We've heard ridiculous things about the Nikon D4's low-light performance: In short, word was that you can basically take great photos in a cave. We didn't go spelunking, but we did put this $6000 monster through its low light paces, and the results were even better than we'd hoped.
I had the chance to shoot with one of the first production models of the Nikon D4. We first played with the D4 at CES, but aside from the images Nikon has shown us, we didn't know what actual real-world photos would look like until now. I had a chance to spend just a few minutes with one of the first production models of the D4—just long enough to get some photo and video samples before Nikon spirited it away. We'll do a full review in a few weeks with bunches and bunches more photos. But, hey, we're looking at these photos, so we figured you might as well, too.
So can this camera really shoot glorious photos up to ISO 12,800? On preliminary inspection the answer is yes and no. The photos look very good—for ISO 12,800. Take a look at the cropped image to the right and you'll see that at ISO 12,800, photos are definitely noisy and, it's pretty muddy along the edge of the bottle. I haven't tried to clean it up, but in a pinch, you could make this image work.
Luckily, this camera is good enough that you probably won't ever have to go down that far. We were shooting in our dark office on a dank day so the lighting conditions were basically horrendous, and look at all the nice detail in that tripod shot taken at ISO 200. As with any camera, it's better to stay below ISO 3200. It's just nice to know that if you need to go higher, you can.
The D4 also took very promising video. There's no moire interference on the crisscrossed patter on the bench, and the shutter stays true even though I've got shaky hands.
We're still processing and inspecting the photos as carefully as possible so we'll update with more notes soon. In the meantime, head over to Flickr to check out the first batch of photos. To all our photographer friends, you're looking at these for the first time just like us. Let us know what you think of the camera's performance. We were shooting with a 50mm prime lens, for those who might be interested.