The BIG, the MIGHTY, the AMAZING Nikon D4 Camera is announced!

The BIG, the MIGHTY, the AMAZING Nikon D4 is announced!


I was not even going to mention this here because I rarely talk about the big pro DSLR’s as it’s not really the type of camera that the readers here shoot with (well, the majority) but I have to say that todays announcement from Nikon on the D4 made me look at it closely for several reasons, and for the 1st time in many y ears I may end up buying a huge, fat, heavy bulky DSLR. The D4 will no doubt be incredible. The D3s that I reviewed a while back was simply amazing in low light and it did it’s job amazingly well. Much like the Nikon V1, the D4 will do what it is made to do. Period.

The reason I am THINKING of jumping into a D4 is strictly for pro reasons. For those times I go out and shoot for money it may be the better solution. Then again, for my uses it may not be. I do know that if I were to buy a DSLR for professional use, this would be it.

These days Nikon has some incredible lenses. Much better than the glass they had 10 years ago. The cost at $6k is $2000 cheaper than an M9-P, which I also own, but gone would be the problems with out of alignment bodies as well as high ISO limitations. BUT $6000 is also a huge chunk of change for something I would really only use 2-3 times a year so when it comes down to it I probably will NOT buy one, but you never know. I know my son would be crazy jealous if I did 🙂

Even though it is huge, big, fat, heavy and tank like it will be an incredible professional tool. The D series has always been bulletproof and I suspect that this camera will be very tough to get as many pros upgrade from their D3’s.

The D4 is tough with its magnesium alloy body and weather sealing, has a 400k shutter life, has a newer compact battery and will supply you with 2,600 shots per charge. It has a full frame FX 16.2 megapixel sensor and a nice 3/2″ LCD on the rear. ISO capability should be outstanding with usable ranges up to 12,800 but extended use of up to over 200,000. Of course it has full HD video as well so this monster…this beast….will be one versatile machine. Good light, low light, HD video…whatever you throw at it you will be rewarded. You may also be rewarded with a sore back and arm of course 🙂

The Nikon D4 is finally here. Will I buy one? Realistically, probably not as I decided to stick with my M and of course I have to try out the new Fuji X-Pro 1. But I will for sure be reviewing a D4 as soon as I can get my hands on one.

The Nikon D4 will come in at $5995 and be available to order in February. Here is the link to the camera at B&H Photo where they have more details.


  1. I’m (almost 🙂 ) certain the D4 is a fantastic camera with amazing image quality, strength and possibilities. But I’ve just gone the opposite way: I’ve acquired (without pre-ordering or putting down a deposit) a Contax 139 Quartz body for 30 Euro’s and a 2.0/50 Yashinon ML (20 Euro’s). The body has the customary peeling vinyl covering so looks really scruffy, but it functions perfectly. Used it with Delta 3200 (that took care of the high ISO capability) with the 1.4/35 Distagon and some other Zeiss glass as well, together with the RTSIII filled with Tri-X last Friday.

    Will pick up my first developed rolls this afternoon, will see if the results are as good as the camera felt.

    A totally different approach… 😉

    • Yes, that is the cheapest way to start, but in the long run it can become expensive using film. But it sounds like a great film camera.

      Another option is to get an old Nikon D1 or D2 where prices starts from something like $200 for a nice one.

      Image quality is excellent from both cameras when shooting raw and post processed with View NX. Not very high resolution (around 2.7 and 4 MP) but enough unless you are doing large prints.

      • @Anders: Thanks for the suggestion, but I’ve already got a D700 (now that’s a really excellent, dependable and reasonably portable camera) with 24, 28, 35, 50 and 85 primes (and an FM2n, an FA, with older mf Nikkors… 😉 ); the 139 Quartz I got “only” to accompany the RTSIII. Of course it (the 139) turns out to have a small lightleak, which can easily be rectified with a strip of appropriate foam.

