Nikon D4 First Impression

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Nikon D4 first started to ship on March 16th, but not only until then I made my pre-order. I didn’t expect it will arrive so soon, but with only about a month of wait, I am surprise to say it is here. If you haven’t got yours yet, you can pre order yours at B&H. Get in quick, they will be hard to get for the next 12 months.

To no surprise the Nikon D4 is boxed in the same traditional golden colour box that uses for all their DSLRs.

Upon opening the box, it is nice to see Nikon has included a Sony 16GB XQD card and reader. Personally, I wouldn’t go buy a XQD card just to use it with the D4, I simply don’t need that kind of speed, but it is a nice little touch to give us an opportunity to test out these XQD cards. The Sony XQD is close to doubling the speed of Sandisk Extreme Pro, the technology has not mature yet, you can expect the future XQD cards will be much faster. It will certainly help to drive down the cost of CF cards.

The unbox of Nikon D4 finds the usual manual, paper works, CDs, Nikon straps, video cable. One major difference is the twin battery charger for the new EN-EL18 battery. The size is not much bigger than the Nikon D3s charger, but it does facilitate charging two batteries together. The new EN-EL18 battery is rated at lower capacity but it can still take thousands of shots per charge.

Here it is, the machine itself – Nikon D4. Not much difference from the front, except the body is much more contoured, especially the hot shoe bonnet. The shutter button is now suppose to be placed at a more convenient angle so your finger is in a more relax position, but I didn’t notice much difference. The dedicated metering mode selector used to be on the right hand side of the eye piece is now located as one of the three top left side buttons. Now I have to cycle through the meter modes using the dial instead of just flicking a dedicated selector.

The back of the Nikon D4 has quite a few changes; one significant change is the position of the vertical grip AF-ON. The new position is something needs to get use to, it doesn’t feel comfortable right now. A couple of joysticks have been added to control the AF point for both normal and vertical positions. The left side of the LCD now has five buttons instead of four, added with a zoom out button. I personally prefer dedicated zoom in and out buttons instead of using the dial to change the zoom level.

The buttons are now back illuminate.

The side gets a new headphone jack and Ethernet port. The AF-S/AF-C/M switch at the front have been simplified, to change from AF-S to AF-C, you will need to press the switch and use the dial to cycle between AF-S and AF-C. I prefer operation via dedicated switches, so I find this to be slow.

I haven’t had an extensive use of the Nikon D4 yet, but so far I like the ergonomic design and handling. There are some aspects I need to adjust to, especially the changes with the metering mode selector, the position of the vertical AF-ON, the missing of AF-S/AF-C dedicated switch and the AF and dynamic AF switch.

So far I haven’t put the Nikon D4 to any real test yet, so I haven’t notice much differences in high ISO performance or AF performance. But as I put it to pace, I will report more on its performance and my experience with it.


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About Kent Yu

Kent is a professional wedding and portrait photographer based in Wellington, New Zealand. He and his team specialise in modern and contemporary weddings. Kent has his work published in international magazines and is a regular author to a number of photographic publication. He is fascinated by photographic equipment and enjoys showcasing the gear used in creating his images. You can find him on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Google+
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