Nikon D4 Digital Camera Review$5,999.95
The Nikon D4 features just the basic four shooting modes: program auto, shutter speed priority, aperture priority, and manual mode. The program mode can be shifted to your liking but relies on the camera's metering settings and sensor. The shutter and aperture priority modes also rely on the metering sensor, but you set either shutter speed or aperture manually. The full manual mode has the user setting aperture and shutter speed both manually, with ISO set either manually or automatically in all four modes. The shooting mode is changed by holding the "MODE" button on the top plate of the camera and adjusting the rear control dial.
The Nikon D4 has a ton of manual control options, though there's some significant customization that needs to be done before the camera will be set up optimally. There are two function buttons that are programmable, one on the front of the camera and another by the vertical shutter release. They can be programmed differently or share the same function, allowing you to switch orientations on the fly without changing your control scheme.
The control layout on the back of the camera is fine, for the most part, though placing the ISO, quality, and white balance buttons on the bottom beneath the rear LCDs does make some gymnastics necessary at times. The biggest change we think every user should make right off the bat (and really should be a default) is using the rear control dial for menu navigation. That speeds up menu navigation significantly, which makes combing through the many menu options much easier.
The Nikon D4 focuses very quickly, with a 51-point autofocus sensor that is sensitive even in extremely limited light. We found it was able to track moving subjects even while firing at full speed, with plenty of focus options for fine-tuning performance. In low light the camera rarely hunted past the point of focus, though using a set focus point on a high-contrast edge improved that substantially. In shooting sports, we found the focus point wrap-around feature to be a great help, especially for subjects where you have to pan in order to keep them in the frame.
The Nikon D4 utilizes a 51-point AF system, with options for both single and continuous AF. The AF menu isn't quite as substantial as the one found on the full frame Canon cameras (for example, the camera lacks the multiple user-savable use cases, though you can save the entire camera state), but it has enough options to suit professional needs in most cases.
When shooting on the Nikon D4 you are given the option of capturing images in NEF RAW (12 or 14 bit), JPEG (fine, basic, normal), TIFF (RGB), or RAW+JPEG (fine, basic, normal). The dual card slots on the D4 allow you to designate which files go to which card, though with one slot XQD and the other CF you will have to make a decision based on system compatibility as well as speed, depending on your workflow.
The D4 shoots at a maximum resolution of 16.2 megapixels (4928x3280), with options for medium (3696x2456) and small (2464x1640) shots available. You can also decide what area of the image sensor you wish to shoot on, though this does shrink the resolution when cropping out portions of the sensor. The image area options are full-frame (FX), 1.2x (30x20), 1.5x (DX, used automatically with DX lenses), and 5:4 (30x24).
The Nikon D4 includes both image adjustment controls and controls for timelapse, multiple shot recording, and an intervalometer built into the camera.
In the Nikon D4's menu, the option for setting up a timelapse session is available. Much like the interval shooting mode, time-lapse photography lets you designate an interval (maximum of 10 minutes) and shoot time (maximum of eight hours) and joins all those shots into a video using the settings that are currently established in the camera's "movie settings" menu. This makes time-lapse shooting very easy, though it lacks the fine control (or expansive time frame) that you can use with the interval shooting mode.
If you want to make higher quality timelapse movies, you may want to go with the interval shooting mode, as that will not only give you more control, but will also provide you with full-resolution shots. You can then shrink those shots down to 4K or 5K resolution, allowing you to do things such as make a 1080/30p video that will pan across a given frame as the timelapse progresses.