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Shooting the D4!

Jan 6

In Equipment at 1:15am

It’s here, officially. Which I’m sure is bringing a smile to the face of many just as wide as Little Joe Lastie’s here in this picture. Shot in Preservation Hall, with the Nikon D4, 24-70mm lens, ISO 200, and several speed lights. We’ve been involved with the prep for this camera for several months, and been shooting with it for the last few weeks. And, man are we happy to be able to finally talk about it.

Whew! Done. It’s out. We can officially say that letter and numeral together. Out in the field, as a team, we just referred to our cameras as the Millennium Falcons, One and Two. It’s come through rain, wind, weather and all manner of natural calamities to be real, and here, on our doorstep. Here’s one of my first questions. What are those wonderful fellas over at Nikon Rumors gonna do now? I mean, how to fill up the time? They’ve been bulldogging this camera now for months. I suggest they all go out, have a nice meal, and get hammered. Their work is done. At least until the D5. Which is a helluva camera, by the way. I’ve been shooting the prototype.


I have no need of a D5. When the D3 came out, honestly, I thought I was done. Okay, I thought, this is the camera they gently fold my lifeless fingers around when they dress me in a nice suit and send me away for a long nap. There were plenty of pixels in that camera to keep me company, and they all seemed to behave quite well. I was raised on transparency film, and the D3 settled forever any nostalgic issues about going back to slides. But this camera makes the reverential memories of Kodachrome 25 fade like an old color print.

The D4 is an entirely new chapter in the history of the pixels. It arrived in a nondescript box. We all stared at it, like it was something that got sent from a sci-fi movie, and if we opened it, we would find the still beating heart of an alien life form.

We were, of course, expecting the box, having been involved in the discussion of the camera for over six months. We knew it was on the way. We knew it was gonna be cool. We just didn’t know how cool.

We hammered our prototypes, honestly. Showed them no reverence whatsoever. First stop was the swamps of Florida. About a day into that adventure, I told Drew that if I ever mentioned working in the swamps again, he could just go ahead and shoot me—with a gun. First location we showed up at was highly desirable from a photo point of view. Less so after we noticed the large water moccasin curled up right about where I would have put a tripod. The ranger commented, “They’re pretty territorial, and aggressive. He probably thinks this is his location.”

I thought about giving the snake the camera and having him shoot the job, but, seeing as I’m the one with the opposable thumbs, and (theoretically) a larger brain, we continued our search.

We found our way to a picture, through the muck and the mud. And, right off the bat, I was impressed with the file. It was, in a word, smooth. I know that’s not a techy description, and there’s some folks out there right now counting every pixel, but I was impressed by the detail and the creaminess of the pictures. No sharpness of contrast, and harshly defined lines of demarcation between highlights and shadows. Smooth, in a word, and great skin tone.

We had a ball, quite frankly. We took the camera from the swamps of Jacksonville to the studios of New York, and back down again to a circus in Florida, and then to the music scene in New Orleans. Through it all, I was continuously impressed with:

Skin tone, for one thing.

File detail and forgiveness in the shadows.

Responsiveness of the camera in terms of intuitively good exposures and autofocus.

Video quality and new features.  Wow.  We’re in the final stages of post right now for what we shot.  Check back sometime next week for the full scoop.  It’s a game changer.

New rocker buttons for moving the auto-focus cursor.

Ease of shifting the auto-focus modes.

Size and clarity of the lcd.

The fact that I dropped one and it kept working.

Plus, none of us had tried to light an elephant with an SB-910 and a Lastolite tri-grip before.

Cora, our wonderful elephant, is 9600 pounds. Mike Grippi is back there trying to put a catch light in her eye. Awesome!

For the next couple of weeks, we’ll be reporting on field adventures with the D4. Stay tuned for stills, video and BTS stuff. For now, I think I’m going to get some sleep. More tk….

Lara says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:20 am

I have to admit I’m very impressed with what I’ve so far with the D4. I think I’ll have to start saving my $$$ and get one.

Feri says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:21 am


Tom deBruyn says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:22 am

Doing great work yet again! Maybe the next flashbus tour you can give lessons on lighting elephants? (read: David Hobby) Awww snap, JK Mr. Strobist, no harm intended.

Nandinho says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:22 am

Mimimi mimimi mimi. Mi mi miiiiiii.
Já vi melhores, DESDENHEI…. uí….

william Henderson says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:22 am

Great stuff, be interested in what you think after you put it through the paces

gnohz says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:24 am

Awesome! Thank you for sharing your experiences Joe! Appreciate it :)

Mike Lyons says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:25 am

Thanks Joe, you lucky guy!

Michael LaPointe says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:26 am

Must… have… camera…

Kaouthia says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:27 am

Very very nice Mr McNally, looking forward to seeing more info and BTS stuff with this!

Did you have a chance at all to play around with this whole WT-5/iPad dealy? Do you know if that will that work through the D4’s LAN port to a regular router with the iPad on WiFi?

Jason says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:28 am

That was quick – all ready to go waiting for the embargo to lift? Please tell me a computer program posted this for you – you didn’t really sit up to post this did you Joe?

Ian Mckenzie says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:29 am

Thank you Mr McNally.
As if for a minute we would believe that Nikon wouldn’t let you wrap your fingers around the new D4 early on. Who better to wring the most out of a 35mm style dslr. And of course a reviewer with street creds.


Dave R. says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:30 am

Hopefully my endeavors this year will afford me one, and a couple new flashes/lens’. Love the anaconda pic.

Katia Trudeau says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:30 am

whaa! I was waiting for this post right after I saw your name under the photos on Nikons website! I’m so excited about this camera, glad that you were the first to play with it!

Rares says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:31 am

Hi, show us some ISO proofs versus same taken with D3s :) thanks

Keanan says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:32 am

Beautiful stuff.. as always. Were the skin tone examples edited or processed at all, or are those straight from the body?

Philippe says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:33 am

Oh, it seems you had fun with that cam;-)
Looks like a very interesting beast, indeed!

