Nikon D4 vs Samsung NX1
The Nikon D4 and the Samsung NX1 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2012 and September 2014. The D4 is a DSLR, while the NX1 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a full frame (D4) and an APS-C (NX1) sensor. The Nikon has a resolution of 16.2 megapixels, whereas the Samsung provides 28 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Nikon D4 and the Samsung NX1? 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.
The physical size and weight of the Nikon D4 and the Samsung NX1 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.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Samsung NX1 is considerably smaller (44 percent) than the Nikon D4. Moreover, the NX1 is substantially lighter (59 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. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
As can be seen in the images above, the D4 has a battery grip built in. This facilitates image-taking in portrait orientation and gives it additional battery power. In order to provide similar functionality for the NX1, Samsung provides the ED-VGNX01 vertical grip as an optional accessory (see here on eBay). The power pack in the NX1 can be charged via the USB port, which can be very convenient when travelling.
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.
|1.||Nikon D4||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1340 g||2600||Y||Jan 2012||5,999|
|2.||Samsung NX1||139 mm||102 mm||66 mm||550 g||500||Y||Sep 2014||1,499|
|3.||Canon 1D X||158 mm||168 mm||83 mm||1551 g||1120||Y||Oct 2011||6,799|
|4.||Fujifilm X-Pro2||141 mm||83 mm||46 mm||495 g||350||Y||Jan 2016||1,699|
|5.||Fujifilm X-T2||133 mm||92 mm||49 mm||507 g||340||Y||Jul 2016||1,599|
|6.||Nikon D5||160 mm||159 mm||92 mm||1415 g||3780||Y||Jan 2016||6,499|
|7.||Nikon D4S||160 mm||157 mm||91 mm||1350 g||3020||Y||Feb 2014||6,499|
|8.||Nikon Df||144 mm||110 mm||67 mm||760 g||1400||Y||Nov 2013||2,749|
|9.||Nikon D5300||125 mm||98 mm||76 mm||480 g||600||n||Oct 2013||799|
|10.||Nikon D600||141 mm||113 mm||82 mm||850 g||900||Y||Sep 2012||2,099|
|11.||Nikon D800||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||2,999|
|12.||Nikon D800E||146 mm||123 mm||82 mm||1000 g||900||Y||Feb 2012||3,299|
|13.||Nikon D3S||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1240 g||4200||Y||Oct 2009||5,199|
|14.||Nikon D3X||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1260 g||4400||Y||Dec 2008||7,999|
|15.||Nikon D3||160 mm||157 mm||88 mm||1300 g||4300||Y||Aug 2007||4,999|
|16.||Samsung NX500||120 mm||64 mm||43 mm||287 g||370||n||Feb 2015||799|
|17.||Sony A7||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||474 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||1,699|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The NX1 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 75 percent) than the D4, which puts it into a different market segment. 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.
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 Nikon D4 features a full frame sensor and the Samsung NX1 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NX1 is 57 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the NX1 offers a higher resolution of 28 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 3.63μm versus 7.29μm for the D4). However, it should be noted that the NX1 is much more recent (by 2 years and 8 months) than the D4, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that make it possible to gather light more efficiently. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the NX1 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Samsung NX1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the NX1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 32.4 x 21.6 inches or 82.3 x 54.9 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 25.9 x 17.3 inches or 65.8 x 43.9 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 21.6 x 14.4 inches or 54.9 x 36.6 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 NX1 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
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 Samsung NX1 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-51200.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under review, the D4 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the NX1 (overall score 6 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.5 bits higher color depth, 0.1 EV of lower dynamic range, and 1.1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
| DXO |
|1.||Nikon D4||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/30p||24.7||13.1||2965||89|
|3.||Canon 1D X||Full Frame||17.9||5184||3456||1080/30p||23.8||11.8||2786||82|
|6.||Nikon D5||Full Frame||20.7||5588||3712||4K/30p||25.1||12.3||2343||88|
|7.||Nikon D4S||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||1080/60p||24.4||13.3||3074||89|
|8.||Nikon Df||Full Frame||16.2||4928||3280||none||24.6||13.1||3279||89|
|10.||Nikon D600||Full Frame||24.2||6016||4016||1080/30p||25.1||14.2||2980||94|
|11.||Nikon D800||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.3||14.4||2853||95|
|12.||Nikon D800E||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/30p||25.6||14.3||2979||96|
|13.||Nikon D3S||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||720/24p||23.5||12.0||3253||82|
|14.||Nikon D3X||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||none||24.7||13.7||1992||88|
|15.||Nikon D3||Full Frame||12.1||4256||2832||none||23.5||12.2||2290||81|
|17.||Sony A7||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||14.2||2248||90|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the NX1 provides a better video resolution than the D4. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the Nikon is limited to 1080/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. For example, the NX1 has an electronic viewfinder (2360k dots), while the D4 has an optical one. Both systems have their advantages, with the electronic viewfinder making it possible to project supplementary shooting information into the framing view, whereas the optical viewfinder offers lag-free viewing and a very clear framing image. The viewfinders of both cameras offer the same field of view (100%), but the viewfinder of the D4 has a higher magnification than the one of the NX1 (0.70x vs 0.69x), 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 Samsung NX1 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|3.||Canon 1D X||optical||Y||3.2||1040||fixed||n||1/8000s||14.0||n||n|
One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The NX1 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 Samsung NX1 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 NX1 uses SDXC cards. The D4 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the NX1 only has one slot.
