Test Review: Nikon D4S

May 16, 2014 at 10:30 am  •  Posted in New Products, News & Events, Review by

458_nikon_d4s_slant_post

Nikon D4S

The Nikon D4S is a professional SLR system with a full-frame sensor and an image resolution of 16 MP. The camera is very fast and allows for shooting up to 11 frames per second in continuous mode. It has a very robust, sealed “heavy-duty” body and offers a lot of individual settings.

458_nikon_d4s_test

Fine details in the test box shot have a very crisp look. Hard contrast lines have a slight “overshot” effect and very crisp look. Blue elements show a very high saturation.

Comments on Image Quality
Colour: The camera reproduced the test box shot with neutral and realistic looking colours, but with a slightly cooler look. These colours confirm the results of the test chart image: gray nuances are shifted a little into the bluish area, the lightest gray and white pattern tends into the green and yellowish area. The colours are a little oversaturated (106.8 percent), but basically this high average saturation is a result of the very high saturated blue colours, which have a very high magenta rate. The boosted blue nuances are visible in our standard test box shot (blue spool in the upper right or blue pattern of the Kodak chart). Skin tones are reproduced very naturally. The delicate gradients in skin areas are shown without banding effects or colour shifts (shift of darker skin areas into greenish nuances, for example).

Sharpness: The resolution results of the Nikon D4S are excellent. The resolution of 3280 lines per picture height given by the image sensor is transferred into images with a maximum of 3258 lines per picture height. This is partially a result of an intense sharpness filtering which seems to be a little higher than in images with some other Nikon DSLRs and causes a clipping effect on hard contrast lines. This effect isn’t visible in real life images like the portrait shot, but it can be seen in some elements of the test box shot. Nevertheless details and fine structures in these images look very crisp and remain natural.

Noise: The noise results of the Nikon D4S are excellent. The camera shows nearly no luminance noise artifacts (y-factor is way below 1.0 percent in ISO speed settings up to 12800 and exactly crosses the 1.0-percent-line in ISO 25600. The images have a very clean and silky smooth look. The colour noise is filtered by the Expeed 4 image processor, which creates images with the look of analog film grain (in ISO 12800 and ISO 25600). That’s a little surprise, because the result charts show wide differences between the RGB graphs in “Pixel noise,” especially in low ISO speed settings (which normally is a hint about higher colour noise effects).

The new Nikon D4S also performed well in the dynamic range tests. It achieved a maximum of 11.6 f-stops in ISO 100 mode and keeps a high level of more then 10 f-stops in higher speed settings. Using different picture styles with a more flattened gamma curve (or using Raw mode with a flatten gamma setting), you can achieve slightly higher results.

The Nikon D4S has a large LCD on the top. Exposure modes like P, S, A and M are activated with the Mode button and one of the set-up dials. The buttons on the left-hand side allow one to configure the bracketing or flash mode. A small dial below these buttons offers image modes like Single Shot, Continuous Shooting and Self Timer.

The Nikon D4S has a large LCD on the top. Exposure modes like P, S, A and M are activated with the Mode button and one of the set-up dials. The buttons on the left-hand side allow one to configure the bracketing or flash mode. A small dial below these buttons offers image modes like Single Shot, Continuous Shooting and Self Timer.

Comments on Handling
The Nikon D4S is a professional SLR system for sport and action photography. It uses a 36 x 23.9 mm full-frame sensor that Nikon calls the “FX” format (APS-C sized sensor: “DX” format.) In combination with the new Expeed 4 image processing system, the new sensor offers an extended ISO speed range. The native range allows the use of ISO settings between ISO 100 and ISO 25600. The additional high mode of the D4S allows one to shoot with an equivalent of ISO 409600. The noise results are impressive for the native ISO range. Images with ISO 102400 and ISO 204800 show nearly the same noise artifacts as APS-C cameras in ISO 12800 or 25600 mode.

The camera offers a 16-MP resolution and converts the nominal resolution of its 1:1 sensor into image details (see “Sharpness”). It offers a lot of individual settings and additional functions. The image styles are widely configurable, every function and button seems to be configurable and nearly 50 pages of the manual describe the camera menu for individual settings. The camera allows interval shooting, multiple exposure shots and more.

A lot of interfaces are located on the left-hand side of the Nikon's body. The camera offers USB and HDMI for image transfer and image/video presentation. It has an Ethernet port (RJ-45) and two 3.5-mm jacks for external microphones and earphones. In addition, it offers a port for Nikon accessories like a GPS or a WLAN adapter.

A lot of interfaces are located on the left-hand side of the Nikon’s body. The camera offers USB and HDMI for image transfer and image/video presentation. It has an Ethernet port (RJ-45) and two 3.5-mm jacks for external microphones and earphones. In addition, it offers a port for Nikon accessories like a GPS or a WLAN adapter.

