Nikon D4 vs Nikon D3 – review

Buna ziua natiune,
Azi voi incerca sa acopar un review sumar a lui Nikon D4 – noua jucarie profesionala de la producatorul nipon.
In primul rand tin sa multumesc Nikon Romania care mi-a permis testarea aparatului pentru o saptamana.
As vrea sa fac o mica precizare pentru cei care au citit primul meu articol din Ianuarie, acest corp este versiunea finala a aparatului, adica cel care se gaseste in vanzare, iar celelalt era o versiune pre-release cu un firmware beta. Cu toate ca testul initial nu a fost facut chiar in conditii optime, as putea sa adaug ca am simtit niste diferente minore la calitatea imaginii la veriunea finala.
In principiu o sa incerc sa nu bat campii cu informatii care oricum s-au mai spus, sau le gasiti pe site-ul producatorului referitor la specificatii. O sa ma limitez la un review mai mult comparativ cu Nikon D3 ( pe care il detin personal ) – flagshipul profesional pentru low-light de la Nikon din generatia anterioara ( exceptand bineinteles D3s-ul care chiar daca e un plus peste D3 – face parte tot din generatia numarul 3 ). Mai multe detalii mai jos putin.

******************************************************************************
Hello everyone,
Today I will try to cover a brief review of the Nikon D4 – the new professional toy from the famous Japanese manufacturer.
First I want to thank Nikon Romania which allowed me to test the device for a week.
I want to do a little clarification for those who have read my first article in January, this body is the final version of the device, ie one that is found on sale, and the other was a pre-release version with a beta firmware. Although the initial test was not done even in optimal conditions, I might add that I felt some slight differences in picture quality to the final satellite transponder.
Basically I will try not to throw out information that have been said anyway, or you find on the site manufacturer website. I will try to limit this review to a comparison between the D4 and D3 ( which I personally own )  – the last generation of Professional Flagship Nikon’s for fast and low-light photography (except of course D3s that even if it’s an extra over D3 – it belongs to the 3rd generation ).  More details below.

 

1.GENERAL

La prima privire – nu prea se observa diferente majore intre D4 si D3. Ca dealtfel nici unul din celelalte corpuri profesionale Nikon nu difera foarte mult unul fata de celalalt la aspect – toate folosind in mare parte cam acelasi corp. Primul lucru care este sesizabil usor e diferenta intre ecranele celor doua aparate. Ce-i drept ecranul de la D4 e o idee mai mare ca la D3 ( D3s, D3x, D300(s), D700 etc ) dar diferenta nu e foarte sesizabila ( 3.2″ vs 3.0″ ). Ce e diferit e modul in care fotografiile arata pe ecran. La D4 par mult mai contrastate, mai vii culorile si o idee mai sharp. Totusi poate din cauza ca sunt obisnuit cu vechea generatie de ecrane, dar am impresia ca ecranul de la D4 are un pic o tenta de verde in redarea culorilor. Daca ar fi sa ne luam doar dupa ce vedem pe LCD, diferentele de calitate a fotografiilor celor doua aparate ar fi destul de mari. La D4 avem langa shutter un buton de filmare, si s-au schimbat putin cateva din butoane – adica cele de selectia modului AF nu mai sunt pe spatele aparatului ca la D3 ci s-au mutat la baza baionetei unde la D3 si celelalte aparate avem seletorul de tip de focus ( S,C,M ). La D4 selectia se face apasand pe buton si rotind de cele doua rotite principale de comanda. Alte plusuri evidente ar fi butoanele iluminate – un lucru binevenit. M-am aflat de multe ori in situatia in care voiam sa fac expuneri lungi noaptea si trebuia sa aprind telefonul sa pot vedea setarile pe rotita de shooting mode ( S, CL, CH, LV etc ). De asemenea s-au adaugat si alte doua controale pentru mutarea punctului de focus – cel de jos fiind foare util cand se lucreaza in modul PORTRAIT ( adica atunci cand se folosesc controalele de pe grip ). In afara de celebra schimbare a modului de a face zoom pe pozele redate ( ce bine ar fi daca Nikon s-ar hotari o data la un mod si sa-l pastreze la toate modelele ), mai exista alte detalii subtile la asezarea butoanelor care maresc usor ergonomia chiar daca nu le simti efectiv.

