Showing posts with label Camera. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Camera. Show all posts

Fujifilm X-Pro1 mirrorless camera review

Fujifilm X-Pro 1 mirrorless camera review
Hear any mention of retro-styled cameras with exorbitant price tags and it's hard not to get suspicious. That kind of talk brings to mind Leica's incessant re-branding of Panasonic Lumix models, or those unicorn limited editions out of Japan that just leave us baffled. But it's okay, you can relax with the Fujifilm X-Pro1. At $1,700 for the body only it's crazily expensive, sure, but not when you compare to an $8,000 Leica M9-P. Besides, it's a legitimate heir to a strong line of Fuji shooters that includes the much-loved X100 and the more accessible X10. That's a strong pedigree, and no matter how deeply you peer into its mirrorless aperture, the X-Pro1 should offer up enough technology to stop you being cynical.
Like what, you ask? Well, a genuinely surprising bespoke 16-megapixel APS-C sensor, for starters, plus a hybrid viewfinder designed to keep everyone happy all of the time, and a Fuji X lens mount that already has a Leica M9 adapter available (plus others, like Nikon, if you scan eBay). It all adds up to something special, but before you go tweeting this article to whimsical rich uncles, there are also some complicating factors you ought to be aware of. Even in a utopian paradise where everyone could afford this sip of photographic luxury, it's far from certain whether everyone would choose it over other interchangeable lens cameras. Read on past the break and we'll explain why.

You need plenty of hands-on time with this camera before you take the plunge, and you need to be clear on what type of applications you want it for.

Unboxing could be a full-on culture shock for the uninitiated. The X-Pro1 is designed to appeal to rangefinder lovers who dig over-sized control wheels along with over-sized everything. That's not everyone's tipple: we gave the camera to a seasoned photojournalist freshly returned from the Middle East who normally shoots on a Nikon D3, and she was repulsed. In her mind, it was too big to be a compact, too conspicuous, and too retro for her: "I'd be embarrassed if other photographers saw me with this."
That said, it's all subjective. Yours truly also has a foreign news background, though I've generally shot video rather than stills, and I experienced no such allergic reaction. On the contrary, the X-Pro1 brought back memories of when my first employer sent me off with a celluloid Nikon F3 to "go and learn about lenses." Yes, I was surprised by the size: at 140mm (5.5 inches), the body is significantly wider than the new Olympus OM-D Micro Four Thirds camera and 20 percent wider than even the non-ILC Canon G1 X.
No one could dispute that the X-Pro1 is solidly built and surprisingly lightweight for its size -- around 650 grams (1.4 pounds) with the 35mm lens attached, and easily usable with one hand. However, despite all its volume and mass, this camera is not weather-sealed, which will put some serious photographers off from the get-go.
The moral of the story? You need plenty of hands-on time with this camera before you take the plunge, and you need to be clear on what type of (hopefully dry) applications you want it for. Oh, and don't feel obliged to splash extra on the LC-Xpro1 leather case if you already use a camera bag -- it isn't strictly necessary considering the natural sturdiness of the chassis, and it perhaps pushes the retro thing a tad too far. On the flip side, it'd go great with safari shorts.

One of the biggest contributors to the X-Pro1's size (and no doubt its price) also happens to be one of its most useful specs: the hybrid viewfinder.

One of the biggest contributors to the X-Pro1's size (and no doubt its price) also happens to be one of its most useful specs: the hybrid viewfinder, which has been carried over from the X100. It simply caters for any possible situation, by allowing you to switch between optical and electronic modes. Optical gives you the brightest and most direct view of your subject because you're looking at them straight through a piece of glass. Electronic mode, which has an 800 x 600 resolution (or 1.4 million dots), gives you the most precise preview of your final image, with framing and focus displayed before you press the shutter. Both modes can be overlaid with all the information you need, including a live histogram, spirit level and lens-matched frame guides optical mode. Helpfully, the OVF also changes its magnification automatically when you switch lenses, so you get a broadly more similar view to what your lens sees. Overall it's not quite as natural as a DSLR's reflex system, but it's as good as you'll get on a compact.
Of course, there's also full viewing through the three-inch LCD panel, with an effective resolution of 640 x 480, which we found to be bright and clear when shooting outdoors. It's even usable in direct (albeit British) sunlight, which we guess is at least partly thanks to the RGBW configuration.
Before we get to the controls, a quick word on the lenses: there's already a Leica adapter in case you just happen to have some Leica lenses lying around, but for now the camera is mainly stuck with the three prime lenses for its all-new mount. These are truly delicious: an 18mm f/2.0 lens for your wides, a 35mm f/1.4 beauty for general use and a 60mm f/2.4 for zooms, portraits and macro photography. All these lenses come with quality metal hoods.
What we'd really like is a nice, fast and quiet zoom lens to go with this camera and it's all-new mount, and Fuji assures us that such a thing is in the works. Currently, unless you happen to have a bunch of Leica lenses lying around, you're stuck with these three primes. Working with these lenses will reduce your hit-rate if you're not already used to 'thinking' in terms of primes and planning ahead so that you have the right glass equipped for the shot you want to grab. For someone who's been raised on a lazy diet of powerful zooms, this is bloody difficult, but it can hardly be blamed on the X-Pro1. Over time, the discipline required to shoot with primes can only be healthy to learn.
User Interface
Now, those controls: they're perfect, or at least almost perfect. There's no ISO dial, but we're beginning to realize that Engadget staff may be more concerned about that than the average photographer, because we're forced to take so many close-up shots of gadgets in low-light situations. What we get instead is three other dials that all make a ton of sense for most situations, plus the aperture ring on the lens itself.
The shutter speed dial works exactly like you'd expect, except it has a slightly superfluous lock button to stop you accidentally shifting it out of Auto. To its immediate right sits the exposure compensation dial, which feels like a more natural part of the workflow as result of not being a two-stage setting like on many other compacts and DSLRs. The dial is too easy to knock accidentally, but only until you learn to be a bit careful.
At the back of the camera is a mystery dial that at first seems to be useless -- especially when you make a habit of never reading the manual. But when you discover what it does, there's a genuine "Oh, right!" kind of moment. This dial works hand-in-hand with the Q button, which brings up a quick settings screen. This screen is comprehensive rather than customizable: every likely adjustment is offered; you use the direction buttons to navigate the grid and select the one you want to change; finally you twiddle the anonymous dial to choose the right setting. You don't have to accept your changes, which means that all these settings are brought within a three-step reach. Three separate actions just to change ISO or white balance might sound like a lot, but the point is that you can access them without taking your eye away from the viewfinder (because the Q screen appears as an EVF overlay as well as on the rear panel) it works a treat.
In addition to Q, there's also an assignable Fn button next to the shutter release. You can stick ISO or any other function on this button instead if you prefer, but it won't really speed things up: it's still a three-stage process to hit Fn, select ISO with the arrow keys and then hit Menu / OK to accept. Other functions will have less steps and therefore make more sense, such as depth of field preview.
Battery life and performance
It needs to be said that the X-Pro1 with the prime lenses doesn't auto-focus as fast as a regular DSLR kit, especially in low light, and the focusing is noisier too. You could spend $1,000 on a Nikon D5100 and a fast lens and get better AF performance, including the ability to get macro shots without having to tell the camera first. There's something slightly icky about that thought, and it's a reminder that our skeptical photojournalist friend might have a point -- in fact, the slow autofocus was also one of her biggest criticisms. It's so bad the continuous focus mode seems almost redundant -- we couldn't use it to track anything, even the object was right in the center of the frame. The shot above was taken with continuous focus, and neither the guy nor the houses are sharp.
Shooting from a standing start was less rapid -- it took around five seconds to power up, focus through the EVF and snap a shot. Using the OVF or rear LCD reduced that to four seconds. This is all way slower than the Sony NEX-7, for example.
Meanwhile, the Drive performance was great. Shooting RAW+Fine duplicates at the 6fps drive mode setting, we fired off 11 shots in 1.8 seconds before the buffer filled up, which is just under 0.2 seconds between each shot. Shooting Fine JPEGs we could keep going, achieving 37 images in the space of 11 seconds, with slightly inconsistent gaps between each shot, ranging from 0.1 to 0.4 seconds.
Another positive is the battery life: we repeatedly lost track of it, for the simple reason that it lasted so long. As these words are being written, the camera has been used on five separate occasions over four days without being recharged, with 680 Fine JPEGs, 100 RAW images and four minutes of 1080p video captured. The battery still shows two out of three bars. It took another 11 minutes of 1080p to finish it off.
The X-Pro1 does crash occasionally -- three times for us so far. We simply loosened the battery to restart the camera, and it wasn't so annoying because we tended to be previewing images when it happened. Hopefully it's something future firmware updates will fix; Fujifilm has a decent track record in that respect.
Image and video quality
Ah yes, the magic ingredient: the X-Pro1's bespoke Fuji X-Trans CMOS sensor. It's the right size for the resolution: anything smaller than APS-C would make the 16 megapixels too crowded, while anything bigger would make focusing even harder. More importantly, though, it delivers surprising results: images you just could not predict and that you almost don't deserve. If you've ever taken a shot on celluloid, processed it and then thought "Wow, did I shoot that?" then you'll know what we're on about. If photography were an Olympic sport, this sensor would be the equivalent of nandrolone.
In our hands, clumsy shots were transformed into hobby-level art. In the hands of a street-fighting pro like Steve Huff (see the More Coverage link), the results are just awesome. Why? Well, maybe it has something to do with the extra randomness in the sensor's array of red, green and blue pixel units.
Regularly arranged color pixels can cause moire interference and false colors, which forces manufacturers to send light through an optical low-pass filter before it reaches the sensor. Like Nikon's D800E, the X-Pro1 does away with that filter, but due to the random pixel arrangement Fuji claims we should see all the benefits and none of the drawbacks of that omission. Certainly, we saw no moire patterns in our shots -- just wonderfully sharp images with incredibly stable colors that bring a sense of un-realness in the same way that celluloid used to.
We didn't mess too much with the in-camera digital filters, which promise to replicate the look of different Fuji film stocks. Those kinds of things can be done in photo editing software afterwards, but nevertheless it was nice to have these options and play with them occasionally to add some subtle nostalgia.
Images at high ISO settings were pretty good compared to other compacts we've reviewed, including the NEX-7 and the G1 X. Shots at ISO 3200 looked fine, and where we did spot grain at higher sensitivities it had a pleasant mottled look to it -- in keeping with the X-Pro1's analog vibes. We wouldn't reel 'em off at ISO 25600 necessarily, but there's nothing scary about 6400 or 12800.
Video was less exciting. It was just typical compact camera 1080p, with handheld wobble creating all the usual rolling shutter problems, and with slow autofocus and a bit too much hunting. If tripod-mounted and set to manual focus the X-Pro1 could potentially yield decent results, but how many people will use it like that? Ultimately, Fuji has just tacked on video recording because it felt it had to, relegating it to a slot at the bottom of the drive settings menu, and we'd just as happily have gone without it.
The competition

