Nikon D4s DSLR Announcement

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.

Nikon D4s

So, what does the Nikon D4s bring to the table? Here is a summary of its features:

  1. Sensor: 16.2 MP FX, 7.3µ pixel size
  2. Native ISO Sensitivity: 100-25,600
  3. Boost Low ISO Sensitivity: 50
  4. Boost High ISO Sensitivity: 51,200-409,600
  5. Camera Buffer: 200 shots (JPEG fine L), approx. 133 shots (12-bit, lossless compressed RAW), approx. 176 shots (12-bit, compressed RAW), or approx. 104 shots (14-bit, compressed RAW)
  6. Processor: EXPEED 4
  7. Dust Reduction: Yes
  8. Shutter: Up to 1/8000 and 30 sec exposure, self-diagnostic shutter monitor
  9. Shutter Durability: 400,000 cycles
  10. Camera Lag: 0.012 seconds
  11. Storage: 1x Compact Flash slot and 1x XQD slot
  12. Viewfinder Coverage: 100%
  13. Speed: 11 FPS
  14. Exposure Meter: 91,000 pixel RGB sensor
  15. Autofocus System: Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX with 51 focus points and 15 cross-type sensors
  16. Group Area AF: Five AF sensors used as a Group Optimized for subjects located within an area covered by the “Group”
  17. AF Detection: Up to f/8 with 11 focus points (5 in the center, 3 on the left and right)
  18. LCD Screen: 3.2 inch diagonal with 921,000 dots
  19. LCD Screen Calibration: Yes
  20. Movie Modes: Full 1080p HD @ 60 fps max
  21. Movie Exposure Control: Full
  22. Movie Output: MOV, Compressed and Uncompressed
  23. Two Live View Modes: One for photography and one for videography
  24. Camera Editing: Lots of in-camera editing options with HDR capabilities
  25. Wired LAN: Built-in Gigabit RJ-45 LAN port
  26. WiFi: Not built-in, requires WT-5a and older wireless transmitters
  27. GPS: Not built-in, requires GP-1 GPS unit
  28. Battery Type: EN-EL18a
  29. Battery Life: 3,020 shots
  30. Weight: 1,240g
  31. Price: $6,499.95 MSRP

I only took the most important features from a very long list of detailed features that are available at NikonUSA. While I will provide a comparison between the Nikon D4s and the D4 in a separate article, I would like to talk about some of the new features on the D4s.

Nikon D4s Back

Let’s first talk about the sensor and low-light performance. The Nikon D4s retains the same 16.2 MP resolution sensor as the D4, so there are no changes there. However, the native ISO range of the D4s is one full stop higher, so it pushes maximum ISO limit from the already impressive ISO 12,800 to ISO 25,600. If this is a real full stop difference in noise performance, then expect to see remarkable results at ISO 6,400 and 12,800, with ISO 25,600 producing very good results if you do not mind cleaning up the noise in post. This obviously pushes the maximum boosted ISO to staggering ISO 409,600, which is world’s highest sensitivity found in a digital camera. I do not expect to see anything remarkable at super high boost levels, since there is often too much noise, but I am sure people will make use of it when shooting videos in extremely dark environments.

The camera speed has been pushed even more to insane 11 fps with autofocus engaged. D4 owners won’t see much difference in speed, but if you have been using a slower camera, the D4s will fire like a machine gun, while tracking subjects. The autofocus system is still the same Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX that we have seen in older cameras, so there are no improvements there. However, since the processor has been upgraded from EXPEED 3 to EXPEED 4, autofocus is probably a little faster than on the D4, especially for tracking subjects. Nikon did add an interesting feature that might be worth exploring – we now have a “Group Area AF”. This autofocus feature uses five AF sensors to track and focus on subjects. Some of our readers were expecting a new autofocus module, but looks like Nikon D4s will still use the good old 51-point AF system.

