.
And that’s the philosophy that you can feel permeating every part of Nikon D4′s DNA.
If it was a dog it would be a super sized, black Jack Russell – always one step ahead of you, trying to read your mind, fearless, egging you on to go further and harder than it’s probably safe to do, willing to die just to please you and yet somehow being so tough that things which would kill other cameras are just brushed off and forgotten.
My fiancee accidentally kicked it across a concrete slab the other day and I cringed in slow motion, thinking about the repair bill as it bounced across rocks.
But it was fine. Not a scratch. Really. Just lots of green backlit buttons staring happily back at me, like lots of big, unblinking eyes wondering who we’re going to chase next.
Nikon is marketing the D4 at sports and action photographers, paparazzi’s and the like. I specialise in outdoor family photography and spend most of my days chasing and crawling after 2 year old toddlers. And I’ll tell you what – they can be quicker on their feet than elite athletes and B-grade celebrities!
So for me it’s very handy that the D4′s autofocus is uber-quick. And I love the auto-ISO and the fact that I can shoot at ISO6400 to keep my shutter speed at above 1/125 long after the sun has set and not have to worry about picture quality, but instead staying present with my subjects and creating new magical moments to capture.
As my last point, I’d like to mention something about the intuitive way D4′s controls are organised.
Whenever I shoot with a Canon camera, I feel like I have to adjust to the camera, learning where each feature is. When I pick up a Nikon, and this particular Nikon especially, it feels like someone has thought about what I’m going to need next and build the camera controls around that.
The D4 not all perfect, though. There’s a weird multidirectional stalk which moves the focus point, which seems to do the same thing as the usual focus point selector. And either it can’t be programmed to do anything else or I can’t figure it out -
Nikon’s decision to go with one XQD and one normal CF slot seems like an attempt to fight two battles without winning either one.
I’d prefer if the D4 had two slots of the same type to save fiddling with different cards, card holders, different card readers and different cables. Besides, my Mac has FireWire and USB2 slots only, which means I can import the CF card at blazing speed, but the XQD reader, which connects via USB, takes forever.
One final note about something I never considered before. The D4 is a chunky camera. As someone who shoots professionally, I also like to use my camera for recreation on my days off.
Using a “semi-pro” body like the 5DMKII means you can remove the battery grip, put on a little f/1.8 50mm lens and it becomes a relatively small gadget which doesn’t get much attention from passers by. You can have in your hand or rolling around the back of the car on road trips, in your girlfriend’s handbag, etc.
Forget about that with the D4. It’s chunky, very noticeable, heavy and makes people stare at you with either curiosity or mild sense of alarm. Tourists with Canon Rebels around their necks cross to the other side of the road in fear.
It’s not a practical camera for taking it with you everywhere you go. And it’s not intended to be. But if you like taking photos on your days off it means that when you buy a D4 you could possibly need to budget for a little D7000 as well
- 16.2 effective megapixel, full-frame sensor (16.6MP total)
- 10fps shooting with AF and AE, 11fps with focus and exposure locked
- 91,000 pixel sensor for metering, white balance, flash exposure, face detection and active d-lighting
- Native ISO Range 100-12,800 (extendable from 50 – 204,800)
- 1080p30 HD video at up to 24Mbps with uncompressed video output
Nikon D4 Sample Images
Sample images taken with a Nikkor AF-S 85mm f1.4G
And that’s a fine look at the Nikon D4! A personal glimpse into the use of Nikon’s flagship professional DSLR, and how it compares to one of the standard full-frame DSLRs of the past. It seems to be a very impressive beast, performing just like you’d expect from a camera body that costs that much – and maybe even better. Flagship performance, if you ask me. Image quality seems excellent, with fantastic high ISO performance, excellent resolution and detail – but like he said, and like on most reviews we do here at pixelogist, don’t look for a bunch of crops to peep at every single pixel in a photograph – that’s not really how we do it! Instead you now have a look into what it’s like using a D4 for the first time, so you have an idea of what to expect and what it’s like – first-hand experience – which is something I really value when I’m researching on a new camera! For more tech specs and sample images, check out a bunch of other tech-y reviews linked below. Or check out Nikon.com. Thanks Steven for the great article – and thanks to you for checking it out! Please leave a comment – if you like the stuff you see on the right sidebar (recent posts), please subscribe(via email or RSS), or like pixelogist.me on Facebook/follow on Twitter. Until next time
Or get it here from Amazon - buying photo gear online doesn’t get much better than these two!
By Steven McConnellImages provided by Steven McConnell to pixelogist.me
- Nikon D4 Review (photographyblog.com)
- Nikon D600 gets second best DxOMark score after the D800/E (nikonrumors.com)
- Nikon D4 vs D800 vs D600 full-frame low-light showdown (pocket-lint.com)
- Ken Rockwell on “Nikon’s Big Deception” with the D600, D800 and D4 (petapixel.com)
- Nikon Nirvana: Which Nikon dSLR? (roundup) (reviews.cnet.com)