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.
So, what does the Nikon D4s bring to the table? Here is a summary of its features:
- Sensor: 16.2 MP FX, 7.3µ pixel size
- Native ISO Sensitivity: 100-25,600
- Boost Low ISO Sensitivity: 50
- Boost High ISO Sensitivity: 51,200-409,600
- 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)
- Processor: EXPEED 4
- Dust Reduction: Yes
- Shutter: Up to 1/8000 and 30 sec exposure, self-diagnostic shutter monitor
- Shutter Durability: 400,000 cycles
- Camera Lag: 0.012 seconds
- Storage: 1x Compact Flash slot and 1x XQD slot
- Viewfinder Coverage: 100%
- Speed: 11 FPS
- Exposure Meter: 91,000 pixel RGB sensor
- Autofocus System: Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX with 51 focus points and 15 cross-type sensors
- Group Area AF: Five AF sensors used as a Group Optimized for subjects located within an area covered by the “Group”
- AF Detection: Up to f/8 with 11 focus points (5 in the center, 3 on the left and right)
- LCD Screen: 3.2 inch diagonal with 921,000 dots
- LCD Screen Calibration: Yes
- Movie Modes: Full 1080p HD @ 60 fps max
- Movie Exposure Control: Full
- Movie Output: MOV, Compressed and Uncompressed
- Two Live View Modes: One for photography and one for videography
- Camera Editing: Lots of in-camera editing options with HDR capabilities
- Wired LAN: Built-in Gigabit RJ-45 LAN port
- WiFi: Not built-in, requires WT-5a and older wireless transmitters
- GPS: Not built-in, requires GP-1 GPS unit
- Battery Type: EN-EL18a
- Battery Life: 3,020 shots
- Weight: 1,240g
- 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.
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.
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.
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!