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 Samsung NX1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|3.||Canon 1D X||Y||mono||-||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-|
It is notable that the NX1 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.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Nikon D4 (unlike the NX1) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the D4 and the NX1 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The D4 was replaced by the Nikon D4S, while the NX1 does not have a direct successor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Nikon and Samsung websites.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is the Nikon D4 better than the Samsung NX1 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Nikon D4:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (6 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.1 stops ISO advantage).
- Brighter framing: Features an optical viewfinder for clear, lag-free composition.
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.70x vs 0.69x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More portrait friendly: Features an integrated vertical grip for easier portrait shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (2600 versus 500) on a single battery charge.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in January 2012).
Advantages of the Samsung NX1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (28 vs 16.2MP), which boosts linear resolution by 32%.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/30p).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More framing info: Has an electronic viewfinder that displays shooting data.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1036k vs 921k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (15 vs 11 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (139x102mm vs 160x157mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 790g or 59 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.0 vs 2.0).
- Easier file upload: Has wifi built in for automatic backup or image transfer to the web.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (75 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 8 months of technical progress since the D4 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the NX1 is the clear winner of the contest (20 : 11 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. A professional sports photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a street photog, and a person interested in family portraits has distinct needs from a landscape shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Nikon D4 and the Samsung NX1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best DSLR Camera and Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listings whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the D4 and the NX1 in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.
|1.||Nikon D4||..||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2012||5,999|
|2.||Samsung NX1||5/5||..||87/100||5/5||5/5||Sep 2014||1,499|
|3.||Canon 1D X||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2011||6,799|
|4.||Fujifilm X-Pro2||..||+||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jan 2016||1,699|
|5.||Fujifilm X-T2||5/5||+ +||86/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2016||1,599|
|6.||Nikon D5||..||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||6,499|
|7.||Nikon D4S||5/5||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2014||6,499|
|8.||Nikon Df||4/5||..||81/100||4/5||4/5||Nov 2013||2,749|
|9.||Nikon D5300||4/5||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2013||799|
|10.||Nikon D600||4/5||+ +||87/100||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,099|
|11.||Nikon D800||5/5||+ +||82/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||2,999|
|12.||Nikon D800E||..||..||84/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2012||3,299|
|13.||Nikon D3S||5/5||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2009||5,199|
|14.||Nikon D3X||..||..||86/100||4/5||5/5||Dec 2008||7,999|
|15.||Nikon D3||..||..||+ +||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2007||4,999|
|16.||Samsung NX500||4.5/5||..||81/100||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2015||799|
|17.||Sony A7||5/5||+ +||80/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,699|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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.
Specifications: Nikon D4 vs Samsung NX1
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 Model||Nikon D4||Samsung NX1|
|Camera Type||Digital single lens reflex||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Nikon F mount lenses||Samsung NX mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2012||September 2014|
|Launch Price||USD 5,999||USD 1,499|
|Sensor Specs||Nikon D4||Samsung NX1|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||36.0 x 23.9 mm||23.5 x 15.7 mm|
|Sensor Area||860.4 mm2||368.95 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm||28.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||16.2 Megapixels||28 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||4928 x 3280 pixels||6480 x 4320 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||7.29 μm||3.63 μm|
|Pixel Density||1.88 MP/cm2||7.59 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||no AA filter|
|Movie Capability||1080/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 12,800 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 204,800 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 3||DRIMe 5|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||89||83|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.7||24.2|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.1||13.2|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||2965||1363|
|Screen Specs||Nikon D4||Samsung NX1|
|Viewfinder Type||Optical viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2360k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||Control Panel|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||921k dots||1036k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Fixed screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||no Touchscreen||Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Nikon D4||Samsung NX1|
|Focus System||Phase-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||no Peaking Feature||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||11 shutter flaps/s||15 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||400 000 actuations||150 000 actuations|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||Intervalometer built-in|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CF or XQD cards||SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|Connectivity Specs||Nikon D4||Samsung NX1|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||no Wifi||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Nikon D4||Samsung NX1|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||2600 shots per charge||500 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||no USB charging||USB charging|
160 x 157 x 91 mm
(6.3 x 6.2 x 3.6 in)
139 x 102 x 66 mm
(5.5 x 4.0 x 2.6 in)
|Camera Weight||1340 g (47.3 oz)||550 g (19.4 oz)|
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