Nikon D4s Top

I am disappointed by Nikon’s decision to still keep two different card slots. Instead of keeping the “legacy” CF slot, Nikon should have used two XQD slots and fully moved to that format. XQD is much faster than CF and the newer versions of XQD promise insane read/write speeds that CF will never be able to achieve. XQD cards are also smaller and do not result in bent pins. If Nikon fully moved to XQD on the D4s (and potentially on lower-end DSLRs like Nikon D8xx), it would have shown that it was committed to the card format and we would have seen a lot more manufacturers producing XQD cards. Lastly, having dual slots with the same card format would have made it easier for photographers to keep their workflow consistent…

Another notable feature includes the new “RAW SIZE S” files, which are supposed to be 12-bit uncompressed RAW files that are much smaller in size, thanks to the decreased resolution of 2464×1640. I don’t yet know how this mode works – whether it applies down-sampling to images, or simply crops the center area. My guess is that there is some sort of interpolation technique taking place in this mode and the RAW file is “cooked” by the camera. Otherwise it would make no sense, since the D4 already can crop the image in half when shooting in DX mode.

For those that like to shoot tethered in a studio using a wired connection, the built-in Ethernet port has been upgraded to 1000 Base-T (Gigabit Ethernet), which is 10x faster than the previous 100 Base-T port on the D4. Video shooters are probably going to be disappointed to find only 1080p HD video recording capability at up to 60 fps, since many were hoping to see 4K video recording. The time lapse feature has also been upgraded to be able to shoot up to 9999 frames and the battery life has also been extended to 3,020 shots, thanks to the faster speed and upgraded EN-EL18a battery.

The camera body remains pretty much the same, with the exception of minor tweaks. The control layout has been modified and the grip is now a little bigger for those with large hands.

Nikon D4s Front Left

Unfortunately, Nikon bumped up the price by $500, so the D4s will retail for $6,499.95. Personally, I am puzzled by Nikon’s decision to increase the price. At $6.5K, the D4s has hit the new record high for the pro line of sports/wildlife cameras. When the D3 debuted back in 2007, it was priced at $4,999. The D3s was introduced at $5,199, pushing the price up by $200. When the D4 came out, the price got bumped to $5,999, which was already a big increase. Now we see another $500 push. While I understand that this is a premium camera for specific needs, that’s a pretty hefty price tag if you ask me, during the time when DSLR sales are on the decline. The price increase is probably the result of inflation, currency conversion rate variances and other factors.

On a side note, I know that some of our readers have been asking us to review the Nikon D4 for a while now. I feel frustrated that I never had a chance to do it, although I have plenty of data and 2 years of shooting experience to write a detailed review. In the next few weeks, I am planning to finally review the D4 (with the help of our team members that use it extensively), along with some premium lenses like the Nikon 600mm f/4G VR. I hope to do it before getting my hands on the D4s and I promise to deliver a review of the D4s soon after I get my hands on it, instead of making you wait for too long. Time has been my biggest enemy, but I do have some big plans for this year that will free up plenty of time for providing more content!

Nikon D4s Back Left Nikon D4s Front Right

Nikon D4s Front Nikon D4s Top Overview

Pre-Order Links

As always, both B&H and Adorama will be accepting pre-orders for the Nikon D4s:

  1. Pre-order Nikon D4s for $6,499.95 at B&H Photo Video
  2. Pre-order Nikon D4s for $6,499.95 at Adorama

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Stefan
    February 24, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    I wonder if Nikon will ever update D800/D800E adn may be other cameras – D600 and D7100 to make 9999 shots timelapse. the current 999 are simply not enough and you have to hang around your camera to reset the timer it you want more (and everyone wants more of course).

    • February 24, 2014 at 10:45 pm

      Stefan, it is just a software tweak! I bet we won’t see a firmware update that addresses that and Nikon will roll it into future DSLRs :)

      • 5
        ) Stefan
        February 24, 2014 at 10:48 pm

        I’m afraid of the same, Nasim.
        Who know – may be D900 and D400 will have it…
        :-)

        • February 24, 2014 at 10:51 pm

          Stefan, I think it is safe to assume that the next generation will be D810 instead of D900 :) As for the D400, who knows – CanonRumors says that there will be a 7D Mark II. If that’s the case, then Nikon will surely release a competitor.

