Tag Archives: cameras

Testing the Nikon D4: Backwards Thinking?

A Brief Journey Into Madness

I’m still extremely pleased with my Nikon D4, but for reasons I couldn’t quite put my finger on (pun intended), I was having brain-lock in the field using EV compensation. It seemed like every time I went to dial in (-) EV, I was dialing in (+) EV. Surely, it must have been my imagination, as I’ve been using Nikon DSLRs for years and most of the ergonomics are hard-wired into my brain. I figured I was just nuts (a reasonable assumption, just ask my wife).

Am I nuts?

Upon checking my D300s and D700 bodies, I noticed that the meter display in the top LCD has (+) on the left and (-) on the right. If I use EV compensation, rotating the Main Command Dial to the right dials in -EV and rotating it to the left dialed in +EV. This all makes sense; you turn the wheel in the direction of the desired compensation. Back to the D4. It was totally backwards. (+) on the right, and (-) on the left. If I wanted to dial in EV compensation, I had to turn the Main Command dial in the direction opposite the indicator in the LCD and viewfinder. Backwards!

Default Meter view on the Nikon D4
Default Meter view on the Nikon D700


I then dug out the manuals (sometimes, even seasoned photographers need to RTFM), and sure enough, the default settings for the D4 are completely opposite those of the D3s, D300s, and D700. Fortunately, there is a solution that doesn’t involve re-training my feeble mind.

Custom Settings to the Rescue

With all high-end Nikon DSLRs, you have the ability to go into the custom settings and change the behavior of the dials and displays to suit your liking. Never before, however, have I needed to change the controls to get me back to what is standard with other Nikon DSLRs, but at least this is an easy fix.

Step 1: Set Custom Setting f13 (Reverse Indicators) to put the meter back the way I’m used to seeing it: (+) on the Left, and (-) on the Right. This gets the display right, but the EV compensation dial is still backwards in that you rotate the dial in the opposite direction of the meter.

Step 2: Set Custom Setting f10 (Customize Command Dials) to reverse the rotation for Exposure Compensation. Now, when I turn the dial in the direction of the (-) sign, I get -EV, and vice-versa.


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Nikon D4 Autofocus Test

He's coming right for us! (click to enlarge)

Here’s a quick AF test with the Nikon D4. This is a continuous 39-shot burst at 10fps using the 70-200mm f/2.8 AFS G VRII zoom Nikkor. Out of 39 shots, only two seemed too soft to really use. That’s good enough for me!

See the full image sequence here

Test conditions:

  • Servo Mode: AF-C (continuous)
  • Area Mode: 9-point dynamic
  • Tracking (Custom a4): Normal (3)
  • Exposure mode: Manual 1/1000s @f/4.0
  • ISO: Auto
  • VR: On (normal)

The Sony XQD Memory Cards: Mac Owners Beware

The Sony XQD card and reader (left) compared to Compact Flash

My Nikon D4 included a free 16GB Sony XQD card and reader. The new XQD standard promises very fast data throughput. Sony’s spec states 125MB/s transfer rates are possible. CF cards currently top out at 90MB/s. In my testing with the XQD card I was able to shoot 83 14-bit lossless compressed NEFs in the D4 before the buffer filled and shooting speed dropped. That’s a lot of frames! Of course, most photographers don’t find themselves ripping off 80 frames at 10fps most of the time. You may as well shoot video if you want to do that. Continue reading The Sony XQD Memory Cards: Mac Owners Beware

Nikon D4 Hands-on First Impressions

My new Nikon D4 is a wonderful camera. Read my hands-on first impressions.

I took delivery of a Nikon D4 earlier this week, and although I’m still putting it through its paces, I figured I’d jot down some of my immediate thoughts and impressions that I’ve gotten so far. I’ll also talk about some of the new features that discriminate the D4 from the D3/D3s cameras it replaces. I’ll try to answer the burning question: Should you upgrade to the D4?

Continue reading Nikon D4 Hands-on First Impressions

Nikon D4 Virtual Horizon in the Viewfinder

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I took delivery of a new Nikon D4 yesterday. Wow! It’s an awesome camera. Right now, I’m still learning about it, so I’ll have a more detailed hands-on review soon. Until then, I thought I’d share one of those “hidden” features that is an improvement from the Nikon D3s: the viewfinder implementation of virtual horizon.

The virtual horizon was a new feature in the Nikon D3, and it works really well on a tripod with the rear LCD. However, you can use the VH in the viewfinder, too. On the D3, the metering scale was co-opted to show a level indicator, but it was kind of tricky to use in practice. The biggest drawback of the viewfinder VH was that you had to take your eye off the scene while using it.

Enter the Nikon D4, which now uses the AF points in the viewfinder to accomplish the same function. When you engage the VH in the viewfinder, you’ll see some dots appear along with the center AF point. As the camera is tilted, the AF points start lighting up in the opposite direction of the tilt. So, if the camera is tilted to the right, the squares light up on the left side of the viewfinder. This tells me to tilt the camera back to the left to level it. The more the camera is tilted, the more squares light up. Cool!

This is just one of many “nice touches” that the D4 has that make it Nikon’s new flagship DSLR body.