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Thread: The Nikon D4 User Experience by Zec@Work + Nikon D4 Unboxing Video

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    Senior Member Zeckson Chow's Avatar
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    Default The Nikon D4 User Experience by Zec@Work + Nikon D4 Unboxing Video

    The Nikon D4 Unboxing Video:





    Nikon D4 User Experience


    I am not a full-time professional camera reviewer and not a full-time professional photographer. I bought the Nikon D4 and it came to me 2 days ago. I decided to write my user experience with the Nikon D4 and share it with everybody alongside with the thousands of other reviews you read from the Internet. The topics I will cover in my user experience are listed below:



    • Visual, Handling & Weight
    • Button Configuration
    • Viewfinder
    • Autofocus Speed & Accuracy
    • Frame Rate
    • Storage
    • Image Quality
    • White Balance
    • HDR
    • ISO features
    • Optional Flash & Exposure Compensation
    • Sub-Selector Functions
    • Conclusion



    Visual & Handling
    First look at the Nikon D4 is it has more rounded edges as compared to its predecessors. I welcome this. I had never liked the boxy feel of the D3 / D3s / D3x. Put the camera my hands and it feel like home because the grip of the Nikon D4 is carved in such a shape that it follows our hands ergonomics. In technical reviews, the shutter release button orientation is angled lowered at a 35 degrees down. That is a welcome too because with my hands gripping the D4, my index finger is tilted in a manner where my finger movements coincides with the 35 degrees down orientation. This will certainly helps during long shooting. Another important thing to note is the Nikon D4 body feels lighter than its predecessors! Both Bernard and I were quite surprised when feeling its weight. Bernard is physically very active when he decides to shoot. He would run, twist, squat, crawl and even roll on the floor to get his shots. With the D4 being lighter, he will definitely welcome the new weight.


    Button Orientation
    You can read all the button orientation from the reviews on the Internet but I would like to bring to your attention on the dedicated zoom in button which is a new addition over the predecessors. You can now zoom in to check your focus with a dedicated button. Gone are the days where you need to press a button and rotate a dial. That is too troublesome. I had always hope that Nikon would make the change in the D3s but it didn't. Sad. But with the D4, my wish comes true. It is certainly very helpful with the dedicated button. Remember, you are not / or will not only be the only one reviewing the pictures in the camera. Your clients will also be. The dedicated button will make things easier for them to zoom in (somehow I really don't understand why everybody likes to zoom into their pictures and see). Ha ha ha ha. Actually, I know the answers but I'll talk about that some other time.


    Viewfinder
    The viewfinder is bright. Don't get me wrong, it is not that kind of bright as to compare it to monitors. It is bright to a point it is close to the brightness you see with your own eyes when you look at things. But I still find the size is not big enough for me. I would prefer something even bigger. I will be buying the 1.2x viewfinder enlarger for my D4. But having a bigger viewfinder display will not help if the eye entry is small. With bigger viewfinders with bigger view entries, every corner inside the viewfinder can be seen. This is because when you look inside the viewfinder, you will notice that there is a 'space' inside. You are looking into the pentaprism. There are 3rd party viewfinder enlargers around that boosts to 1.5x or 1.7x but that is useless because when looking through the view entry, you only get to see the center of the image as bigger and you cannot see the corners properly. You have to adjust your eyes left and right to see it, that is wasting time and effort. So Nikon, hear me out, please make a bigger viewfinder with a bigger entry so that a larger magnifier can be used.