          • 12
            ) Stefan
            February 24, 2014 at 11:04 pm

            I agree.
            I think this time Nikon are waiting to see if Canon will release 7D MII.
            I don’t know your personal opinion, but I don’t like those “add-on” numbers – D610, D810, etc.
            I think Nikon should reevaluate their full nomenclature and come up with new naming system.
            Why not using the mount as a base:
            FX1, FX10, FX100, FX1000, etc.
            DX1, DX10, DX100, DX1000, etc.
            CX1, CX10, CX100, CX1000, etc.
            This way without need of using those “added” numbers, they would have enough names for the next 20-30 years or so.

            • February 24, 2014 at 11:11 pm

              Stefan, the whole naming convention thing came up so many times by now! I don’t know who comes up with all the camera names, but it sure is very confusing…

            • 35
              ) Jay
              February 25, 2014 at 2:35 pm

              There is a new Nikon D400 out. It is called the Pentax K-3. Pentax seems to be the only DSLR company presently spending any time and research on the APS-C crop cameras. Nasim- time for a review of the K-3?

    • 31
      ) Ricardo Vaz
      February 25, 2014 at 9:57 am

      Just buy an intervalometer/timer for $20 dolars.

  2. 2
    ) eric laquerre
    February 24, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    I was expecting bigger improvement. It is getting crazy expensive, not that I would buy one anyway :)

    I found it weird that they kept two types of memory card, I guess people weren’t complaining enough about it!

    I will gladly read your d4 and d4s review, you don’t have to make excuse! We all are running out of time! I forgive you!! :)

    • February 24, 2014 at 10:46 pm

      Thanks Eric :) I can barely catch up with everything lately! Have OM-D E-M1 review, then Sony A7R/A7, D5300, D3300, then a bunch of lenses…ouch! Too much to review and too little time!

      • 40
        ) Love2Eat
        February 27, 2014 at 9:38 am

        Another one to add, Fujifilm X-T1 please.

  3. 7
    ) Anand
    February 24, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    Being a flagship product that is iterated at a much slower pace than the rest of the SLR line, I expected the update to have more groundbreaking new technologies. But then, may be Nikon has different plans for now. Not a bad camera, but it has more potential than what was announced.

  4. February 24, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    Hey Nasim!

    Since many of these new features are only incremental, do you expect Nikon to offer an upgrade for current D4 owners? Didn’t they do something similar when the D3S came out? Maybe I’m just tired!

    Looking forward to your D4 review and comparison article.

    Best,

    Rob

    • February 24, 2014 at 11:00 pm

      Rob, they did offer buffer memory upgrade option for the original D3, but it was several hundred dollars as far as I remember. The D3s already came with a larger buffer.

      I doubt that Nikon will offer a similar upgrade option to existing D4 owners. The D4 can already push a lot of data, so more memory won’t do much to increase its performance.

  5. 9
    ) Daham
    February 24, 2014 at 10:56 pm
    • February 24, 2014 at 11:03 pm

      Daham, I am waiting until full-size sample images become available. If you spot those, please let me know and I will post them here. Thank you!

      • 14
        ) Daham
        February 24, 2014 at 11:20 pm

        They are full (original) size photos on the above link and I downloaded some.Click on a image and it will pop out then hover you mouse on it and you will see ‘Download Original Image (4928 x 3280)’ in cyan and click on it. I used Google Chrome to download.

        • February 25, 2014 at 9:45 am

          Thanks Daham! Please let me know if you find any high-ISO samples, I will post them here!

          • 32
            ) Daham
            February 25, 2014 at 10:30 am

            There were some links to low quality, crappy photos with Exif tags of D4s at NR on Feb 9 from Sochi Olympics. nikonrumors.com/2014/02/09/nikon-d4s-spotted-at-the-olympics-in-sochi.aspx/

  6. February 24, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    Yawn. What an anti-climax. Wonder if the new batteries would be compatible with the old D4?

