February 25, 2014

Nikon D4S Adds 1080P 60FPS & Insane See-in-the-Dark Max ISO of 409,600

Two years ago Nikon announced the D4, which finally took video offerings from the company to the next level. While their D800 actually proved to have better video quality, the move at least showed that Nikon was serious about providing quality that rivaled Canon. First soft-launched at CES back in January, the new D4S builds all of the things the D4 got right, and gives us video people some additional features, like 60fps at 1080p and a mind-melting 409,600 max ISO -- as well as the ability to adjust audio levels while recording.

Here are the specs of the D4S:

  • 16.2MP FX-Format Full-frame CMOS Sensor
  • EXPEED 4 Image Processor
  • 3.2" 921k-Dot LCD Monitor
  • 1920 x 1080 at 60/50/30/25/24 fps
  • Multi-CAM 3500FX 51-Point AF Sensor
  • Native ISO 100-25,600, Extended ISO 50-409,600
  • 11 fps Shooting for 200 Shots with AE/AF
  • 91k-Pixel RGB Sensor and Group Area AF
  • 14-Bit RAW Files and 12-Bit RAW S Format
  • CompactFlash and XQD Card Slots
  • Headphone and Microphone Jacks, HDMI
  • 1000 Base-T Gigabit Wired LAN Support
  • Availability: March 2014
  • Price: $6,500

More about the video recording from B&H:

Also benefitting from the enhanced processing power is the ability to records full HD 1080p video at frame rates up to 60 fps. Multi-area modes enables you to narrow your effective field of view during recording, too, in FX, DX, and 2.7x Crop settings to offer more versatility during shooting. ISO Auto Control is available when working in manual exposure mode as well as real-time adjustable audio settings with enhanced wind noise reduction and selectable frequency ranges such as Wide Range and Voice Range.

Recording to an optional external recorder is possible in order to gain an uncompressed video signal via the HDMI port and, when recording externally, use of the camera's LCD monitor for live view monitoring is possible. Additionally, simultaneous recording to both memory cards and an external recording device is also possible for instant backing up and duplicating of files. 2MP still images can also be recorded simultaneously during video recording.

There are some welcome changes as it relates to video shooting besides the added frame rate of 60fps. You can now select any of the crop modes while in Live View, and you can also record to both a card and to an external recorder at the same time. The D4S also adds the ability to change audio levels while recording, which is important if you're plugging a mic into the camera and using it as your main source of audio.

It doesn't seem like there are any clips showing off video performance, so we'll have to wait for independent reviews and comparisons to get an idea if the downscaling is any sharper on this model. One of the issues with the previous camera was very, very soft video in the full-frame and DX modes. If Nikon wants to remain serious to video shooters, the camera needs more than just the ability to record 8-bit 4:2:2 from the HDMI -- it needs 1080p video as sharp as any DSLR in this class.

New Extended ISO & Improved Noise Performance

Now, the new extended ISO may only be technically one more stop of exposure above the D4 (which had a max of 204,800), but it seems like the processing inside has done a bit to reduce noise throughout the whole range (though the image seems a little softer at 100% crop). Here are the extremes in JPEG mode, which should translate pretty well to the ISO performance in video mode (thanks to Alex and Albert over at Clubsnap, and to Nikon Rumors):

No 4K Just Yet

As I mentioned back in January, I didn't think this model was going to get 4K, especially since Nikon themselves seemed to be having difficulty implementing the higher resolution in video. If they were going to do it with any model, this would have been a good start, but it's more likely that if Nikon does introduce 4K video, it's probably going to come at the lower end somewhere -- maybe even in a new category designed more for video shooters. 4K is likely going to be used more and more as still photographers pull images from videos, so I have no doubt it will come to Nikon's cameras sooner or later.

At $6,500, the new D4S is hasn't really added enough to be a video-only camera, but if you're someone who makes a living shooting still images as well, there might be just enough to consider an upgrade when it is released early next month.

Links:

[via Nikon Rumors]

Your Comment

43 Comments

This just won't cut it. I need my cameras to have at least a 500,000 max ISO.

February 25, 2014 at 4:25PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Rob Hardy
Founder of Filmmaker Freedom
4489

Nah. I'm still waiting for the DSLR that lights the scene for me.

February 25, 2014 at 4:59PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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lol

February 26, 2014 at 5:04AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Nikon could be a promising company come the next couple years or so. If they can rival the canon 1DC with a camera for around $6,000 that can shoot 4K with a good codec maybe H265 or ProRes 422 HQ that would be killer. We will have to wait and see.