        • Oh, then you already own an excellent digital camera 🙂 Thought your were trying to save money..ha..ha…

          I own a D700 myself, but bought a real wreck of a D1 and then a D2H in very good order.

          Think it is fun to shoot with those old and at the time unobtainable cameras which were very expensive when released.

          The funny thing is that the IQ is really good even from the D1 which is from 1999. Only paid $200 including the fantastic 50mm f/1.4 D with an original Nikon filter.

          I really don’t think that much has happened in 12 years IQ wise when I see the output from the D1 and D2H. (Of course the D700 is better, smarter and without very much noise even at high ISO, but still…)

          • And to think I sold my D200 to get the D700… Shouldn’t have done that for all the money I got for it.

            I follow your reasoning entirely. I just like shooting b&w every now and then (well, a little more often maybe; look at my flickr stream, portraits for the lates FM2, 2.0/85 @ f2.0 additions… ; new project -RTSIII and 139 Q – will be posted there next week), and I really love the mechanical, workmanlike feel of an older camera. The D700 is great for colour; I’m not a big fan of converting to “filmlike” b&w; looks artificial to my eyes.



        • Brilliant stuff on that Flicker link. Really, really good. Looking forward to see your Contax 139 images.

          Thanks Michiel.

  2. When I converted to Leica S2-P and M9, I have to say, I did ending up missing my Nikon gear. I really miss the speed of the Nikon D3. So now that the D4 is headed to reality it looks like I am going to purchase it. The D4 is going to complete my gear.

    Studio – Leica – S2-P – with 35mm, 70mm, 120mm, 180mm
    Speed – Nikon D4 – with 24-70mm, 70-200mm and a 50mm Prime
    Day to Day – Leica M9 – 21mm Super Elm, 35mm Lux, 50mm Lux,
    Casual Travel / Video – Nikon V1 – 10mm, 10-30mm and 10-100 prime optimized

  3. The number of reactions to Steve’s post demonstrates the amount of interest in high end DSLR’s with followers of this blog. A comforting thought. A bit more attention to images taken with that sort of equipment would be much appreciated by me, even if they would come from the non-complaining type with a strong and healthy physique… 🙂

  4. Forget Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, Wrestling, MMA as self defense
    with a big lens attached D4 become as the mighty hammer of Thor

  5. Jim, you are spot on. Been there done that at school with the kids. You didn’t even mention the sweet sound of the shutter hammering off 11fps. The D4 should really be outstanding. I agree if you are a Nikon Shooter with all the glass and sufficient resource, you upgrade and either hand down the old bodies ( I have three grown sons who stand in line for the goodies) or sell them as you get the replacement. The sooner the better. I have a D4 on order.

  6. I’ve been waiting many months now for “the” Nikon DSLR for me.

    I already own an E-P3 I carry everywhere (literally), but I miss the shallow DOF of FF, and better low light performance (E-P3 sucks in this regard: iso >= 1600 results makes me want to punch kitten).

    Also, m43 lenses are more or less as expensive as Nikon or Canon and, except for the pancakes (like the 20 mm f1.7 I own) would make my E-P3 “not 100% always portable”, so I think I might as well invest in DSLR lenses.

    I almost bought a D700, but I heard the D4 and D800 were coming, so I waited to see if the D800 was a D700 replacement, but alas, no: it turns out the D4 is a “sports” pro camera (ok, expected) and the D800 a “studio” pro camera, but not really a D700 replacement.

    So, now I don’t know what to do. Should I buy a D700 (the design is already many years old now)? Should I wait for a true D700 replacement (none that I’ve heard of)? Check the second-hand market for a D700 of even a D3 or D3s in the next months now that the D4 is out? Take a look at what Canon has to offer? (I prefer Nikon ’cause I have a couple of old lenses from the film days).

    • A local dealer has just put up the D4 on its web store: 6800 EUR *eyes pop out*, that’s 8650 USD, taxes included.

    • It depends on what you need. The D4 is the new high end pro camera. Do you really need that? The D700 has excellent IQ and better portability and is a lot cheaper.