There has to come a point where you look at what a DSLR can deliver.

We've got a feeling that many people who buy the Fuji X-Pro1 will do so for its particular build as well as for the output of its unusual sensor. Since both those things are subjective and hard to quantify, it makes sense to leave them aside and compare the camera against its rivals based on more concrete specs.
This brings up obvious comparisons with the Micro Four Thirds Olympus OM-D E-M5, priced at $1,000 body-only, and the Sony NEX-7 at $1,200. We haven't reviewed the OM-D yet, but our preview hinted at promises of much better autofocus. It also has five-axis image stabilization and our few test shots revealed very good high ISO performance too. The OM-D also has a faster 9fps burst mode, is drastically cheaper and overall promises to be a real challenger to the X-Pro1's perhaps more emotional virtues. On the other hand, the X-Pro 1 puts more manual controls at your fingertips, and for a lot of people that's a primary concern. The upcoming fight between these two cameras ought to be on pay-per-view.
And the NEX-7? We were smitten with it, but it's already starting to lose some of its luster compared to newer competitors. It has 10fps continuous shooting, great battery life, decent high ISO performance and EVF, but none of that elevates it above either the OM-D or the X-Pro1. Its real advantage over the X-Pro1 is the $500 savings, but then the OM-D threatens in that area too.
Another option is the X100, which has accumulated many steadfast fans due to its quality optics and goes for around $1,000. It has the same hybrid OVF/EVF in its favor, a much lower price (especially now), and primarily only loses out in terms of its less impressive sensor.
Lastly, there has to come a point where you look at what a DSLR can deliver. $1,700 can buy you a weather-sealed Nikon D7000 or a Canon 7D with cash left over for a decent lens. These cameras will deliver superior autofocus performance, less noise and quicker burst rates. The only sacrifice is the size and weight -- so you have to find those two things seriously off-putting before you rule them out.
The Fujifilm X-Pro1 is a work of art, and like any masterpiece there'll be some who hate it and others who get into heated bidding wars. If you're sensible and price-conscious, then by rights you should be waiting for the auctioneer to bring out the Olympus OM-D E-M5. Or you should be looking at the X100, or even considering a DSLR, before investing this amount of money. But if the retro form factor befits your personality, you have an abundance of cash and you care about the subtleties of the sensor's output, a powerful viewfinder and great controls, then there's every reason to buy in.
Zach Honig contributed to this report.
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Nikon D4 field review

Nikon D4 review
Right around 2.5 years after the introduction of Nikon's most recent game-changer (yeah, we're bragging about at the D3S), its proper successor has emerged. Without qualification, the amount of hope and expectation surrounding the Nikon D4 was immense. In a way, most Nikonians were (perhaps foolishly) expecting the D4 to be to the D3S what the D3S was to the D3, and we'll confess that we were cautiously saving up precious pennies in the event that the game was changed yet again.

