After I posted my last article comparing the high ISO performance of the Nikon D4s vs D4, a number of our readers requested that I provide a similar comparison with other cameras such as the Nikon D600/D610, D800 and Df. Instead of posting multiple articles that show these comparisons, I decided to put it all into a single article, so that our readers could look at the side by side comparisons, or download the files to their computers for closer examination. Before you start comparing the below images, however, I would like to point out that the images are just provided as a reference, and only represent one side of the camera performance – high ISO in low-light, indoor conditions. Each camera comes with its own set of features, strengths and weaknesses, so please do not draw conclusions from these shots. Please note that ISO performance might vary in different lighting conditions. My recommendation would be to read the comment exchange I had with Brad Hill of Natural Art Images in the previous Nikon D4s vs D4 comparison article, where we discuss the topic of comparing sensor performance in detail.
I have been working on testing the performance of the new Nikon D4s to compare it to the D4 and see what advancements in sensor technology and image processing pipeline Nikon delivered in the latest revision of the top-of-the-line camera. Designed for sports, news and wildlife photographers that often have challenging light conditions and demanding environments, the high-end camera line is supposed to feed the never-ending thirst for more pixels and better low-light performance. Does the Nikon D4s deliver better image quality than its predecessor? While we know that the resolution of both cameras stayed the same, the big question is whether Nikon was able to enhance the existing 16.2 MP sensor and perhaps use better software algorithms to decrease noise – and that’s what we are here to find out today.
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!
Take a look at the below images from the first scene:
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.
In my previous articles comparing the Nikon Df to other cameras like D800, D700 and D610, I posted images from the D4 as if they were from the Df in the articles (note that I clearly pointed out that the images were from the D4), because I was pretty sure that the Df had the same sensor. Some of our readers criticized me for doing that, arguing that Nikon’s sensor technology and the imaging pipeline might have changed since the introduction of the D4. I received the Nikon Df last week, so one of the first things I did was compare its performance against the D4 to see if I could spot any differences. Below is a detailed comparison between the two, which shows that both cameras utilize the same or similar sensor technology. So my previous comparisons are still valid and can be referred to for comparing between the different Nikon DSLRs.
Nikon has just released a firmware update for a number of current and older DSLR cameras. These include the D4, D3s, D3x, D3, D800, D600, D7000 and, finally, the D3200. Last generation cameras, namely the D3, D3s, D3x and D7000 now support the new super-telephoto Nikkor AF-S 800mm f/5.6 VR lens, so changes aren’t really big. Current cameras, however, have seen additional changes, among which are AF improvements for the D800 and D600 in continuous mode.
Read on for more detail and download links.
When Nikon announced the Nikon D600, I knew the new sensor would not disappoint. Since the D3, Nikon has put a lot of focus on sensor technology and A/D conversion. As a result, almost every single sensor that has been released during the last few years has been ranked very highly by many reviewers and image labs. As you may already know, DxOMark has been testing most new digital cameras on the market today (including medium format) and they crowned the Nikon D800E sensor as the best in the world earlier this year. Today, DxOMark released its rating for the Nikon D600:
In the new article that DxOMark published today, it says “the D600 is an affordable camera that places a high premium on image quality, as it ranks just behind the top performing Nikon D800 and Nikon D800E. It is also a significant improvement over the high-end professional flagship DSLRs, the Nikon D3X and the Nikon D4″. And here is an excerpt from their conclusion: “As an added bonus, the camera provides users extreme value, as noted through its DxOMark sensor score of 94, which puts it in an elite category currently occupied by two additional Nikon cameras”.
Looks like the sensor on the Nikon D600 is almost as remarkable as the one on the Nikon D800. The overall score of the sensor was just one point below the Nikon D800 and two points below the Nikon D800E (which has the same sensor as the D800, but a different anti-aliasing filter).
Here is a comparison of the D600 with the D800 and D4:
Very impressive! Take a look at the Low-Light ISO figures – the D600 has the highest score there. Detailed image analysis and comparisons will be provided this week.
The last two weeks have been very busy for me. I am working on multiple reviews of Canon, Nikon and Fuji lenses and you will be seeing many lens reviews coming up this summer. At the same time, I have been shooting with the Nikon D3200, D4 and D800E DSLR cameras, so I will be sharing my thoughts on these fairly soon as well. One question that keeps popping up over and over again from our readers, revolves around the autofocus problems on Nikon DSLRs. Specifically, these questions are on front focus/back focus problems with lenses, the left AF focus point issue found on some Nikon D800 bodies, use of 2x teleconverters with the new Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX (on D4 and D800/D800E), etc. Since there is a lot to cover, I will be publishing articles on each topic with my findings and thoughts I have thus far.
As with any product that is manufactured, there is always a chance that it is defective. I am finding Nikon’s QA (quality assurance) controls to be rather weak lately, especially given the fact that it is manufacturing such fine tools as the Nikon D800 with lots of resolution. Yes, Nikon has had a wonderful year so far with so many great announcements and phenomenal products, but it almost seems like it is rushing its products from the manufacturing plants too quickly, without properly testing all equipment before it is sent out. As a result, we are seeing many defective DSLR cameras with lenses. I have been shooting with Nikon gear for the last 6 years and this is the first time I am seeing really badly calibrated DSLRs (D800E and D4), along with some pro lenses. I can understand when there is a problem with an entry-level camera and a kit lens, but it is unacceptable for Nikon to ship faulty professional equipment that is worth thousands of dollars.
The process to update the firmware on the D4 is straightforward, but if you are unfamiliar with it, Nikon has a PDF document on their website to assist you. However, it fails to mention a critical piece of information that may affect you. If you have been shooting tethered to a computer, you must turn off the the Network connection. Otherwise, the camera will not recognize the update file on the CF card or the XQD card and you will not be able to finish the install. If you have not enabled a network connection or you have already turned it off, you should not have a problem.
When you go to install the update, you should see the following window with “Update” as an option: