Nikon launches the new D4s flagship DSLR – but is it better for video?

Reported by Features Editor Mat Gallagher:


Nikon’s D4s is the new flagship professional DSLR, or HD-SLR as it is now being touted. Though the D4 had its strengths for professional still shooters, it never really won over the video user and couldn’t compete with Canon’s 1DC and 1DX on video image. The new model offers some improvements, though these are subtle; the ‘s’ models tend to follow as an extension of the original rather than a whole new camera. The D4s features a 16.2MP sensor which, although the same resolution as the two-year-old D4, is a brand new design. It also has the newer Expeed 4 processor which among other things allows the camera a much greater ISO range – topping out at 25,600ISO in standard or 409,600ISO in extended mode. It also now allows autofocusing for stills at its top frame rate (11fps). But has the camera improved for video users?

The main improvement given in the specs is the addition of a 1080 50/60p option, rather than the limit of 30p in full HD. This can also be outputted clean to an external recorder and saved to a CF or XQD card (compressed) simultaneously for backup. Audio can now be adjusted during recording and the frequency range can be set to cover voice or a wide range. While the interval shooting limit for time lapse has been increased from 999 to 9999, and an auto exposure option added for smoother capture.

What is not clear at this time is whether the issues of rolling shutter and aliasing have been improved in this model. Without the inclusion of 4K shooting it still falls short of the Canon 1DC. Also we don’t know the bit depth of the clean HDMI output, I assume it is 8bit 4:2:2 but it is not stated on the press info. If, perhaps, Nikon has taken the competence they achieved with video in the entry-level D5300, and added that to the full range of manual features from the D4, this could be a great camera. We await the first video samples…


Nikon D4 Nikon D4s Canon 1DC
Sensor 16.2MP 16.2MP 18.1MP
1080p Output 30,25,24 60, 50,30,25,24 60,50,30,25,24
4k Output NA NA 25,24
Crop modes 1x, 1.5x, 2.7x 1x, 1.5x, 2.7x 1x, 1.3x (APS-H, 4K), 1.4x (Super 35mm)
Clean HDMI output Yes Yes Yes
Processor Expeed 3 Expeed 4 Dual DIGIC 5+
Movie file format MOV MOV MOV
Movie compression H.264/MPEG-4 H.264/MPEG-4 MJPEG (4K), H.264
ISO in video 200-204,800 200-409,600 50-204,800
Price $5,996.95 (£4,195) $6,499.95 (£5,995) $11,995 (£8,668)


In other Nikon related news, London Live – the new London based 24-hour news and entertainment channel – is set to use D800 and D4 cameras for their broadcasting when they launch at the end of March, mounted on a robotic arm system developed by Mark Roberts Motion control (MRMC). The nine-axis robotic arm and Nikon cameras will form part of an automated studio set up to cope with the 24 hour coverage. You can see more about the MRMC arms at the BVE show 25-27 Feb at Excel, London.

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