Autofocusul se simte un pic mai rapid pe D4 mai ales la obiectivele fara motor ( non AF-s ) – cu toate ca AF-ul de pe linia D3(s) era deja printre cele mai bune din lume, e bine ca s-a lucrat si acolo. Nikon se lauda ca D4 poate focaliza in lumina cu 2 stopuri mai slaba ca D3. Cat se poate de sincer va spun ca nu m-am aflat intr-o situatie in care D3-ul sa refuze sa faca un focus lock precis. Ce-i drept daca folosesti unele puncte de focus aflate spre exteriorul cadrului si esti intr-o lumina FOARTE SLABA – exista unele probleme la D3 dar nu am observat ca in acele conditii extreme D4 ar sta mai bine. Nu contest ca nu e cum spun cei de la Nikon, doar ca din ce am testat eu, diferentele la abilitatea de a face lock nu prea exista.

*********************************************************************************

At a first glance – you don’t really see major differences between the D4 and the D3. As a matter of fact none of the other professional bodies Nikon is not much different from each other in appearance – all using the same body shape and general button alignment. The first thing that is easily noticeable is the difference between the two LCD screens. True the D4 screen is a bit bigger than the D3 (D3s, D3X, D300 (s), D700 etc) but not very noticeable difference ( 3.2″ vs 3.0″ ). What is different is how the photos LOOK on screen. At D4’s screen they seem more contrasted, with a bit more vivid colors and also a bit sharper. But perhaps because I’m used to the old generation of screens, to me it looks like the screen on the D4 has a tinge of green in color reproduction. If we were to judge the 2 cameras from the look of the photos on the LCD screens, the quality difference would be bigger than it actually is. At the D4 we get the movie start button near the shutter button, and changed some of the buttons – meaning the AF mode selection buton are on the back side as on the D3 but moved under the bayonet in front where the D3 and other devices have focus type selector  (S, C, M). At the D4 the selection is made by pressing the button and turning the the two main control wheels. Other pluses are the illuminated buttons – a welcome thing. I found myself many times in case I wanted to do long exposures at night and had to turn on the cell phone’s light so I can see shooting mode settings on the wheel (S, CL, CH, LV, etc.). Also there were added two extra controls to move the focus point – the lower being the most useful when working in portrait mode (ie when using the grip controls). Besides the famous changing of how to zoom into pictures displayed ( we would all love it Nikon would make up their damn mind about this and choose a setting already 🙂 ), there are other subtle details that enhance the layout buttons ergonomics even if you do not actually feel them.

The AUTOFOCUS feels a bit faster on D4 especially non-motorized lens (non AFs) although the AF on the D3 line was already among the best in the world, it’s a good thing they managed to improve it. Nikon says that D4 can focus in a light condition 2EV stops lower than the D3. I can honestly say that I was never in a situation where the D3 refuse to make an accurate focus lock. If it was something you could see with your own eyes, the D3 would lock on it precisely. It’s true that if you use some focus points that are located to the outside frame and the light is VERY POOR there are some problems with D3, but I noticed that in those extreme conditions D4 wouldn’t be necessary better. I do not deny that the Nikon can prove their point, it’s just that from what I tested myself, differences in the ability to lock in poor lightning conditions are almost impossible to detect.

2. TESTAREA EFECTIVA / ACTUAL TESTING

In primul rand sa vorbim despre testarea lui D4 impotriva lui D3. Testarea s-a facut de pe trepied, in conditii identice, cu setari identice si anume : mod RAW si apoi convertit cu VIEW NX v 2.3.1 ( fara ajustari ) – shooting mode STANDARD – toate sliderele pe ZERO, WB – PRE – pe o coala alba, sursa de lumina – un bec normal incandescent de 75W. Alte setari ca Active D-Lighting, HIGH ISO NR si VIGNETTE CONTROL – OFF. Din ce obiective aveam la indemana am hotarat ca testul sa se faca folosind Nikon AF-S 50mm f:1.8G – unul din ele mai echilibrate obiective de focala “normala” existente de la Nikon. Diafragma a fost setata la 5.6 la toate cadrele.

