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Nikon D4 Digital Camera Review$5,999.95
The Nikon D4 features H.264 AVCHD video compression with linear PCM audio encoding in a .MOV container. The camera has a maximum video resolution of 1080/30p, with options for 25 and 24p as well. In addition, the camera can shoot at 720p, with frame rate options of 60, 50, 30, and 25fps.
You can also record in a smaller 640x424 mode in 30 or 25p. The Nikon D4 also features a 1920x1080 crop mode, with 30, 25, and 24fps frame rate options that uses a 1920x1080 portion of the image sensor to record a (zoomed in) image that is slightly sharper.
The full HD video modes all feature a bitrate of 24Mbps (12 when on "normal" quality), with 12Mbps and 5Mbps respectively for the 720p and 424p modes. The Nikon D4 also features uncompressed HD output from its HDMI cable, letting you bypass in-camera compression in favor of a clean signal that can be converted later. This can be recorded directly to a hard drive while a live view preview is also pushed to an external monitor. Find out how the performed in our video image quality test./r:link_to_content
The D4 allows full manual control over aperture, shutter speed, ISO, autofocus, and monitor brightness while recording video. You can also adjust audio levels (on a 20-stop scale, with options to do levels automatically or turn sound off completely), though not while recording. When using program auto mode to record video you can also control exposure compensation, even while recording, though video exposure compensation is only available on a +/- 3-stop scale instead of the full five stop scale.
Since the Nikon D4 doesn't have a dedicated video mode, it will automatically inherit whatever exposure settings you (or the camera) have chosen when you begin a recording. The only limit to this is shutter speeds slower than 1/30th of a second. The camera doesn't feature any creative filters or scene modes, but the camera's picture control settings (color modes) do go into effect even while recording video. While shooting in video live view you can adjust these controls right on the screen, just as you would in the full menu.
The Nikon D4 doesn't feature any zoom toggle on the camera body itself, with zoom all tied manually to the lens itself (as you'd expect). The camera does allow you to pick various crops though, including the full 1080/30p crop mode in the movie settings of the camera. This only uses the center portion of the camera's sensor, which in effect creates a digital zoom that doesn't downscale resolution from the full sensor as the normal video modes do.
Full-time autofocus is available on the D4, with options for single-shot AF (just when you press the shutter button or AF-ON button) as well. You can adjust these focus settings on the fly, or switch to manual focus and override the settings with many Nikon lenses. The autofocus on the D4 is much smoother in video than it is on the Canon and, despite being a contrast detection system, doesn't hunt past the point of focus very much.
Video AF on the D4 is usable in a pinch, though for any professional videography we'd obviously suggest sticking to manual focus. The D4 also can use face-detection AF in live view and when recording video, which follows faces well but needs a second to pick them up initially.
In video mode the full suite of ISO, aperture, and shutter speed settings, with some small limitations. Video ISO is limited to 200 and above (but goes to the full 204,800 setting), and shutter speeds have to be 1/30th of a second or faster (1/60th or faster in 720/60p mode). Otherwise you have full control over exposure settings when recording video, though only in the manual shooting mode.
Video is accessed on the D4 by turning the live view/video dial on the back of the camera to the video setting and pressing the LV button, activating video live view. You can then press the record button on the top of the camera to begin recording a video, with a maximum clip length of 20 minutes. This is an annoying limitation, but given that the duty on video-cameras doesn't kick in until 30 minutes, we imagine it's an actual hardware limitation rather than one imposed by Nikon for tax reasons.
Once in video live view you can hit the "info" key on the back of the camera to scroll through various display options. These include an electronic level, audio level display, histogram, and rule of thirds grid to help aid framing.
The Nikon D4 records audio in a linear PCM compression, but only features a monaural microphone built into the back of the camera. Obviously, that's not the ideal place to record audio from, and it's mostly just there for voice memos for photographers looking to capture a quick note to themselves about a shot. The camera does feature both a 3.5mm mic jack and a 3.5mm headphone jack though, which will allow you to record and monitor audio quite well, even when stuck in the field without much support.