Nikon has race-tuned its flagship pro D-SLR to take it to a new level. We look at what’s new, and why it matters
Nikon announces a new fully pro D-SLR – a serious tool for a serious job
After weeks of cloak-anddagger secrecy and sneak previews in glass cabinets, Nikon has finally announced the replacement for the Nikon D4.
Many pundits were expecting a new sensor or some other headlinegrabbing innovation, but what Nikon has done is both more subtle and more important. The D4s is a highspeed professional camera for sports and press photographers, and the improvements Nikon has made are aimed solely at taking what it does best and making it even better.
The sensor specifications are unchanged. The D4s has the same 16.2 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor as the D4. The point here is that 16 megapixels is perfectly adequate for the use the D4s’s images will be put to, and increasing the resolution would have compromised both its continuous shooting speed and its high-ISO capability – and these are two of the camera’s most important features.
The D4s has a new shutter and mirror mechanism, and can shoot at 11 frames per second with autofocus enabled – that’s one frame per second faster than the D4. For a professional photographer working in a highly competitive environment, any gain is important, and it’s matched to buffer capacity of 200 full-resolution JPEGs. Imagine that – 11 frames per second for an 18-second burst! And it can now almost shoot as long in RAW – for 176 shots (12-bit compressed NEF). The buffer capacity on the D4s is exceptional!
Many professional photographers want to take images with the flexibility of RAW files but the transfer speed of JPEGs, and the D4s introduces a new 12-bit uncompressed S (small) RAW mode, which shoots quarter-sized fourmegapixel images in situations where the image size isn’t important.
When you’re shooting 16-megapixel images at 11 frames per second, you need fast data transfer from the camera. The D4 came with a wired Ethernet port (many major sports venues have Ethernet connections), but the D4s has a 1000 Base-T Gigabit port that’s ten times faster.
Don’t black out
The new mirror mechanism has better damping, resulting in a more stable viewfinder image with less blackout between frames. And at 11fps, that’s important.
Shooting in the dark
The maximum ISO available on the D4s is increased to 25600, which is impressive enough in itself, but in its Hi 4 ‘expanded’ mode it goes right up
Imagine that – 11 frames per second for an 18-second burst! The buffer capacity on the D4s is exceptional
to ISO409,600. This high level of sensitivity lets you to take handheld pictures in the very low light.
The D4 was a very powerful tool for video, but the D4s takes this further by extending the Full HD maximum frame rate to 60/50fps. This means you can capture full-resolution half-speed slow-motion of key sporting moments. Video may not be a key feature in the consumer market yet, but pros need to meet an increasing demand for video.
The enhanced noise control in the D4s is used for its ‘3D’ noise reduction system to reduce random noise in still images and flicker in movies – which is needed, given the expanded ISO sensitivity range. It’s now possible to set auto ISO with manual shutter speed and aperture controls in the movie mode, too.
Sample im age
Nikon D4s, Nikon 600mm f/4G, 1/2000 sec, f/4, ISO200