For better or worse, the actual specifications of the D4 ended up as hardly worth writing home about, with an ISO range mirroring that already seen on the D3S, a megapixel rating lower than that of the cheaper D800 and a battery rated for fewer snaps than the outgoing D3S. All at an MSRP that's starting at $800 above where the D3S started. You'll notice a lot of comparisons throughout this article with theBest Camera of 2009, but that's intentional; yours truly has spent the last 2.5 years using the D3S for business and pleasure, and it's only logical to pit the D4 against a camera that has become molded to many palms here at Engadget HQ. Is the D4 a worthy upgrade? Or even a worthy successor? Let's find out.


Non-technophiles probably wouldn't be able to distinguish the D4 from D3S at first blush, and even avid users may need more than a passing glance to tell the difference. While there are subtle changes all around the body, the D4 is still a monster. In other words, those hoping for technology to magically shrink the size of this thing will be sorely disappointed. It's worth pointing out, however, that Nikon has shaved 2.1 ounces from the weight, which is just enough to be noticeable the first time you grab it (coming from someone who has touched a D3S on a near-daily basis for over two years, anyway).


Those familiar with the D3S layout will only require a short learning period to understand the layout on the D4. The Live View button has been ever-so slightly moved, and there's now a dedicated video record button just north of the main shutter button. Not surprisingly, these are likely due to the D4's warming to HD video; this guy supports 1080p capturing (20 minute cap in 24p; 30 minute cap in 30p), while the D3S stops at 720p (and is limited to five minute clips). We honestly can't say that the repositioning of buttons on the D4 makes life any more or less beautiful; it's just... different. We do appreciate the two customizable multi-directional nubs on the rear, and we're happy to say that the infinitely useful toggle wheels are as solid and durable as ever.

While there are subtle changes all around the body, the D4 is still a monster.

The added thumb bumper along the bottom, which was implanted in order to provide a better grip when using the D4 vertically, is indeed a useful extra. Referencing back to the D4's penchant for shooting movies, there's also a very welcome microphone input (as well as a built-in mic for amateur captures). Perhaps the most jarring hardware change is the built-in Ethernet jack. We've covered the purposes of that rather extensively, but it strikes us as something that will benefit an incredibly small amount of shooters. Not that we've a problem with serving a niche, but we're assuming this is one thing that added undue cost to the overall package -- something we'll address more in a bit.


One other interesting change here is the deletion of dual CompactFlash slots as seen on the D3S. Instead, users are presented with a single CF slot alongside an XQD slot. A few years from now, perhaps XQD will look like a more intelligent option, but it seems super awkward as-is. This move will almost certainly force shooters to now carry around two card readers -- you may think that's no big deal, but a single extra thing to remember will almost certainly rub rushed professionals the wrong way. It's also impossible to buy a single XQD card over 32GB right now, while SanDisk is hawking a CompactFlash card with 128GB of room. Sure, the transfer rates can hit 125MB / sec (compared to 100MB / sec on the aforementioned SanDisk ExtremePro), but it's still tough to see the logic here. On the bright side, at least Nikon didn't shove a pair of XQD slots in here and force existing users to burn their CF cards in some sort of dark, hate-filled ritual.

"Quiet" mode

We break this out mostly because of just how fantastic this feature is on Canon's own flagship, the EOS 5D Mark III. Over there, "Silent Shooting" can be used even in high-speed shooting, effectively silencing bursts of shots in an auditorium where you'd be ejected if shooting with the typical, highly audible "click." On the D4, you actually have to move the mode dial beyond High-Speed Low and High-Speed Continuous, over to a dedicated "Quiet" mode. Here, you can only fire a single shot per shutter press, and each shutter click is delayed quite noticeably. Introducing even an eighth of a second into a nighttime shot can produce enough motion blur to ruin the moment, and worse still, this "Quiet" mode is really anything but.

