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Nikon D4 vs D6

The Nikon D4 and the Nikon D6 are two professional cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in January 2012 and February 2020. Both are DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex) cameras that are equipped with a full frame sensor. The D4 has a resolution of 16.2 megapixels, whereas the D6 provides 20.7 MP.

Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.

Headline Specifications
Nikon D4 versus Nikon D6
Nikon D4 Nikon D6
Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
16.2 MP, Full Frame Sensor 20.7 MP, Full Frame Sensor
1080/30p Video 4K/30p Video
ISO 100-12,800 (50 - 204,800) ISO 100-102,400 (50 - 3,280,000)
Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
3.2 LCD, 921k dots 3.2 LCD, 2359k dots
Fixed screen (not touch-sensitive) Fixed touchscreen
11 shutter flaps per second 14 shutter flaps per second
Weathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
2600 shots per battery charge3580 shots per battery charge
160 x 157 x 91 mm, 1340 g 160 x 163 x 92 mm, 1270 g

Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D4 and the Nikon D6? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.

Body comparison

The physical size and weight of the Nikon D4 and the Nikon D6 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All size dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.

Size Nikon D4 vs Nikon D6
Compare D4 versus D6 top
Comparison D4 or D6 rear

If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Nikon D6 is somewhat larger (4 percent) than the Nikon D4. However, the D6 is markedly lighter (5 percent) than the D4. 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. In this particular case, both cameras feature the same lens mount, so that they can use the same lenses. You can compare the optics available in the Nikon Lens Catalog.

Concerning battery life, the D4 gets 2600 shots out of its EN-EL18 battery, while the D6 can take 3580 images on a single charge of its EN-EL18c power pack. As can be seen in the images above, both cameras have a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power.

The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.

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Body Specifications
    Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
Weather
Sealing
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Nikon D4 160 mm 157 mm 91 mm 1340 g 2600 Y Jan 2012 5,999i
2.
 
Nikon D6 160 mm 163 mm 92 mm 1270 g 3580 Y Feb 2020 6,499 i
3.
 
Canon 1D X 158 mm 168 mm 83 mm 1551 g 1120 Y Oct 2011 6,799i
4.
 
Nikon D780 144 mm 116 mm 76 mm 840 g 2260 Y Jan 2020 2,299 i
5.
 
Nikon D5 160 mm 159 mm 92 mm 1415 g 3780 Y Jan 2016 6,499i
6.
 
Nikon D4S 160 mm 157 mm 91 mm 1350 g 3020 Y Feb 2014 6,499i
7.
 
Nikon Df 144 mm 110 mm 67 mm 760 g 1400 Y Nov 2013 2,749i
8.
 
Nikon D600 141 mm 113 mm 82 mm 850 g 900 Y Sep 2012 2,099i
9.
 
Nikon D800 146 mm 123 mm 82 mm 1000 g 900 Y Feb 2012 2,999i
10.
 
Nikon D800E 146 mm 123 mm 82 mm 1000 g 900 Y Feb 2012 3,299i
11.
 
Nikon D3S 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1240 g 4200 Y Oct 2009 5,199i
12.
 
Nikon D3X 160 mm 157 mm 88 mm 1260 g 4400 Y Dec 2008 7,999i
13.
 
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.

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 D4 was somewhat cheaper (by 8 percent) than the D6 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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.

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Sensor comparison

The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units 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.

Both cameras under consideration feature a full frame sensor, but their sensors differ slightly in size. They nevertheless have the same format factor of 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.

Technology-wise, the D6 uses a more advanced image processing engine (EXPEED 6) than the D4 (EXPEED 3), with benefits for noise reduction, color accuracy, and processing speed.

Nikon D4 and Nikon D6 sensor measures

Despite having a slightly smaller sensor, the D6 offers a higher resolution of 20.7 megapixels, compared with 16.2 MP of the D4. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 6.44μm versus 7.29μm for the D4). However, it should be noted that the D6 is much more recent (by 8 years and 1 month) than the D4, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently.

The resolution advantage of the Nikon D6 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the D6 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 27.8 x 18.6 inches or 70.7 x 47.1 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 22.3 x 14.8 inches or 56.6 x 37.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 18.6 x 12.4 inches or 47.1 x 31.4 cm. The corresponding values for the Nikon D4 are 24.6 x 16.4 inches or 62.6 x 41.7 cm for good quality, 19.7 x 13.1 inches or 50.1 x 33.3 cm for very good quality, and 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.7 x 27.8 cm for excellent quality prints.

The Nikon D4 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 12800, which can be extended to ISO 50-204800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Nikon D6 are ISO 100 to ISO 102400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 50-3280000.

D4 versus D6 MP

Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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
1.
 
Nikon D4 Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/30p24.713.1296589
2.
 
Nikon D6 Full Frame 20.7 5568 37124K/30p........
3.
 
Canon 1D X Full Frame 17.9 5184 34561080/30p23.811.8278682
4.
 
