CES 2012 Nikon D4 hands-on preview


It was the second time I met with the D4. First time in Paris at Nikon School of Photography on December the 23rd, then here in Vegas at CES 2012. I won’t spoil the content of this quick preview of the D4, but, to put it in a nutshell : it is going to be my next camera.

First, it is weird, but, in spite of being very very near to the D3s, it feels different. It is not balanced the same, the grip is slightly shaped sharper and the thumb platform is also different. It is a nuance, but, D4 in hands, you really feel you have a camera which is an extension of your arm, body… and soul.

Fast, super fast, the Nikon D4, no surprise here, is faster than any Nikon DSLR ever built. Thanks to the new 91,000 pixel scene recognition sensor, the autofocus gathers information that will help locking the focus on the right subject. Has it has a part of the job already done, it focuses faster than the D3s or the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV and tracks people’s face thanks to its face detection. What is super great is that it even happens when you use the viewfinder. A face detection system while using the optical viewfinder is a world premiere and this consumer born function is going to help most of the pros. When you half-press the shutter button while you have people in the viewfinder, you instantly see that the AF sensor overlaying their faces lighting in red.

I tried to take some shots with the Nikon D4 to share with you guys but the Nikon staff on the booth would not allow me. That is a pity they always say that they display preproduction cameras, but actually, it starts shipping in just one month and we know that it actually was a final product. So I checked high ISO images (ISO 6400 and ISO 12800) on the rear screen (which is not fully reliable) in order to have an idea of the high sensitiviy image quality we could expect from the D4. Compared to the D3s, which is the high ISO king, the D4 could be the high ISO Emperor. In spite of a higher resolution, its images seem at least as clean as the D3s images. And I would like to bet they are even cleaner. My guess would be one full EV better. But I’ll wait till I have a final official Nikon D4 in hands for the full review.

Want to know more about the Nikon D4 ? You can read my 27 new things and improvements synthesis of the nikon D4.

The NIkon D4 offers a rich interface with HDMI (and uncompressed Full HD video through this port), USB, and Ethernet. Add the WT-5 transmitter and you get a wireless workflow

I also appreciated the double liveview switch : video and photo. That allows the D4 to display relevant information regarding each mode on the screen.

Nikon D4 dual photo / video LiveView switch

The D4 is huge, that is not an issue. What is an issue is that Nikon did not used the opportunity to embed a GPS sensor.

The NIkon D4 is not a discret camera. But its Quiet mode has been improved and it can be used with the electronic shutter, just like we use on e digoital compact camera, 100% silent.

I should have a Nikon D4 available within 2-3 weeks for a full review. I’ll keep you posted.

I leave Las Vegas and the CES 2012 tomorrow. In the next few days, I’ll post a hands-on preview of the Canon G1 X, of the Fuji X-Pro1 and of Lightroom 4 which I am currently installing. I did also go to the Valley of Fire and Red Rock Canyon areas to test the Panasonic GX1. So expect the full review of the Lumix GX1 with the 14-42X lens and the Leica 25mm f/1.4 within one week.

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