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Nikon D4 Digital Camera Review$5,999.95
Speed and Timing
The Nikon D4 is one of the fastest DSLRs on the market, with the company claiming the camera's capabilities allow it to shoot full resolution frames at up to 11fps. It features two continuous modes (low speed and high speed), along with single shot mode and quiet shutter mode. The camera also features manual lockup, self-timer options, and a built-in intervalometer for timelapse shooting.
The Nikon D4 features a drive mode dial located on the top plate of the camera just under the bracket/flash/metering mode. The dial has a locking button just above it, preventing you from accidentally switching modes. The shutter itself is normally quite loud, but that noise is significantly suppressed when firing in the quiet mode. In addition, when shooting in live view mode you can activate "silent shooting," which will let you hold own the shutter button while the camera records up to 5 seconds of continuously shot JPEG images. It records JPEGs at up to 24fps, with a maximum size of 1920x1080 (or a full HD signal).
In our testing, we were able to get the Nikon D4 to fire at a rate as high as 12.1 frames per second over a five shot burst, with single shot differentials ranging between 0.1 and 0.066 seconds between exposures. This puts the D4 among the fastest cameras that we have ever tested, especially considering these are full resolution shots taken using a mechanical shutter. If you're shooting over a longer period or counting more exposures, that average speed will drop to around 11fps (or 10fps, depending on menu settings).
The Nikon D4 features fully customizable self-timer options, allowing you to set a self-timer that will take up to nine shots after a delay of two, five, 10, or 20 seconds. You can even customize the delay between shots, with options for 0.5, one, two, or three seconds of delay. These options are all found in the custom menu under the timers tab, though there are also options for both timelapse and interval timer shooting.
Timelapse shooting will allow you to tell the camera how long you would like to shoot for and how long of a delay you want between shots. The camera will then take all these images and stitch them into a movie using the current video settings (such as ISO level and destination), though there's no sound recorded. This lets you easily take a timelapse video of any event, though the built-in inverval timer also allows you to accomplish this feat.
The interval shooting mode lets you force the camera to take up to nine shot bursts up to 999 times, with a set interval between each burst. These shots are full resolution stills and are recorded as such. The benefit to doing a timelapse in this manner is it will allow you to downsize and stitch together your video after the fact, giving you much more leeway in the editing room.
The Nikon D4 focuses very quickly, with a 51-point autofocus sensor that is sensitive even in extremely limited light. We found it was able to track moving subjects even while firing at full speed, with plenty of focus options for fine-tuning performance. In low light the camera rarely hunted past the point of focus, though using a set focus point on a high-contrast edge improved that substantially. In shooting sports, we found the focus point wrap-around feature to be a great help, especially for subjects where you have to pan in order to keep them in the frame.
The Nikon D4 utilizes a 51-point AF system, with options for both single and continuous AF. The AF menu isn't quite as substantial as the one found on the full frame Canon cameras (for example, the camera lacks the multiple user-savable use cases, though you can save the entire camera state), but it has enough options to suit professional needs in most cases.