Nikon D780 Full Frame 24.3 6048 40244K/30p........
5.
 
Nikon D5 Full Frame 20.7 5588 37124K/30p25.112.3234388
6.
 
Nikon D4S Full Frame 16.2 4928 32801080/60p24.413.3307489
7.
 
Nikon Df Full Frame 16.2 4928 3280none24.613.1327989
8.
 
Nikon D600 Full Frame 24.2 6016 40161080/30p25.114.2298094
9.
 
Nikon D800 Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/30p25.314.4285395
10.
 
Nikon D800E Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/30p25.614.3297996
11.
 
Nikon D3S Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832720/24p23.512.0325382
12.
 
Nikon D3X Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032none24.713.7199288
13.
 
Nikon D3 Full Frame 12.1 4256 2832none23.512.2229081

Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the D6 provides a better video resolution than the D4. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the D4 is limited to 1080/30p.

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Feature comparison

Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The D4 and the D6 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 viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the D6 has a higher magnification than the one of the D4 (0.72x vs 0.70x), so that the size of the image transmitted appears closer to the size seen with the naked human eye. The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Nikon D4 and Nikon D6 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
1.
 
Nikon D4optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
2.
 
Nikon D6optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 1/8000s 14.0 n n
3.
 
Canon 1D Xoptical Y 3.2 1040 fixed n 1/8000s 14.0 n n
4.
 
Nikon D780optical Y 3.2 2359 tilting Y 1/8000s 12.0 n n
5.
 
Nikon D5optical Y 3.2 2359 fixed Y 1/8000s 14.0 n n
6.
 
Nikon D4Soptical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
7.
 
Nikon Dfoptical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5 n n
8.
 
Nikon D600optical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/4000s 5.5 Y n
9.
 
Nikon D800optical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 Y n
10.
 
Nikon D800Eoptical Y 3.2 921 fixed n 1/8000s 4.0 Y n
11.
 
Nikon D3Soptical Y 3.0 921 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n
12.
 
Nikon D3Xoptical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 5.0 n n
13.
 
Nikon D3optical Y 3.0 922 fixed n 1/8000s 11.0 n n

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The D6 has a touchscreen, while the D4 has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

The Nikon D4 and the Nikon D6 both have an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.

The D4 writes its imaging data to Compact Flash or XQD cards, while the D6 uses CFexpress or XQD cards. Both cameras feature dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails.

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Connectivity 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 Nikon D6 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
1.
 
Nikon D4YmonomonoYYmicro2.0---
2.
 
Nikon D6YstereomonoYYmini3.1Y-Y
3.
 
Canon 1D XYmono-Y-mini2.0---
4.
 
Nikon D780YstereomonoYYmini3.1Y-Y
5.
 
Nikon D5YstereomonoYYmini3.0---
6.
 
Nikon D4SYmonomonoYYmini2.0---
7.
 
Nikon DfY----mini2.0---
8.
 
Nikon D600YmonomonoYYmini2.0---
9.
 
Nikon D800YmonomonoYYmini3.0---
10.
 
Nikon D800EYmonomonoYYmini3.0---
11.
 
Nikon D3SYstereo---mini2.0---
12.
 
Nikon D3XY----mini2.0---
13.
 
Nikon D3Y----mini2.0---

It is notable that the D6 offers wifi support, which can be a very convenient means to transfer image data to an off-camera location. In contrast, the D4 does not provide wifi capability.

Both cameras feature a PC Sync terminal to control professional strobe lights, which will be appreciated by studio photographers.

The D6 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Nikon. In contrast, the D4 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the D4 was succeeded by the Nikon D4S. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon website.

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Review summary

So how do things add up? Is the Nikon D4 better than the Nikon D6 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Reasons to prefer the Nikon D4:

  • More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in January 2012).


Advantages of the Nikon D6:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (20.7 vs 16.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 13%.
  • Better jpgs: Has a more modern image processing engine (EXPEED 6 vs EXPEED 3).
  • Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/30p).
  • Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.72x vs 0.70x).
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2359k vs 921k dots).
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (14 vs 11 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • Longer lasting: Gets more shots (3580 versus 2600) out of a single battery charge.
  • Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
  • Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
  • Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
  • More modern: Reflects 8 years and 1 month of technical progress since the D4 launch.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the D6 is the clear winner of the contest (12 : 1 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.

D4 01:12 D6

How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D4 and the Nikon D6 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.

In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the D4 or the D6 perform in practice. 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.

Expert reviews

This is why expert reviews are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.

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Expert Camera Reviews
     Camera 
 Model 
 AP 
 score 
 CL 
 score 
 DPR 
 score 
 EPZ 
 score 
 PB 
 score 
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Nikon D4......4.5/54.5/5 Jan 2012 5,999i
2.
 
Nikon D6......4.5/54.5/5 Feb 2020 6,499 i
3.
 