      You say the design of the D700 is many years old. That is correct but it is still completely unbeaten in IQ compared to any of the hobby cameras like the EP3, NEX7 etc.

      You will be amazed to see the difference in IQ compared to the E-P3 – even the old, old Nikon D1 from 1999 beats the E-P3 in over all IQ and high ISO capability (not in over all usability though).

      Just took some test photos today and was amazed to see how clean the D1 images are even at ISO 1600. Colors are great too. Must of course be shoot i raw as jpeg is quite bad.

    • Where did you see that the D800 will be studio-only?
      From the leaked pictures of, it will be the D700 replacement (same body style). The AF will be on par or better than D700’s and even if the pixel count is increased, the ISOs performance will need (for market placement) to be on par or better than D700’s. That Nikon’ll sell it “for studio” because of higher pixel count and lower AF/ISO performance than D4 doesn’t mean that you are not allowed to take it out in the woods, lol—specially since it’ll be much smaller and lighter 😉

      And if you can wait a bit and are not satisfied by the D800, you’ll then find discounted D700 bodies or second-hand deals.

      • Well, I call it “studio” because of the high Mpx count and… the price. The D700 is about 1900 EUR (aprox) on amazon Germany, body only. The D800 is rumored to be 4000 USD. Change that to EUR and add VAT and you get an equivalent price of about 3800 EUR!

        It’s too expensive to be a D700 replacement…

        • We don’t know if it will be $4000 yet! The introduction price for D700 was $3000/€2600! A $1000 price increase seem very steep as it would be the same as for D4 costing $6000 while D3 was $5000 at introduction. An introduction price of $3500-3600 seem more likely. Maybe its the rumored version with no AA-filter that will cost $4000?

          Comparing the introduction price with the sell-out price of an old camera doesn’t speak for your argument. D800 will for sure be the D700 replacement.

  7. The D4 looks good. I don’t need another big DSLR though. I’m not a paid pro so am happy with my D300 and Bronica ETRSi.

    I’m putting my dollars towards a new Leica and some sweet lenes.

  8. I love reading your blog and learning about the Leicas and other RF that I can’t afford, and now the D4, but I want to add here that I really love my little D7000.

  9. The D4 is no doubt going to be a great camera. My D700 and M9 get me the results I am looking for, but if I was getting paid to shoot in very bad lighting with crazy frames per second requirements, then you know for sure I would have a D4 in my bag. The right tool for the job.

    Personally meh self I’m waiting for D3s to hit the used market to pick on up for a deal.


  10. I’d certainly love to upgrade but buying a $6k body just doesn’t make much professional sense for me because its not like I could bill my clients the difference. Thats the sad reality of professional photography in that its not about producing the best images possible, its about making a profit so you can keep a roof over your head.

    Rather interesting really given how tough the market is getting and yet how the high end pro gear just keeps going up and up in price. Given I get $8 from Sports Illustrated, and $6 from ESPN for each web usage, I can only imagine how many extra images I’d need to move to realistically cover the expense of such an upgrade in the useful life of the camera.

    Still looking forward to seeing more of it, D3s has a very usable iso 6400, that even works for magazine work, so I can only image how far the D4 could be pushed.

    Man, how far we’ve come from back in the day where I’d be trying to sneak by with iso 1250 on my Canon 1D lol

    • I agree Jeff about building in the extra cost to clients, though it would be an interesting experiment to buy such a body or maybe a digital MF, make a big thing about it and bump up your costs. Will clients pay more for a bigger camera especially if you do some of your own test shoots for portfolio to specifically show off your new expensive capabilities. I don’t know many pros especially in Wedding or Photojournalism that use leica due to the roof over your head issue you mention. Of course you can lease gear so that is an option.

  11. Could someone offer an early comparison between d4 and the D3s.
    I ordered mine but wonder whether its worth the upgrade.

  12. I think the Fuji X-Pro 1 will be the camera for you, Steve – a very exciting development from Fuji, and could be the big one from them.