In fact, it's probably 80 percent as audible as the standard click, but it drags on for what feels like forever. The standard click is over and done with instantly; the Quiet click is more like a loud sloshing noise that takes two or three times as long to finally fall silent. Under no circumstance would we recommend flipping to Quiet mode; you lose valuable shutter speed time, barely gain any noise reduction and pick up a click that will likely be even more noticeable by bystanders simply because of how obnoxious the sound is. These days, most folks at a venue can easily tune out a familiar sound -- a baby crying, a camera clicking or a gentleman coughing -- but this sloshing sound is impossible to ignore. We hate to say it, but Canon has Nikon beat six ways from Sunday on this one, and it's a shame; there are untold scenarios where professional Nikon shooters could use an effective quiet mode.



Longing for a higher resolution panel over the D3S? Fuhgetaboutit. In fact, get ready for a panel with even worse pixel density. The D4 uses the same amount of pixels (91,000) in the D3S, but has a display that's 0.2-inches larger (3.2-inches versus 3.0-inches on the D3). It looks crisp and sharp, but it's hardly an upgrade. We will confess that zooming into shots up to 46x makes previewing on-the-fly a bit easier, but an increase in megapixel count means that you'll be wishing you had more dots on the rear of this thing.

ISO 25,600 and beyond


As with the EOS 5D Mark III from Canon and Nikon's own D3S, you can indeed snap usable images at ISO 25,600. You won't want to blow 'em up and toss them on a wall, but for web usage (or just capturing blur-free memories for yourself or clients), it's at least possible. Anything at 12,800 or below is completely printable, and while you'll see visible noise on dark shots using ISO 8,000 or above, it's remarkably minor in the grand scheme of things. Even shots at ISO 51,200 could probably be used on the web, and shots at ISO 102,400 to 204,800 (Hi 1.0 through 4.0) quite literally allow you to capture subjects in near-pitch darkness... handheld.


But here's the thing: this isn't nearly as spectacular as it was in late 2009. When the D3S arrived, its nighttime abilities were unprecedented in the sub-$6,000 camera market. Fast forward two and a half years, and the D4 makes no major forward leaps when snapping after dark. Yes, autofocus can find its subject in the dark (perhaps with a touch more accuracy than the D3S), but we'd argue the nighttime capabilities of the D3S are at least 98 percent as stellar as on the D4. The additional quantum leap in nighttime shooting simply isn't here. Perhaps we can be faulted for expecting too much, but that's a bullet we'll happily take in the quest for the next true game-changer.

Fast forward two and a half years, and the D4 makes no major forward leaps when snapping after dark.

That aside, the results at 25,600 and up are just as amazing as on the D3S. The shots below were captured entirely at ISO 25,600 and up, with no tripod used. It's all handheld, and it's all at night. Also, no post-production (Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.) assistance was given.

It was actually far darker outside than this shot would lead you to believe, but shooting at ISO 25,600 pulled in that last inkling of light leading to a seemingly blue sky.

Chances are fairly high you can make out the hood ornament here, despite shooting a notch into the boosted ISO range.

Interior lights can be extremely dim, and these were captured at 1/125 second in order to keep things from blurring.

This shot almost ended up overexposed, when in reality there were no overhead lights on in the building. The light here was grabbed solely from semi-nearby windows.

HD video capture

Perhaps the most significant capturing update to the D4 compared to the D3S comes on the video side. There's still no autofocus mode here when looking at video, but the ability to capture 1080p24 and 1080p30 with length caps as high as 30 minutes makes it immediately more useful than the D3S. That guy was capped at just five minutes of 720p. What's clear is that -- in the right hands -- the D4 is capable of capturing insanely beautiful content. There's practically no jelly effect (a problem that doomed the D90's ability to be taken seriously as a video machine), and the ability to affix your own external microphone will surely tempt professional still shooters who have always wondered what they'd do with a formidable video mode.

That said, we can't really envision too many people coughing up six large to use the D4 predominantly as a video rig; if we had to guess, we'd say the value proposition of spending a grand more and getting twoMark IIIs for multi-angle shooting is far greater. At any rate, there's a video below cooked up by a professional, followed by a novice clip showing what's produced straight out of the camera without any color tweaking or post-processing to speak of.