Canon 1D X5/5....4.5/54.5/5 Oct 2011 6,799i
4.
 
Nikon D7805/5..87/1004.5/54.5/5 Jan 2020 2,299 i
5.
 
Nikon D5....89/1004.5/55/5 Jan 2016 6,499i
6.
 
Nikon D4S5/5....4.5/54.5/5 Feb 2014 6,499i
7.
 
Nikon Df4/5..81/1004/54/5 Nov 2013 2,749i
8.
 
Nikon D6004/5+ +87/1005/54.5/5 Sep 2012 2,099i
9.
 
Nikon D8005/5+ +82/1005/55/5 Feb 2012 2,999i
10.
 
Nikon D800E....84/1005/55/5 Feb 2012 3,299i
11.
 
Nikon D3S5/5..89/1004.5/55/5 Oct 2009 5,199i
12.
 
Nikon D3X....86/1004/55/5 Dec 2008 7,999i
13.
 
Nikon D3....+ +5/54.5/5 Aug 2007 4,999i
Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.

Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, 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. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

Nikon D4:
Check Ebay offers
Nikon D6:
Check Amazon price

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.

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    Specifications: Nikon D4 vs Nikon D6

    Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.

    Camera Specifications
    Camera Model Nikon D4 Nikon D6
    Camera Type Digital single lens reflex Digital single lens reflex
    Camera Lens Nikon F mount lenses Nikon F mount lenses
    Launch Date January 2012 February 2020
    Launch Price USD 5,999 USD 6,499
    Sensor Specs Nikon D4 Nikon D6
    Sensor Technology CMOS CMOS
    Sensor Format Full Frame Sensor Full Frame Sensor
    Sensor Size 36.0 x 23.9 mm 35.9 x 23.9 mm
    Sensor Area 860.4 mm2 858.01 mm2
    Sensor Diagonal 43.2 mm 43.1 mm
    Crop Factor 1.0x 1.0x
    Sensor Resolution 16.2 Megapixels 20.7 Megapixels
    Image Resolution 4928 x 3280 pixels 5568 x 3712 pixels
    Pixel Pitch 7.29 μm 6.44 μm
    Pixel Density 1.88 MP/cm2 2.41 MP/cm2
    Moiré control Anti-Alias filter Anti-Alias filter
    Movie Capability 1080/30p Video 4K/30p Video
    ISO Setting 100 - 12,800 ISO 100 - 102,400 ISO
    ISO Boost 50 - 204,800 ISO 50 - 3,280,000 ISO
    Image Processor EXPEED 3 EXPEED 6
    DXO Sensor Quality (score) 89 ..
    DXO Color Depth (bits) 24.7 ..
    DXO Dynamic Range (EV) 13.1 ..
    DXO Low Light (ISO) 2965 ..
    Screen Specs Nikon D4 Nikon D6
    Viewfinder Type Optical viewfinder Optical viewfinder
    Viewfinder Field of View 100% 100%
    Viewfinder Magnification 0.70x 0.72x
    Top-Level Screen Control Panel Control Panel
    LCD Framing Live View Live View
    Rear LCD Size 3.2inch 3.2inch
    LCD Resolution 921k dots 2359k dots
    LCD Attachment Fixed screen Fixed screen
    Touch Input no Touchscreen Touchscreen
    Shooting Specs Nikon D4 Nikon D6
    Focus System Phase-detect AF Phase-detect AF
    Manual Focusing Aidno Peaking FeatureFocus Peaking
    Max Shutter Speed (mechanical) 1/8000s 1/8000s
    Continuous Shooting 11 shutter flaps/s 14 shutter flaps/s
    Shutter Life Expectancy400 000 actuations400 000 actuations
    Time-Lapse PhotographyIntervalometer built-inIntervalometer built-in
    Fill Flash no On-Board Flash no On-Board Flash
    Storage Medium CF or XQD cards CFexpress or XQD cards
    Second Storage Option Dual card slots Dual card slots
    Connectivity Specs Nikon D4 Nikon D6
    External Flash Hotshoe Hotshoe
    Studio Flash PC Sync socket PC Sync socket
    USB Connector USB 2.0 USB 3.1
    HDMI Port micro HDMI mini HDMI
    Microphone Port External MIC port External MIC port
    Headphone Socket Headphone port Headphone port
    Wifi Support no Wifi Wifi built-in
    Bluetooth Support no Bluetooth Bluetooth built-in
    Body Specs Nikon D4 Nikon D6
    Environmental SealingWeathersealed bodyWeathersealed body
    Battery Type EN-EL18 EN-EL18c
    Battery Life (CIPA)2600 shots per charge3580 shots per charge
    Body Dimensions 160 x 157 x 91 mm
    (6.3 x 6.2 x 3.6 in)
    160 x 163 x 92 mm
    (6.3 x 6.4 x 3.6 in)
    Camera Weight 1340 g (47.3 oz) 1270 g (44.8 oz)

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