Nikon D4s and Nikkor 800mm f/5.6 for Bird Photography

Mating Black Hawks

My D7000, Nikkor 500mm and I have had some wonderful times together – the shots of a Peregrine chick jumping off the ledge for the first time, the yoga-stretching Osprey that made Audubon’s Top 100, and who can forget the Night Heron flying past with a baby alligator in it’s mouth. But like all relationships, it seemed the initial pizazz was fading. I began to notice how she had trouble staying focused and got noisy when I pushed an issue. Furthermore, with 190,000 clicks under her belt, well, let’s just say her shutter curtains were starting to droop a bit. It was time to move on, but don’t get me wrong, we’ll always be friends. Now I hate to admit it, but I’d been having an online affair with the new Nikkor 800mm for almost a year – I’d link over to her B&H page and run my finger gently around her buy now button. Oh how we teased each other… Then one day we went all the way.

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Nikon D4s and Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4

Nikon D4s and Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 Image Samples (4)

What do you do when you have two low-light kings, the Nikon D4s and the Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4? You take them for a night shoot of course! After receiving both for some testing / reviews, I took off to photograph Denver downtown at night. It was way past the sunset time, so I knew that I would only have street lights to illuminate my subjects. Since the Zeiss Otus is an insanely sharp lens wide open, I set its aperture to f/1.4 and only changed it a couple of times during the night in order to increase depth of field and ISO. Interestingly, at such a large aperture, I found myself often shooting at pretty low ISO levels – generally under ISO 3200. So it was nice to be able to push my shutter speeds as high as 1/400 for freezing motion:

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Nikon 1 V3 Announcement

Nikon 1 V3

Nikon has just announced the Nikon 1 V3, an update to the existing Nikon 1 V2 mirrorless camera that was released two years ago. Unlike many of the recent camera introductions which have been relatively small improvements over previous versions, the Nikon 1 V3 is a substantial rework and renewal of the Nikon 1 V2 and frankly, the changes appear to be exciting.  First, is a new sensor with  more resolution (18.4 MP), better ISO sensitivity (12,800) and a new EXPEED 4A processor to accompany it.  Second, there is an improved hybrid autofocus system which incorporates 171 autofocus points (171 points for contrast detection and 105 points for phase detection) for fast and accurate focus acquisition and tracking. For comparison, the V2 uses 135 focus points (135 for contrast and 73 for phase-detect).  These alone would be nice improvements, but Nikon went further and improved the frame rate to a WHOPPING 20 fps at full resolution AND full autofocus. To put that into perspective, the new D4s which costs $6500 “only” shoots at the rate of 11 fps. Why stop there? How about a new tilting touch screen monitor with higher resolution than the previous V2? Finally, throw in built-in WiFi and you’ve made not just an incremental upgrade, but a totally new camera.

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High-End Mirrorless Camera Comparison

Fuji X-T1 vs Olympus OM-D E-M1

In this follow-up article to the mirrorless camera comparison, I will be comparing high-end options available on the market today from different manufacturers. While the mirrorless market has not shown healthy growth in the US and Europe lately, it is just a matter of time before the new technology makes its way into our daily lives and starts replacing lower-end/small sensor DSLRs. High cost is still an issue for now, but considering that mirrorless cameras use far less components than DSLRs, we will soon start seeing them at very attractive prices. In fact, many mirrorless camera models already have seen significant price decreases (remember the ridiculous Nikon 1 V1 $299 price drop?) and we will be seeing a lot more of that in the next few years. In this particular article, I would like to start off by comparing the top of the line mirrorless cameras on the market, specifically designed for professionals and photo enthusiasts that look for the best image quality, features, autofocus performance and a solid lens selection. Please note that the below comparisons are only for mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. Also, please keep in mind that some of the benchmarks presented in this article are very subjective, based on our prior experience using the cameras and their published specifications.