Duane Hall says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:37 am

When you are done with them, Joe, you can send one my way. I promise I will return it to Nikon. Honest!

Billy says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:37 am

Prick……….you always get to play with the new stuff…

Zachary Logn says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:38 am

Wow so glad to see this post timed perfectly with the Nikon Rumors stuff (ok, sorry I can’t help but read up on it and now keep checking for D800 rumors).

You really shouldn’t have said this “Video quality and new features. Wow. We’re in the final stages of post right now for what we shot. Check back sometime next week for the full scoop. It’s a game changer.” Now I’ll be hitting refresh on my RSS feed every day awaiting this post. As both a Nikon and Canon user this is what interests me the most, to finally see Nikon’s real response to the DSLR video movement. From the spec list it sounds amazing so I’m dying to read about real-world usage on assignments!

David says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:40 am

lovely work Joe as always you are a true insperation and a kick up the rear I need to get out and start shooting. I WANT A NIKON D4 LOL

jcogliandro says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:40 am

super pumped about this!

Chris Nemes says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:41 am

Looking good! Bet you’ve been rubbing your hands impatiently waiting for the green light from Nikon to post this.

Louis Pang says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:43 am

There goes my vacation budget for 2012. Joe I hate you! says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:43 am

Joe, you know very well what’s coming next – the D800 :)

Sergio says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:48 am

how i wish the next time I recieved a package from DHL – it would be a D4!… :-)
I’ll surely try that swamp thing!… :-)
thanks for sharing this Joe!…

Ahmed Sharif says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:49 am

one word, WOW!! :)

George says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:49 am

Great info, love to know if the new D4 has quite mode included… can’t wait to here about the speed and fast AF & iso…. pleaseeee tell us more..

Ke Toney says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:50 am

Joe, I can’t wait to get my hands on one!!!

Slic says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:51 am

Joe McNally and a D4, nuff said. You are the man that can take perfect photos with the throw away cameras left on the tables @ weddings in low light haha. Man the cam and the pics look great! So is this going to be the end of seeing you with a D3@ photoshop world?

Michael says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:53 am

“We’re in the final stages of post right now for what we shot.”

Did you shoot a video as well then??
If so, I beg you to hurry up showing us :)

Dave Barnard says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:58 am

I’ll admit it: envy. But so glad they picked you to test drive it. Thanks for your sharing. Great shots. Now to find a way to afford that. And I thought I was done with my little D700. It’s inspiring as usual Joe.

Robert Daniels says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:58 am

Well done for keep the beast under wraps.

Danny Klimetz says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:58 am

One word – Excited!

Poller says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:58 am

Thanks for posting this. And you’re right – great skin tones. Meaning the models, not your legs in the last frame. :-)

Dan Arif says:

on January 6, 2012 at 2:05 am

Impressive Mr Mcnally.. Thanks for sharimg

Devon wedding photographer says:

on January 6, 2012 at 2:10 am

I can’t wait to get my hands on a D4.

Henry CK says:

on January 6, 2012 at 2:15 am

D4~Nice! D4 with Joe’s team.. Even Better..

Paul Anslow says:

on January 6, 2012 at 2:20 am

Look forward to an in depth review. Never thought of using a elephant to test out a new camera. :-)

Nigel King says:

on January 6, 2012 at 2:28 am

Well done Joe. Had a close up look at the swamp photo on the hi-res brochure – Amazing!

Andrea says:

on January 6, 2012 at 2:35 am

No hybrid viewfinder? What was all the rumour about the patent then? Ah, gotta keep on following nikonrumours. Again.

You could’ve done all shots with a D3, couldn’t you? The only picture convincing me is the “Skin tone” one. The one with the snakelady (reminds me of Bladerunner somehow). Nice tonality range. And if you didn’t post to much on the skintone…. 😉

Hannes Uys says:

on January 6, 2012 at 2:35 am

Joe from this post I can safely say that Nikon has nailed it yet again. Thanks for all of this. ~H.

Joe Keum says:

on January 6, 2012 at 2:37 am

Looking forward to seeing and hearing more about from MASTER JOE!

BTW, I am just amazed by your story of swamp to studio to circus and all… WOW and COOL!

Dave says:

on January 6, 2012 at 2:40 am

Impressive, but based on the relatively incremental upgrade from the D3S, do you think many pros ditch their D3S units right off the bat?

Eric says:

on January 6, 2012 at 2:49 am

No matter whether it’s a D4 or a Coolpix: you rock Joe!

Thiago says:

on January 6, 2012 at 2:50 am

Yeah… D4 Just released today! can’t wait to get these! :)

bee says:

on January 6, 2012 at 2:52 am

Waaah… That sounds so great… Now I know what I’ll be dreaming of the next months!

Foto Frenzy says:

on January 6, 2012 at 3:03 am

Wow! What great images to test the D4 with. I can’t wait to see more images from this camera and to get my grubby little hands on one!
Thanks for sharing Joe.

Rob Byron says:

on January 6, 2012 at 3:07 am

Here goes another 6 g’s. Praise the Lord and pass me one-O-them new fangled super fast card thingies.

thaandcat says:

on January 6, 2012 at 3:07 am

Nikon make me very happy :)

Dee says:

on January 6, 2012 at 3:07 am

Nice introduction review Joe… But SB910 to light an elephant, that’s a classic :)

Ben Yew says:

on January 6, 2012 at 3:09 am

Great review, thanks!! :)

Andor says:

on January 6, 2012 at 3:11 am

Great post again along with awesome shots (just as usual :-)) – the one with the lady in the boat is amazing! – and a nice new toy from Nikon!

Patrik Lindgren says:

on January 6, 2012 at 3:30 am

I´m excited, mostly because i sold my trusty old D3 and i need the replacement.
But more than that i´m glad that You where one of them that got one of this to your disposal, as always you deliver epic stuff and being a true inspirer.
I´m seeing some similarities to your good colleague Drew Gardner and his series The Forest (

Looking forward to see the following posts.