    That Nikon is one beast of a camera, and if you buy make sure you go down to the gym to build up those biceps. Joking aside, it is a Nikon after all, and those guys know how to build cameras.

  13. hey steve,
    instead of buying it , why not just rent it when you need it ! thats what i do when i shoot weddings ,and other venues …save your money buy more leica glass dude!

  14. From my point of view, if Leica M has the same size and weight as of D4, it is definitely able to do anything that any other high end DSLRs are capable of. But, that won’t be the spirit of Leica anymore, and most of us do not want that kind of Leica…

  15. I will buy it when it is available. Of course! I’ve shot Nikon since 1974, and owned every digital body except the D3s. The D4 is a no brainer. Better resolution, better focusing, slightly better iso (we think), and HD Video! Plus, you simply can’t look at the out of pocket cost for this camera. I buy new, shoot until the next body comes out, and sell. The most i’ve ‘lost’ in resale is around $1700 (D2H), and in the 2-3 year time period, shot over 20k shots. I always spent over $2k/year in film and developing cost, so in my mind (and rationale), shooting the best digital in the world is ‘free’ compared to the days of film. And, of course it is big and bulky – i would never travel with this beast. But when you show up to your kids sporting events, in dark gyms, and a mom with a D40 asks you to come change her settings so she can shoot her daughter like you do, you can humbly smile and apologetically say “i am sorry, but that is impossible” Then you whip out a few shots of her daughter with your D4, email them to her, and you are a hero….

  16. One may as well just sit back with a remote control & let the D4 do everything.

    There will come a time when a D series decides the best composition.
    Who needs a photographer.

  17. Gota say, I love my m9 but the D3 I sold to afford the Leica was the best slr I’ve ever owned, and even though it’s not the nicest looking camera it’s by far the most comfortable camera to hold in either one or two hands.

  18. Lovely poece of equipment. I’m a Canon shooter but I could be changing to this beast. Looks phenomenal! I bet Brandon would love such a gift! 🙂

  19. Maybe in 10 years we will have this kind of performance in an M9 style body with options to have Leica glass and/or autofocus.. True electronic rangefinder or autofocus.. take your pic!
    Camera technology certainly seems to be growing fast.

  20. True, the Leica’s are like sports cars, light, fast, attractive, but not much use for anything apart from having fun with. I’d never use a digital M for a paid gig, it’s just not reliable enough. Still love it though.

  21. Steve,

    This does indeed look like a nice camera. One question, why the enthusiasm for this camera but not the Canon 1Dx? They look comparable to me except that the Canon is $1000 more expensive and has a slightly larger pixel count. Canon’s lenses are also comparable except for the corners of the 16-35mm zoom and I think Canon offers more unique lenses like the 17mm tilt shift, which may be unmatched for very wide landscapes, and a zoom fisheye that is reported to be the sharpest fisheye available even if you do not zoom it.

    Not being critical, just wondering if there was something about the 1Dx that put you off or if you just didn’t pay much attention to it.

    • Honestly, I find Nikon Lenses much better and I prefer the Nikon Bodies and color as well. The Canon is phenomenal as well but between the two Id take the D4 over the 1Dx. My personal pref.

      • I disagree Nikon lenses are better, at least primes, and so do the sites analyzing metrics 🙂

        Nikon primes are getting better, but when canon gets then35L ii out and 85l ii, well…

        Anyway it’s really a wash, but I don’t agree about primes. And zooms well, canon has an the long end with their new 70-200.

        You should borrow my 70-200 ii and review it, is prime sharp.

      • I shoot weddings and I have to say that the 5dmkii blows away the d700 in every way once you put a lens on it…at least for that line of work. I shot Nikon for a few years and switched back to canon when the 5d came out because Nikon can’t touch canon when you actually compare the files coming out of the camera and it is. It isnt just the lenses which are just simply better other than maybe the Nikon 14-24mm versus canons 16-35mm which is arguable it is all the primes. Then try the 70-200 f/2.8 and it is so good youll almost want to put down your primes 😉

        • Of course you can get excellent photos with the 5D II, but you can get great photos with the D700 as well. And no, the 5D II does not blow the D700 away (except for resolution) – have compared the 5D II to the D700 some time ago.

