Nikon D4 professional DSLR ready to capture London 2012

Nikon has announced the Nikon D4 digital SLR. The £4,800 (body only) 16.2Mp camera is expected to be a popular choice for professional photographers shooting at the London 2012 Olympics.

Nikon D4 first look video

What are the Nikon D4’s stand out features?

There are three new features on this high-end digital SLR that really stood out for us. Firstly, as with the recently announced professional-level Canon 1Dx, there’s an Ethernet port so photographers can share their photos quickly when on the move without the need for a laptop. To further diminish the need for a laptop there are some in-camera editing features that have been added – including vignetting, red-eye removal and effect filters.

The second major point of note is the new memory card chamber that supports the new XQD memory card format. This chamber sits alongside the more familiar Compact Flash card chamber. XQD cards are said to be the next generation of fast-writing memory cards for high-end photographers.

The feature, however, that may interest most readers – even if the practical application isn’t yet clear – is the iPhone and iPad support. By plugging in an Apple device, the photographer can see the picture or video being taken on the larger screen as well as control a number of settings and take the photo or begin recording. This is entirely managed by software within the camera so no additional apps are required.

What else can the Nikon D4 do?

Thanks to its powerful Expeed 3 processing engine, Nikon claims that the D4 offers faster auto-focusing than any previous Nikon camera. There are 51 auto-focus points, 15 of which are the more accurate cross-hair types. Nikon claims that the automatic focus is still effective even when using the most powerful telephoto lenses with converters.

Switching between the various auto-focus modes doesn’t require the user to move the camera away from their eye, as the different settings are visible through the viewfinder – as is the virtual spirit level that helps ensure your shot is correctly aligned with the horizon.

Nikon also claims that the D4 operates well in low-light conditions, and can shoot terrific, sharply-focused shots even under moonlight. In our hands-on time with the camera at its unveiling this certainly seemed to be the case when we rattled off a few test shots in near darkness. Furthermore, the buttons around the camera’s body are illuminated for easy access in the dark.

The ISO can be set between 100-12,800, but this can be stretched to a 50-204,800 range when using low and hi-sensitivity shooting modes.

The D4 is a fast camera, and according to Nikon can capture 11 frames per second. This is dropped to 10 frames per second when using the auto-focus system. The newly-designed metering system in the camera also ensures the camera is always ready for action, as it constantly monitors and gauges light levels and makes necessary adjustments accordingly – even when not being used.

What about video?

The D4 shoots Full HD 1080p resolution video files lasting up to 29 minutes and 59 seconds. The video capture button has been moved closer to the shutter button than it was on the previous Nikon D3 model, which the D4 replaces. Still images with 2Mp of resolution can also be captured during recording, and tags can be made for quick referencing when editing the files later.

Video can be captured at either 24/25 or 30 frames per second. The microphone-out socket enables the user to record better audio than is possible through the integrated microphone, and there’s also a headphone-out socket to allow the user to hear exactly what the microphone is picking up. What’s more, the audio levels can be monitored on the 3.2-inch LCD.

What else do I need to know?

The body of the camera and the layout of the buttons has been modified. Whether you’re shooting in landscape or portrait mode the auto-focus button and the shutter are easily accessible.

The 3.2-inch screen with its 921K dot resolution screen has an integrated sensor, which adjust the LCD’s brightness and colour to best suit the ambient conditions.

Nikon claims that despite the battery being of a lower capacity than the previous Nikon D3S’ battery, that it will still out-perform its predecessor thanks to improved camera efficiency.

The Nikon D4 is due to go on sale on 16 February 2012, when the body alone will cost around £4,800.

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