*********************************************************************

First of all we will talk about the testing of the D4 against the D3. The test was done with cameras mounted on a tripod, in identical conditions, with identical settings: shot RAW and then converted to JPG in VIEW NX v2.3.1 ( no adjustments ) – shooting mode STANDARD – all sliders on ZERO, WB – Pre mode – set on a piece of white paper – light source – a normal incandescent light bulb ( 75W ). Other settings like Active D-Light, HIGH ISO NR and VIGNETTE CONTROL – all set to OFF. Out of my lenses I decided to use the Nikon AF-S 50mm f:1.8G as it’s one of the most balanced lens in Nikon’s line up right now with great quality. The aperture was set to 5.6 on all shots.

* de mentionat ca D3 are ISO nativ de la 200 in sus deci ISO 100 in cazul lui e o interpolare software – acelasi lucru si pentru 12800 care la D4 este nativ iar la D3 software / D3’s sensor has it’s base iso from 200 upwards so ISO 100 on the D3 is a simple software interpolation – same thing about ISO 12800 which is a native setting for the D4, whereas you need to go through a software ( HI ) setting on the D3 for that value.

Scena de test / Full scene:

Rezultate – ordine – D3 100% crop / D4 redimensionare ( bicubic ) in PS CS5 la 4256 px ( rezolutia lui D3 ) / D4 100% crop @ 16 mpx
Rezults – order –  D3 100% crop / D4 resized to 4256px in PS CS5 ( bicubic ) / D4 100% crop @ 16 mpx.

ISO 100                                                                         ISO 200
  

ISO 400                                                                         ISO 800
  

ISO 1600                                                                       ISO 3200
 

ISO 6400                                                                      ISO 12800
  

ISO 25600                                                                    Mixed ISO
  

Rezultatele vorbesc de la sine zic eu. Nu as vrea sa intru in prea multe detalii si o sa fiu relativ mai scurt. Strict legat de raportul zgomot imagine/detaliu – pana in ISO 3200 nu se prea observa nici o diferenta intre cele doua corpuri. La ISO3200 incep sa se sesizeze niste diferente ( cam 1/3 stopuri ) – iar de la 6400 in sus batranul D3 ramane in urma cam cu 1 stop. Un comportament al lui D4 foarte similar cu cel al lui D3s. Multi spun ca D4 la calitatea imaginii e de fapt un D3s cu 16 mpx in loc de 12. In ultima poza am vrut sa vad cam cat de mult castiga userul unui D4 la acele valori fantastice de ISO 51200, 102400 si 204800 pe care D3 nu le poate atinge. Se pare ca D3 la iso maxim care il poate folosii ( 25K ) arata aproximativ la fel ca D4 la ( 50K ). Deci din nou vedem va avantajul lui D4 de 1 stop se mentine constant. La 102K – D4 deja simte din greu noise-ul care afecteaza si tonalitatea imaginii, iar fotografia de la 204800 este dupa parerea mea INUTILIZABILA. Mai bine subexpui si tragi la iso 25-50K si apoi incerci sa aduci detaliile din soft si obtii un rezultat mai bun decat sa tragi din aparat in iso 200K.

***************************************************************************************
The results speak for themselves I must say. I would not want to get into too many details and I will be relatively short. Strictly related to noise / detail – up to ISO 3200 I don’t quite see any difference between the two bodies. At ISO3200 we begin to notice some differences ( about 1/3 stops ) – and at 6400 and onwards the old D3 starts to lag behind with about 1 stop. D4’s behavior is very similar to that of D3s. Many say that D4 image quality wise is a D3s with 16 megapixels instead of 12. In the last picture I wanted to see just how much the user gains from using the fantastic values of ISO 51200, 102400 and 204800 that D3 can not reach. It seems that D3 at top iso (25K) looks about the same as the D4  at 50K. So again the 1stop difference is constant. At 102K – the D4 starts to feel some heavy noise/artifacts and also starts to deteriorate the color tonality of the image , and finally the 204,800 photo is in my opinion useless. You’d be better off shooting underexposed at 25K and 50K and then getting the details back in PS or Capture NX rather than shooting straight out of the camera at ISO 200K.