Derek says:

on January 6, 2012 at 3:31 am

Awesome work Joe! Can’t wait to see more.

areteam says:

on January 6, 2012 at 3:40 am

oohhh D4 :-)

Paul says:

on January 6, 2012 at 3:42 am

Question to commenters. What does the “more tk” at the end of each story mean?

Darren Cornwell says:

on January 6, 2012 at 3:43 am

Thanks so much for this post, what an amazing camera. Not sure it has enough bells and whistles to replace a D3S, but then it’s the photographer who takes the picture and not the body (although it helps!). Can’t wait to see a more in depth view. :)

Grippi says:

on January 6, 2012 at 3:50 am


Cesar Palima says:

on January 6, 2012 at 4:01 am

Wow! Awesome! I can’t wait to touch it!

Daniel says:

on January 6, 2012 at 4:06 am

Thanks !
Lucky guy!
I had a 5D2 and 5 cannon lens, but i’m considering to jump to Nikon now!!

Libby says:

on January 6, 2012 at 4:07 am

Joe you could shoot with an old Instamatic. You don’t need the D4, send it here 😉

Thanks for taking the time for this – a lot of us have been chompin’ at the bit here. You said “game changer” – it will be interesting to hear what you actually mean by that. Coming from you, I’m curious.

NME Photographie says:

on January 6, 2012 at 4:18 am

Thanks for sharing this Joe. An other camera I will never get but that was fun to read 😉

John Havord says:

on January 6, 2012 at 4:19 am

Happy days. Must look out for the next episode of Scott Kelby’s “The Grid”, surely they’ll be giving one away :)

Darren Cornwell says:

on January 6, 2012 at 4:21 am

Joe – How did you find the lack of AE-Lock button, what with it being removed from the rear of the camera now – how is this function now accessed?

Mark J. Terrill says:

on January 6, 2012 at 4:37 am

Pretty cool Joe! You got to work with the D4 and Cora (The elephant from Smokey and the Bandit ll). It doesn’t get any better than that.

Adrian says:

on January 6, 2012 at 4:45 am

Thanks for your sharing Mr. McNally! Great shots!

Raymond Hoffmann says:

on January 6, 2012 at 4:58 am

… looking forward :-) Thank you for your experiences Mr Joe McNally! bless from Iceland, Ray says:

on January 6, 2012 at 5:05 am

This is what [NR] will be doing next:

I know you will not aprove my comment, but at least you got my message :)

Peter Solano says:

on January 6, 2012 at 5:12 am

Where do I sign to be able to get my hands on one and really give it a good test shoot?

Alicia says:

on January 6, 2012 at 5:21 am

Very exciting news.

Tom Bricket says:

on January 6, 2012 at 5:35 am

Time to upgrade from my D200!

Sebastian says:

on January 6, 2012 at 5:36 am

Ooooooh, have fun with that one.
A lot of rumors in the last days and now she’s here. On the specs it is looking impressive. I am waiting for the first Low-Light D4vsD3s tests.
Well, now for me there will be something on the used market I think……a D3 when prices drop….:D

Cheers, Sebastian
PS: Smart that you didn’t give the D4 to the swamp moccasin. She may have been running away with it and old the prototype on ebay 😉

Stephanie McGehee says:

on January 6, 2012 at 5:39 am

This is the reason we are called ‘poor photographers!’. Just when we started getting comfortable they bring out an irresistible camera. Great stuff. I always feel superior to the canon owners when Nikon brings a new model out!

Radek says:

on January 6, 2012 at 5:45 am

But I will never afford one :-(

Mike Burton says:

on January 6, 2012 at 5:54 am

Nice Blog guys, as if my credit card wasn’t already in trouble, it will be now!

Tom says:

on January 6, 2012 at 6:04 am

Skin tone. Good. That’s the one area I was I was sometimes disappointed with on the D3. Nice to see the focus on something other than shooting by starlight. I’d love to see a full size version of the snake woman too.

Marty says:

on January 6, 2012 at 6:32 am

You had me at, “It’s here..”….. mannnnnnn I can’t wait to get to B&H to get my hands on one!

Jan Oscarsson says:

on January 6, 2012 at 6:44 am

This looks really sweet! One thing though, I would appreciate it if you could publish a photo taken under low light conditions at ISO 12800. And I don’t regard images shot at f4 @500th/s low light 😉 I would like to see something like a portrait and an environmental shot (without the help of flash) in a dark church or similar that requires ISO 12800, f1,4 @60th/s to be properly exposed… can you give us that, Pretty please :-)

JeroenW says:

on January 6, 2012 at 6:52 am

Well… you’re one lucky b……!

I just hope some of this greatness will trickle down to the D300s successor.

One thing I’m wondering though, did you guys supply any feedback that was actually taken aboard by Nikon?

Dr gp says:

on January 6, 2012 at 7:11 am

How does it compare to the D3S?

Allan Schober says:

on January 6, 2012 at 7:11 am

Mr. McNally, really, he’s just Joe to me. In any event, great new Camera, almost good enough for me to trade in all my Canon gear! But I think I’ll wait for some more detailed 1DX .vs. D4 comparisons to be published first,;)

Hadari photographer says:

on January 6, 2012 at 7:26 am

Ihave now D3 +D3s to sell and I was thinking
of having the D3s for ever.
Just ordered 1 and probably I will ne the 1st
here in Israel to get it. :-). now will be able also
to offer video servises, at least a simple ones

Photographer Janne Miettinen says:

on January 6, 2012 at 8:03 am

I’m not very impressed so far. There doesn’t seem to be anything special in the D4 according to your post, aside from the video. Hope to see some more info about the dynamic range.

David Clark says:

on January 6, 2012 at 8:15 am

When you need an 18% grey would a card not be more convenient than an elephant?

One strange thing – looking in the D4 brochure I saw yours and two other images full page – strange after inventing a metering system that has 91,000 points all three examples were taken with manual metering! 😉

andrew says:

on January 6, 2012 at 8:21 am

is the ethernet port really only 100mb/s ?