But most important is the speed of the new Nikon D4S. In continuous shooting mode, it’s possible to take up to 11 frames per second with the AF system activated. In our tests the D4S achieved this speed with ease. In JPEG mode and using a fast storage card, the image sequence isn’t restricted, and we shot series with up to 100 images without any problems. The camera worked well with the very fast XQD cards and with CF cards. Lower burst rate settings in continuous are available and—you guessed it—are also configurable in the image menu.

The camera offers two slots for storage media. The first slot is for XQD cards; the second slot is for CompactFlash cards.

The camera offers two slots for storage media. The first slot is for XQD cards; the second slot is for CompactFlash cards.

The image modes (single shot, continuous mode, self timer and more) are chosen with the small ring below the function buttons on the upper left. We took test series with very fast moving objects (cars on the street), which the Nikon D4S kept perfectly in focus. The focus system uses 51 AF sensors (15 cross-type sensors) and is also highly configurable. It performed perfectly even in low-light conditions.

The new Nikon has a lot of function buttons, dials, joysticks and more. As a professional system, it offers two set-up dials (one near the shutter-release button, one on the back) and has another version of this button/dial set for shots in portrait mode (camera turned by 90 degrees) on the lower right of the body. In addition it offers two joysticks (one for landscape shots, one for portrait shots).

The Nikon has two LCDs on the back. The large (3.2 inch) monitor is used for menu settings and for live preview for photo or video shots. The small LCD near the bottom allows for changing the ISO and white balance setting directly (without using the menu items).

The Nikon has two LCDs on the back. The large (3.2 inch) monitor is used for menu settings and for live preview for photo or video shots. The small LCD near the bottom allows for changing the ISO and white balance setting directly (without using the menu items).

The camera has three LCD screens. The large LCD on the top shows all of the important image parameters. The second black-and-white screen on the back allows one to change image parameters like ISO speed or WB setting fast and directly without using the menu on the third colour LCD on the back. This colour screen is very large (3.2 inches/8 cm) and has a 3:2 aspect ratio, which allows one to see the taken images completely (without a black border on the top and bottom). The screen is fixed. Nikon’s decision to offer an absolutely robust and massive camera for professional use is the reason it does not have a swivel mechanism. The Nikon D4S has a very robust chassis based on magnesium alloy and is well protected against dust, humidity and rain.

Pros
+ Very fast SLR system
+ Fast and reliable AF system, works fine even in high-speed continuous mode
+ High quality images due to high resolution and realistic colour reproduction
+ Many set-up dials, function buttons, and an additional shutter-release button (for portrait shots) allow professional handling and operation of the camera
+ Full HD video capabilities (a lot of manual settings, frame rates)

Cons
– No WLAN function (external WLAN system available)
– No GPS system (external GPS system available)
– No swivel monitor (would be helpful especially for the video function)

This review is based on precise lab tests conducted by BetterNet GmbH and provided by the Technical Imaging Press Association (TIPA). TIPA is the largest family of independent photo and imaging magazines worldwide. Photo Life is an active member of TIPA.

 

SPEC SHEET: Nikon D4S
BASIC TECHNICAL DATA:
Resolution 4928 x 3280
Resolution sensor 16.6
Colour depth (in bits) 42
Size of sensor (in Inches) 0/0.00
Size of sensor (in mm) 36.0 x 23.9
TAKING PICTURES:
Start-up time (in sec) 0.03
Shutter delay (in sec) without pre-focusing 0.05
Shutter delay (in sec) with pre-focusing 0.01
Continuous shooting speed (frames per second) 11.0
Max. burst during continuous shooting speed 999.0
Fastest shutter speed (in sec) 1/8000
Long time exposure/shutter speed (in sec) 30
Self-timer yes
Exposure Settings:
Aperture presetting, shutter speed pre-setting, manual exposure settings,
automatic bracketing, time-lapse photography
Exposure programs 0
White balance:
Auto yes
White-balance settings 6
Individual white balance yes
ISO:
ISO min 100
ISO max 25600
ISO steps 25
manual ISO control yes
FLASH:
Integrated flash no
Flash mode:
On, off, automatic flash, slow sync, anti-red-eye, rear-curtain sync
External Flash:
X-sync yes
Accessory shoe yes
FILE FORMATS:
Standard file formats JPEG, RAW, DCF
JPEG compression grades 3
LCD AND PREVIEW:
Size (in inches) 3.2
Resolution of LCD (in pixels) 921000
Zoom mode during preview yes
Index during preview yes
Slideshow during preview yes
VIDEO:
Video available yes
Max. Width 1920
Max. Height 1080
Picture frequency 60
POWER SOURCE:
Rechargeable battery yes
Battery type Li-Ion
Battery charger included yes
Power connector no
Power supply unit no
STORAGE SYSTEM:
Supported memory cards CF-I, CF-II, CF-III, XQD Card
PC CONNECTION:
PC connection USB, HDMI, Ethernet
TV out HDMI
DIMENSIONS:
Dimensions (width x height x depth; in mm) 160 x 156 x 90
Weight (body without battery and memory card; in g) 1350
ACCESSORIES:
Docking station no
Printed manual yes
Manual on CD yes
Bag no
Remote control no