The 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 AFS G VR zoom Nikkor is one of those lenses that is often overlooked by professionals as a viable telephoto option. Why? For starters, it’s relatively slow maximum aperture (f/5.6) means that you really need to shoot it at f/8 to get maximum sharpness. For sports and wildlife shooters, who require fast shutter speeds, that meant using the lens either in bright conditions or with very high ISO settings. That equation changed with the release of the Nikon D3, which allowed very high ISO shooting with clean results. In fact, I recall Dave Black saying how he could use the 70-300mm with the D3 as a viable option. Continue reading Testing the Nikon D4: Performance with the 70-300mm VR Nikkor
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!
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.
When Nikon first announced the D4, I’ll admit that there weren’t a ton of features in the spec sheet that really made me jump up out of my chair. Most of the new features are subtle, unless you are a professional videographer (the D4 video options are top-notch). In my original post reacting to the D4 announcement, I mentioned several items that were of potentially great use to outdoor/wildlife photographers, and two of these made me want to upgrade over the D3s:
- Better AF, and the ability to autofocus with teleconverters up to at least f/8
- More pixels for using 1.2x crop mode (or just cropping)
Anytime you get a new camera, it’s always a good idea to put it through its paces before taking it out on a critical shot. In this post, I’ll compare the Nikon D4 light meter with that of the D700.
The Nikon D4 and D800 DSLRs use Nikon’s 3D Color Matrix Metering III, an upgrade from the previous 3D Color Matrix Metering II found in the D3/D700/D300 DSLRs. While the MkII version of Nikon’s 3D Color Matrix meter uses a 1,005 pixel RGB sensor, the new meter uses an RGB sensor with 91,000 pixels.
What does all this mean in terms of image quality? Hard to say, but in theory the new meter should be more accurate, all things being equal. I did a very simple backyard test, comparing different subjects with the same lens. Continue reading Testing the Nikon D4: Metering comparison with D700
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!
- 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)