February 25, 2014 at 4:28PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Caleb

It's such a bummer that we've been conditioned to consider H.265 to be a good shooting codec.

February 25, 2014 at 5:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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I have only seen glimpses of h265 video it looked better than h264 to me with a smaller file size.

February 25, 2014 at 5:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Pat

H264 is a delivery codec...not a shooting codec. That's why all these workflows involve transcoding to something you can manipulate.

February 25, 2014 at 8:34PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Pat H

Who transcodes anymore? Which of the current NLE's don't take H.264 natively?

February 25, 2014 at 10:21PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Anyone that wants halfway decent output. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. H264 degrades easily when you start to grade or apply adjustments.

February 26, 2014 at 8:33AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Pat

Agreed, but that's not the point, the point is why transcode? If you shot in h264 transcoding to another format (like ProRes) won't improve the quality of the footage or its "gradeability", although it might just be smoother to edit since it's not so CPU demanding. But quality wise no improvements, so if your NLE accepts the format and your computer can handle it, why go the extra step and transcode?

February 26, 2014 at 2:20PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Actually on the Zacuto camera shootout (2010 I think) they proved pretty strongly that there were clear benefits (not just from a CPU/speed standpoint) but for gradability in converting the footage from h.264 to 10-bit 422 (pro-res)

February 26, 2014 at 8:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Funny thing is that in my opinion its not even their best DSLR for video , I'd rather get 2 d7100s and d5200 and save money .

It has same sensor as d4 which means ugly moire and aliasing I'd rather get a 1dx for the money

February 25, 2014 at 6:30PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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jaye

I have a D4 and a D5200 and 90% when I shoot video with a DSLR I use the D5200. I use the D4 when I need the low light capability. But I love shooting stills with the D4.

February 25, 2014 at 9:55PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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steve

I'd get one D7100, one D5200, and one D5300, plus an external recorder for each.

Then I'd be set up well for anything! At a low cost too for a multicam setup.

I'm going with Micro Four Thirds with Nikon F mount lenses for now, but thinking I might move over to that this year.

February 26, 2014 at 2:06AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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And they still forget we want to shoot video with these cameras. Why isn't the monitor on a 360 global hinge so you can shoot at different height levels AND see your shot at the same time? Designers have to get their heads out of the technology and start thinking about the 'Cinematographer' (not just the photographer).

February 25, 2014 at 4:31PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Kevin Lee

The higher-end cameras (D-series) for both Canon and Nikon don't use hinged LCD screens for durability. Less moving parts=less repairs.

February 25, 2014 at 5:05PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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U because it's a camera designed for photo pros who regularly go into the most demanding situations. War zones etc so anything articulating will be snapped off within a matter of days.

February 25, 2014 at 5:12PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Peter

Nikon is a stills company.

February 26, 2014 at 8:35AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Pat

I can see a niche market for this camera for PI's, especially for use in insurance fraud investigations.

February 25, 2014 at 4:45PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Marc B

I agree with Marc B. This high ISO is only good for surveillance, CIA secret missions, and PIs checking on unfaithful husbands/wives. What happened to craft and good quality?

February 25, 2014 at 4:50PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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LuisV

Not exactly. When the high end of ISO gets bumped up, all the ISO ranges along the way get a little cleaner. I shoot (stills) at a lot of concerts, night sports events, etc. Some of these things I have to shoot at at least 6400+ ISO. Well 6400 ISO on the D4s is going to be cleaner than on the D4. People who use a D4s don't buy it because they can shoot at 409600 ISO. They buy it because 6400+ actually becomes usable.

February 25, 2014 at 10:02PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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steve

I think 400k ISO with a couple passes of neatvideo and some grain could look acceptable

February 26, 2014 at 4:14PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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john jeffries

The extreme low light capability should mean having very low noise at higher - above 6400 - ISO and that's required for a lot of outdoor sport and wildlife photography. At any rate, there are a few promotional D4s videos uploaded on YouTube by now but they basically talk AF, ISO, HFR but provide no samples of its video. It's too bad. This camera should have at least had a 2.5K video resolution. Moving along ...

February 25, 2014 at 6:24PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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DLD

4k is not necessary. There is lack of segment that offers 2k, 2.5k, 3k.
For people doing lots of stuff raw video is inconvinient, 4k would render too long and above hd would be very usefull for maintaining full hd quality on scenes that must be zoomed/stabilized/denoised.
Hope those in beetween standards will apear.

February 25, 2014 at 7:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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ff

I would like to see that list. Some of what I want cameras for is for lower light shooting.

February 25, 2014 at 11:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Gene

dang, wrong reply. Next one down.

