Small improvements help boost performance in Nikon’s new D4S flagship DSLR

Update on February 25, 2014: Additional info on features inserted.

When Nikon announced it was developing a successor to the Nikon D4 at CES last January, it should really have told us that the new D4S is on its way. The company has officially announced the product, with a body-only list price of $6,500 that will be available on March 6. And no, this isn’t for entry-level step-up users; the D4S is a full-frame (35mm) DSLR designed for prosumers and professionals. There aren’t any revolutionary changes from the heralded D4 – even the body remains the same, with very little nip-tuck here and there (such as a more comfortable grip and thumb hold, and new materials  used on the subcommand dials) – but this new, faster high-end flagship’s performance enhancements should make a lot of users happy, particularly for those who work with video.

The durable, weather-sealed D4S is still a 16.2-megapixel camera, but it’s using a newly designed 16.2-megapixel FX-format (full frame) sensor, along with the newest Expeed 4 image processor. With the components the camera delivers better dynamic range and low-noise performance, plus improved image quality, color, and sharpness in photos and videos. The Expeed 4 handles real-time noise reduction and depth and clarity gradation rendering, which Nikon says results in wide tonal range with more accurate colors. The processor also pushes ISO up to 409,600 (Hi-4), thanks to a new algorithm for noise reduction and color fidelity, but most users will stick to the native range of 100-25,600 the rest of the time. Image processing time is also faster. Nikon retains the 91,000-pixel RGB 3D Color Matrix Metering III system from the D4, and the D4S offers finer white balance adjustments.

The autofocusing has been enhanced. It’s still a 51-point system, but there’s now a Group AF mode that maintains autofocusing while tracking, and is ideal for tracking small and distant objects. Tracking has also been improved when shooting continuously shooting at 11 frames per second (12 fps with Auto Exposure Lock). The AF Lock-on feature now has a shorter time reverting from focus interruptions – when something enters the frame, it won’t interfere with the AF. And the D4S maintains autofocusing even when you switch from horizontal to vertical.

For those who shoot in Raw, there’s a new Raw Size S format that shoots 12-bit uncompressed Nikon NEF files at half the size of regular Raw. The D4S also has a faster transfer rate when hardwired via Gigabit Ethernet, and better battery life. The dual card slot supports CF and XQD formats. The optical viewfinder also has reduced mirror movement, which allows you to see more of what you’re looking at.

For video, users have the options of 1080 at 60p, 30p, or cinematic 24p, at up to almost 30 minutes per clip in H.264/MPEG-4 AVC; uncompressed 60p video can be outputted to an external recorder via HDMI, while video can be saved simultaneously on either a CF or XQD card. There’s selectable image area when in Live View, audio levels can be adjusted (with an auto frequency range for wide or narrow), and the aforementioned expanded ISO range applies to video as well.

If you like making time-lapse movies, Nikon calls the D4s the “mother of all time-lapse machines.” Able to capture up to 9,999 frames, it has an exposure smoothing feature that evens out drastic exposure changes that occur in time-lapse recordings.

(Originally published on February 24, 2014)

Product Review

Amazon's new Echo is smaller and cheaper; firmware upgrade improves sound

The all-new Echo is shorter, cuter, and comes with several different color and fabric choices. Our Amazon Echo review reveals that while the acoustics initially weren't great upon release, a firmware upgrade has improved the sound.

Edit portraits with A.I. and adjust focus in the new ON1 Photo RAW 2019 editor

ON1 Photo RAW 2019 now has a dedicated tab for portraits that automatically recognizes faces to help with retouching. The update also brings a new focus stacking tool, enhancements to layers, and improvements to local adjustments.

These Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts will update your OG Windows skills

Windows 10 has many new features, and they come flanked with useful new keyboard shortcuts. Check out some of the new Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts to improve your user experience.

Xbox gaming chief has sights set on improving Microsoft Store experience

Xbox chief Phil Spencer acknowledged that the Microsoft Store still has a ways to go to become a solid platform for PC gamers. Microsoft promised to work toward improving the frequently buggy experience with gamers in mind.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.

Photography News: Flickr keeping Creative Commons photos, ONA gets colorful

Flickr has confirmed it's saving all Creative Commons images, ONA has released a new capsule collection in partnership with Passion Passport and 7Artisans has launched a new drone-specific 35mm f/5.6 lens.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Get your Sagan on with 60 awe-inspiring photos of the final frontier

Few things instill a sense of wonder quite like the final frontier. The best space photos show off the beauty of Earth, our solar system, and the far corners of the universe. Here are our current favorites.

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Product Review

Airselfie 2 may as well be a GoPro stapled to a drunk hummingbird

On paper, the Airselfie 2 is marketed as flying photographer that fits in your pocket and snaps selfies from the sky. Unfortunately it’s more like a HandiCam controlled by a swarm of intoxicated bumblebees

Which smartphone has the best camera? We found the sharpest shooters

They say that the best camera is always the one you have with you and that makes your smartphone camera very important indeed. Join us for a closer look at the best camera phones available right now.
Smart Home

Picture this: The Aura packs thousands of photos in a single frame (for a price)

Are you one of those people who miss the good old days of flipping through photo albums to see each and every favorite photo? If so, you might love the Aura digital photo frame. We tested the device and came away impressed.

Full frame or 4K for less than $1K? These 4 older cameras still have a lot to offer

Looking for a great camera deal? Sometimes, you might be better off buying one that's a few years -- last generation's professional models may not cost much more than today's entry-level models.

Get up close and personal with this telephoto lens for your phone

Moment is replacing its aging 60mm telephoto lens with a new 58mm tele lens, redesigned from the ground up for the latest iPhone, Pixel, and Galaxy phones. Mount it onto the phone via a case and get closer with 2x optical zoom.