I have been shooting the Nikon flagship D4 camera for nearly a month now. I picked the camera up the day before Photoshop World and have been using it ever since.

Just to be really clear on some of the basics. I was not given nor was I loaned this camera. It was purchased new to be my main working camera body. I never used, owned or shot the Nikon D3s so I have no idea how this camera differs from the D3s. Up until I got the D4, my two body setup was a D3 and a D700. Both of those cameras had the same sensor and neither shot video. So there is a lot in the D4 that is totally new to me. When I ordered the camera I also ordered two extra batteries, two extra XQD memory cards and an extra XQD card reader.


This camera feels really good in my hand. Thats not really a big surprise. I shot the Nikon F5 and F100 film cameras before making the switch to digital and it seems like there is not a lot of difference between the F5 and D4. I mean there are a lot more buttons, knobs and joysticks on the D4 but the actual feel of the camera in my hand is really similar.

Now for the differences between the D3 and D700 that I am used to and the new D4 :

  • Metering Mode switch – To change the metering mode, there is now a metering mode button that needs to be pressed, then main command dial needs to be rotated. The change from having the dial on the viewfinder to a button control allowed for the viewfinder to be made smaller, instead of a one hand adjustment, you now need both hands.
  • Those new joysticks – The back of the D4 has two little joysticks on the back. These control the focus points and are really well situated. The tough part is that my fingers are not used to going to them yet. After using the camera for a few weeks, I now miss these these joysticks when shooting the D700.
  • The focusing controls. On the D3 / D700 the focusing was set it two places. The switch on the front allowed you to switch between manual focus and auto focus and the switch on the back controls the type of focus. Now here is where I wonder what Nikon was thinking. On the D3, the front switched the focus modes in the following order: Continuos Auto Focus, Single Auto Focus, then Manual focus. On the D700 the order was Manual focus, Single Auto Focus and then Continuos Auto Focus. For some reason that I don’t know or care about, Nikon switched the order of the settings. With the D4 you now pick between Auto or Manual focus on the front, then press the focus button and use the Command dials to pick the type of autofocus to use. The Rear Command dial changes between Continuous and Single auto focus while the front dial then sets the focusing mode. This will take some getting used to but the heads up display showing the different focus modes as you rotate the dials really makes it easy to move through the settings while the camera is up at your eye.
  • The Live View button. This is located under the main LCD on the back of the camera and allows your o switch between the Video and Still live view modes. Again, since the last cameras I had did not shoot video this is a new control for me.
The back of the D4 has lot of controls buttons, switches, joysticks and other controls. The cool part is that even with all these controls the back doesn’t seem crowded.
All in all this camera feels really good in my hands. My fingers seem to find the important controls easily and working in the dark (as I usually do) was easy. Holding the camera in the vertical orientation felt great as well, with the second joystick easily reachable with my thumb. It did take a while to get used to using it but once my thumb got used to it, it was really easy to use. Β There is one more little change that the good people at Nikon introduced and that is that the buttons on the back of the camera are now backlit when you rotate the the on button to the right. Very useful when working in the dark….
Much more to come…..