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Nikon D4 Comparison Review

The Nikon D4 is a DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) camera that was announced in January 2012 and is equipped with a full frame sensor. It offers a resolution of 16.2 megapixel.

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Is the Nikon D4 a good camera? The D4 has a Camera Elo of 1674. This rating puts the D4 among the top 50 percent of all digital single lens reflex cameras. In terms of its sensor size category (full frame cameras), the D4 ranks below average. Based on its within category standings, the camera earns a 3-star performance rating.

Headline Specifications
Nikon D4
Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses
16.2 MP, Full Frame Sensor
1080/30p Video
ISO 100 - 12 800 (50 - 204 800)
Optical viewfinder
3.2 LCD, 921k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive)
11 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed body
2600 shots per battery charge
160 x 157 x 91 mm, 1 340 g


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Read on to find out more about the camera's size, sensor, features, reception by expert reviewers, and how it compares to other digital cameras.

Body comparison with a credit card

The physical dimensions of the Nikon D4 relative to a credit card are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Nikon D4 vs credit card front
D4 versus credit card top view
D4 and credit card rear side

The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the Nikon D4 alongside a set of comparators. If you want to review a camera pair side-by-side, just select a right-side 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 comparisons there.

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Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life 1
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch 2
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Nikon D4 160 mm 157 mm 91 mm 1340 g 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999i
 
Canon 1D X 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1551 g 1120 Y Oct 2011 6,799i
 
Nikon D5 160 mm 159 mm 92 mm 1415 g 3780 Y Jan 2016 6,499i
 
Nikon D4S 160 mm 157 mm 91 mm 1350 g 3020 Y Feb 2014 6,499i
 
Nikon Df 144 mm 110 mm 67 mm 760 g 1400 Y Nov 2013 2,749i
 
Nikon D610 141 mm 113 mm 82 mm 850 g 900 Y Oct 2013 1,999 i
 
Nikon D600 141 mm 113 mm 82 mm 850 g 900 Y Sep 2012 2,099i
 
Nikon D800 146 mm 123 mm 82 mm 1000 g 900 Y Feb 2012 2,999i
 
Nikon D800E 146 mm 123 mm 82 mm 1000 g 900 Y Feb 2012 3,299i
 
Nikon D3S 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1240 g 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199i
 
Nikon D3 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1300 g 4300 Y Aug 2007 4,999i
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.

The listed prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The Nikon D4 was launched in the US market at a price of $5,999. 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.

Nikon D4:
Check Ebay offers

Sensor comparison with a 35mm slide

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. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.

The Nikon D4 features a full frame sensor and has a format factor (sometimes also referred to as "crop factor") of 1.0. Within the spectrum of camera sensors, this places the Nikon D4 among the large-sensor cameras that aim for top notch image quality.

Nikon D4 sensor measures

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"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.

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Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
 
Nikon D4 Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589
 
Canon 1D X Full Frame 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.811.8278682
 
Nikon D5 Full Frame 20.7 5588 37124K/30p25.112.3234388
 
Nikon D4S Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/60p24.413.3307489
 
Nikon Df Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280none24.613.1327989
 
Nikon D610 Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.4292594
 
Nikon D600 Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.2298094
 
Nikon D800 Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/30p25.314.4285395
 
Nikon D800E Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/30p25.614.3297996
 
Nikon D3S Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382
 
Nikon D3 Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832none23.512.2229081

Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The D4 indeed provides movie recording capabilities. The highest resolution format that the D4 can use is 1080/30p.

Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. For example, the D4 has an optical viewfinder that provides a field of view of 100% and a magnification of 0.70x. The tables below summarize some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D4 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.

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Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
(000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Mech
Shutter
Speed
Shutter
Flaps
(1/sec)
Built-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Built-in
Image
Stab
 
Nikon D4optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
 
Canon 1D Xoptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 14.0 n n
 
Nikon D5optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 1/8000s 14.0 n n
 
Nikon D4Soptical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
 
Nikon Dfoptical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5 n n
 
Nikon D610optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/4000s 6.0 Y n
 
Nikon D600optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5 Y n
 
Nikon D800optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 Y n
 
Nikon D800Eoptical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 Y n
 
Nikon D3Soptical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
 
Nikon D3optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n

One useful feature of the D4 is a presence of a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.

Connection comparison

For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Nikon D4 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.

