Nikon has released an update to their flagship D4 pro DSLR: the D4s. While not a major upgrade to the camera (hence the ‘s’ in the name), the D4s packs more processing power, a refined autofocus system, faster continuous shooting, and more video features (including 1080/60p support). Two other items pros will appreciate are a ‘small’ Raw size and a noticeable improvement in battery life compared to the D4. The camera will be available in early March for $6499.95.
$6,499.95 for Body Only
March 6, 2014
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Hands-on with the Nikon D4s, with insights from its creators
‘the D4s has a newly-developed imaging sensor, although it’s still 16MP the noise characteristics are better and the imaging processing engine is now Expeed 4, so with the sensor and the new engine together the standard ISO range has increased to 100-25,600. This is higher than the D4 by one stop.’
‘Photo quality has improved in three ways – detail resolution, ‘three-dimensionalness’ and skin tone, not only for stills but also video – the image quality is better overall.’
‘The other main improvement is autofocus. The algorithm has been improved and tracking of moving subjects is better. We’ve also added an additional AF mode ‘group area autofocus’ which means that when you select a single AF point, the four points around it are also used.’
‘Mirror bounce is also reduced, which means a shorter blackout time. With the improved AF tracking the maximum frame-rate with continuous AF is now 11fps, increased from 10 fps in the D4. ’
‘Video is enhanced too – you can now capture 1920×1080 video in 60p, and you can also customize the D4s’s monitor to adjust the color tone.’
According to Mr Matsushima, some of Nikon’s professional users are ‘asking for 4K video’ but evidently the time is not yet nigh. Maybe in the D5…
‘The AF point selectors on the rear of the camera are now plastic instead of rubber, so the response is better and more ‘crisp’. The AF-ON button is easier to press now and we’ve expanded the rubber grip area on the back of the camera for a better grip with less slippage.’
Extreme Speed and Accuracy Give the Edge in the Field
Whether shooting extreme action sports or elusive wildlife, the Nikon D4S has been engineered to be the ultimate combination of speed and accuracy, giving photographers the power to capture even the fastest moving, unpredictable subjects with confidence and control. The proven Multi-CAM 3500 FX AF sensor module’s thoroughly recalibrated AF algorithms quickly zero in on its intended target— no matter how near, far, or abruptly a subject appears in the frame. Additionally, the D4S includes a new innovative Group AF mode. When selected, this mode utilizes five AF points to provide increased stability while tracking subjects, and enhanced accuracy by reducing instances of background focus. In situations where the background is bright with strong contrasting colors, photographers can now feel more confident, knowing that small, distant and fast-moving objects can be rendered sharper, faster and more frequently. Nikon’s AF Lock-on technology is also upgraded, shortening time in reverting from focus interruptions, such as a referee running into the frame.
Hundredths of a second can make the difference when capturing the decisive shot that graces the front page, the double-truck spread, or the client’s mantel. With this in mind, the Nikon D4S also improves tracking on high-speed continuous shooting at a blazing fast 11 fps, with continuous AF/AE. Because missing the shot is just not an option, Nikon’s EXPEED 4 plays an integral role in the D4S’ seemingly instantaneous response and swift performance, while enhancing energy efficiency. The camera now features a processing time that is a full 30% faster, in addition to a 200-shot buffer (JPEG) at full resolution at the maximum continuous mode.
As a proven flagship for the world’s most demanding photographers, the D4S retains the features that made its predecessor the professional’s choice in the first place. The Nikon D4S HD-SLR aligns 15 cross-type sensors in the center to detect contrast data in both vertical and horizontal planes. In addition to detecting each AF-NIKKOR lens with an aperture of f/5.6 or lower, the camera also utilizes nine cross-type sensors that are fully functional when using compatible NIKKOR lenses and a teleconverter with a combined aperture value up to f/8, a great advantage to those photographing sports and wildlife from extreme distances.
The Advantage of Superior Image Quality
At the core of the Nikon D4S is a newly developed 16.2-megapixel FX-format CMOS Sensor (36 x 23.9mm), engineered to deliver an immersive dynamic range, with exceptionally low noise. This newly developed image sensor works in tandem with the latest generation of Nikon’s powerful image processing engine, dubbed EXPEED 4, to bolster image quality, color and sharpness in both stills and video. The benefits of EXPEED 4 go well beyond high-speed image processing to provide evolved real time noise reduction, along with depth and clarity gradation rendering. The resulting images exhibit a wide tonal range, with true and faithful colors.