    Autofocus Speed and Accuracy
    You gotta love this! Bernard describes the focusing speeds as "almost instantaneous" while he was taking his shots on his models. True enough. I took some shots myself and confirms this. The speed of focusing in the D4 is slightly faster than of the D3s. I mounted an AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G SWM Aspherical lens onto the D4 body and took some shots. I feel that the focusing speed on the D4 is faster but not significantly faster than its predecessor D3s. I randomly focus on anywhere on all modes; single point, continuous and auto area. Among the 3, auto-area autofocus takes the longest time. Having said taking the longest time, it is still very fast! AND very accurate too! The 91,000 pixel RGB metering sensor coupled with the Advance 3500FX CAM autofocus engine and its Advanced Scene Recognition System is like a gift from heaven! Each time I point the camera on the model's face no matter at what angle and which approach, the D4 always gets its focus on the eye and brow areas most of the time. There were occasions where it takes the lips as focus but it never leaves the face! The face detection really works! Bernard doesn't need to worry about whether the focus is on the face or not, he only needs to focus in getting his shots with confidence that the face is always in focus. If you are a portrait photographer like myself and Bernard, I really recommending using the auto-area autofocus feature. It really works. And, it certainly looks very pleasing having so many focusing points visible on your vewfinder. Another nice feature to note is the Store Points by Orientation. New in the D4, your focus points will follow the landscape/portrait orientation of the camera. Example: If you use a single focus point and you focus on somewhere on the top point, when you rotate your camera into the portrait orientation, the focus point will also follow this orientation and be automatically place at the top as well! What this translate into is, you don't need to waste time moving the focus points yourself which can be very time consuming!


    Frame Rate
    With strong interests in portraits and macro photography, frame rate is not something that is important to me. Most of the time my subjects stay still for me to shoot. I seldome use frame rates more than 5 FPS. Even for action shots, I shoot a single frame to get the shot I want. If I didn't get it, I'll ask for another round. Having a super fast 10 FPS means the chances of calling for a second round is much lesser. Sports people will love this. For my genre, actions usually coupled with expressions and emotions. If the feel is not right, I will be calling for another round of take even if I have 20 FPS at hand! On the Nikon D4, do note that 11 FPS can only be achieved when the focus and exposure is locked. Else you will be squeezing at 10 FPS. But frankly, the faster your frame rate, the more pictures you have to go through in choosing the one you like... Wow... I cannot imagine another camera being able to do 14! Good luck looking through the pictures!


    Storage
    New to the Nikon D4 is the introduction of the new industry standard XQD memory cards. I was given one with a reader together. the writing speed is 125 MB/sec! That's blazingly fast! I tried firing a full 11 FPS onto the card in RAW. I stopped after about 50 shots. The card wrote everything in about 2 seconds after I stopped. Wow!! BUT... My computer cannot read a XQD... Argh! Guess I'll be using the compact flash for now until I change my computer (Its due anyway...)


    Image Quality
    Pixel quality is the main selling point of any FX camera. The amount of details the D4 captures is NOTHING LESS THAN IMPRESSIVE! Bernard is so awed by the details my D4 captured. He said he will be working a lot more time on the processing of his pictures when compared when he was still on his D7000. Being a FX sensor, the pixel is larger. Larger pixels captures more light, has better control over ISOs and can "see" better highlights. Everything in the D4 works together seamlessly; the autofocus, ISO, metering, Advanced SRS, Active D-Lighting, etc. The camera just doesn't allow your subject to overexpose or underexpose! It brings out highlight details nicely and lift up shadows well enough. All details are seen. Images that come out from my D4 is very clean and neat. It is a visual joy seeing photos done by the camera. The strongest win between the D4 and its predecessors is the ability of capturing ambient environment. In the D3 / D3s, there is a strong contrast in their images. Sometimes portraits do not turn out that pleasing looking on Asians. Asians are yellow-skin base and black hair. Sometimes the contrast so so strong that the image looks underexposed. The D3x does this slightly better. Skin tones are improved over the D3 / D3s. But with the D4, all this are solved. Skin tones are rendered so naturally as according to our Asian heritage. Fair Asians look great. Malays and Indians look great. Caucasians look good as well. This balance is finally achieved sucessfully where previous models are still missing the fine touch. Of course, one can argue that we can tweak the D3 / D3s to correct the tones. Totally agree. That's what I did as well. But know this, tweaking takes a lot of effort and time to get the tones correct. I prefer getting it close to correct in the camera. Good luck tweaking tones for different types of people.