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Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Port
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
 
Nikon D4YmonomonoYYmicro2.0---
 
Canon 1D XYmono-Y-mini2.0---
 
Nikon D5YstereomonoYYmini3.0---
 
Nikon D4SYmonomonoYYmini2.0---
 
Nikon DfY----mini2.0---
 
Nikon D610YmonomonoYYmini2.0---
 
Nikon D600YmonomonoYYmini2.0---
 
Nikon D800YmonomonoYYmini3.0---
 
Nikon D800EYmonomonoYYmini3.0---
 
Nikon D3SYstereo---mini2.0---
 
Nikon D3Y----mini2.0---

It is notable that the D4 has a microphone port. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.

Expert reviews

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 D4. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog).

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Review Scores
  Camera
Model
camera
  labs  
dp
review  
ephoto
  zine  
imaging
resource
photography
  blog  
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
 
Nikon D4....4.5/5..4.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999i
 
Canon 1D X....4.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2011 6,799i
 
Nikon D5..89/1004.5/55/55/5 Jan 2016 6,499i
 
Nikon D4S....4.5/55/54.5/5 Feb 2014 6,499i
 
Nikon Df..81/1004/54/54/5 Nov 2013 2,749i
 
Nikon D610+ +87/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Oct 2013 1,999 i
 
Nikon D600+ +87/1005/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099i
 
Nikon D800+ +82/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2012 2,999i
 
Nikon D800E..84/1005/54.5/55/5 Feb 2012 3,299i
 
Nikon D3S..89/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199i
 
Nikon D3..+ +5/5o4.5/5 Aug 2007 4,999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.

Nikon D4 FAQ

Below are some additional questions and answers concerning some particular features of the D4.

What is the technology behind the imaging sensor in the D4?

The camera features a CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensor.

Which image processing chip is used to convert the raw signal into an image file and perform noise reduction and image sharpening?

Nikon equipped the D4 with the EXPEED 3 image processor.

What is the ISO sensitivity range of the D4?

The camera has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 50-204800.

What is the life expectancy of the shutter in the Nikon D4?

Nikon mentions a shutter rating of 400 000 actuations for the D4. This number represents a Mean Time before Failure, that is an average value. The shutter might fail earlier, or it might last longer. Anyway, in order to exhaust the expected shutter life of the D4 over, say, three years, one would have to take about 400 pictures each and every day.

How do I find the shutter count on my Nikon D4?

Nikon embeds the number of shutter actuations in image metadata. You can check the number of shots that your D4 has taken up to now by uploading a recent image to the online shutter count app.

Do I need to purchase an external camera trigger to shoot time-lapse sequences?

No, the Nikon D4 has an intervalometer built-in, so that low frequency shooting (for example, flower blooming, sunset, moon rise) can be undertaken without the need to purchase a separate external intervalometer and related software.

What is the fastest shutter speed that can be used with flash?

The D4's flash sync speed is 1/250 sec.

Which battery does the D4 use?

The camera gets its power from the EN-EL18 (here at amazon), which is a rechargeable Lithium-Ion power pack.

Camera to camera comparisons

In case you are interested in seeing how this camera compares to another one, 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.

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    Specifications Summary
    Camera Model Nikon D4
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date January 2012
    Launch Price USD 5 999
    Sensor Specs
    Sensor Technology CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 23.9 mm
    Sensor Area 860 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.2 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 16.2 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4 928 x 3 280 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.29 μm
    Pixel Density 1.88 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 12 800 ISO
    ISO Boost 50 - 204 800 ISO
    Image Processor EXPEED 3
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 89
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 24.7
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 13.1
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 2965
    Screen Specs
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.70x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View
    LCD Size 921k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen
    Shooting Specs
    Focus System Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking Feature
    Maximum Shutter Speed 1/8000s
    Continuous Shooting 11 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy400 000 actuations
    Silent Shootingno E-Shutter
    Time Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer Built-in
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF or XQD cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs
    External Flash Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0
    HDMI Port micro HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port
    Headphone Socket Headphone port
    Wifi Support no Wifi
    Body Specs
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed body
    Battery Type EN-EL18 power pack
    Battery Life (CIPA)2600 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 160 x 157 x 91 mm
    (6.3 x 6.2 x 3.6 in)
    Camera Weight 1 340 g (47.3 oz)

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