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By 6 January 2012 | Categories: news

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Rumours that began circulating last month today became fact, as Nikon launched its new D4 DSLR, which is set to replace the D3S as the flagship professional DSLR in its line-up.
 
The new Nikon FX-format camera offers 16.2-million pixels, which the company asserts will provide “superior image quality under a broad range of lighting conditions” thanks to an image sensor that supports sensitivities ranging from ISO 50 to ISO 204800.
 
Improvements ahead
 
The camera is host to a number of refinements, due to an Advanced Scene Recognition System. Nikon elaborated that this will offer significant improvements in auto focus (AF), auto exposure (AE), flash control, and auto white balance (AWB) control accuracy.
 
Additionally, the 51 focus point AF system has been improved with faster initiation of autofocusing and the ability to detect and focus on subjects with less lighting. One feature that should make photographers fond of teleconverters happy is that eleven focus points are fully functional when lenses with a maximum aperture of f/8 are used.
 
Back view of Nikon's new D4.
 Video viability
 
The company has also paid more attention to the camera’s video recording capability. For starters the D4 offers full HD (1920 x 1080 ) movie recording function at 30 fps up to 29 minutes 59 seconds, along with the H.264/MPEG-4 AVC video compression standard.  
 
Users can choose from one of three image areas: FX-based movie format, DX-based movie format, or 1920 x 1080; 30 fps/25 fps/24 fps crop. The FX-based movie format makes full use of the large image sensor, enabling movies with an emphasis on blur, while the DX format can be used to extend the local length of an existing lens. This format is automatically enabled when a DX lens is attached to the camera.
 
The third mode on offer caters for an even stronger telephoto effect; the 1920 x 1080 crop format brings an approximately 2.7x crop of the picture angle while delivering 1080p full HD.
 
The company elaborated that, by choosing the movie format appropriate for the particular scene, the three image area options “enable more flexible imaging expression through collaboration with the entire NIKKOR lens lineup, including DX lenses”.
 
Finally, the D4 is equipped with a connector for an external microphone, while its headphone connector supports stereo headphones.
 
The new camera has a number of features that cater to video recording.
 
Little details
 
The D4 further supports high-speed, next-generation XQD memory cards, along with a continuous frame rate of 10 fps for up to approximately 100 shots in RAW format. Dual memory cards slots - one for XQD memory cards and one for CompactFlash - are also onboard.
 
The camera boasts a 3.2’, 921k-dot LCD monitor with reinforced glass, as well as a  virtual horizon that shows the degree to which the camera is tilted sideways (roll), forward or backward (pitch) with display in the monitor and viewfinder.
 
As on Canon’s latest flagship, the D4 is similarly equipped with an ethernet port and functions for wired LAN connections. In addition, it supports the new WT-5 compact wireless transmitter that is easily connected to the camera for high-speed transfer of images over a wireless network. The 802.11a/b/g transmitter further supports the new IEEE 802.11n standard, which should offer twice the speed as that afforded by the WT-4.
 
Wrapping up
 
As would be expected from Nikon and a camera targeted at professionals, the D4 has a magnesium alloy body, that is dust and water resistant, and features a durable shutter that the company reassured has passed testing for 400 000 cycles.
 
In summary, the D4 is looking like another tantalising offer from Nikon. We can’t say that this news came as a big surprise. It was only a matter of time before Nikon responded to Canon’s launch of its new flagship, the EOS 1D X, towards the end of last year, and at first glance, Nikon looks like it has a worthy contender.   

The camera is expected to be available towards the end of February. While local availability and pricing has not yet been confirmed, its price stateside will apparently be in the region of $6000 (R49000). 

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