I recently wrote “..if you thought 2011 was an important year for cameras, photographers and filmmakers…you ain’t seen nothing yet!” Well we’re only 6 days into the new year and one of the most important cameras of 2012 has just been announced…the Nikon D4!
Here’s a look at the key specs:
- 16.2 effective (16.6) megapixel full frame (36×23.9mm) Nikon FX CMOS Sensor (7.3µ pixel size, gapless micro-lenses with anti-reflective coating)
- New Expeed 3 Processor (14 bit A/D signal processing)
- 10fps RAW/JPEG stills with full AF/AE (11fps with AF/AE locked).
- ISO100-12800 (stills) expandable to ISO 50-204,800
- ISO 200-12800 (movies) expandable to ISO 200-204,800
- Newly developed Kevlar/carbon fiber-composite shutter unit rated to 400,000 shots
- New 91,000-pixel 3D color matrix metering system with face recognition
- Next generation 51-point autofocus system offers “fast and accurate detection down to -2 EV with every AF-NIKKOR lens (F8 & faster).”
- New 921K dot, 3.2 inch LCD screen with auto brightness option.
- Illuminated buttons
- Ethernet – with FTP/HTTP support for instant uploads
- Exposure bracketing 2 to 9 frames in steps of 1/3, 1/2, 2/3 or 1 EV
- In camera HDR
- Dual-axis electronic virtual horizon
- XQD and Compact Flash Slots
- H.264 MPEG 4 AVC video recording
- 1080p @ 24/25/30 FPS 720p @ 50/60 FPS
- Maximum recording time 20:00-29:59 mins depending on frame size/rate & movie quality
- Full manual exposure control of shutter speed, aperture & ISO while recording
- Full time continuous contrast detection AF while recording (normal, wide area, face detection, subject tracking) or manual focus
- Full Frame, 1.5x & 2.7x crop modes @ 1080p (2.7x = 1:1 pixels)
- Uncompressed 8 bit 4:2:2 clean HDMI output (with simultaneous output to D4′s rear monitor)
- Dedicated video recording button
- 46x zoom on rear LCD to check critical HD focus
- Stereo headphone socket (30 step output adjustment)
- Stereo mic socket (20 step input adjustment)
- Dedicated time-lapse menu offers frame rate, shooting interval, playback rate & in camera movie creation & export.
- Video recording can be triggered remotely
- Full remote control of all key parameters from and live video streaming to an iPad
- Optional WT-5 Wireless transmitter offers HTTP and FTP connection modes.
Firstly, although I have shot extensively with the Nikon D4‘s forerunner, the D3s (which I consider to be the best DSLR currently available), I have yet to see or shoot with the Nikon D4, so, at this point I am interpolating based upon my experience with the former and what I know of the latter. That said, prima facie, the announcement of the Nikon D4 appears to be something of a watershed moment, because whilst there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that it is a no compromise flagship stills camera, designed to meet the demands of professional photographers who are at the top of their games, it also seems to offer an extensive amount of features that HDSLR filmmakers have been begging for, ever since the release of the Canon 5D Mark II.
Chief amongst these features is a clean, uncompressed 4:2:2 HDMI feed with simultaneous output to the D4′s rear monitor. One caveat here is that the UK (but not the US) press release for the Nikon D4 states this output is 1080i. Let’s hope this is a typo, because a clean uncompressed 1080p output would be MAJOR news, both in terms of what the Nikon D4 can offer filmmakers and because it could force Canon to reverse its decision not to provide a clean, uncompressed HDMI output on the 1D X. In fact, it could mean, dare I say it, a clean, uncompressed HDMI output on the Canon 5D Mark III…as and when it arrives.
The ability to fully remote control the Nikon D4 with an iPad, to which the camera’s output is streamed, is another key feature and one of equal significance to both stills and motion picture photographers. The dedicated video button, headphone socket and selectable frame rates are all good news, though it’s a shame that 50p & 60p are only 720p not the full 1080p.
The D3s is the current benchmark for both high ISO performance and autofocus. Despite increasing resolution by a third, Nikon say the D4′s ISO performance is a stop better than the D3s’. This coupled with the D4′s stated ability to autofocus in ‘illumination’ as low as -2EV is frankly astounding. Lighting will never be the same again.
The crop modes are very clever. The 1.5x crop is, essentially, a built in tele-converter, whilst the 2.7x crop is a mega teleconverter that enables one to take advantage of the inherent physical properties of wide angle lenses, to achieve deep focus in ‘run and gun’ situations with all the benefits of 1:1 pixels. Of course, if the Nikon D4′s full time continuous autofocus works as claimed, the need to choose between deep focus, having subjects amateurishly fall out of focus, or employing a skilled focus puller, would be mitigated.
Currently there is no mention of waveforms, vectorscope, zebra patterns, live histogram, focus peaking, or aspects ratios other than 16:9, though that’s not to say that these couldn’t be added in a firmware update, if enough people request them. Nor is there any mention of timecode.
Whilst I have high expectations and high hopes for the Nikon D4, the devil is in the details and I have yet to see all of the details, or to shoot with one. I will, therefore, reserve judgement until I have. One thing’s for sure though, with the Nikon D4 being released in February & the Canon 1D X being released in March, ‘Best Camera’ just became an olympic event.
- New Cameras in 2012 (paul-d.tv)
- Canon EOS 1D X Hands On Report (paul-d.tv)
- Canon EOS-1D X (paul-d.tv)
- The Night of The Long Camera Announcements (paul-d.tv)
- ‘The Toadlickers’ wins a Davey Award! (paul-d.tv)
© 2012, Paul D. All rights reserved.