Thanks in part to the new EXPEED 4 processing engine, the Nikon D4S now shatters the perception of what’s possible with available light photography, giving users a native ISO range from 100-25,600 expandable from 50 ISO (Lo-1) to a staggering 409,600 ISO (Hi-4). This amazing ISO range rewrites the rulebook for available-light shooting, and is especially useful for professional sports shooters, photojournalists, as well as military and law enforcement agencies. The powerful EXPEED 4 image-processing engine incorporates an entirely new algorithm for even higher ISO noise reduction and color fidelity, resulting in an enhanced overall sharpness and clarity without sacrificing subtle textures and luminous details. The enhanced ISO is also a major advantage for other professionals including wedding and portrait photographers, who can now confidently capture the darkest reception, a candlelit ceremony, or create crisp studio portraits with flawless fidelity.
Other advanced Nikon technologies also contribute to the superior image quality of the Nikon D4S, including a new enhanced standard Picture Control tone curve that gives greater depth and clearer color rendition, especially on skin tones. For additional versatility, users have the ability to toggle Face Detect AF on or off while shooting through the viewfinder, and white balance calculation has been further refined for accuracy, while spot white balance is employed for easier presetting with more options.
Nikon’s exclusive 91,000-pixel RGB 3D Color Matrix Metering III system returns on the D4S to help capture true-to-life colors while solving the most challenging exposures, from sun-lit snow to stadium lighting. The system works by meticulously analyzing the variables within each scene and recognizing factors such as color and brightness values with unprecedented exactness. This data is then interpreted and compared against the camera’s on-board database to implement various settings, resulting in vibrant images with faithful color reproduction and balanced exposure.
Faster Workflow During and After Capture
While shooting speed and response matter in the moment, workflow speed has become increasingly important in a more competitive landscape. The D4S delivers upon the need for that speed with features that are engineered for today’s professional:
- New RAW SIZE S files: In addition to shooting JPEG, full size RAW (NEF) and TIFF files, the Nikon D4S also has a new file setting to enhance workflow, RAW SIZE S. This setting allows for shooting 12-bit uncompressed Nikon NEF files that are approximately half the size (2464 x 1640) of standard uncompressed RAW files and are more easily manageable—speeding up the entire workflow process.
- Faster transfer rate: When connected via LAN, users can now transmit files using Gigabit Ethernet (1000 Base-T LAN). This significant decrease in transfer times means more time to shoot, and less time transmitting files.
- Improved battery life: Despite its processing power, the D4S is remarkably power-efficient. With the addition of a new EN-EL18a Lithium-Ion battery, the D4S can easily outlast the action with up 3,020 (CIPA rating) shots in single mode and 5,960 shots (Nikon testing) in continuous mode.
- Dual card slots: The D4S uses both CF cards as well as the super-fast XQD card format to achieve the fastest possible transfer and write times.
Video Features Fit for the Modern Production Environment
With an increase in potent processing power, the D4S ups the ante when it comes to multimedia workflow and content capture. A versatile tool on location or on set, the D4S offers enhanced video quality and video-friendly features, in a compact and lightweight HD-SLR form factor. In addition to the innovative video attributes from the D4, the D4S offers the following new features:
- Full HD video in variable frame rates: Users have the choice of various resolutions and frame rates, including a new 1080/60p option for increased flexibility in post. Users can also shoot at 1080 30p or a cinematic 24p, as well as various other NTSC and PAL frame rates and resolutions. By utilizing the B-Frame data compression method, users can record H.264 / MPEG-4 AVC format video with unmatched integrity for up to 29:59 minutes per clip.
- Selectable image area: Users now have the ability to select an image area in Live View mode to match the glass or shooting style. To best suit the scene, FX, DX (1.5x) and 2.7x cropping is available.
- Expanded ISO range for video and auto ISO control: D4S’ FX-format image sensor and EXPEED 4 work hand-in-hand to render a natural transition between bright and dark scenes, all while delivering rich tones, sharp edges and minimized noise, even at high ISOs. The D-Movie mode has awide standard ISO range — from 200 to 25,600 to shoot in nearly any lighting. Furthermore, the ISO can be pushed up to an ISO 409,600 (Hi-4) equivalent. Additionally, D4S lets you maintain manual exposure for controlled shutter speeds and aperture settings while the camera automatically dictates the ISO maximum sensitivity from 400 to Hi-4. For assignments with dramatic shifts in lighting, this can be a remarkably useful tool.
- Uncompressed 1080 60p: For the purest video quality, the D4S allows direct output of uncompressed files via HDMI. Output can be recorded to an optional outboard digital video recorder, making for an efficient editing workflow.
- Manual control: Like the D4 HD-SLR, D4S offers full manual control when shooting video for maximum creative versatility.
- Simultaneous recording: When recording to an external digital recorder via HDMI, the D4S can now simultaneously write to the CF or XQD card. This function is ideal for creating backups and recording while live-streaming content.
- Improved sound: The range of audio frequency is now selectable, with options such as Wide Range and Voice Range. Wind noise reduction and audio levels can be changed during recording.
