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Nikon D4 Hands-On: The Photographer's Newest Deadly Weapon

Illustration for article titled Nikon D4 Hands-On: The Photographers Newest Deadly Weapon

If you're used to shooting with an everyday DSLR, the Nikon D4 is like holding fully-automatic machine gun for the first time.

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Pulling the trigger on the D4 is wonderfully satisfying. When you're shooting in continuous mode, frames peel off super-fast thanks to Nikon's new EXPEED 3 processor, which gets you up to 11 fps in RAW. The camera has a big buffer for continuous shooting, but I learned that the new processor is so powerful that it will capture up to 50 RAW frames before even going to buffer. I didn't push that last claim to its conclusion at the Nikon CES booth, but I held down the shutter release for a while without the camera choking up.

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Compared to inexpensive DSLRs the Nikon D4 is big and heavy, but it's actually much more manageable than other professional cameras. It's light enough to use with one hand for maybe a minute, but make no mistake: This is a lot of camera. Don't plan on hanging the D4 from your neck all day. It fills up both of my hands when I hold it on the bottom and from the grip on the right side. To really get the most out of the camera's programable dials and buttons, you're going to want to hold it this way anyway.

Other notes: The camera sports an impressive autofocus that adjusted instantaneously on the show floor. I watched some of the HD video shot with the camera blown up to the size of a wall and it is gorgeous. Based on what I could see on the LCD, the camera makes good decisions and takes great photos in automatic and priority exposure modes. On the brightly lit show floor I couldn't try the low-light performance we've heard so much about, but I'm looking forward to seeing it in action when production models are available.

We obviously can't say anything definitive until a full review, but, it's pretty plain to see that the D4 is going to be a powerful workhorse of a camera. Unfortunately, if you don't have $6000 lying around you're never going to own one.

Illustration for article titled Nikon D4 Hands-On: The Photographers Newest Deadly Weapon
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Illustration for article titled Nikon D4 Hands-On: The Photographers Newest Deadly Weapon
Illustration for article titled Nikon D4 Hands-On: The Photographers Newest Deadly Weapon
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DISCUSSION

AgentRockstar
AgentRockstar

For those talking about weight, features, and why is this necessary over a tiny camera in my pocket.: Yes, these cameras are for professionals. But the definition of "professional" is when you need speed and quality over artistic value. When a photograph is considered artistic, it's because it has value in the eyes of the photographer and viewers as well, and is interpreted as such.

When used in a professional manner, the aspects of the camera that are considered are directly influenced by how much work you are willing to put in once the picture is taken. The better the picture the less work you have to do. The next set of circumstances that affect why one needs a camera of this caliber are : limitations. How much light you have or don't, how fast can you capture an image where speed is crucial, how much detail can you retain if your photo needs to be blown up life size or more, being able to recreate what the human eye sees (or an artistic eye) as close as possible.

Also by the time you get to these kinds of cameras, the majority of your work requires a tripod and setup time, it's never an impulse moment which portable cameras yield.

As to the weight and heft? There's nothing like having something solid to work with, if it's too heavy you don't need it in your line of work, if a DSLR of this magnitude could fit in your pocket, it would be a marvel, but it may not influence the same psychological confidence that a heavier camera instills.