    Nikon seems to be loosing the momentum. Canon have better video, Fuji actually listen to their users, meanwhile Nikon just seem to pump out mid range models diluting the brand, but then not leveraging the flagship to set the standard.

    Oh, by the way, I do have a D4.

  7. 16
    ) Donz
    February 24, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    Waiting on the D4 with two zeros on the end, rather than an ‘S’ …might be an old man by then, haha.

  8. 17
    ) Max
    February 25, 2014 at 12:09 am

    The sensor itself is not really new but not the same,its seems they tweak it a bit. Hard to tell….

    “The newly developed 16.2-megapixel FX-format sensor works in conjunction with the new EXPEED 4 “

  9. February 25, 2014 at 12:13 am

    Hi Nasim,

    I was so waiting for this review and wondering when you would write it. Remember when we wrote the Nikon 800mm lens review together when it first came out? That was really exciting! And now…I noticed an anti-climax – did you know that you used the word “disappointed” four (4) times in this short review? Well I felt that way too when I saw the specs – hmmm – I pre-ordered my D4S a week ago – time to reconsider? I guess the 60 frames per second for video is the only real change for me. And for you?

    • February 25, 2014 at 12:32 am

      Christian, nice to hear from you my friend! I guess I run out of vocabulary pretty quickly when posting late, so thanks for letting me know (I reduced the number of “disappointed” occurrences).

      When I found out about the specifications of the D4s earlier today, I called Tom Redd and told him not to sell his D4. He was planning on selling the D4 to buy the D4s, but after what I told him, he also felt like it was not worth the upgrade. Just like me, he felt that the D4s did not justify the $6500 price tag. It is hard to say how much better the D4s will be in high ISO noise performance. If it is a whole stop better, then it might be worth it, but if it is just slightly better, then there is really not that much of advantage to be honest. As soon as I get the D4s, I will test it out thoroughly and compare with Tom’s D4 and see if there are any serious advantages, especially when it comes to AF for tracking subjects. I doubt we will see anything spectacular, but you never know until you try!

      For now, I would skip on the pre-order since you already have the D4 and wait until Tom and I test the D4s. If we find it great, then we will post the info right away.

      If I owned a D3 or a D3s and wanted to move up in resolution, quality, features and performance, then the D4s would make sense. For existing D4 owners, it is hard to justify it I think, at least based on specifications.

      • 24
        ) Jigesh
        February 25, 2014 at 5:43 am

        Can’t agree more; had sold D4 in anticipation of D4s and it’s clear I made a mistake. D4 is a fabulous camera, but no way I’ll be getting D4s especially with the current price tag! Anyway, will still be waiting for your reviews of both D4 and D4s (and will try my best not to be swayed!).

  10. 19
    ) Richard D
    February 25, 2014 at 12:14 am

    A bit off topic, but I just wanted to say that I’m upset with Nikon right now. I bought a D600 a little over a year ago. By May of last year, I saw that it had the infamous “dust” problem. I sent the camera in. Nikon replaced the shutter mechanism. All was done with no cost to me, including the shipping of the camera to Nikon and insurance for the camera. I was happy about that.

    A couple of weeks ago, a small black screw fell on the floor while I was changing lenses. I could not and still cannot tell where that screw came from, but I strongly suspect it came from my 70 – 200 f/4 lens I bought about 8 months ago. That screw, though, looks very much like the black screws in the D600 body, but I can see a black screw or two well inside of the lens, looking through the back. I suspect that the loose screw might have some out of the opening where the aperture lever is.

    Within the next few days, I noticed some strange things. First, some of my images were not as clear and sharp as images taken immediately before or immediately after the “fuzzy” images. It looks more like motion blur than something out of focus….but I was shooting in a studio with studio lighting, and I don’t think I should have seen any motion with the strobes I was using.

