Nikon D4

I’m one of the few people who shoots video with a Nikon D7000, more-or-less by accident: I bought the thing for stills, and only subsequently discovered that it’s much better for video than its reputation suggests. For the most part its flaws don’t prevent it from capturing lovely images, but it’s sufficiently compromised that one has to take Nikon’s video aspirations with a pinch of salt.

So the Nikon D4 intrigues me, in that if you believe all the blog comments out there it’s become the video DSLR to have within minutes of its launch. It may well be so, but there are plenty of things we don’t know. Chiefly:

  • Line skipping, or software downsampling with a low-pass filter? If it’s the former, the D4 is dead in the water for video — as is every other DSLR at this point except the Panasonic GH2 and the Canon 1Dx.
  • Exposure metering during Live View/video? There doesn’t seem to be a live histogram, let alone waveform, but hopefully there’s something. If not, we may be able to work around using the zebras in a third-party EVF, but… well, sheesh.
  • Aperture control in Live View. Still not clear how this works. Is it stepless? Does it really work?
  • 20 minute recording time, apparently. If that’s due to European tax laws, well yah boo sucks and break out the Ninja/NanoFlash/whatever. If it’s instead a heat protection issue — how reliable is the camera for long-form recording via HDMI?
  • Audio. There’s clearly hope, but is it really any good?
  • Low-light performance in video. The D7000 is excellent, but in video it’s clearly not as good as for stills. How does the D4 fare?

Until we have more information on all of these, it’s wholly premature to assert the D4’s supremacy.

Here’s the thing, though: one of these with a 24-120 ƒ/4 VR would cover a huge range of focal lengths; rigged up it could deliver stunning quality. If everything turns out right it could be right up there with dramatically more expensive cameras like the Sony F3 and Canon C300. And I’d absolutely have one over a Panasonic AF100. Chances are Nikon have bottled or flubbed it. But maybe, just maybe, they haven’t.

So yes, it’s an exciting camera. But please, let’s not declare it a winner until we know more. That’s just noise.


StoryCog is a communication consultancy and film production company; see more about us here, or explore the links above left. The views expressed in this blog are those of the authors, though they're quite likely to represent the company's position too.


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