3. CONLUZII / CONCLUSIONS ( D3 vs D4 ).

Sunt diferente intre cele doua aparate? Fara indoiala! Si chiar pe toate planurile, cam totul e imbunatatit la D4. Merita D4 banii de nou? Aici depinde cel mai mult de ce ai efectiv nevoie ca fotograf. Este clar ca cine ia in calcul fie achizitionarea unui D3, D3s sau D4 – are nevoie in principal de o viteza impresionanta si de un comportament bun in lumina slaba. Intrebarea e CAT DE SLABA ? Daca acum 5-6 ani nu se putea visa la fotografii utilizabile la iso 6400 – ne regasim in 2012 cand discutam de valori de 200 mii!! Daca privim putin in urma, exact cu 4 ani in urma mai exact, la lansarea lui D3 … ne dam seama ca atunci s-a scris prima pagina din istoria fotografiei low light in adevaratul sens al cuvantului, Nikon reusind sa lase cu gura cascata o lume intreaga cu performanta asbolut incredibila a noului aparat de atunci la iso mare ( peste 3200 ) – cu diferente MAJORE fata de orice alt corp al vremii. A durat ANI BUNI pana competitorul direct Canon sa poata venii cu un produs din linia profesionala care sa poata raspunde standardelor impuse inca din 2008 de D3 – si ma refer aici la 1D Mk4. S-ar putea enumera si 5D Mk2 aici dar daca ne referim strict la linia profesionala – doar 1D Mk4 a reusit cat de cat sa readuca brandul Canon pe linia de plutire, timp in care deja Nikon scosese D3s – care surclasa noul Canon la calitatea imaginii. Iata-ne aflati in 2012 – cu o noua generatie de body-uri profesionale Nikon, si anume generatia a 4-a. Mai vine sa rupa gura targului ca acum 4 ani ? Nici pe departe. In afara de imbunatatiri in ergonomie, viteza si adaugarea filmarii in format full-hd ( 1080p )- vine cu o calitate a imaginii cu care suntem cam obisnuiti de la precedentul D3s. As fi un ipocrit sa spun ca nu e mai bun ca D3-ul chiar la TOATE capitolele, dar diferentele sunt prea mici pentru cei mai multi dintre noi sa dam navala cu D3-urile la vanzare. Ai nevoie de fotografii in bezna totala – atunci nu se pune discutia : raspunsul e D4. Dar sincer, cati dintre profesionisti folosesc D3-ul in conditii de lumina slaba, sa traga in iso 25600 – si sa se intrebe – daca as fi avut un D4 aici … as fi tras iso 51.200 si CE FOTOGRAFIE IESEA ASTA? Totul se rezuma pana la urma la costuri. Vrem sau nu sa recunoastem, Nikon D4 are cel mai mare pret de lansare din toate aparatele rapide/low light profi de la Nikon. D3 si D3s costau la lansare pana in $5000 – pe cand D4 vine cu un plus de $1000. Bineinteles ar putea exista explicatiile cu dezastrul din Japonia – si totusi majorarea preturilor s-a simtit si la alte branduri. Am spus-o si o repet, D4 este cel mai mic salt intre generatii de la Nikon de pana acum. Daca ne gandim clar de-a lungul timpului ce a insemnat fiecare schimbare de generatie : D1 vs D2 vs D3 vs D4 – ultimul vine cu cel mai mic salt la calitatea imaginii. Asta nu inseamna ca nu este la ora actuala CEL MAI BUN APARAT PROFESIONAL DIN LUME ( cel putin pana la niste teste efective impotriva lui 1Dx ).
Ca posesor de D3 – mertia sa fac efortul de la trece la D4 ? Raspunsul e DA – numai in cazul in care fotografiezi in conditii absolut incredibil de intunecate si ai nevoie de acel stop ( de la iso 6400 in sus ), in cazul in care iti foloseste acel 1fps in plus, in cazul in care doresti sa-l achizitionezi pentru filmare ( dar aici pot exista si alternative mai ieftine ) si … cam atat. Utilizatorii de D3s consider eu ca in afara filmarii 1080p nu au nici un motiv de a face efortul trecerii la D4 – motiv pentru care D3s-urile pe piata second-hand inca isi mentin un pret apropiat de pretul de end-of-life. Diferenta de rezolutie de 16 vs 12 mpx este dupa parerea mea minima dar exista.

