Unveiled: The Nikon D4S DSLR is the New Standard-Bearer

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Professional Nikon shooters have been waiting with bated breath for the update to the D4, and that day has finally arrived. The Nikon D4S DSLR Camera has been announced as the new flagship Nikon DSLR and it brings with it a few major upgrades and numerous minor improvements to justify the two-year wait. 

For starters the image processing engine has been upgraded to the EXPEED 4, and with that comes a cascade of minor improvements that affect video capture, live view and playback capabilities, low-light sensitivity, shooting duration and of course, performance speeds. The sensor on the D4S is an improved version of the same 16.2MP FX-format CMOS sensor in the D4. Sharp details, vibrant colors, subtle tones and smooth gradations are the result. The ISO sensitivity range now runs from 100 to 25,600 and can be expanded from 50 to 409,600, improving capability in low light as well as reducing noise within the native range.

Overall speed performance is increased 30% according to Nikon, including a bump from 10 fps continuous shooting on the D4 to 11fps on the D4S. When using the compatible XQD high speed memory card, the number of full resolution JPEG continuous shots increases to 200 compared to 170 from the D4; and when shooting 14-bit compressed RAW format, the maximum is 104 compared to 76 from the D4. Speaking of RAW, the D4S still supports 12-bit and 14-bit RAW files but now provides a RAW SIZE S setting for smaller 12-bit uncompressed NEF files to speed up your workflow and still retain post-production control. Five image area modes are selectable when shooting stills in Live View: FX, DX, 1.5x, 5:4 and 1.2x.

The proven Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX 51-point AF system is retained, including selectable point configurations, 3D Tracking and Auto Area AF. But a new Group Area AF enables five AF sensors to be used as a single focus point to improve initial focus speeds. The D4S also utilizes the 3D Color Matrix metering III system with a 91k-pixel RGB sensor, producing balanced exposure in all modes. The D4S now allows the Face Priority analysis to be turned on and off with a custom setting whereas with the D4, it was always on. Full aperture metering during Live View is now also supported for stills shooting and Spot White Balance in Live View lets you measure white balance against any point within your frame. Additionally, the number of available white balance presets has increased from 3 to 6. 

As with the D4, a pentaprism viewfinder supports eye-level composition and a 3.2” 921k-dot rear LCD monitor enables menu navigation, image playback and live view composition. The D4S, however, features fine-tuning of the LCD colors to better match those on an external monitor. The Live View image area (for stills or video) can now also be selected while in live view, something the D4 did not offer. And when in Live View Movie mode the D4S supports changing the size of focus points. Playback magnification up to 200% for checking focus and details is selectable from the camera’s multi-selector.

Video capture has seen several improvements over the D4, mostly thanks to the upgraded image processor. Full HD 1080p now shoots at 60 fps in addition to 24 fps and 30 fps. Also, noise has been reduced at higher ISO sensitivities during video capture for better video quality, especially in low light. Auto ISO control during manual exposure is now available when shooting video and three image area options-- FX, DX and 2.7x Crop --are now selectable during live view. The D4 supported uncompressed video recording to an external recorder via HDMI and the D4S ups that by also supporting simultaneous recording to a memory card and to the external recorder. An external microphone jack enables professional audio quality and the D4S now allows two selectable audio frequency ranges and the adjustment of audio levels during recording. The built-in mic features improved wind noise reduction.

The D4S can transfer images up to 10x faster than previously possible with its new 1000Base-T Wired LAN and, like the D4, it is compatible with the WT-5A Wireless Adapter for instant wireless image transfer and remote camera control via smart devices.

Interval capture for time-lapse videos has been improved as well on the D4S. Transitions are smoother with reduced flicker and a huge increase-- from 999 to 9,999 --in maximum exposures is now supported.

The EXPEED 4 processor combined with a more efficient EN-EL18a Li-ion battery enables the capture of up to 3,020 stills on a single charge, furthering the advantage a camera such as the D4S gives to the working professional. This is an increase in over 400 exposures compared to the D4.

The D4S has slightly tweaked the grip and body design for improved handling, but the durable weather-sealed magnesium alloy body remains  the same as does the dual card slots, including Compact Flash and XQD compatibility. Physically, the attitude seems to be: don’t fix what ain’t broken. Improving on a masterwork is not easy, but Nikon has improved performance over the D4 and found small ways to make the D4S better attuned to the needs of the working pro.

Comparison Chart
  Nikon D4s Nikon D4
Sensor and Resolution
Sensor  36.0 x 23.9mm CMOS  36.0 x 23.9mm CMOS
Effective Pixels Approx. 16.2 Approx. 16.2
Resolution 16.2MP FX-format CMOS sensor 16.2MP FX-format CMOS sensor
Image Quality
Image Processing Engine EXPEED 4
30% faster
Increased number of shots
Higher video quality at high ISO
Supports 1080 60p
More shots per charge
EXPEED 3
ISO Sensitivity Range 100 to 25,600
Lo1 (ISO 50) to Hi4 (ISO 409,600)
100-12,800
Lo1 (ISO 50) to Hi4 (ISO 204,800)
File Format 12-bit and 14-bit NEF (RAW) File support
JPEG- fine (approx. 1: 4), normal (approx. 1: 8),
basic (approx. 1: 16)
TIFF (RGB)
12-bit and 14-bit NEF (RAW) File support
JPEG- fine (approx. 1: 4), normal (approx. 1: 8),
basic (approx. 1: 16)
TIFF (RGB)
RAW SIZE S 12-bit uncompressed No
Metering System
91k RGB Sensor Yes Yes
Advanced Scene
Recognition System
Yes - Group Area AF added Yes
Face Priority analysis for
viewfinder shooting
On/Off possible with custom setting Always On
White Balance
Spot White Balance when
using Live View
Yes No
Preset White Balance 1-6 possible 1-3 is possible
Auto Focus    
AF Sensor Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX Advanced Multi-CAM 3500FX
Frame Advance Rate 11 fps with AF/AE 10 fps with AF/AE
Group Area AF Yes
Five AF sensors used as a Group
Optimized for subjects located within an area
covered by the “Group”
No
Dynamic AF Modes 9/21/51/51 points w/3D Tracking/Auto Area AF 9/21/51/51 points w/3D Tracking/Auto Area AF
Video
Frame Size & Frame rate 1920 x 1080 60/50/30/25/24p 1920 x 1080 30/25/24p
Multi-area mode Full
HD D-Movie with three
image area options
Selectable during live view:
FX, DX, 2.7X Crop
Not selectable during live view:
FX, DX, 2.7X Crop
ISO Auto Control for
Manual Exposure
Yes No
Simultaneous recording
to memory card and
external recorder
Yes No
View simultaneous live
view output and record
uncompressed video
via HDMI
Yes Yes
Selectable audio
frequency range
Yes
Wide/Voice
No
Audio adjusted during
video recording
Yes No
Wired and Wireless Communication System
Wired LAN 1000 Base T Support 1000 Base T Support
Wireless Transmission Via WT-5A Via WT-5A
Camera Handling
Ergonomics Shape of a grip and details at backside (body form
and controls) have been re-designed
Improved over D3 series
Dual memory card slots CF card compatible with UDMA 7
XQD memory card (based on a 32-GB QD-S32E)
enables continuous shooting for up to approx. 200
shots (JPEG fine L), approx. 133 shots
(12-bit, lossless compressed RAW), approx. 176
shots (12-bit, compressed RAW), or approx. 104
shots (14-bit, compressed RAW)
CF card compatible with UDMA 7 XQD
XQD memory card (based on a 32-GB S32E)
enables continuous shooting for up to approx.
170 shots (JPEG fine L), approx. 92 shots (12-bit,
lossless compressed RAW), approx. 92 shots (12-
bit, compressed RAW), or approx. 76 shots (14-bit,
compressed RAW)
Playback Magnification Can be selected from multi-selector 50%, 100% or 200% Can be selected from multi-selector
Change Focus point size
in Live View Movie
Yes
Normal-area
No
Fine tune LCD color Yes No
Full aperture metering
during Live View for stills
Yes No
Live View - Image Area Can be selected while in Live View for
stills and movies
No
Interval timer / Time lapse movie Yes
Increased number of exposures (up to 9999),
setting until one week later is possible.
Exposure smoothing has been added
Yes
Up to 999 possible
Battery One EN-EL18a Rechargeable Li-Ion
Approx. 3,020 shots (in Single-frame mode, based
on CIPA Standards)
One EN-EL18 Rechargeable Li-Ion
Approx. 2,600 shots (in Single-frame mode, based
on CIPA Standards)
Time-lapse Interval Timers Exposure Smoothening Yes No

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A disappointment - I was hoping for 24 mp not 16. Canon seems to have best out there with more MP and faster frame rate. I like the 60 frames per sec for movie mode but if I wanted to shoot movies, I would likely invest in a movie camera.

"...it brings with it a few major upgrades and numerous minor improvements to justify the two-year wait."

Um, a two year wait doesn't need to be justified. What needs to be justified is why they even bothered to release this disappointment.

This seems like nothing but a correction. This is a shameful habit Nikon is getting into: release a camera, and then it's correction later. It happened with D600 and it's correction - the D600.

Here's an idea, Nikon - try getting it right!

I have been lusting after a D4 for years because my D7100 was a huge "buffering" disappointment. My D800 is great for landscapes but I needed a faster firing rate camera with low light and high MP like the D800. All that I had read in rumors hinted the D4S was a 24 MP camera. I will just have to wait and save my money for a D5 that should have bigger improvements. It seems Nikon is following Apple in releasing "s versions" to fill the rumor voids. And what happened to the D400 that never followed the great D300? I do not understand Nikon. This flagship will not overtake the Cannon 1DX.

Yawn.

Wonderful features.
Too bad the sensor is only 16.2 megapixels, it leaves no room for croping the photographs later.
I wonder if the D4x is on it's way so it would be better to wait...

Nikon needs to get in the 21st century. $6500? No WiFi?

I really needed more frames-per-second, higher light sensitivity, faster buffering and a lot more pixels.

After purchasing a very expensive D2X body and 17-55 lens, only to have the format dumped a little over a year later with the D3- not to mention having to buy software to use my camera after spending $8k on the D3X, I am leaving Nikon. May they join the ranks of consumer-bashers Kodak and soon, Microsoft, in market-driven oblivion.

You succeed at our pleasure; we have long memory and we do have choices.......

High price? YES
No wifi? Would be nice.
REZ- more pixels means more noise at high ISO so I'm good with 16mp. I'd like to see how big the small RAW files are. I love 16mp for weddings.
Looks like some cool new features like a 2.7 crop , another stop of ISO (only one??), exposure smoothing for time lapse is cool, and changing focus point in camera live view is nice but I don't see upgrading from the D4.

Oh well, put my money back into savings, and thing about maybe moving to Cannon!

A two year wait for this? Major disappointment, I thought the sensor resolution would be an improvement over the D4. Not much improvement over the D4 across the board. I have 12 Mp on my Canon S100, so why bother? Doesn't say much for the engineering staff @ Nikon.

Just like Apple, giving a little at a time, so they could keep you buying their next item. I just keep using my D600, D7100, D800e until they really come out with something new.

Auto-focus during video? It says nothing about that. It's killer on my Canon 70D and the Wifi is bomb! I can email a photo from my phone within 15 sec of taking it on my 70D. It's 20 megapix and only $1400 with vert grip and extra battery. That versus $6400 for this? They're dreaming. Granted, they're not comparable side by side, but for $5K difference, they don't have to be! My choice is obvious, whether it's Canon or Nikon. Even Canon's 1DX isn't worth it without wifi and video autofocus (that actually works!)

I will be keeping my D4 and wait for the D5....cameras now a days are just like Cell phones...YOU JUST CAN'T KEEP UP WITH ALL OF THE RELEASES.

To me there is not much on the D4s...compared to the D4...plus they jacked up the price!!!

The only appealing thing on the D4s to me is the higher native ISO but that is really about it.

Wow, looking at all the negative comments, I don't think Nikon will have a waiting list for the D4S. Schmucks! Cannon will eat you alive with the 1DX. 1 Frame faster/sec and still 16MP and $500 more. What a great deal!!!! Nikon is resting on its laurels again with the hit D300 and D800 and nothing in between! Idiots. So listen up, Nikon, I am only hanging with you because I have too many expensive Nikon lenses! I will not waste my hard earned money on gimmick releases like this and if you keep it up, I will switch to Cannon permanently.

No GPS ??? :-(

Well I like what Nikon announced. Good news is that the D5 specs are starting to surface with the recent patents and partners Nikon fabricates parts from - and the wait for three new Nikon D5 won't be long! So if this isnt the camera for you the Nikon D5 is right around the corner.

Thank you Nikon for helping to keep the dream of a Pentax Full-frame body alive.

Why is there a microphone on the back of the body? To record a narration during a documentary, or something..?!

I would like to come in and demo the Nikon D4s and see what lens that are compatible and in stock. Please send me any info on Nikon and Cannon, Fuji, Sony etc. Highend Photo & Digital equipment.

Feel free to visit the store anytime during our normal business hours to get a demo of the camera.  We have every lens on display for you to demo with it.  If there are particular lenses you want to check stock on you may contact our sales division either via telephone or email prior to visiting, and they can confirm the stock for you.  As far as information on Nikon, Canon, and the other brands go, we urge you to visit our website http://www.bhphotovideo.com  where we have all the detailed information there on each brand, system and models.

You may email askbh@bhphotovideo.com with any other detailed questions you may have on other systems.

Muy buena información.

Gracias