    Second, I intermittently hear noises coming from that lens, noises I had never heard before. I’ve had 2 other people, including a professional photographer, hear that noise and tell me that there definitely is something loose in that lens. Lastly, on a few occasions, when using that lens, I have seen the frame shift when pressing the shutter release down half way. That has never happened before.

    I first reported this problem to Nikon last week. It took them over 3 days to get back to me (actually more because of the weekend), in spite of their website saying 48 hours. When I made the determination that there was something wrong with my lens, I also asked Nikon who would pay for the shipping and insurance back to Nikon. It took another few days to get the answer that I have to pay for that, even though my lens is still under warranty.

    So, just wanted to vent a little tonight before I go to bed! I’m just not happy with Nikon right now!

    • February 25, 2014 at 12:34 am

      Richard, sorry to hear about your troubles with your gear! Did you drop the 70-200mm f/4G by any chance? I have never heard of a screw falling out of a lens – that seems highly improbable. Most likely it came out of your D600…

      • 26
        ) Richard D
        February 25, 2014 at 8:22 am

        Hi, Nasim.

        I have never dropped, nor have I ever bumped my 70 – 200 f/4 lens. I have shot many pictures with it, though. I do shoot a number of runs each year (5ks, 10ks, marathons, etc.), and I shoot many pictures at these events, shooting at 5 frames per second. I’ll easily take 3,000 to 5,000 or more shots per event.

        While it does seem improbably that the screw actually fell out of the lens, I just cannot see where it came from. There are black screws which look just like the one that fell in the body of the D600, but I don’t see any missing. There are also a few of these black screws on the lens itself, notably on the piece that holds the switches in it. Again, I can’t see anywhere on the lens where a screw might have fallen from. But, it seems quite the coincidence that the day that screw fell, as I was changing lenses, that I took some pictures as described above…..I will have a “fuzzy” image right before or right after I took a very sharp and clear image. I belong to a studio photography Meetup, and that’s where I took those shots. I used the studio lighting setup (strobes) and had my shutter speed at 1/125th of a second, and I don’t think I would see motion blur, camera shake, etc. in such a situation. But, it’s more than that. I heard noises coming from my lens that night which I had not heard before. And, the noises got very noticeable within the following week, so much so that at last week’s studio Meetup, both the professional photographer who runs that Meetup, as well as another participant who used to be a pro, said that something was definitely wrong with my lens. The pro photographer made a comment that maybe something was wrong with the VR mechanism. And, as mentioned, that night, looking through the eyepiece, there were at least 2 occasions when I saw the frame noticeably shift when I pressed the shutter release, as if something shifted inside of the lens when trying to focus.

        I have had the two people above look intently at my D600 as well as that lens to see if they can see where the screw came from. Neither can see where it might have fallen from. It just seems a big coincidence, though, that the problems I mention started right after that screw fell from some place.

        I’m looking for a box this morning to ship it off and plan to call UPS and FedEx to compare pricing to send it.

      • 27
        ) Richard D
        February 25, 2014 at 8:40 am

        One thing I forgot to add, Nasim, is that I did send Nikon a few of my images. They replied back, basically stating that they didn’t see anything wrong with them, although they had soft focus. I strongly disagree with that. I sent them a couple of sets where I think one image is very sharp but the next image (or one before it) is indeed soft. If you look at the images at normal size on a monitor, they do look similar, but if you enlarge them, you definitely can see a difference in the sharpness, notably about the eyes, where I try to put my focus point. In a number of cases, the settings of shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and even focus point are exactly the same, and the focus points are located in very much the same place on the subject….but you see a difference in the sharpness. I think it’s motion blur, possibly coming from something loose in the lens. I just don’t know what would cause this “soft focus.”

        If that screw did not fall out of the lens, I am still positive there is something wrong with the lens anyway. I just hope there isn’t something else wrong, with my D600!

  11. 21
    ) MJohn
    February 25, 2014 at 12:34 am

    May be the last. Mirrorless to soon overtake these specifications and have more that can’t be configured in a traditional dslr!