*******************************************************************************

So, is the D4 better than the D3 ? Without a doubt. On all plans, everything is better on the D4. Is the D4 worth the retail price ? Well, it all comes down to what do you need exactly. It’s quite clear that whoever is interested in purchasing a D3, D3s or D4 need a blistering fast camera with a great behavior in low light conditions. The question is HOW LOW are we talking about. If we look back 5-6 years ago, we could only dream of usable iso 6400 photos and now we’re talking about iso 200.000 in 2012. Exactly 4 years ago, when the Nikon D3 was launched – we realize that the first page of low light photography was written, Nikon managed to blow the whole world with absolute incredible low light performance, with HUGE advantage over any other camera in the world. It took Canon YEARS – to come up with a decent professional performer to live up to the standards – the 1D Mk4. You could also say the 5D Mk2 was a camera worth talking about but we’re talking about the professional line here. By that time, the Nikon already released the D3s – which outperformed the new Canon in image quality at high isos. Here we are in 2012 – with the new 4th generation of Nikon professional body. Does it still rock the world? Not even close! Except some ergonomic improvements, a somewhat higher speed AF and the 1080p movie mode – it comes with an image quality which we’re already used to – from the old D3s. I would be such an hypocrite to say that the D4 isn’t better than the D3 on all levels, because it actually is.  But honestly now,  how many of you are shooting crazy in iso 25600 and wonder “Jeez if only I would have had the D4 – what image would this have been ?” It all comes down to the costs. Whether we like it or not, the D4 is the most expensive professional fast Nikon body ever. When D3 and D3s were launched – their retail price was just under $5000 – whereas the D4 comes with an extra $1000. Of course one of the reason for this could be the disaster that hit Japan – and also – all other brands have had price increases so it’s nothing special about Nikon in this regard. I have said it before and I will say it again : the D4 is the smallest upgrade between generations in Nikon’s professional digital SLR history. Looking back at D1 vs D2 vs D3 vs D4 – the last one comes with the lest advantage over the last – in image quality terms. This doesn’t mean it’s not the BEST PROFESSIONAL CAMERA IN THE WORLD ( at least until a proper D4 vs 1Dx comparison is made ).
As a D3 user – does it worth to make an effort and jump on the D4 ? The answer is YES – only if you shoot in absolute low light conditions and need that extra stop of light ( from iso 6400 onwards ), only if you shoot blistering fast action and need that extra fps, only if you absolutely need the movie mode ( although here there are cheaper alternatives ) and … that’s about it. I feel there is really no actual reason for a D3s user to sell it and jump on the D4 – except maybe for the movie resolution difference. This might be the reason why the D3s is still sold used with a price close to it’s end of life price tag. The resolution difference 12 vs 16 mpx in my opinion is minimal but it’s there.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Daca la perfomantele foto as fi sperat sa fie niste diferente mai mari, nu pot spune ca nu am ramas impresionat de functia de filmare a lui D4. Absolut incredibil cum poti sa filmezi in conditii de lumina foarte slaba la iso 6400 si rezultatul sa fie atat de curat. O sa revin cu detalii referitor la cateva teste si filme exemplificative in cateva zile.
**************************************************************
If I would have hoped for some bigger differences in the stills department, I can’t say I wasn’t blown away by the movie function of the D4. It’s incredible how you can shoot in low light condition with iso 6400 and the result would be VERY CLEAN. I will come back with more details and movie examples in a few days.

5 thoughts on “Nikon D4 vs Nikon D3 – review

  1. Pingback: Nikon D3 vs D4 - ISO shootout - rezultate surpinzatoare

  2. .. da, era oarecum de asteptat sa nu fie prea departe! Iar iso peste 25k mi se pare cam exagerat.

    .. overall marfa review. app incearca sa nu mai amesteci En / Ro, ma bine creezi posturi diferite sau imparti acelasi post in 2 sectiuni / limba.

    Bafta!

  3. i have the d3s and i am very happy with it . i will not move to d4 because the difference is very slim.i have so many bodies with pro lenses (1dmk3 , 5dmk2,7d (canons) + d3s and d7000(nikons) and the d3s is the best. i think i will rely on it for the next coming 3 years .

  4. To me it seems Nikon have not put the same care into later models. I had no problems with D2x, D200, D300s, D3 but look at the problems with new models, D600 oil spots, D800/D4 left autofocus issues, D750 light leaks, D810 white spot. When digital came along Nikon put lots of effort in to lure us away from film but it seems with each passing year they move further away from those quality cameras and make their new cameras just a little bit cheaper. Still everyone will queue up to pay $$$$$$$ for the next D850.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: