Nikon’s next flagship is finally here! The Nikon D4, as predicted:

-16 megapixels
-ISO 100-12,800 native, ISO 50 & 25,600-204,800 in “LO” and “HI” modes
-10 FPS, 11 FPS without autofocus,
-1080p video, w/ un-compressed output via HDMI
-Video crop modes, up to 100% sensor magnification (2.7x crop) at 1080p
-Some sort of in-camera HDR mode
-In-camera time lapse compositing, for the in-camera intervalometer
-XQD & CF memory card slots (XQD is a new format designed by the creators of CF)
-Significant improvements in metering and autofocus
-An AMAZINGLY advanced remote control system (using the WT-5 accessory) for iPads and smartphones
-Oh, and illuminated buttons!COOL!
-$6000 USD price tag

Pre-order it HERE on Amazon, or HERE at Adorama, …or get the 85mm f/1.8 AFS-G here on Amazon, too.(At $500, it sure is a lot more affordable than the D4!)

[rewind: Learn HDR Photography from SLR Lounge]

Let’s compare that to Canon’s 1DX, briefly:

-18 megapixels
-ISO 100-54,200 native, ISO 50 & 108,400-204,800 in “LO” and “HI” modes
-12 FPS, 14 FPS without autofocus(?)
-1080p video
-Some sort of in-camera HDR mode, but no time lapses etc.
-New 61 point AF system and new 100,000 pixel metering system
-$6800 USD price tag

 

 

 

 

On paper, you could argue that Canon is a winner, given the number of specs that are slightly higher than the Nikon.OR you could argue that for $800 less, Nikon has come up with a camera that is perfectly capable of doing everything that the 1DX can do, plus some more if you’re into obscure things like time lapses and such.

Really quick, the couple things I found interesting:

-Of course, the Nikon D4‘s built-in time lapse conversion. I shoot my time lapse files in JPG anyways, I know some people have always shot RAW time lapse frames, but with Nikon’s Active D-lighting system being SO good, I feel I can get JPG files with plenty of dynamic range and detail. So even though it’s mostly a novelty feature, it’s still REALLY cool and I hope to see it in all future cameras!

 

-Nikon’s video cropping sounds really cool. Basically, you can record full 1080p video either from the FX frame, or in DX crop mode, or as a 100% crop from the original 16 megapixels, which comes out to 2.7x crop. Um, that’s like turning your 85mm f/1.4 into an 85-230mm f/1.4 zoom! WOW, 230mm f/1.4? Yes, please!

 

-Un-compressed HDMI video output. …You know, to be honest I just kinda wrote off Nikon as a contender in the realm of professional video, but with the handful of ingenious functions I feel like 5D mk2 users might just get a LITTLE jealous. As far as I know Canon doesn’t have either of these features, the only video related advantages Canon might have are in the actual quality of the video, or some more obscure H264 recording format related settings that I haven’t read up on.

 

-In fact the only real aspect where the Canon 1DX might truly pull ahead of the Nikon D4 is, of course, the real-world image quality. On paper for example, the 1DX’s native ISO goes two stops higher than the D4, even thoughboth camera’s “HI” modes stop at the same sensitivity. Maybe the Canon is a whole two stops better with ISO in low light, maybe it’s actually just a little, or maybe the Nikon is still better. Canon has a history for achieving great high ISO performance with older generation cameras, back when Nikon was still languishing in DX land with CCD sensors, so now in 2012 I sure wouldn’t put it past them to pull ahead of Nikon, slightly. I won’t speculate any more than I must, I hate to judge image quality by specs on paper.

 

-My previous concerns about Nikon adding too many video-related buttons are no longer an issue. In a video I saw on Youtube, you can see that the D4 menu allows for a LOT of button customization. This is one of the main reasons why I shoot on Nikon; the button customization is just phenomenal and it allows me to shoot so much more effortlessly on a D700 than with, say, a 5D mk2.

 

 

Either way, 2012 DSLR flagships look awesome. Nothing too revolutionary, but a lot for us to hope we see in future, more affordable camera models. I’m looking forward to seeing what Nikon’s D800 and Canon’s 5D mk3 look like! ;-)

Here’s a video shot on the D4: with a particularly impressive slow-mo capture of a kayaker going over a waterfall. The D4 is supposed to only be able to do 60 FPS at 720p, but in viewing the 1080p render on Youtube I’d say it looks pretty nice…

 

 

 

 

 

The Nikon D4 and the 85 f/1.8 AFS-G are both available for pre-order on Amazon.com already:

 

 

…And it will be available SOON at B&H Photo and Adorama

Take care,
=Matt=