The covers came off the Nikon D4S in January, and now Nikon’s flagship DSLR is official, scheduled to arrive at dealers in early March. And if you must ask, its suggested retail price is $7,149.95 for the camera body only.
Nikon says the camera is designed for the most demanding photographers and multimedia professionals, a step up from the D4 with enhanced image and video quality, improved autofocus (AF), faster performance during and after capture, as well as what the company calls an “astonishing” ISO range.
The newly developed 16.2-megapixel FX-format sensor works in conjunction with the new Expeed 4 image processing engine to deliver new levels of still and HD-video quality and performance, says Nikon.
A new Group AF function and overall improvements build upon Nikon’s 51-point AF system, while the ISO range goes to an incredible 409,600 ISO (Hi-4).
Overall speed and response is enhanced, capturing full resolution at 11 frames-per-second (fps) with Auto Focus and Auto Exposure, while benefiting from an overall 30 per cent increase in processing power.
The Multi-CAM 3500 FX AF sensor module delivers recalibrated autofocus (AF) algorithms.
When selected, Group AF mode mode utilizes five AF points to provide increased stability while tracking subjects, and enhanced accuracy by reducing instances of background focus.
Nikon says that, in situations where the background is bright with strong contrasting colours, photographers can now feel more confident knowing that small, distant and fast-moving objects can be rendered sharper and faster more frequently.
Nikon’s AF Lock-on technology is also upgraded, shortening time in reverting from focus interruptions, such as a referee running into the frame.
The D4S improves tracking on high-speed continuous shooting at 11 fps with continuous AF/AE, and there’s a 200-shot buffer (JPEG) at full resolution at the maximum continuous mode.
The D4S retains the 15 cross-type sensors in the centre to detect contrast data in both vertical and horizontal planes.
In addition to identifying each AF-Nikkor lens with an aperture of f/5.6 or lower, the camera also utilizes nine cross-type sensors that are fully functional when using compatible Nikkor lenses and a teleconverter with a combined aperture value up to f/8.
The new CMOS sensor is engineered to deliver an extended dynamic range with exceptionally low noise.
The native ISO range is 100-25,600, expandable from 50 ISO (Lo-1) to 409,600 ISO (Hi-4).
The Expeed 4 image-processing engine incorporates an entirely new algorithm for even higher ISO noise reduction and colour fidelity, resulting in an enhanced overall sharpness and clarity without sacrificing subtle textures and luminous details, says the company.
A new enhanced standard Picture Control tone curve gives greater depth and clearer colour rendition, especially on skin tones.
Users have the ability to toggle face detect AF on or off while shooting through the viewfinder, and white balance calculation has been further refined for accuracy, while spot white balance is employed for easier presetting with more options.
Nikon’s 91,000-pixel RGB 3D Colour Matrix Metering III system returns on the D4S to help capture true-to-life colours while solving challenging exposures. The system works by analyzing the variables within each scene and recognizing factors such as colour and brightness values with what the company terms “unprecedented exactness.” This data is then interpreted and compared against the camera’s on-board database to implement various settings.
In addition to shooting JPEG, full size RAW (NEF) and TIFF files, the D4S also has a new file setting to enhance workflow, RAW S. This setting allows for shooting 12-bit uncompressed NEF files that are approximately half the size (2464 x 1640) of standard uncompressed RAW files.
When connected via local area network (LAN), users can now transmit files using Gigabit Ethernet (1000 Base-T LAN).
With the addition of a new EN-EL18a lithium-ion battery, the D4S is claimed to deliver up to 3,020 (CIPA rating) shots in single mode and 5,960 shots (Nikon testing) in continuous mode.
The D4S uses both CF cards as well as the XQD card format.
Users have the choice of various video resolutions and frame rates, including a new 1080/60p option for increased flexibility in post. Users can also shoot at 1080/30p or a cinematic 24p as well as various other NTSC and PAL frame rates and resolutions. By utilizing the B-Frame data compression method, users can record H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC format video for up to 29:59 minutes per clip.
Users now have the ability to select an image area in Live View mode to match the glass or shooting style. To best suit the scene, FX, DX (1.5x) and 2.7x cropping is available.
Nikon says the camera’s sensor and image processor render a natural transition between bright and dark scenes, all while delivering rich tones, sharp edges and minimized noise, even at high ISOs. The D-Movie mode has a wide standard ISO range – 200 to 25,600 – and the ISO can be pushed up to an ISO 409,600 (Hi-4) equivalent.
The D4S lets you maintain manual exposure for controlled shutter speeds and aperture settings while the camera automatically dictates the ISO maximum sensitivity from 400 to Hi-4.
The D4S allows direct output of uncompressed files via HDMI. Output can be recorded to an optional outboard digital video recorder.
Like the D4, the D4S offers full manual control when shooting video.
When recording to an external digital recorder via HDMI, the D4S can simultaneously write to the CF or XQD card.
The range of audio frequency is now selectable with options such as Wide Range and Voice Range. Wind noise reduction and audio levels can be changed during recording.
The cameras is also said to offer smoother exposure transition during time-lapse and interval-time shooting.
The shutter has been tested to 400,000 cycles, and the camera chassis is constructed of lightweight and durable magnesium alloy. Additionally, the camera is sealed and gasketed from moisture, dust and electromagnetic interference.
There are minor changes to control layout and ergonomics compared to the D4, for better grip and comfort says Nikon.
The D4S also features a newly designed mirror-moving mechanism, which uniformly and effectively absorbs mirror slap to minimize viewfinder blackout time.
Photographers have the ability to customize the colour of the LCD monitor to better match studio monitors or personal preferences.
Additionally, the LCD retains its auto-brightness function that automatically adjusts the brightness of the monitor to increase visibility and conserve battery life.