Image quality and focusing


We'll keep it short and sweet here: the image quality is truly remarkable on the D4. But here's the rub: it's just as remarkable on the D3S and EOS 5D Mark III, both of which are markedly cheaper. The color reproduction is just mind blowing at ISO levels below 8,000, and even between 8,000 and 12,800, the wash-out that emerges is applaudably minor. As with the 5D Mark III reviewed just weeks ago, we'd also trust the D4 to capture even the most vital of shots at any ISO beneath 12,800, which is hugely empowering when shooting dimly lit scenes.


But again, it's here that we'll remind you that we said the exact same thing about the (cheaper) D3S some 2.5 years ago. We'll let the images below speak for themselves, but suffice it to say, you'll be hard-pressed to blame the equipment for any lackluster shots that emerge from the D4.

You'll be hard-pressed to blame the equipment for any lackluster shots that emerge from the D4.

Nikon's autofocus system is improved, but only marginally. It's still a 51-point system, and while it's capable of finding objects in darker conditions, it still pales in comparison to Canon's 61-point system on the 1D X and 5D Mark III. That said, it's dead-on accurate in use and never left us wanting, but again, the 51-point system on the D3S never did either. (Perhaps you're noticing a trend.)

Battery life


Here's an interesting one: the battery in the D4 is actually rated to take fewer shots on a full charge than the one in the D3S. You read that right, but there's an explanation waiting in the wings. The EN-EL4 and EL4a used in the D3 range is rated at 4,200 shots by CIPA, while the EN-EL18 (meant for the D4) is rated by the same entity for 2,600 shots. As the story goes, new battery guidelines out of Japan forced Nikon to design the EL18 differently, and CIPA estimates shots by firing a single shutter, waiting a bit and then repeating. Nikon seems to assume that most D4 users won't be using their camera in that manner, and if used in rapid-fire scenarios, the EL18 is actually estimated to last longer than the EL4 in the D3 line.

My wife and I carried both the D4 and D3S to a 10-hour wedding shoot, and both were left in the "On" position for at least 90 percent of the day. At the shoot's close, both batteries showed two bars of life left, but the D4 only captured 800 shots while the D3S captured nearly 1,800. That's real-world results, folks, and it's extremely disappointing to see a newer, more expensive Nikon DSLR ship with a battery that actually performs worse than the unit it's replacing. As if that wasn't unfortunate enough, the EL4 and EL4a are not compatible with the D4, nor the D4's charger. So, users hoping to upgrade to a D4 from a D3 will not be able to use their existing D3 battery in their new camera. Oh, and did we mention that the EL18 is currently priced around $70 more than the (more impressive) EL4a? Bah, humbug.



We wanted to adore the D4. In fact, we can vividly recall wondering weeks after the D3S' release just what on Earth Nikon would do to one-up it. Turns out, it's not exactly easy to revolutionize the photographic world twice in less than three years. The D4 is simply a refined D3S, with a smattering of features that may lure in new customers who passed over the D3S for one reason or another. Color reproduction, autofocusing and handling are practically identical to the D3S, and while the addition of an Ethernet jack, 1080p movie mode and an external microphone jack are appreciated, they won't justify the $5,999 price tag for the bulk of buyers.

Even if the EOS 5D Mark III didn't exist, we'd still recommend the $5,199 D3S over the D4 for anyone who wouldn't routinely take advantage of tethered Ethernet action or the 1080p movie mode. When looking strictly at image quality and nighttime capabilities, there just aren't $800 worth of improvements here. And even for folks who will be forking out six grand to utilize one of the few truly new features on the D4, you'll be doing so while knowing that your money really isn't buying a significant upgrade in the low-light performance arena. Another way of looking at the D4 is this: the D3S is the D4's worst enemy. Nikon created such a transformational product in the D3S, that the D4 feels more like something that was produced to meet product cycle requirements than something designed to blow the doors off of Canon, Olympus, et al. once more.

The other harsh reality here is that the full-frame EOS 5D Mark IIIdoes exist, and it's currently selling for $3,499. That's $2,500 less than the D4, folks, and the savings you'll see by opting for it is more than enough to pick up one or two high-end lenses. There's simply no way for most users to justify the enormous price delta here, and even if you're beholden to Nikon due to a substantial lens investment, most everyone looking to make the leap to full-frame -- hardcore videographers notwithstanding -- are still better off grabbing a D3S on closeout. You might argue that Canon's 1D X is a more sensible opponent, and at $6,800, it's certainly closer in terms of price, but that beast justifies its MSRP with faster burst shooting, more AF points, a native ISO ceiling of 51,200 and a far, far more flexible HD movie mode.

P.S. - For more specialized takes on the D4, be sure to give our More Coverage section below a solid look!
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