    Speaking of ART is USELESS if one cannot FEEL anything.
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    Senior Member Zeckson Chow's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Nikon D4 User Experience by Zec@Work + Nikon D4 Unboxing Video

    White Balance
    I notice that in the Nikon D4, images tend to be a little yellow on the skins. Not sure if it is purposefully done this way to accommodate for the westerners because they have high sales and people over there are generally fair skins. With lighting flashed onto them, they will look pale as white sheet. This yellow tweak is beneficial to them as it adds to their skin tones. However, this does not look too good on Asians. I have to manually tweak the white balance towards Blue 3. It works out fine then. I have not tested the camera under incandescent lamps. Will comment on it after I used it in those conditions. But all in all, what I enjoy most is to manually dial in the white blance in Kelvins. The improvement on the D4 is now you can specify Kelvins to the hundreds instead of preset values on previous generations. With this, I can control the different color temperatures on my pictures to achieve the effect I want. This is especially useful when making the sky more blue, or changing it to green or magenta with technique of stacking CPLs.


    HDR
    There is a very cool new feature in the D4 -- HDR. Now you can take a HDR photo with the camera without the need to process them in Photoshop. I did a few test shots on some of the buildings through my room window. Results are not bad. In this feature, you can specify to either only take 1 HDR photo or a series of them. At default it is set to disable. If you put to 1 HDR photo, the camera will snap 2 pictures the moment you squeeze the shutter release. It will then process the 2 pictures and combine them into a single photo display on the LCD. The feature will then be disabled until you enable it again. If you put to a series of HDR photos, each time you shutter release, it will take 2 photos a process and it will remain in HDR mode until you disable it. You can also specify what is the exposure difference between the 2 images to combine ranging from 1 ~ 3 EV. There is an Auto selection too if you want to let the camera decides what is the best. Note that sometimes Auto selection may not get the desired result you want. When combining 2 images into a HDR photo, you also need to specify the amount of smoothening to be applied to the edges of each photo. 3 variables ranging from Low, Medium and High. Choosing a higher smoothening will result in shadow on the inner edge and halo on the outer edge. Use with care. I did one for portraits, sucks. Ha ha ha ha. I will explore on this feature more.


    ISO
    This new beast boasts an incredibly high range from 50 - 204,800. This is a 12-stop ISO range!! This translates to 12-stops of shutter speed or aperture differences! Incredible! BUT, do I need it? Probably not. While the lower ISO50 range is an extreme welcome for me, I really don't need anything higher than ISO12,800. Do you know the primary purpose of a high ISO value? To boost the sensitivity of the sensor so that it requires less light to get an optimal exposure, or an exposure you specified. So what is the primary application does this apply onto? I can almost guarantee that majority will say low light conditions like shooting at night and in dim places. The answer is WRONG! The primary application of high ISOs are in the field of sports where super high shutter speeds are deployed to freeze motion! Sports shooters has their super telephoto lenses at f/4 coupled with a 2x teleconverter, making the lens's maximum aperture at f/8. A good frozen motion picture at any sports requires a minimum shutter of 1600 ~ 2500 to capture those precint moments. At this kind of speed and aperture, the photographer requires extreme high ISOs to condition the sensor so that it is able to capture that image at the optimum exposure. Likewise to motor sports of F1 and Grand Prix. A close capture of the driver's face at close range will require this speed and power. This is where the D3 / D3s / D4 shines. NOT your average night photography or dim indoors although night and/or dim photography BENEFITS from this feature. NOTHING beats slow shutter speeds in night photography. Photographer must get this concept right. So I don't understand why are people whining about whose ISO is better between the D3s or D4 and how much noise it produces. If you have to shoot at that kind of ISOs on your normal everyday pictures, you seriously don't know what you are doing!


    Optional Flash & Exposure Compensation
    Again, new to the Nikon D4 is the option to control an optional external flash unit, particularly in the case of the Nikon Speedlight SB-400 flash gun. I bought the SB-400 specifically for the use to mount on the D3 / D3s / D3x and D4 because these models to not feature a pop-up flash unit. Flash is very important to me when I take my portraits. I use my flashes as fill light to lift up the shadows on the contours of the face and other important areas. With the D4, I can now specify either TTL mode or Manual flash mode. In TTL mode, I can even dial in my flash compensation as well! This is such a welcome feature! In previous generations, I can only change my FV on my flash gun. I took some shots with my SB-400 mounted on my D4. Man, that flash is permanently going to be on my camera body most of the time!


