Without a doubt, the Nikon D5 and D500 DSLR announcements have been the center of attention in the photography world this week, probably similar to the impact the Nikon D3 and D300 had back in 2007. The Nikon D5, in particular, is certainly something many sports and wildlife photographers have been waiting for. Thanks to the brand new autofocus system with a whopping 153 focus points, better focusing capabilities in low light, expanded native ISO range, brand new 180,000 pixel metering sensor, faster processor, 12 fps continuous shooting speed and many other tweaks and updates, the Nikon D5 was definitely worth the wait. For many, it will surely be a serious tool to consider moving up to. Let’s take a look at how the Nikon D5 fares against the Nikon D4s and see what advantages it brings in comparison. More details on the camera will be provided in our upcoming Nikon D5 review.
If there was a 100 MP DSLR announced tomorrow, I would pre-order it, then spend many sleepless nights waiting for it to arrive. I’d suffer nightmares where Imatest monsters would kick Zeiss Otus’s around and laugh at their feeble attempts at keeping up with my high resolution camera. It would get even worse when I put a second mortgage on my house so I could afford the new supercomputer to crunch those images. I’d pace the halls of my house, past my favorite matted and framed 24”x36” lens chart prints, while wondering if I needed a car with a bigger trunk that could carry enough CF cards for a day’s shooting.
< Exactly after two years since the Nikon D4 announcement, Nikon made the D4s public at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on January 6, 2014. Although the camera was not ready for a full announcement, Nikon wanted to have something to show at the CES, so it only hinted about the development of the camera and its intentions to preview it. The camera was officially announced at the end of February and the first units started to ship shortly after in March. The Nikon D4s is a modest upgrade over the D4, with very slight ergonomic changes, expanded ISO range, faster image processor, faster wired / Ethernet speed, improved battery capacity and a bunch of new firmware options. As an incremental update, the Nikon D4s basically solidified the already superb D4 and made it even better.
After buying the Nikon D4s and Nikkor 800mm earlier this year I thought I was cured. I made it for months without a single sip of Nikon Rumors. Then I had a relapse. Thank goodness the only news was Nikon was releasing the D810, a camera I clearly had no need for as I like shooting wildlife, not lens charts. But one sip led to another and before I knew it I was on The Photo Website That Dare Not Speak Its Name. The pundit there gushed about the D810’s specs, then declared that nobody really needs a DSLR with such ridiculously high resolution unless they shoot for Arizona Highways. Whew, I just saved 3300 bucks. But hang on a second, I do shoot for Arizona Highways. Oh crap. I needed to check out the D810 to see how it performs in practical situations in the field. While I was at it I’d try my best to compare the 36 MP Nikon D810 side-by-side to the 16 MP Nikon D4s and 24 MP Nikon D600, other Nikon full frame offerings.
Maybe my self-esteem was dipping that day or maybe I was just feeling like seeing how the little people lived. Whatever the reason I decided I needed to humiliate myself a bit so I decided to slap a third party lens on my Ferrari, er, I mean Nikon D4s. The choice – the Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 VC USD. For the last 30 years I’d never shot anything but Nikon glass – no cheap third party lens would dirty up my cameras.
With the release of the D4s and D810 cameras, Nikon has introduced a new format to store images – sRAW, or “RAW Size Small”, as referred to by Nikon. Although Canon has had this format available in its DSLRs for years, this is Nikon’s first time introducing it. As a result, a lot of Nikon users are wondering what this format is, how it works and how it compares to standard RAW files. Personally, I had very limited knowledge of this format and thought it would be an exciting feature, until I dug deeper and found out what it was all about. After a few hours of research (and some input from Iliah Borg, I decided to summarize my findings in this article, which I hope our readers will find useful. Let’s start with the basics first.
For whatever reason most of the wildlife photography I do ends up being in less than desirable conditions. Its rare that I get that perfect light, with the animal perfectly posed and the weather just right and me in the right place and time to capture it. A lot of times I am in the right place, but all the other elements needed seem like they are on the extreme limits of what is needed for quality photography. I recently had the opportunity to photograph black bears here in New Hampshire and one thing that a person not from NH must understand is that this is not like going to Yellowstone or some similar place where the bears are more receptive to humans. Here in NH they are the ghosts of the woods, the animal you never hear while hiking or rarely see unless its by accident and then its for seconds before they disappear. I was able to use both the D800 and D4s during this time and I found out some disappointing things about the D800 which has me regretting purchasing it.
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.
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.