          And of course Canon makes great glass, but so does Nikon. The Nikon 14-24mm for example is unparalleled by anything from Canon (wide angle lenses only).

          I’m also absolutely certain that the 70-200mm VRII from Nikon is as good as the Canon equivalent you mention. I own the previous version of the 70-200mm VRI which is also a great lens.

          But both companies also makes mediocre glass, so I don’t think you can generalize and say that Canon glas is just better. Some Canon lenses may be better than Nikons and vice versa.

          Anyway, there are several things the D700 does a lot better than the 5D II. One is focusing which includes focusing in general and especially focusing at things and people that move.

          High ISO output from the D700 and OOC jpegs are also better than what you get from a 5D II. (I usually shoot raw, but sometimes jpeg for convenience)

          Finally, I think the build quality of the D700 is superior to that of the 5D II which looks and feels like cheap plastic compared to the D700 (no offence).

          Furthermore the D700 is also weather sealed, has better ergonomics etc. etc.

          • I have to say I have owned both systems and I think the Nikon glass is better, especially in the zooms. Canon has nothing that compares to the 14-24 or even the 24-70. The 70-200 from both companies are superb, and the only lens I think Canon has the edge on is the 85 1.2. I have owned both the Canon and Nikon 400 2.8 and the Nikon has the edge in my opinion. Also one thing that really gets missed in these discussions is how the file looks. The 5DMK II produces a wonderful file, but the file from a D3S has a smoothness to it. As one friend of mine said, the canon files look like they come from a digital camera, where the D3s looks more like film. Both systems are great and produce stunning images.

      • Edward…I own that lens too, and it is FREAKY sharp for a zoom lens. I think Nikon and Canon both have areas of strength in their lenses. Some Nikons are better, some Canons are better. I was a film Nikon man my whole life…but when I decided to “buy in” to digital I studied it long and hard and found both systems to be really good. I begrudgingly went with a Canon 5DMark II mainly because for the amount of equipment I was going to invest in (a huge well rounded kit) the Canon equipment was going to be $1000’s less out of my pocket.
        I have to say I do not regret my decision. (except for Nikon’s superwide zoom!!! ….but I got a Zeiss 21mm to kind of make up for that..LOL!).
        I am sure that the D4 and the 1DX are both amazing machines!!!!

  22. I know what you mean about being tempted — it’s definitely a cool piece of gear. The sample video they made ( ) made me want to buy and D4 and quit my job to go mountain biking and kayaking.

    Actually, though, I think the D700 replacement which is expected soon may be the way to go if I were to do anything. I realized the other day that I could buy a new D700 and 50 1.4 for less than I could buy a used Summilux 50 asph. That makes the idea of buying some Nikon gear seem like a bargain.

  23. Ciao Steve, well you forgot to say it is ugly camera too ;). Joking aside, I hardly imagine you can do with this cube better foto than the ones you took with M9 in Seal Tour. Maybe a solution could be, to buy it for Brandon as present, so he won’t be jealous, but happy and the 2-3 times you need it for work you can use his D4 ;). Cheers

      • Giving your son a $6K camera…damn, that’s amazing….you’d win “Dad o’ the year” ;)….

        Seriously, though, the D4 looks sweet. Funny how the megapixel race is reversing course to less MP and larger photosites for better low light….


        • Greetings Ashwin!

          And I really welcome it!

          I still “love” my D3s because it is “only” 12MP…there is nothing else on the market that gives you that AF-performance and reliability and of course nothing too compares to its high-iso abilities.

          Those large photosites are what you need too for great image quality.

        • Unlike the upcoming D800, which is rumoured to have 36 Mp. And a no AA-filter mode, HD video, plus smaller and lighter than a D700…

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