Sarah says:

on January 6, 2012 at 8:30 am

Wow jealous you got to play with that beast! I’d gladly take one of theose D3’s off your hands!

yuliang11 says:

on January 6, 2012 at 8:36 am

i hope the video is great, however at the price. i think i rather get 5dmk2 for videography

Alessandro Rosa says:

on January 6, 2012 at 8:43 am


Really nice work and congrats to the folks at Nikon for remaining in the race against Canon; a little competition is always a good thing to keep things fresh.

Speaking for those of us who are Ophidiophobes though, a few less snaps of our no-legged, uhm… friends, unless of course their name happens to be Monty, would be much obliged. God do I hate Richard Avedon for popularizing that particular accessory. I never saw the need to ruin (harsh word, but very visceral response) the picture of a beautiful woman in that way, Eve in the Garden myth aside.

Adrien Bisson says:

on January 6, 2012 at 8:51 am

Great stuff, as always! I too am looking forward to seeing more images and hearing about ultra high ISO performance.

Newcastle wedding photographer says:

on January 6, 2012 at 8:59 am

I’m glad they didn’t go nuts with the megapixels. Going to be great for low light work!

Michael says:

on January 6, 2012 at 9:11 am

Well, I Have been waiting for a 700 replacement for so long now my budget I set aside for a body grew enough I can consider the D4. The 800 is not what I need so…

Man my hands are looking for it at my hip even as I think about it.

Alice G Patterson says:

on January 6, 2012 at 9:41 am

Very exciting. They couldn’t have picked a better collaborator to test the goods. Now, how about a Nikon sponsored Joe McNally D4 give away post? :-)

Nikola Ovcharski says:

on January 6, 2012 at 10:04 am

The uncompressed video feature looks nice

Brian Powell says:

on January 6, 2012 at 10:08 am

Forget the D4, that shoot in the swamp is PERFECT.

Inspiring as usual,

Subroto says:

on January 6, 2012 at 10:18 am

Thou lord has arrived.. Salut….

Howard Pitkow says:

on January 6, 2012 at 10:22 am

HA! I read the Nikon press release this morning and knew right away that you were A, involved in this project and B, have been using one for a few weeks already. Damn this camera looks amazing. This is the Nikon product that actually could push me over the edge and sell my Canon equipment. But I have so much invested that it would be near impossible for me to start over. It’s hard to imagine but I’m thinking that even your photos are about to get better! Congratulations Joe and enjoy! BTW, I’m really enjoying reading your latest book on my iPad! Way to go!!

Cindy Dyer says:

on January 6, 2012 at 10:35 am

Oh, Joe, why do ya hafta be so cruel? You know that I can’t afford this camera, but your glowing, amazing, teasing review has made me lust after it now. You missed your calling. You shoulda been a salesman! :-)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. When I grow up, I want Joe McNally’s talent and career. Seriously.

Rick Bern says:

on January 6, 2012 at 10:48 am

As always, laughing out loud as I read. Can’t wait for mine to arrive!

Steve says:

on January 6, 2012 at 10:52 am

I didn’t realize that Charlie from LOST was one of your assistants.

Greg Lepera says:

on January 6, 2012 at 11:00 am

Love the cottonmouth, they were everywhere this year in NE Florida. Keep the snakes coming! (Sorry Alessandro!).

I do hope that I’m not at least partially responsible for your aversion to swamps, Joe. I still can’t believe those gators chomped up your light stands!

James - NYC Wedding Photographer says:

on January 6, 2012 at 11:06 am

Looks like a great camera. So happy that I am a Nikon shooter.

Chicago Photographer says:

on January 6, 2012 at 11:35 am

Being thats it’s only a leap of 3 megapixels on the sensor, I wonder if it’s really going to be worth the 6000.00 to upgrade from the D3s. If you shoot video, without a doubt, but I think the D3s is so good its going to be hard justify 6000.00. I want to see a side by side image comparison of the two.

Aberdeen wedding photographer says:

on January 6, 2012 at 11:52 am

Typical! Just when I am thinking I need to stop buying equipment – one great reason to buy more…
Thanks for all the inspiration in your work by the way.

Michelle Feeney says:

on January 6, 2012 at 11:59 am

Awesome! Loved this post. Thanks for sharing. We’re all giddy over here. Lots of ooo’s and ahh’s :)

Matti Vaittinen says:

on January 6, 2012 at 12:20 pm

I really like the final swamp photo. Nice surreal feeling and the model looks beautiful :) Would be nice to try the D4 some day myself!

Tiên Giang says:

on January 6, 2012 at 12:28 pm


Marshal says:

on January 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm

To answer Chicago Photogs comment, it’s really more like 4MP above the D3s.

To answer your question Joe, what are the Nikon Rumours guys going to do now? They’ll just pick up where they left off in speculating incessantly about the “D800” or whatever that alleged 36MP shooter with 1080p or better video will be called. Will it be the D4X instead? I suspect you know, but won’t be telling us for another several months. All those Nikon Rumor fanboys with no life will be snooping around your studio & examining your garbage outside until then.

Rick Weaver says:

on January 6, 2012 at 12:30 pm

Joe, the models you used – were they with or without the AA filters? Just curious because you stated the images were so yummy.

Joe Masucci says:

on January 6, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Thanks Joe. Looking forward to more info on the D4.

Alexander The XV says:

on January 6, 2012 at 12:44 pm

It sure looks tasty!
Thanks Joe for an excellent post!

andy c says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:22 pm

What about the D4’s chip? Is it new technology?
Many thanks for your generous spirit.

Chicago Photographer says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm

Marshal, you are correct it’s 12.1 for the D3s and 16.2 on the D4.

Paco says:

on January 6, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Como hacer una película…

north carolina wedding photographer says:

on January 6, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Can’t wait to see the video it puts out. Maybe finally I can have one camera that does both great.

Paramount Focus Photography says:

on January 6, 2012 at 2:06 pm

It’s already sold out after being on the market for only few hours. The photos look amazing.

Mr Kotku says:

on January 6, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Yuck! I hate snakes. Sorry can’t even look at that photo.

