Nikon D4s

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

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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.

Com­mon sen­sor

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.

Faster, faster

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!

Smaller RAW

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.

Get wired!

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.

Mov­ing pic­tures

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

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