Saturday, January 7, 2012

Nikon D4

Photo credit:  Nikon Imaging Products website
-Product Brochure-

The Nikon D4 – Dave's Take

So, right on schedule Nikon has come clean with a D4 press release. For anyone wanting to update their camera calendar this means the D4x will be available in late 2013 and a D5 will be announced in winter of 2015/16 and ready for shipping 6-8 months later. Nikon has become very predictable. It's the details we never know until the last minute.

What I like:
  1. Less weight (even if it is only 3 oz) less than a D3. A D4 and anything more than a 50mm f/1.4 will still be a brick to carry all day. So this is a moderate “like”.
  2. Higher ISO range. I love how cameras become more capable of shooting in dark corners with every new DSLR version. The D4 is well into 6 figures now.
  3. Faster shooting rate. 11 frames per second gives 2-3 more chances of catching that magic moment.
  4. Simplified controls. Because I have a hard enough time with figuring things out sometimes.
  5. “Silent” shutter mode... if it really works. The sound of a D3 shutter is abnormally loud in many situations. Anything Nikon can do to quiet that part of their system down is welcome news to me. I've always been more attuned to “ninja” or candid photography anyway and noisy systems can make that difficult.
  6. I love (not like) the fact that this will slowly bring D3S prices down more into a range I might be able to afford at some point.  I would easily upgrade to the D3S before a D4.
  7. That lens compatibility is once again maintained. To me this is one of the Nikon system's real strengths over many other manufacturers.  Glass is still as important, if not more so, than bodies anyway, and the fact that I can still use 30 yr old lenses on my D3 is a gift I would hate to lose.
What I don't like:
  1. Cost. $6,000+ MSRP. Really? I could use a new truck too. Or fully fix the bodywork and engine on the one I have. A nice long summer vacation in the Greek islands would be cool too. Six grand would just about cover either of those wishes. What I like about this "don't like" item is that I already have a D3.
  2. HD Video. Sorry... video is a feature I rarely need. Your mileage will vary, but it's not something that I'd find useful very often even if it is HD. All that being said I'm sure I'd quickly find a use for it if I had it.
  3. Battery format change. Please!... not another battery change!  There are some things new equipment like this shouldn't modify very often, and the battery is one of them. I still have D70 and D200/300 batteries and chargers laying around in addition to the D3 kit. It's an unexplained mystery to me why the battery had to change for the D4. Video maybe, but this is going to add even more kit for anyone upgrading to the new system. It doesn't seem necessary somehow.
  4. Change in memory card format. Nikon should have just moved fully to the new XQD cards and provided two slots for them instead of splitting the system and keeping the old CF cards. Does anyone even have an XQD card yet? Or a reader? Bet not.  Good luck getting them for a while too. (Wikipedia re: XQD Card.)
  5. GPS. They added wireless but still not GPS. Seems that would be as simple as anything else and would be extremely useful to many professionals not necessarily in the photography business but in the sciences. Too bad. Wonder if Nikon has a “Wish List” page somewhere?

The Nikon D4 is an upgrade I will take a pass on. I already do almost all of my primary shooting with a D3, a camera that really is everything and more than I need. The new D4's improvements are incrementally small by comparison and would not be enough to tempt me even if the economy was rock solid, or if I shot photos for a living.  But neither is the case.  And I also carry a D300 as a backup making my kit fully equipped to handle just about any assignment thrown at me.   Both systems do an excellent job for my needs.  I should probably add one more item to the "Like" list above:

Time. The D4 release will give me time to save money or spend what little I have on other things for a change. Nothing will be going out the door for camera gear for a while.  Maybe some Greek food one day soon after all! :)

Thanks, Nikon!


Below are links to some excellent reviews by guys who know a boatload more about all this stuff than I do... and their reactions:

Joe McNally ... who actually shot the rig for Nikon prior to this announcement.
David Hobby ... Mr. Strobist, who will also be taking a pass.
Ken Rockwell ... who seems to alienate a lot of readers because his shameless self-promotion and constant shilling, but one who also carries excellent technical credentials.


  1. Well i think that most common sense guys out there (apart for those that really really need it and maybe those with deeper pockets) are holding still about the D4.

    Many will get it, now, others later. I'm on the last segment.

    I've read Hobby's article too, since you point it out, and it is a great route that he's taken.
    Not for me since weddings are more dslr orientated, but i can agree with him in most of his opinions. (i would be foolish not too)

    p.s. i fixed your link in my blog :)

  2. Yep, much easier to upgrade when your talking $290 - $350 like the ones I use. If I'd of bought one of those fancy cameras, which by the way, I never would have figured out how to operate, I might not have seen the Grand Canyon, been on a cruise, visited Utah, or met the wonderful Pbase folks I have met and hopefully will meet more in the future! 6 grand for a base, 5-100 for glass, yep, I'm sticking with my little Pany! Admitted, most of my pictures aren't as good as with the better equipment, but it's good enough for us!

  3. Well, I'd agree with both notes above.

    Stefanos takes photos to feed a family, and as a businessman it's logical he will invest in equipment as time permits to maximize product quality. As a D3 & D300 owner he will sacrifice very little while he waits for the economy to recover. Stefanos' full set of comments can be found -Here-.

    Me, since this is being written "in order" so to speak, will only occasionally sell images and am not supported by my photography. But my images also often end up in a professional environment where quality is important. My inventory (D3/D300) also allows me to wait or skip this upgrade entirely.

    Ed takes photos for fun in retirement. He has no reason whatsoever to carry anything more than his shirt pocket can contain. He is free to concentrate on the moment and prove to the rest of us, professional and amateur alike that, "It's not About the Camera", a lesson we should all remind ourselves of on a regular basis anyway.

  4. I totally agree. Little cameras become more and quality cameras at last, so a guy that just want to take photos does not need to go this deep in equipment.
    Even the serious amateur can get by without a Dslr with stunning results.
    It's definitely not the camera that makes the shots. It just helps the creative mind to do more. But without the mind to start with the camera is nothing.