Rey Cuba says:

on January 6, 2012 at 3:12 pm

Please send more photos, is really so nice to read about Nikon and it´s D4. Thanks for sharing it.

Chris says:

on January 6, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Great! I knew that your blog would be a reliable source to get detailed information about the new D4 in action! Thanks!


Mark says:

on January 6, 2012 at 3:52 pm

Hi Joe,

question! I’ve seen the official images made by you. How much noise reduction was used in the 6400 ISO shot? (the two wrestlers)I can’t see any fine detail in this image.

Karen Tate says:

on January 6, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Anyone wanna used D3s? I’ll throw in my 3rd-born. :) Nahhhh, as great as I’m sure the D4 is, I really really really looooove my D3s and its 12.1 glorious and large MPs and rockin ISO capabilities. Thanks for the great pre-review Joe, looking forward to hearing more. (Cool images from the shoots!)

Stefan says:

on January 6, 2012 at 4:34 pm

No USB3, no Gigabyte-Ethernet – but a very nice Upgrade – and with the upcoming D4x the ultimate matching pair!

Akpikeslayer says:

on January 6, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Are they still using soney sensor s ?

Bernardo Vaghi says:

on January 6, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Joe Greetings!

Excellent post. But when i see the 100% image from Nikon site the image looks backfocused like my D7000 body does in wide-angle shots. The D3 and the D700 have almost perfect focus.
Maybe this sensor 16 mp from Sony have a problem?

Cheers 2012

David Ford says:

on January 6, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Always respect your insights Joe.

Thank you for this review. I’m fortunate to be first on the list for the D4 in my area and am quite excited. My D3S will now be back up and used for high volume events and the D4 for portraits – studio and location.



Kevin Steele says:

on January 6, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Been waiting for this :-) With the D3 as my main body for 3 1/2 years I held off on the D3s, renting it when needing the low light performance and using the D7000 for backup. Just pre-ordered the D4. Can’t wait to create…

James says:

on January 6, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Great photos. I’m looking forward to seeing the video you mentioned, especially after what Paul D said about the D4 on his blog:

Jorge says:

on January 6, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Sounds like an amazing camera. If only I had a need for one other than just the desire to own it.

Can you tell us where it is manufactured?

Oscar Trevino says:

on January 6, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Wow!! Truly amazing camera!

Aaron @ Become A Photographer says:

on January 6, 2012 at 8:10 pm


Thanks so much for sharing this experience with us! Sounds like an incredible camera.

Loved the last photograph with the boa. Awesome.

Take care, Aaron

manny cahn says:

on January 6, 2012 at 8:39 pm

This camera will last forever … need to upgrade !

jimmy brown says:

on January 6, 2012 at 9:16 pm

I will take two please :>)

Jim says:

on January 6, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Well, it does have ethernet, so I’m not missing USB. Loving the low light focus. Meter with more pixels than my first pro digital…

Royal Oak Weddings says:

on January 6, 2012 at 9:25 pm

Wow….your shoots look amazing. I was having a hard time reading the article….especially the elephant shot!

Nikki Baxendale says:

on January 6, 2012 at 9:26 pm

wow I just waited so long to get the D3s and finally this comes out so typical, however I still adore my D3s what an awesome camera!! I kind of want the D4 though is that beyond greedy!
Love the swamp shots Joe, you are braver than me!

Marty Fox says:

on January 6, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Great post Joe! Looking forward to the story as it unfolds. I too just bought a D3s, So I won’t be upgrading any time soon. Still, it’s fun to dream.:)

Jerry says:

on January 6, 2012 at 9:56 pm

What about the D800? :)

Btw, just finished reading LIGHT IT, SHOOT IT, RETOUCH IT. It is one of the best photography books I’ve read it my 55 years. Congrats on a job well done.

Iden Ford says:

on January 6, 2012 at 10:24 pm

Just got the new book and it is really great. The first chapter is a reiteration of many ideas you’ve presented about small flash at workshops I have attended of yours. what is so great about the new book is it focuses the many techniques and ideas in a way that makes them easy to understand and employ in my own photography. It really is your best book of teaching skills to the reader that I have read, and I have all three.
The photos in this post are out of this world, but I shall keep my D3s for now, I have $$$$ in lenses and it all seems to work for me. Thanx Joe

Peter B. Kaplan says:

on January 6, 2012 at 10:30 pm


Looks like a great camera Nikon does it again – too bad we didn’t have this equipment back in John’s class at ICP

HAppy New Year

Peter B

Ivan Boden says:

on January 6, 2012 at 10:55 pm

Wow! The D4 sounds amazing. I just read on the “strobist” blog that David Hobby is going for a Phase One instead of the D4. Just curious what you think of David’s decision.

Dan says:

on January 6, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Been shooting digital for 18 years, boy has it come along way and thank god because the first DSLR I used kind of stank, the NC2000. I am really looking forward to the D4, especially if I can do remote focus pulls via an iPad, the idea of moonlit aerials for conservation issues, oil and gas fields with my 35 1.4G, amazing, imagine the possibilities.

But the Kodachrome 25 reference…?…was it really needed? I shot over 300 rolls of the stuff from 2009-2010 for my book project, some in an Xpan, some 35,000 frames of it as I took the entire year off to have a blast with an incredible medium. You see Joe, I am like the other Nat Geo shooters you work among, too busy shooting to blog, gush over a camera that is utterly useless without a talented eye driving it. I shoot tons of digital and tons of film, I shot both for the New York Times last year, great pictures out of both. Why put down a medium that set the stage for NGS to be respected in color? Why when one of the prints on your wall by Maisel was shot with it….well before half of the groupies that follow this site could even get their exposures right pre-digital?

Nothing irks me more than all gear, all the time hype, gear is not photography Joe, the way an individual decides to frame the world he sees is and always will be….

If you lose sight of that, you have lost the only vision that will ever matter as a photographer.

Brian says:

on January 7, 2012 at 12:34 am


Nice work. I have always enjoyed your photography, whether it’s with a D4 or not. Enjoy the new camera!