    Sub-Selector Functions
    Gone is the dedicated AE/AF-L button from the D4. Come are 2 new short joystick-like mini rubberized levers that can be programmed to work as a secondary multi-selector. You can also programe the pressing of the joystick to function like a AE/AF-L button. Nice! I use a lot of the AE/AF-L feature on my style of shooting. I was shocked when I could not find that button on the body. I read the manual and understood the functions of the sub-selector joysticks. Nice human ergonomics.

    Video

    I have not tried using the video functions in the D4 yet. Will do a review separately once I have the time to use it and write another review on it.


    Conclusion
    You can read all the general conclusions of the Nikon D4 on the Internet so I am not going to talk much and repeat what are written. Just some quick statements:

    1. Is the Nikon D4 for everybody - No
    2. Who is it for then? - For those who are serious about their art and wanna push their limits beyond their current limitations
    3. In my opinion, do current FX users need to upgrade to D4? - Not necessary, current FX cameras can do things that are stellar, just that D4 does those about 30% - 40% better
    4. Will I recommend DX users to go FX? - Yes, once you go FX, you won't go back
    5. Am I happy with the Nikon D4? - HELL YES!!!
    Speaking of ART is USELESS if one cannot FEEL anything.
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    Can I vote to sticky this?
    Equipment: D800|D700|11-16|28-75|105 Micro VR|50 F1.4G|85 F1.8G
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  4. #4

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    +1

    Thanks for taking the time to do this write up. From the looks of it, this camera is gonna be a huge success.
    "Time is often the best editor" - Alex Webb

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    Senior Member UncleFai's Avatar
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    On high ISO: I find that I need it to keep my shutter speed up while chasing darting birdies in the shade of trees. Fast autofocus and high frame rate also need especially for birds in flight. So not just sports.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by UncleFai
    On high ISO: I find that I need it to keep my shutter speed up while chasing darting birdies in the shade of trees. Fast autofocus and high frame rate also need especially for birds in flight. So not just sports.
    This is the tool for you! Wildlife and sports are usually marketed together as same segment.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Zeckson Chow's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Nikon D4 User Experience by Zec@Work + Nikon D4 Unboxing Video

    Quote Originally Posted by UncleFai View Post
    On high ISO: I find that I need it to keep my shutter speed up while chasing darting birdies in the shade of trees. Fast autofocus and high frame rate also need especially for birds in flight. So not just sports.
    Agree. Yes, forgot to mention about birding. Absolutely necessary.
    Speaking of ART is USELESS if one cannot FEEL anything.
    My Photo Albums

  8. #8

    Default Re: The Nikon D4 User Experience by Zec@Work + Nikon D4 Unboxing Video

    idk, but I think this deserves to be in the Reviews section? Sure it doesn't have the stuff for the pixel peepers, but this review provides information based on user experience, which is something. Besides, the stuff regarding image quality/ISO performance are already covered by other sites like dpreview, DXOmark etc.

  9. #9

    Default Re: The Nikon D4 User Experience by Zec@Work + Nikon D4 Unboxing Video

    wow! this review make me feel like want to rob bank to finance for my purchase of this beast.
    Nikon D90 + Nikkor 28G F1.8 + Sigma 17 - 50mm F2.8 + Tamron 90mm Macro + SB900

  10. #10
    Senior Member UncleFai's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Nikon D4 User Experience by Zec@Work + Nikon D4 Unboxing Video

    Quote Originally Posted by mogwai View Post
    This is the tool for you! Wildlife and sports are usually marketed together as same segment.
    Unfortunately, I am not a pro. So I need the same cam to do other things as well - so have to compromise... with my WALLET... gunning for a D800(E). But the current frenzy is fueling a price hike. No urgency, I can wait.

