Canon 1D Mark IV versus Nikon D4S
The Canon EOS-1D Mark IV and the Nikon D4S are two professional cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in October 2009 and February 2014. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are based on an APS-H (1D Mark IV) and a full frame (D4S) sensor. The Canon has a resolution of 16 megapixel, whereas the Nikon provides 16.2 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.
Body comparison: Canon 1D Mark IV vs Nikon D4S
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Canon 1D Mark IV and the Nikon D4S is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the 1D Mark IV – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D4S is somewhat larger (3 percent) than the Canon 1D Mark IV. Moreover, the D4S is markedly heavier (10 percent) than the 1D Mark IV. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Canon EF Lens Catalog (1D Mark IV) and the Nikon Lens Catalog (D4S).
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Camera Body Specifications|
|Canon 1D Mark IV»||156 mm||157 mm||80 mm||1230 g||1500||Y||Oct 2009||4,999||-|
|Nikon D4S«||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1350 g||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499||-|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1530 g||1210||Y||Feb 2016||5,999|
|Canon 1D X« »||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1551 g||1120||Y||Oct 2011||6,799||-|
|Canon 60D« »||145 mm||106 mm||79 mm||755 g||1100||Y||Aug 2010||1,399||-|
|Canon 7D« »||148 mm||111 mm||74 mm||860 g||800||Y||Sep 2009||1,699||-|
|Canon 5D Mark II« »||152 mm||114 mm||75 mm||850 g||850||Y||Sep 2008||3,499||-|
|Canon 50D« »||146 mm||108 mm||74 mm||822 g||800||Y||Aug 2008||1,299||-|
|Canon 1D Mark III« »||156 mm||156.6 mm||80 mm||1155 g||2200||Y||Feb 2007||4,499||-|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II« »||156 mm||157.6 mm||80 mm||1215 g||1200||Y||Sep 2004||7,999||-|
|Nikon D5« »||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|Nikon D750« »||141 mm||113 mm||78 mm||750 g||1230||Y||Sep 2014||2,299|
|Nikon D610« »||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Oct 2013||1,999|
|Nikon Df« »||144 mm||110 mm||67 mm||760 g||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749|
|Nikon D4« »||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999||-|
|Nikon D3S« »||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1240 g||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199||-|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The 1D Mark IV was launched at a somewhat lower price (by 23 percent) than the D4S, which makes it more attractive for photographers on a tight budget. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
Sensor comparison: Canon 1D Mark IV vs Nikon D4S
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Canon 1D Mark IV features an APS-H sensor and the Nikon D4S a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the D4S is 66 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.3 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 16.2MP, the D4S offers a higher resolution than the 1D Mark IV (16MP), but the D4S nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 7.29μm versus 5.70μm for the 1D Mark IV) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the D4S is a much more recent model (by 4 years and 4 months) than the 1D Mark IV, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). Of the two cameras under consideration, the D4S offers substantially better image quality than the 1D Mark IV (overall score 15 points higher). The advantage is based on 1.6 bits higher color depth, 1.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.2 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Canon 1D Mark IV»||APS-H||16.0||4896||3264||1080/30p||22.8||12.0||1320||74|
|Nikon D4S«||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||Full Frame||20.0||5472||3648||4K/60p||24.1||13.5||3207||88|
|Canon 1D X« »||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||23.8||11.8||2786||82|
|Canon 60D« »||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.2||11.5||813||66|
|Canon 7D« »||APS-C||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||22.0||11.7||854||66|
|Canon 5D Mark II« »||Full Frame||21.0||5616||3744||1080/30p||23.7||11.9||1815||79|
|Canon 50D« »||APS-C||15.1||4752||3168||-||21.8||11.4||696||63|
|Canon 1D Mark III« »||APS-H||10.1||3888||2592||-||22.7||11.7||1078||71|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II« »||Full Frame||16.6||4992||3328||-||23.3||11.3||1480||74|
|Nikon D5« »||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|Nikon D750« »||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/60p||24.8||14.5||2956||93|
|Nikon D610« »||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.4||2925||94|
|Nikon Df« »||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||-||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|Nikon D4« »||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|Nikon D3S« »||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the D4S provides a faster frame rate than the 1D Mark IV. It can shoot movie footage at 1080/60p, while the Canon is limited to 1080/30p.