Jordan Cart says:

on January 7, 2012 at 1:51 am

Dan give it a rest.

Joe’s comment was valid. Reread what he wrote and relax a bit.

Dafydd Hughes says:

on January 7, 2012 at 2:58 am

Great reading.

I’m seeing less and less reasons to stay with Canon :-)


Jace says:

on January 7, 2012 at 3:39 am

@ Dan: I believe it was more of a compliment to the D4 than a put down to film. Since you spend your time reading and posting on other peoples blogs it’s hard to believe you would be too busy to post on your own blog about gear that you enjoy shooting with. I mean after all you were here reading the review just like the rest of us gushing “groupies” not to mention having one of the longest posts! :)

Rudi says:

on January 7, 2012 at 6:47 am

Thanks Joe, much appreciated!

I also got the clue what you’re talking about smoothness and skin tone in comparison to Kodachrom 25 (I also shoot some in my pre-digital live, hopefully even exposed right). Anyway, would love to have a D4 (I love my Nikon gear…)

Bogdan says:

on January 7, 2012 at 10:10 am

Somehow my D3s still feels adequate. Really adequate. Really, really, really adequate :-)

Glenn says:

on January 7, 2012 at 10:26 am

I’m curious. At what point and who said: “So we’ll go in a swamp, bring a blue boat, have a girl in a white dress stand in in with a lantern, get a smoke machine, and a wind machine, and we’ll take this photo…

Someone has a creative mind and access to lots of stuff.

John Armstrong-Millar says:

on January 7, 2012 at 11:24 am

Looks great. I always preferred Nikon ergonomics. Now they have a sensible file size I wonder if they have improved the dust on the sensor issue? There seems to be no mention of it in the press release so we can assume that it’s the same as the D3

Josh says:

on January 7, 2012 at 11:31 am

Thanks for the great write-up, Joe! I don’t think this has been asked, and you’re one of the very few qualified to answer the question:

What’s up with the lightning bolt button on the top next to the BKT button?

It looks like the icon Nikon uses for controlling flash output – but this body doesn’t have a pop-up flash. If anybody has any ideas I would greatly appreciate it. Commence speculation!

Hanns Timm says:

on January 7, 2012 at 11:39 am

@Dan: yes, I think you are completly right! Not the eyuipment will make the excellent photo…but the eye or better the inner eye of the photographer behind the camera!
I was using the D1x before, now D3 and think the new D4 is even better again…but: see before…
Yesterday I ordered a D4 here in old Germany 😉 ))

Jane says:

on January 7, 2012 at 11:51 am


Give us raw files instead of blogging!

Dave says:

on January 7, 2012 at 11:57 am

Sounds like a great camera, but not worth upgrading fm my D3S. I will wait for the D4X or a higher megapixel count D800 if such is available.

Doug Sturgeon says:

on January 7, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Great images as always Joe & yes you are living the dream! I am so glad I switched from Canon to Nikon last year & have never looked back.

Mike T says:

on January 7, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Joe, I have come to believe that your shots would look great even if you were using your iPhone but I am sure the D4 is a fine camera.

Nikon D4 says:

on January 7, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Checkout the Facebook Page of Nikon D4

nick says:

on January 7, 2012 at 3:42 pm

hi,i have been toying with upgradeing to a d3s from my d2x now the d4 is here what to do?? i photograph equine events,wich one to go for??

Simon says:

on January 7, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Must acquire $6K. Sell kidney? Nope. Take pictures of weddings? Never done it have one camera, nope. Sell every board that has never been nailed together with THIS particular board on eBay and make 1/3 cent for each one… likely.

Seriously, how am I suppose to find that kind of money when I work for the county? Love illuminated buttons, love native ISO, not so wild about yet another type of storage media, love high eye-point, love ergonomics, love what is likely 10fps at 14bit depth, wishing for a printer that can do more than 300dpi…why not. It turns out that Beggars Can Be Choosers.

Thanks Joe!

David Hancock says:

on January 7, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Very nice pics Joe……but really I’m sick of “gear-nut” stuff too!

John Hall says:

on January 8, 2012 at 12:55 am

No reason to switch from Canon to Nikon they are nothing with the new 1Dx besides they can’t produce my dream, my dream lens is 50 & 85mm 1.2 they are awesome when i tried them :)

muthukrishna says:

on January 8, 2012 at 3:35 am

is there any product shoot with this camera

Tom says:

on January 8, 2012 at 6:53 am

@ Simon. If you lived in the UK, you’d need to have both of those kidneys on EBay. 😮

Wagner says:

on January 8, 2012 at 9:21 am

Seriously, the snake and elephant shots?? Avedon is turning over in his grave dude.

6k for 16megapixels?? especially for post-prod is totally unacceptable. in PS we need all the pixels we can get our hands on and this is a camera meant for serious work?? perhaps poster quality???

clearly Nikon is doing a money grab on this one dude. this is a 2-3k camera, nikon must be expecting to make up for losses from the thai floods by charging premium for me-too technology! shameful yo…

mazlan says:

on January 8, 2012 at 10:37 am

Earlier this year my goal to have the D4 among the earliest in this country after satisfied with the D3 and D3S.

Jacquelyn Martin says:

on January 8, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Thanks for the review. Most camera files look great at ISO 200. I’d like to know how it performs pushed to high ISO’s 3200 and higher.

jdub says:

on January 8, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Where is the D800?


on January 8, 2012 at 6:12 pm


David G. says:

on January 8, 2012 at 6:34 pm

Awesome Joe! Can’t wait to see the rest!

Alberto says:

on January 8, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Nikonrumors can now focus on the D800. And I still don’t get why people want to “wait for a camera with a higher number of pixels”…are we still thinking more pixels on a 35mm frame is better? If you want more pixels just buy an Hasselblad H4D 50. Nikon has a D3x with 24mp which gets the job done, I am actually happy they didn’t come out with a 35mp monstrosity…16mp is great.

Ryan says:

on January 8, 2012 at 11:36 pm

I can wait to try this new camera, it’s big advance in low light focusing!