  12. February 25, 2014 at 6:01 am

    It would make perfect sense if RAW S used every other photosite to yield a 4MP image, no additional in-camera calculations required. I don’t imagine that I would shoot in this mode myself, because memory is cheap. I do think 16Mp is a good image size for most use.

    I’m shooting a D3 I was able to buy for under $2k and I’d love to upgrade, but I imagine the difference in cost between a used D4 and new D4S would be significant.

  13. 28
    ) Art
    February 25, 2014 at 9:15 am

    I find it interesting that Nikon is going back to the “Group Dynamic AF Area Mode”. I use this feature a lot on my D2xs. It lets you select a group of focus points (center, left, right, top, bottom) in 1 of 2 different patterns; then lets you select whether the camera focuses on the center focus point of the selected group or the closest subject. It was sort of like selecting 9,21, or 51point There are times when this allows the camera to focus quicker than in the “Dynamic AF Area Mode”. I always missed that feature in later Nikon cameras. Looking forward to seeing how Nikon improved this feature from the D2xs.

    Regards
    Art

    • 29
      ) Art
      February 25, 2014 at 9:19 am

      Correction – forgot to add a few things.

      I find it interesting that Nikon is going back to the “Group Dynamic AF Area Mode”. I use this feature a lot on my D2xs. It lets you select a group of focus points (center, left, right, top, bottom) in 1 of 2 different patterns; then lets you select whether the camera focuses on the center focus point of the selected group or the closest subject. It was sort of like selecting 9, 21, or 51 point dynamic AF area Mode on present cameras but with much tighter groups and the ability to select the closest object. I always missed that feature in later Nikon cameras. Looking forward to seeing how Nikon improved this feature from the D2xs. I wonder if this is why Nikon claims better autofocus performance.

  14. 33
    ) nestor
    February 25, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Hi Nasim, about the small raw, I guess that Nikon will perform binning, it is the simplest and easy way to perform a full frame small raw. By the way excellent site.

  15. February 25, 2014 at 11:36 am

    I find some of the timelapse updates refreshing, particularly increasing the frames to 4 digits over 3 (which was insanity!), also the exposure smoothing. I usually use an external intervalometer with exposure ramping anyway, but I still find it refreshing to see that they are adding more timelapse features. Maybe 4K video will be on the way next (hopefully?!). It’s also about time that Nikon added smaller RAW file size options. Let’s hope the method and quality is good and they add it to the next D800 upgrade for timelapse shooters (18MP for timelapse and 36MP for panoramas sounds great to me!). Give me an 18MP option and 4K video with another stop of clean ISO on a D800 replacement and I’d be all over it!

  16. 36
    ) Paul
    February 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    I don’t see my self getting a D4s, my D800e fits my needs almost perfectly. But I don’t get all the negativity going around the web about this update.

    It’s a pretty well rounded update, updated sensor, updated circuitry, updated video, improved ISO, Improved AF, new video functionality, and other new features.

    This updates allows Nikon to stay cutting edge with it’s offerings and allows Nikon shooters to uses he best tools possible when trying to push the boundaries of photography and video. ISO 409600 may not be needed by many, but I am sure some will find a uses for it.

    Remember once Nikon develops technology in house it’s bound to find it’s way into other products they will make such as a D810, or D900.

    • 38
      ) Guest
      February 26, 2014 at 9:50 am

      Paul, ISO 409600 is a gimmick. A marketing gimmick – nothing more, nothing less. No one on the face of this Earth will ever take a photo worth sharing at that ISO. It’s guaranteed to look horrible.

      • 39
        ) Colin Scott
        February 26, 2014 at 1:51 pm

        Guest,

        surely, ISO 409600 is what saucer watchers and Bigfoot hunters have been praying for?

  17. 37
    ) Guest
    February 26, 2014 at 9:47 am

    Great. More digital camera pollution. D4s now joining the D3300 in recent months. Very nice, Nikon. Will this nonsense ever end?

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