We take stock of what improvements the new Nikon D4s offers over its predecessor, the flagship D4
If you were to take into your head the idea to pick up a brand new Nikon D4s, you could expect to spend £5199.99. Its direct predecessor, the Nikon D4, can currently be picked up second-hand or refurbished in good condition for about £3400.
This begs the question: what exactly do you get for spending almost £2000 extra on the newer camera? With early reactions coming in thick and fast all over the web, we take a closer look to find out:
1. The D4s has a new sensor but no increase in resolution
The new FX-format sensor is, we’re told, a brand new beast over that of the D4, though you wouldn’t know it from the identical megapixel counts.
In their look at the D4s’s sensor, DxOMark compared it to that of its predecessor. The verdict? They’re really not all that different. The D4s has some slight improvements in dynamic range, and its low-light performance is a little better. The tone of the review doesn’t quite give the impression that it’s £1800 better, though.
2. The new Expeed 4 processor is 30% faster than the old one
This is really the hub of all the major improvements to the D4s. This processor, also seen in the D5300 and D3300, is responsible for pretty much all of the new features offer a decent advancement over the D4. For instance…
3. It’s got a new ISO ceiling of 409,600 and better ISO performance across the whole range
Image by Alex Ortega, source: Clubsnap
In Amateur Photographer’s recent video interview, Nikon explained that one of the most interesting things about the Expeed 4 processor is that it not only allows the camera to push its extendable ISO up to a whopping 409,600, but it also improves performance across the entire ISO range, making the higher ISOs much more usable.
Don’t expect much from the top of the ISO range though – as you can see from the image above, it looks pretty ropey. If you’re interested in seeing the performance for yourself, there’s a good breakdown over on Clubsnap.
Still, even if the very top end is a little over-ambitious, the D4s by all accounts still performs exceptionally well at high ISOs. So does this make it the current low-light champion? Well, according to DxOMark, no, no it doesn’t. That crown belongs to the Nikon Df.
4. Faster and better burst shooting
The D4s tops out at 11fps with continual AF, edging out the D4 which manages 10fps with AF. What’s cool though is that it’s not only faster, it’s much more streamlined. Viewfinder blackout time has been reduced, and the extra horsepower from the processor means the camera has no trouble keeping up with writing images to the card. It barely needs to stop and breathe too – according to Nikon the D4s can manage up to 200 JPEGs or 176 compressed 12-bit RAW files without stopping. Nice.
Not convinced? Here, let someone demonstrate:
5. Better AF algorithms and a new AF mode
While the Multi-CAM 3500FX AF unit (above) and its 51 points remain, Nikon claims to have reworked the AF algorithms, though not quantifying exactly how. The main change seems to be that the AF is more tenacious once locked on, less prone to being distracted by something wandering in front of the intended subject.
There’s also new Group Area AF, which allows you to select a specific cluster of five AF points to focus on, rather than one specific one. Could be useful.
6. Video has been expanded a little but not very much
The changes here, to be honest, aren’t especially major. The most noteworthy point is that the Nikon D4s can shoot its 1080 HD video at frame rates of 50 and 60p, though, like the D4, its video capabilities are intensely hamstrung by how little it can capture. At the top end of 60p, you’ll only manage 10 minutes of footage.
7. The buttons have been redesigned a bit
Nikon promised a ‘refined layout of buttons and controls’. Judge for yourself.
There we go then.