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Nikon D4s and 800mm f/5.6E Field Test

D4s - 800mm Sample Photos

Before everybody kills me about hand-holding, I just have to say this – I was doing some personal testing / photography and wanted to see what this combination could do for me. So please be kind to me :) Let me be clear, the Nikon D4 is a dream camera and I loved that camera to death. I got the D4s, because a friend wanted my D4, so this deal worked out for both of us. Upon purchase, I found it hard to believe the D4 could be improved upon and it’s still too early for me to make a conclusion on that, as I have only had the camera for 2 days. I feel there is an improvement in ISO noise at higher levels, however, the new focusing system got me interested in this camera and today’s trip to the coast to shoot some owls was all about giving me a feel for what was possible. I hand-held this combination a lot today, because I tend to do that when shooting and I wanted to know if I could do it with the 800mm and also get a feel for the D4s abilities. Anyway, here are some real world shots from me, good or bad, it was awesome fun and I got some shots I am very happy with.

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Nikon D4s High ISO Image Samples

Nikon D4s Scene #1 ISO 6400

While Tom Redd and I are still waiting for the Nikon D4s sample to arrive next week, our wildlife guru Robert Anderson has already gotten a hold of the D4s and has been testing out his new favorite toy today. Rob was kind enough to send me some image samples from the camera at high ISO settings: 6400, 12800 and 25600. As you may already know, the Nikon D4s pushed the maximum “native” sensitivity level by a full stop from 12800 on the D4 to 25600. While some image samples and comparisons for the D4s have been available on the Internet, many of them lacked consistency to be able to do a more thorough comparison. Therefore, I asked Rob to take pictures of a real scene after sunset, shooting on a tripod at different ISO levels. Below you will find two different scenes that Rob graciously provided for our readers to enjoy. While we do not yet have comparisons of the Nikon D4s to the D4, we will post those comparisons as soon as we get a hold of the D4s next week!

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Nikon Refurbished Camera Deals

Nikon D610

Our friends at B&H are selling some Nikon-refurbished cameras at great prices, so I wanted to share those deals with our readers. The Nikon D610 is already available at a great price of $1,749 for a refurbished model, as well as the Nikon D7100, which you can buy now for $939. As before, the Nikon D800 is also available at $2,399 and there are a few other options for refurbished lenses. Please note that a manufacturer-refurbished item means that the camera was returned by a customer (sometimes due to flaws and other times for no reason / dissatisfaction) and the manufacturer thoroughly re-inspected the item, fixed any potential issues and put it for sale it at a significantly lower price. Just like with any new item, B&H provides a 30-day warranty for refurbished stock, so you can return the item if you are not happy with its condition. In addition, there is a 90-day manufacturer warranty in case anything goes wrong, so you can send it back to Nikon for free repair. If you would like to find out more about refurbished gear, check out this article at B&H.

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Nikon D4s Image Samples

Nikon D4s Sample Image (4)

Nikon has not yet updated its main site with the D4s image samples, but thanks to our readers, we have received links to other Nikon global sites that host high resolution image samples from the new Nikon D4s (see related posts). As we receive more sample images, we will be updating this article with those samples for your viewing pleasure.

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Nikon D4s vs D4

Nikon D4s vs D4 Back

Although plenty of information was already provided in our Nikon D4s announcement post, many current D4 owners might be wondering how their cameras compare to the newly announced Nikon D4s. In this comparison article, I will provide information about both cameras, along with my analysis of the main differences. I do not yet have a review sample of the Nikon D4s to do more in-depth side-by-side comparisons, so I decided to write about differences in specifications between the two. More details about the D4s will be published in my upcoming Nikon D4s review.

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Nikon D4s DSLR Announcement

Nikon D4s

Although the Nikon D4s has already appeared at CES and other events earlier this year, Nikon did not provide official information, pictures, specifications or pricing for the camera until now. Today, the top-of-the-line Nikon D4s is finally released and we have the full details on the camera that we are happily sharing with our readers. Similar to the Nikon D3s, the D4s is an incremental update to the D4 with better low-light performance, bigger buffer, faster frames per second and other improvements highlighted below.

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