Feature comparison: Canon 1D Mark IV vs Nikon D4S
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The 1D Mark IV and the D4S are similar in the sense that both have an optical viewfinder. The latter is useful for getting a clear image for framing even in brightly lit environments. The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Canon 1D Mark IV and Nikon D4S along with similar information for a selection of comparators. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Canon 1D Mark IV»||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||8000||10.0||n||n|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||optical||Y||3.2||1620||fixed||Y||8000||16.0||n||n|
|Canon 1D X« »||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||8000||14.0||n||n|
|Canon 60D« »||optical||Y||3.0||1040||swivel||n||8000||5.3||Y||n|
|Canon 7D« »||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||8000||8.0||Y||n|
|Canon 5D Mark II« »||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||8000||3.9||n||n|
|Canon 50D« »||optical||Y||3.0||920||fixed||n||8000||6.3||Y||n|
|Canon 1D Mark III« »||optical||Y||3.0||230||fixed||n||8000||10.0||n||n|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II« »||optical||Y||2.0||230||fixed||n||8000||4.0||n||n|
|Nikon D5« »||optical||Y||3.2||2359||fixed||Y||8000||14.0||n||n|
|Nikon D750« »||optical||Y||3.2||1229||tilting||n||4000||6.0||Y||n|
|Nikon D610« »||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||4000||6.0||Y||n|
|Nikon Df« »||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||4000||5.5||n||n|
|Nikon D4« »||optical||Y||3.2||921||fixed||n||8000||11.0||n||n|
|Nikon D3S« »||optical||Y||3.0||921||fixed||n||8000||11.0||n||n|
Both the 1D Mark IV and the D4S have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D4S was replaced by the Nikon D5, while the 1D Mark IV does not have a direct successor.
Review summary: Canon 1D Mark IV vs Nikon D4S
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Canon 1D Mark IV better than the Nikon D4S or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Canon EOS-1D Mark IV:
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced segment (23 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in October 2009).
Advantages of the Nikon D4S:
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (15 points) in the DXO overall evaluation.
- Richer colors: Generates noticeably more natural colors (1.6 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a broader range of light and dark details (1.3 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (1.2 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (1080/60p versus 1080/30p).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (3020 versus 1500) out of a single battery charge.
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 4 months of technical progress since the 1D Mark IV launch.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the D4S is the clear winner of the contest (8 : 2 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the handling experience and imaging performance when actually working with the 1D Mark IV or the D4S. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate. This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The full reviews are available by clicking on the site logo in the table header.
|Canon 1D Mark IV»||-||89/100||-||5/5||-||Oct 2009||4,999||-|
|Nikon D4S«||-||-||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||6,499||-|
|Canon 1D X Mark II« »||-||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2016||5,999|
|Canon 1D X« »||-||-||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2011||6,799||-|
|Canon 60D« »||Rec||79/100||4/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2010||1,399||-|
|Canon 7D« »||HiRec||84/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2009||1,699||-|
|Canon 5D Mark II« »||91/100||79/100||4/5||5/5||-||Sep 2008||3,499||-|
|Canon 50D« »||HiRec||HiRec||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2008||1,299||-|
|Canon 1D Mark III« »||-||-||-||rev||-||Feb 2007||4,499||-|
|Canon 1Ds Mark II« »||-||HiRec||-||-||-||Sep 2004||7,999||-|
|Nikon D5« »||-||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|Nikon D750« »||HiRec||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2014||2,299|
|Nikon D610« »||HiRec||87/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||1,999|
|Nikon Df« »||-||81/100||4/5||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749|
|Nikon D4« »||-||-||4.5/5||-||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999||-|
|Nikon D3S« »||-||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199||-|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you do not see the camera that you are looking for, please contact me, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.
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