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    Default Re: The Nikon D4 User Experience by Zec@Work + Nikon D4 Unboxing Video

    Quote Originally Posted by UncleFai View Post
    Unfortunately, I am not a pro. So I need the same cam to do other things as well - so have to compromise... with my WALLET... gunning for a D800(E). But the current frenzy is fueling a price hike. No urgency, I can wait.
    Wah bro, D800E is a heavy hitter liao....
    Best of luck to you
    Equipment: D800|D700|11-16|28-75|105 Micro VR|50 F1.4G|85 F1.8G
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    Senior Member UncleFai's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cowseye

    Wah bro, D800E is a heavy hitter liao....
    Best of luck to you
    See how the prices go lor. After body, still lots of lenses need to acquire leh.

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    Default Re: The Nikon D4 User Experience by Zec@Work + Nikon D4 Unboxing Video

    600mm F/4 AFS VR2 must be the first in list. ahhahaha
    Equipment: D800|D700|11-16|28-75|105 Micro VR|50 F1.4G|85 F1.8G
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  14. #14
    Senior Member UncleFai's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Nikon D4 User Experience by Zec@Work + Nikon D4 Unboxing Video

    Quote Originally Posted by Cowseye View Post
    600mm F/4 AFS VR2 must be the first in list. ahhahaha
    Hopefully... after tomorrow... with $1.5 million in the pocket, should be no issue convincing the commander-in-chief at home.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Zeckson Chow's Avatar
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    Default Re: The Nikon D4 User Experience by Zec@Work + Nikon D4 Unboxing Video

    I guess I am a little luckier than you guys cos I don't have any commanders to report to.
    Speaking of ART is USELESS if one cannot FEEL anything.
    My Photo Albums

  16. #16

    Default Re: The Nikon D4 User Experience by Zec@Work + Nikon D4 Unboxing Video

    its interesting that you have CF cards bundled in your D4 together with the XQD? Here in the US, they only seem to bundle in the XQD cards.

  17. #17

    Default Re: The Nikon D4 User Experience by Zec@Work + Nikon D4 Unboxing Video

    Maybe that's how they justify to charge Singapore users a premium over US.
    Nikon D4 | AF-S 50mm 1.4G | AF-S 24-70mm f/2.8G ED (2.9x) | AF-S VR 70-200mm f/2.8G IF-ED | SB900

  18. #18

    Default Re: The Nikon D4 User Experience by Zec@Work + Nikon D4 Unboxing Video

    My biggest complaint at the moment is the XQD slot. It is a waste of space, I am sure things will improve in time but I think the D4 maybe ahead of its time.

    Sure they provide a free 16GB XQD card and a reader, but XQD cards are not readily available, can't even buy a spare even if you wanted to unless you order online, furthermore, larger capacities 32GB and up have not been released yet.
    I am perfectly fine with 2 CF or even 1 CF and 1 SD card since the throughput difference is slight, 125MB/s for XQD vs 90MB/s to 100MB/s for CF and SD. The difference is eliminated if you alternate slots for storage. Not to mention that CF cards go up to 128GB and SD cards 64GB (I think there are 128GB SD cards but rated up to 45MB/s only).

    This is a pro level camera, do you expect a pro to go on a shoot with no backup card?

    Having said that, the D4 is absolutely amazing, wicked fast AF.

  19. #19

    Default Re: The Nikon D4 User Experience by Zec@Work + Nikon D4 Unboxing Video

    Quote Originally Posted by tltan View Post
    its interesting that you have CF cards bundled in your D4 together with the XQD? Here in the US, they only seem to bundle in the XQD cards.
    It's the same in Singapore. There's only the XQD card and reader that's bundled with D4. Maybe his is special bundle. But 4GB is quite small.
    D3 D800 RX-1 X100 E-M5 My flickr

  20. #20

    Default Re: The Nikon D4 User Experience by Zec@Work + Nikon D4 Unboxing Video

    Don't worry mate,,,XQD's doesn't comes with 4GB...only 16gb and 32gb...as per sony's webby if I'm not mistaken.

    D4 is just so awesome, but I'm waiting to splurge my money in between this and/or leica m10 on May.

    [IMG][/IMG]


    Quote Originally Posted by Umeiko View Post
    It's the same in Singapore. There's only the XQD card and reader that's bundled with D4. Maybe his is special bundle. But 4GB is quite small.

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