RobyFabro says:

on January 9, 2012 at 12:34 am

Whaoh, I’ll be looking forward to your next posts, it will be interesting to see how the D4 compares with the D3s…and whose better then Joe to inform us on how the new model performs on the field;).
I count on you for the hands on review!

ben says:

on January 9, 2012 at 1:32 am

Well, what can I say, Joe you wrote one heck of a blog post. Have considered working as a salesperson for Nikon?

Come on man write something using objective terms.

Rich Cave says:

on January 9, 2012 at 3:08 am

sorry over priced, how much of the functionality of the d3 could be improved with firmware. I have a suspicion that you are paying $5500 for better firmware and the rest of the cosmetic improvements costing around $500. Is this a case of the emporers new clothes?

I feel slightly reticent about this, especially when Nikon code has been hacked improving functionality…

Camera manafacturers, camera equipment have a exorbirant mark up

Hedley Jones says:

on January 9, 2012 at 5:43 am

The new age is finally here….and I still love my D3…..but I have to have one…but does anyone know what 16 bit pipeline means?

Fred Hoogervorst says:

on January 9, 2012 at 10:37 am

Dear Simon,
I am impressed, I work with the D2X for long and since last year also with the D300 S.
Can you tell me what about the (automatic) dust remover, is there any info about that?
Thanks, Fred, based in Trinidad, Caribbean

Andrew Krucko says:

on January 9, 2012 at 3:15 pm

Nice copy Joe!

Bryan says:

on January 10, 2012 at 10:16 am

mmmmm shine new kit

JP Sevillano says:

on January 10, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Hello Joe.
Thanks for sharing. I can’t believe it’s here. saw it at @MysticSeminars over the weekend. it’s a beauty.

Can’t wait to see the videos!!!

Is there anything on the D4 that you don’t like?
although, what’s not to like.

Louis Dallara says:

on January 10, 2012 at 12:57 pm

I love the shot with the snake, it looks magical and mysterious.

Christian says:

on January 10, 2012 at 4:02 pm

I am usually a Canon-Guy, but this new Nikon Body seems too tempting. Will try it out, once it becomes widespread available

Pete says:

on January 10, 2012 at 6:02 pm

An iPhone would have died already when only SEEING the swamp, let alone being dropped in it …

The D4 has more than enough Megapixels, already the D3S did, but the other improvements over the D3’s it has are way more important.

I would be fine with a D3S already, but the D4 would be the right replacement for my right hand …

Aico says:

on January 11, 2012 at 7:58 am

Hi Joe, guess you’ll have to update the “what’s in the bag” page then… :-)

Dr gp says:

on January 11, 2012 at 9:05 am

Nice shots. Would you say the camera is noticeably better for still photos? Compared to d3s.
– image quality?
– autofocus ?

I read your ‘I likes..’ above but most of this would have also been my comments on d3s.


Marcin says:

on January 12, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Tell as true – are you testing d800 now ? :-)

Anwar says:

on January 13, 2012 at 1:37 am

Wow now if i only had a spare $6,000 around. Amazing photos of course, and great to hear that it exceeded your expectations.

BILL says:

on January 13, 2012 at 11:08 am

Way Cool! I SHOOT WITH TWO D-3’s now I the $$ to pick one up Wow maybe I will pick one up, Nikon just turns me on I keep all my old cameras they take up so my room. What feels better then picking up one of these cameras and shooting. 40 Years ago I shooting film. They got me because life is short I Love cool cameras I pick it up then I buy it!! Hey Guys Thanks!!

Cindy Snyder says:

on January 17, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Heh. Heh. Heh. What’s wrong with a little Florida swamp, Joe? Where’s your sense of adventure? It was only one water moccasin. Could’ve been a group of hungry alligators. :) Ever met Clyde Butcher? He’s a big bear of a man who gets out of the little boat in the middle of the river with his really tall tripod and big box camera while being eyed by hungry alligators (and getting stuck in the muck as it turns dusk and feeding time). I know you’re a match for him! Love the snake and girl shot.

Kim Houmøller says:

on January 18, 2012 at 10:35 am

My D3X is the best camera i have ever own. Make a D4X with 50 megapixel..perhaps! :)

Amitabh says:

on January 19, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Thanks Joe for convincing me to preorder D4 (I will put D700 on ebay after I get mine). i am still looking forward to your lighting workshop

Larry says:

on January 20, 2012 at 9:31 am

Slo-motion Video available like on the Sony lower priced cameras?

Hochzeitsfotografin Irene says:

on January 23, 2012 at 2:53 am

I can’t wait to get my own D4.

Christopher Gray says:

on January 27, 2012 at 10:01 am

Thanks for the info Joe. Looking for more as the days go by.

What I am really looking for is my pre-ordered D4 to show up.

Jasper says:

on January 28, 2012 at 5:47 pm

If I had that location and the amount of lighting equipment, I believe a D3000 could take that kind of photos just as well.

Reno says:

on January 30, 2012 at 10:04 pm

I am thinking of selling one of my kidneys for this Camera. What do you think Joe?

david walker says:

on January 31, 2012 at 2:33 am

Its ball breaking looking at the price of the D4 why is it so expensive. I just got the money together to buy the D3S now the D4comes out. Is t really that much better or as some one said is it better firm wear and a few faffy cosmetic upgrades I ask you.

Love you Joe your my hero Hot Shoe Diaries was wicked

PS bring the price down of your CD language of light

Ronnie says:

on February 2, 2012 at 3:48 am

You still can get picture like that with nikon d3000 or even canon 300D, the diferent is in photographer skills, style & concept, and how you mastering set up light. Without that, even D4 output feels like entry DSLR…

porkopjr says:

on February 2, 2012 at 9:56 pm

Very intreresting post.

Gabriel Hadarean says:

on February 9, 2012 at 1:02 pm

I’m a long time Nikon user and I love Nikon. But I have a big concern: when is Nikon going to address fake skin tones? People are orange when photographed with Nikon. How is it possible to compare full frame cameras with Nikon when the later renders people orange?