February 25, 2014 at 11:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Gene

I really wish I were a photojournalist, this camera seems perfect. For my work I would never need that much iso, no matter how impressive it sounds it doesn't look all that great once you get past a certain point. If I were shooting a doc under extreme low light then maybe but under normal conditions I can think of 10 other cameras I'd rather shoot with.

February 25, 2014 at 9:48PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Anthony Marino

I would like to see that list. Some of what I want cameras for is for lower light shooting.

February 25, 2014 at 11:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Gene

If you're looking for a camera for low light shooting you can't get better value than a Nikon D5200, D7100, or D5300! (or even the D3300)

http://www.eoshd.com/content/tag/nikon-d5200

February 26, 2014 at 2:12AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Nikon D5300. Indoor available light (but the interviews when 1 light was used), http://www.cinema5d.com/?p=23465

Thanks!

Johnnie

February 26, 2014 at 3:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Thank you for replying.

Yes, this is what I am looking for. I like Nikon's color palette too. I will look for a hack/patch for that 30 minute limit. You know of one? I need recording for 3 or more hours.

February 26, 2014 at 8:36AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Gene

That is really nice looking in low light. I can see the one light on the right side of their face in the interviews. The whole video looks good for such low light.

Thanks for the reply!

February 26, 2014 at 8:37AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Gene

Yes! That is what I'm looking for. Thank you! I'll be reading about it. The cost looks nice too.

February 26, 2014 at 8:19AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Gene

Yes, very good good camera, great image, but ahhh, the 30 minute limit. I'll look through Nikon forms. Maybe there's a hack/patch.

February 26, 2014 at 8:34AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Gene

"If Nikon wants to remain serious to video shooters, the camera needs more than just the ability to record 8-bit 4:2:2 from the HDMI"

Especially considering the GH4K will be able to do, in theory, 1080p in 10-Bit 4:4:4 when starting with 4K at 8 bit 4:2:0.

link to story:

http://news.doddleme.com/equipment/panasonics-gh4-could-shoot-1080p-in-10-bit-444/

February 25, 2014 at 11:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Gene

"if Nikon does introduce 4K video, it’s probably going to come at the lower end somewhere — maybe even in a new category designed more for video shooters"

From your mouth to God's ears. Maybe even a Nikon 4K camcorder?

February 25, 2014 at 11:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Gene

A camcorder will be a tougher sell at the retail level, as most electronic chains - those that are still around, that is - have different departments for video (TV, camcorders) and photo (D/SLR, DSLM, P&S, binoculars, lenses, accessories). There's some overlap between the departments but, in order to be allocated shelf and ad spaces, a manufacturer needs more than a single product. In that regard, it's much easier for Nikon to go hybrid rather than pure video. Of course, it could try to resemble Canon's Cinema line, albeit at lower price points, but then they'd still need 2-3 models to showcase if for no other reason than to have a lead and a step-up. From an engineering point of view, they should be easily capable of handling it. From marketing ... eh, not as easy.

February 26, 2014 at 1:17AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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DLD

As Joe Marine was saying though, they may put 4K in a lower end camera.

If they do, then, all they need to do is get rid of that 30 minute limit, put two memory card slots into it for continuous recording ability, and make sure there's plenty of easy internal grading options so you can do all grading in-camera. That would be the equivalent of a camcorder, and I'm in!!!!

February 26, 2014 at 8:45AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Gene

I think the 30 min limit originates in the Euro import tax/tariff rules as they apply to photo vs. video technology. One assumes that the higher priced, video geared, units would have either an SDI or a clean HDMI out with no recording time limits. FWIW, D4s is priced at £6000 in the UK, which is about $10K US.
.
PS. Johnnie, you need to upload more videos onto your YouTube channel, especially as you test more 4K cameras. Vimeo is still only 1080p and I don't want to download any footage. Bloom has both and I tend to watch his YouTube channel a lot more, especially now with the 1440 resolution available. (plus, YouTube may even pay you to do so)

February 26, 2014 at 1:29PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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DLD

Hopefully the footage will be sharp because when the D4 was announced I ordered one immediately and months later when it arrived I tested it in the shop and it was soft. Too soft. Crop mode was sharp tho. I canceled it and got the D800 which I love still. But I hope the softness is gone now with the new sensor.

I had a D3 years ago and there is nothing quite like holding these cameras. A normal DSLR with a battery grip just isnt the same :(

February 26, 2014 at 5:33AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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[ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wowtiN8D4ic ] an official promo ... looks pretty good for 1080p ...

February 28, 2014 at 11:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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