- Smoother exposure transition during time-lapse and interval-time shooting: Creating breathtaking time-lapse movies is even easier with the D4S. The camera renders exposure transitions with unprecedented smoothness. Such scenes have been difficult to capture in manual or auto exposure mode, but now users can apply an auto exposure to achieve professional-grade time-lapse and interval-time shooting.
- NIKKOR lens compatibility: The highest caliber optics are vital to creating HD images and Nikon is the world leader in optics manufacturing with a legacy spanning more than 80 years. Nikon has a vast NIKKOR lens system, with more than 80 lenses including 65 FX-format lenses with a variety of focal lengths and features, including VR vibration reduction.
Pro Grade Construction and Controls
As a flagship camera for professionals, the D4S is engineered to excel in the world’s toughest environments, while giving pros the features needed to get the shot. The shutter has been tested to 400,000 cycles, and the camera chassis is constructed of lightweight and durable magnesium alloy. Additionally, the camera is sealed and gasketed from moisture, dust and electromagnetic interference to resist the elements.
While shooting, users will appreciate a slightly modified control layout and ergonomics for faster and more comfortable shooting. Subtle changes increase grip and comfort, making the camera easier to hold for a wider range of hand sizes and more comfortable during prolonged use. Photographers will also benefit from composing through a bright viewfinder with 100% coverage. The D4S also features a newly designed mirror-moving mechanism, which uniformly and effectively absorbs mirror slap to minimize viewfinder blackout time. Even at 11 fps, this innovation makes it easier to track a fast subject through the optical viewfinder.
The wide and bright high-resolution 921k dot, 3.2-inch LCD screen of the Nikon D4S lets users easily change menu settings, compose and review images. Photographers have the ability to customize the color of the LCD monitor to better match studio monitors or personal preference. Additionally, the LCD monitor retains its auto-brightness function that automatically adjusts the brightness of the monitor to increase visibility and conserve battery life.
|Body type||Large SLR”|
|Body material||Magnesium alloy|
|Max resolution||4928 x 3280|
|Other resolutions||4096 x 2720, 4096 x 3280, 3696 x 2456, 3200 x 2128, 3072 x 2456, 3072 x 2040, 2464 x 1640, 2400 x 1592, 2048 x 1360, 2048 x 1640, 1600 x 1064|
|Image ratio w:h||5:4, 3:2|
|Effective pixels||16 megapixels|
|Sensor photo detectors||17 megapixels|
|Sensor size||Full frame (36 x 23.9 mm)|
|Color space||sRGB, AdobeRGB|
|Color filter array||RGB Color Filter Array|
|ISO||Auto, ISO 100-25600 (expands to 50-409600)|
|White balance presets||12|
|Custom white balance||Yes (4 slots)|
|Uncompressed format||RAW + TIFF|
|JPEG quality levels||Fine, normal, basic|
|Optics & Focus|
|Autofocus assist lamp||No|
|Number of focus points||51|
|Lens mount||Nikon F|
|Focal length multiplier||1×|
|Screen / viewfinder|
|Screen type||TFT LCD with brightness and color adjustment|
|Viewfinder type||Optical (pentaprism)|
|Minimum shutter speed||30 sec|
|Maximum shutter speed||1/8000 sec|
|External flash||Yes (via hotshoe, flash sync port)|
|Flash modes||Auto FP high-speed sync, front-curtain, rear-curtain, redeye reduction, redeye reduction w/slow sync, slow rear-curtain sync, off|
|Flash X sync speed||1/250 sec|
|Continuous drive||11 fps|
|Self-timer||Yes (2-20 seconds, 1-9 exposures at intervals of 0.5, 1, 2, or 3 seconds)|
|Exposure compensation||±5 (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 1 EV steps)|
|AE Bracketing||±5 (2, 3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)|
|WB Bracketing||Yes (2-9 frames in steps of 1, 2, or 3)|
|Resolutions||1920 x 1080 (60, 50, 30, 25, 24 fps), 1280 x 720 (60, 50 fps), 640 x 424 (30, 25 fps)|
|Videography notes||Bit rates for 1080/60p: 42Mbps (10 min limit), 24Mbps (20 min limit)|
|Storage types||CompactFlash, XQD|
|USB||USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)|
|Wireless notes||via WT-5A or WT-4A|
|Remote control||Yes (wired or wireless)|
|Environmentally sealed||Yes (Water and dust resistant)|
|Battery description||Lithium-Ion EN-EL18a rechargeable battery & charger|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||3020|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||1350 g (2.98 lb / 47.62 oz)|
|Dimensions||160 x 157 x 91 mm (6.3 x 6.18 x 3.58″)|
|Timelapse recording||Yes (9999 shots)|
|GPS notes||via GP-1A|