Travis says:

on February 11, 2012 at 8:27 pm

How did Nikon create such a great ISO increase with the D7000 and not to the same with the D4?

Teuvo Ropponen says:

on February 17, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Gabriel, calibrate your orange display…;-)

Colormetric says:

on February 19, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Do any of the new features of the D4 enhance the CLS system?

Joe McNally says:

on February 19, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Yes, absolutely. The in camera meter’s better, so that makes the flash perform better as it liaises with the camera. And….big thing to me… separates the components of flash and ambient exposure. You know how now if you program in minus 2 EV on the camera, it becomes a global command that influences the flash output as well? No more. You can separate the two values and work their math independently. Very helpful….best, Joe

Phil says:

on February 21, 2012 at 7:54 am

Joe I am currently shooting with a D300 my only pro lens is the 24-70 2.8.

I am awaiting delivery of a D4 and the 70-200 mm 2.8 fx lens. I am currently watching everything on you tube just can’t wait. In the response you gave re compensation are you saying when you switch from aperture priority to manual the -ev setting which wolud normally be ignored by the camera will now also be ignored by the flash. Picked this up from one of your books and it has become a bit engrained.

Love your work and everything I do with lighting has been learned from your books. Keep them coming.

Phil says:

on February 21, 2012 at 10:56 am

When people get so conserved about megapixels. For most of my work I wolud not want to be creating such large file say a wedding no point. If the quality of the sensor and pixel size is as good as it is predicted then image quality will be wonderful from the D4. The D800 minus a grip etc etc. just does not come close to the specification simple. In a few years time everything will change but for now concentrate on what you are going to photograph and trust the camera to do its job.

Ravi says:

on March 9, 2012 at 7:33 am

Hi Joe,

Any chance of you coming to Australia in the near future to conduct workshops?



Stefon says:

on March 20, 2012 at 7:17 am

Hi, did you play a bit more with ISO on both side of the range? And what do you think about the new AF?

Raph says:

on March 20, 2012 at 10:43 am

1- love these photos !
2- The D4’s sensor has been benchmarked and it seems that the D4 low-light performance has not improved over the D3s while DR and color depth did. (I have analyzed the test results of the d4 sensor review : Did you you notice that ?
3- I shot in December with a preprod D4. JPEGS looked about 1EV cleaner than the D3s ones. Do you agree ?
4- Re love these photos!

Gunnar Laak says:

on March 26, 2012 at 11:10 am

Really enjoyed Your presentation today at Kumu, Tallinn, Estonia.
Thanks for inspiration boost! :)
Best of luck!

Jose Sepulveda says:

on April 10, 2012 at 10:59 am

I recived my D4 and want to now If you can recomend If needed do some change of the settings that helps us to have the bests results from this new camera.
Any sugestions is welcome for me is a big change from working several years with my D2x and D200 for weddings and portraits but I new that I did the best desicion in pre-order this camera.

Nikon D3200 says:

on April 21, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Fantastic images!!! Can I ask what the ISO levels are on this camera? After working with an older professional level DSLR (Fuji S2 Pro) and finding that images at ISO 1600 were just about unusable, I’m wondering how the D4 handles low level light?

Chas Manahan says:

on May 2, 2012 at 3:05 pm

It looks to me like the eephant has a green tint rather than grey. Anyone else see this greenish tint? Even the fog behnd the elephant is a tad green.

michael anthony murphy says:

on May 22, 2012 at 7:02 pm

for years i’ve been a canon shooter. when the d4 and 1dx were announced, i had to make a decision. i’ve always had a man crush on nikon although it seemed too late to jump ship, having so much canon gear. well, i made the big decision and decided, since i would be making a very large order that this would be the best time to make the move. i ordered the d4, not because of price, trust me, i had to invest in all new glass for this baby. i made the order back on january 20th, 2012, about a week or so after the announcement. i cried and cried, waiting for this new system to show up. day after day, week after week, nothing. i continued to call and harass the pro camera shop i ordered from. NPS members would receive theirs first. i had no chance of becoming a member since having a certain amount of pro nikon gear was a prerequisite. this would be my first nikon. just a couple days ago, on may 18th, 2012, the call came in. it was finally here. i’m sure you’ve all read every spec and detail about this camera but i’m not going there with all that crap. all i could say is that it is one badass, sexy animal! only been in my hands for a couple days and i’m in love, true love. the glass just as beautiful. some say people experience buyers remorse after large purchases. i too fall into that category. as for the d4 arrival, zero buyers remorse! zero! did i mention true love? this is a beast among beasts. king of the whatever. thanks nikon. thanks joe.

April Pinsonneault says:

on July 7, 2012 at 10:46 pm

How do the D4 and D3x compare?

Da Durban Darren says:

on July 20, 2012 at 3:36 am

My 1st Digitail Nikon D-70 solid,than i got Nikon D-200 really good! than i got me the D-300 really really good! and now the D-4………………….The BEST EVER!! worth the wait!! High Speed Shutter!! ISO unreal, Full Frame, The Video is Boss…now i have to stop babying it and really push it the envelope…thank u Nikon much aloha

Leon H. Ritchie says:

on August 8, 2012 at 11:23 am

#1 If you were at a camera shop an a sales person said to you that the D3x, and D800 were not pro cameras, what would you say to that.
#2 What isyour professional openion of the new D800?

Eduardo says:

on February 25, 2014 at 11:11 pm

Joe, hos does this compare with the D800, which I believe was launched after the D4 but has better dynamic range? What about the new D4s, who do you recommend should go for that?

Angel Navarro says:

on December 6, 2014 at 9:07 pm

Hello Joe,

I very much appreciate your talent as a photographer. Can you direct me to any information regarding the Nikon D4 and its tendency to skew skin tones toward orange? Or, perhaps share any thoughts. Yes, I have a calibrated monitor, I do perform a custom white balance using a reputable grey card and I have tried “Kelvinizing” the white balance. Still I have to spend unnecessary time color balancing. Is there a fix if one has acquired a bad copy?

Thank you Sir.


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