Nikon Announces New D4 HDSLR. Do We Really Care?

Cameras

Nikon announced the new Nikon D4 HDSLR camera with a bevy of new video functions. The new funtions that caught my attention were three adjustable crop sizes, full frame (FX), 1.6X (DX) and 2.7X. In theory this will give us great latitude with one single zoom lens. The most notable video feature is an uncompressed HDMI signal. The jury is still out if this will be interlaced or a progressiveI signal. It looks as if Nikon has finally stepped up it’s game in the video department. The real question is, does anyone really care? This might be a nice option for a Nikon still shooter as an upgrade or to add better video functionality to their aresenal but I don’t see droves of Canon shooters switchng over to the Nikon format. It’s great that Nikon is finally really embracing the video market, but is it a dollar short and a day late? The new Nikon D4 has a suggested retail price of around $6K. It has a few cool new features but really only measures up to a beefed up Canon 1D Mark IV on paper. The only cool thing about this announcement is that it may push Canon to release the 5D3 or whatever they have waiting in the wings sooner then expected. Here is a quote from the boring press release.

“Uncompressed output: simultaneous Live View – By using the camera’s HDMI port instead of the CF or XQD card, users can stream an uncompressed full HD signal directly out of the camera. This footage can be ported into an LCD display or appropriate external recording device or routed through a monitor and then to the recording device, eliminating the need for multiple connections.”

Here is a quote from DP Review.

“Movies can also be shot at three different crops from the sensor, which Nikon is describing as FX, DX and 2.7X (native 1920×1080). This makes it easy to vary the field-of-view for grabbing footage, even if you’ve got a prime lens mounted. However, the ‘FX’ size is a significantly cropped version of the full sensor (it’s 91% of the sensor’s width), so the field-of-view will be a little narrower than you’d expect for any given focal length. Also the native 1920×1080 video will be higher quality than the FX and DX versions, since it hasn’t been downsized. This difference is likely to be incredibly small (almost certainly irrelevant for most users), but is a consideration for high-end video users.”

Click here for the Press Release from Nikon.
Click here for DP Review’s detailed take.

Jared Abrams
Jared Abrams is a cinematographer based in Hollywood, California. After many years as a professional camera assistant he switched over to still photography. About two years ago a new Canon camera changed the way the world sees both motion and still photography. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
  • Kyoshi Becker

    You haven’t used a D3s have you? Much more camera than the 1Dsmk4 was excluding the Mpx and Video which are 2 things Nikon fixed on this body.  Ill consider Canon when I can use one that works (I used to shoot it exclusively too)

  • Dizeman

    This review is so Canon biased, it’s really not a review at all.

  • http://wideopencamera.com Jared Abrams

    Never said it was a Review. Not Canon biased just pointing out the specs.
    Thanks,
    Jared

  • M3pedro

    who care about video function? I’ll use a reall camera to shot video. I’m buying it for the stills

  • Rob

    No I don’t really care. Not a Nikon fan, its not very revolutionary, and from what I understand it cost too much!

  • http://www.hdcamteam.com HD Cam Team

    The community of Canon customers should REQUEST to Canon the needed and wanted improvements, because Canon CAN do that.

    These cameras (will) have HUGE potential inside (two Digic 5+ processors in the case of 1D X, etc.). We do not want the NEED to HACK them again to exploit the full potential! The hardware is there, it’s only a matter of firmware and willingness.

    This applies not only to Canon and Nikon, but also to Panasonic, Sony, etc.

    Canon has even called the 1D X as “The film-maker’s DSLR” on their press release, but even so they didn’t give 1080p60, just only 720p60 (so far, let’s hope they change their mind). Neither Nikon D4. What is that? Such a coincidence… Slow motion is now being used more than ever! (it is essential for many film-makers Canon!) Sometimes it looks like manufacturers have secret agreements.

    With such powerful engines they can perfectly do it, it’s not a hardware limitation. Even some cheap home camcorders under $700 offer 1080p60!

    We want the 5D Mark 3 released soon, but also with features that take REAL and FULL advantage of its hardware. We do not want to wait another 3-4 years to get what can be given RIGHT NOW. We do NOT want crippled cameras again…

  • http://www.hdcamteam.com HD Cam Team

    Comment Part #1:

    “The only cool thing about this announcement is that it may push Canon to release the 5D3 or whatever they have waiting in the wings sooner then expected.” Indeed!

    Canon should learn MANY things from the Nikon D4. It includes many of the features we’ve requested (but still some missing, even when they could do it in their flagship camera).

    Just a very simple example: Is it too hard for Canon to deliver a “clean” HDMI output (even at HD)? Of course not, they simply didn’t care to give the users the option to disable the “white square”. That MUST change.

    Hopefully Nikon announcements (and also the upcoming D800) will encourage Canon to implement MORE FEATURES and IMPROVEMENTS to upcoming HDSLRs, as we’ve all been requesting since SO LONG AGO…

    We posted a List of FEATURES & IMPROVEMENTS that we collected from lot of users’ feedback and our own experience through many years.

    -> The article was titled: “CANON EOS-1D X Needs Firmware Update”
    (Do a Google search in case the link doesn’t appear)

    This would help not only EOS-1D X, but also the upcoming 5D Mark III & 7D Mark II, which are (will be) sold to a much larger market segment.

    Of course there are lot more possible features that could be implemented via Firmware, using the existing hardware. But many of the requested features are even basic, ESSENTIAL for a multi-thousand dollars camera (like clean HDMI Full HD output, 1080p50/60, Crop Video Mode, Hot Pixel Remapping, Focusing Aids, etc, etc)

  • http://www.hdcamteam.com HD Cam Team

    Comment Part #2:

    The community of Canon customers should REQUEST to Canon the needed and wanted improvements, because Canon CAN do that.These cameras (will) have HUGE potential inside (two Digic 5+ processors in the case of 1D X, etc.). We do not want the NEED to HACK them again to exploit the full potential! The hardware is there, it’s only a matter of firmware and willingness.This applies not only to Canon and Nikon, but also to Panasonic, Sony, etc.Canon has even called the 1D X as “The film-maker’s DSLR” on their press release, but even so they didn’t give 1080p60, just only 720p60 (so far, let’s hope they change their mind). Neither Nikon D4. What is that? Such a coincidence… Slow motion is now being used more than ever! (it is essential for many film-makers Canon!) Sometimes it looks like manufacturers have secret agreements.With such powerful engines they can perfectly do it, it’s not a hardware limitation. Even some cheap home camcorders under $700 offer 1080p60!We want the 5D Mark 3 released soon, but also with features that take REAL and FULL advantage of its hardware. We do not want to wait another 3-4 years to get what can be given RIGHT NOW. We do NOT want crippled cameras again…

  • Vik

    I will read this with the same grain of salt as when you first wrote that the NEX-5n was simply a toy.
    Anyone thinking of buying an AF100, or even FS100 can look at this as a much more viable option.  36x24mm sensor with Nikon’s legendary metering, now taken to the absolute extreme (91,000 pixel RGB).  Everyone knows Nikon’s sensors are superior to Canon in low light, and the noise produced (if any) is similar to that of film grain, making this camera an absolute delight for film makers.  
    2.7x crop brings about true 1080p, not Canon’s skipped-line/moire plagued motion images.  Headphone monitor, 4:2:2 out through HDMI, and XqD card compatible… and it still is only as good as the 1D mkIV to you.   

    The only hope is that someone will produce a Nikon F mount to PL Mount adapter.

  • Steve

    While this clearly isn’t a review, I think I does feel a bit like you may have overlooked some key features the camera has that may prove to be huge improvements over the other players currently on the field. Of course, until we get our hands on the camera it will be tough to determine if these features were implemented well enough to make this camera a strong competitor. If they have, I think we are looking at the single most capable and efficient still AND motion capture camera ever made.

    Here are some things that I think may set this camera apart from other cameras capable both still AND motion capture. Some can be found on other current and future cameras, but I’m unaware of any other that has most of the following features in one package:

    Better output–while it seems that the internal codec may in fact be a step in the right direction itself, judging by the cleanliness of the release film “WHY” on Vimeo, likely the uncompressed 422 out from the hdmi port will be a large step for motion acquisition on a dslr platform. As for the concern about 1080i, I believe all hdmi output from cameras, such as the F3 and FS100 begin as interlaced, and it is the job of the recorder to pull the 24p out of the signal. Correct me if I’m wrong here…

    Better sound–the camera features full manual control, that can be monitored and adjusted while recording, with and without HEADPHONES. This is something that many of us forget or have never experienced, but can prove vital to acquiring usable sound on camera.

    Multiple frame rates on a full frame sensor–no longer do we need to switch over to our 7d to shoot slow motion and go as wide as possible. Now we can shoot all of our frame rates on the same, full frame body, and presumably reap the benefits in terms of focal length and Iso performance. Huge time saver and quality bump.

    Crop modes–if well implimented, my 24-70 that was used a lot of the time could be even more capable, effectively becoming a 24-190mm. That could be insane! There has been talk that these crop modes will actually look better do to the fact that they decrease the line skipping involved and thus avoid many of the issues associated with the process. While the DX crop will likely be in that sweet spot of a 35mm lens, the 2.7x crop may be pushing some glass in terms of sharpness. Well see.

    Longer record time–many will find themselves in certain situations where 10-12 min of nonstop record time isnt sufficient. The D4 boasts a 30 min record time, which I imagine should satisfy the majority of users.

    Focus confirmation mid shot–if I’m reading this right, that would be legit.

    Monitoring both on camera and on hdmi monitor–could be convenient, especially if you can have your shooting info displayed on the camera and clean picture on the monitor.

    In camera timelapse–the camera can take your stills and create a 1080p file in camera. Should be a convenient way to produce timelapses quickly for certain projects, without the whole QuickTime or after effects workflow.

    Reduced moire and aliasing–while likely still present to some degree, the videos released so far look very clean in this regard compared to current slr’s and even some video cameras. Excited to see where it’s at.

    Reduced rolling shutter–Nikon boasts a faster scan rate of the sensor for less jello. Looks good in the videos but we will see.

    Ethernet–faster data offload and potentially a plethora of cool options here.

    Wireless control–using the optional dongle, looks like we cause our iPads and iPhones for a lot of different remote possibilities. Could be cool!

    And they are going to be the 1dx to market!

    And of course, all of this comes in a compact, durable and weather sealed package, that is supposed to be a full stop better in low light than the current king (the d3s) and is ready to take what will likely be the finest photos we have been able to acquire sub 10k. Add that to the fact that it’s ready to accept some of the finest glass on the planet (glass that many of us much prefer to Canon lenses and thus have been reluctant to let go of for years, despite shooting our video work with the 5d and 7d) and I think. You might want to take another look before saying its a day late and a dollar short, 1div level camera.

    I’m sure i have left something out, but i think i have made my point… Then again, it’s all speculation until more people have a chance to put it through its paces.

  • W T

    I’m a Nikon stills shooter, and have all the old Nikon glass to prove it.  But I was very underwhelmed by the D4 release.  Essentially no increase in resolution over the D3s and much less than the D3x or even the RED Scarlet; only a single f-stop improvement in actual sensitivity of the sensor (the ultra-high ISO settings have gobs of added gain and post-processed in-camera noise reduction); 14-bit A-to-D rather than true 16 bit colors; slow interfaces (USB 2.0 instead of 3.0 or Thunderbolt, 100BaseT Ethernet instead of 1GBit) except for HDMI but that has lots of limitations and the actual data rate isn’t specified; can only store compressed 8-bit 4:2:2 H.264 B-frame video to cards rather than 4:4:4 RAW; records at 23.97fps rather than true 24; only has a single single-core internal processor so can’t handle higher frame rates than 30fps at full 1080p HD; apparently has little added dynamic range over its predecessors — on and on.  It’s a great pro-sumer camera, but unless you’re a stills shooter in a nightclub or at a concert or a sports photographer — or a Nikon fanboy (like Apple fanboys) who just buy because of the brand — I don’t see it appealing much to most pros shooting either stills or videos.  (Those Nikon AF lenses don’t work very well as cine lenses, either.)  Maybe video shot in low light will look beautiful and the highlights won’t clip too abrupty or change colors and images recorded over HDMI will be clean — then it might be useful.  It has lots of nice little improvements.  But I can trick out a 5DMkII pretty well for $6000 US.  Or wait to see if the C300 price will come down a bit…

  • Angros

    Idiot. Tell me what “real” camera has a 35mm full frame sensor that’s under £4500.

  • Steve M.

    This whole DSLR revolution is starting to get nauseating. No ones ever happy with what they have, everyone argues about what cameras superior and what camera sucks, the manufactures of theses DSLR’s come out with a new model every couple months that basically is no better than the previous model, only more expensive. Don’t get me wrong, I love shooting with a DSLR, it’s just finding a website, on the subject, without a bunch of bickering about nothing is next to impossible. So, the answer to the question, no, I really don’t care.

  • Redwardf

    HEy Jared, I have followed your work and comments for the past three years from afar (i’m in Australia) but re the D4 I must say that for me, a couple of the D4 features might just push me towards Nikon.

    1. Live audio monitoring via headphone jack with volume control, live audio meters with live adjustments.
    2. Those crazy new format size choices.

    For me as a photo journalist, I can shoot quality stills in any light situation, and finally shoot video in beautiful full frame, get those important interviews with audio I know works because I can monitor it and I can use one basic lens, a 28-300 and if needed up the tele range by switching formats off the sensor.

    Plus the intervalometer for timelapse, hell the camera will output a video file for you off the timelapse stills, thats pretty cool.

    ANd hopefully if the camera pixel bins off the sensor like the Panasonic GH2 and the new 1DX, then 720 60/50p will be perfectly acceptable and from that I can interlace it for broadcast use.

    So hopefully the quality will meet the hype, there’s no proper tests out yet.

    One small caveat, I need to see the specs on the 5DII successor, it may have all these features (headphone out, clean HDMI) plus 50/60p at 1080.

    Frank