Nikon D4 review

April 14, 2012

Overall Rating:


Nikon D4

  • Autofocus:
  • Noise/resolution:
  • Metering:
  • Features:
  • AWB Colour:
  • LCD viewfinder:
  • Dynamic Range:
  • Build/Handling:



Price as Reviewed:


The 16.2-million-pixel D4 professional DSLR is Nikon’s attempt to improve upon its own D3S, one of the best cameras we have ever reviewed

Nikon D4 at a glance:

  • 16.2-million-pixel, FX-format CMOS sensor
  • Expeed 3 image processor
  • 91,000-pixel metering sensor
  • ISO 50-204,800 equivalent
  • 11fps maximum shooting rate
  • 51-point autofocus
  • New XQD card socket
  • 3.2in, 921,000-dot LCD screen
  • Street price £5,289 (body only)

When we reviewed the Nikon D3S in AP 2 January 2010, it scored an impressive 89%, making it one if the best DSLRs we have ever tested. Physically, the camera was nothing groundbreaking, based as it is on the existing Nikon D3. However, it did introduce an incredibly impressive 12.1-million-pixel CMOS sensor capable of shooting at an equivalent of ISO 102,400. What really made the D3S stand out at the time, though, was the low level of noise in images taken at between ISO 800 and 3200.

That the Nikon D3S was capable of producing images of superb quality made it a firm favourite with professional photographers the world over. With its emphasis on a fast shooting rate and great image quality in low light, the D3S soon became the preferred camera of many sports, wildlife, events and press photographers.

Wisely, with the D4, Nikon has opted for the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ philosophy. The new professional camera has evolved from the D3S, but with some significant tweaks and improvements, the most important being a new 16.2-million-pixel sensor.

There is also an improved sensitivity range of ISO 50-204,800: an increase of 1EV at either end of the sensitivity range. The AF and metering systems have been upgraded, too. In total, Nikon quotes more than 45 improvements over its predecessor, all of which should improve both the handling and image quality of the new high-end, professional DSLR.

With 2012 being an Olympic year, it is clear that Nikon hopes the D4 will prove to be the camera of choice for professional sports photographers.

Image: One overlooked advantage of the extremely low noise levels at high sensitivities is that it allows handheld macro images. This photograph of a wasp was taken with a Micro-Nikkor 55mm converted pre-Ai lens at ISO 1600 

  • Built-in Flash: No
  • White Balance: 2 auto, 6 presets (with fine-tuning), plus 3 custom and Kelvin adjustment settings
  • Dioptre Adjustment: -3 to +1 dioptre
  • Shutter Type: Electronically controlled focal-plane
  • Memory Card: 1x CompactFlash slot compatible with UDMA 7, 1x XQD slot
  • Output Size: 4928x3280 pixels
  • Viewfinder Type: Pentaprism single-lens reflex viewfinder
  • White Balance Bracket: 2-9 exposures in increments of 1, 2 or 3
  • AF Points: 51 points, selectable manually or automatically
  • Field of View: Approx 100%
  • LCD: 3.2in TFT with 921,000 dots
  • Max Flash Sync: 1/250sec
  • Sensor: FX-format (full-frame) CMOS device with 16.2 million effective pixels
  • Exposure Modes: PASM
  • Focal Length Mag: 1x (1.5x in DX-format crop mode)
  • Weight: 1,180g (without battery or card/s)
  • File Format: NEF (raw), JPEG, raw+JPEG simultaneously
  • Power: Rechargeable Li-Ion battery (supplied)
  • Shutter Speeds: 30-1/8000sec in 1⁄3 steps, plus B
  • Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB
  • Drive Mode: Single, continuous (Hi/Lo selectable, up to 10fps with AF; 11fps without AF and fixed exposure), self-timer
  • Lens Mount: Nikon F
  • Focusing Modes: Manual, single-shot AF, continuous AF with AF fine-tuning
  • ISO: 100-12,800 in 1/3EV steps and Hi1, 2, 3 (ISO 102,400)
  • Connectivity / Interface: USB 2.0 Hi-Speed, HDMI
  • Metering System: 91,000-pixel RGB 3D matrix metering, centreweighted (adjustable), spot (1.5%)
  • Dimensions: 160x156.5x90.5mm
  • DoF Preview: Yes
  • Exposure Comp: ±5EV in 1⁄3, 1/2 or 1EV steps
  • Compression: 3-stage JPEG, 3-stage NEF
  • RRP: £5,289.99 (body only)

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