Since taking the D4 out of its box, it has been our constant photographic companion for the past few days.
How does it stack up so far in our initial tests? Click through to read our impressions of the D4's image quality, as well as what it's like shooting with the camera in real-world situations.
Unless otherwise stated, all images are presented straight from the D4 using a 24-70mm f/2.8G lens and at fine quality JPEG. RAW comparisons will be included in the full review, as well as full resolution photos straight from the D4 for you to pixel-peep.
At low ISO levels up to ISO 1600, the D4 delivers noise-free images and excellent colour rendition. While there aren't any huge stylistic changes in the shooting experience, Nikon has made a few tweaks to the general configuration of the body in order to make it more comfortable to use for photographers. For example, one great change is the addition of proper zoom buttons on the back panel of the camera, rather than the single zoom button, which served as a zoom in and out control on the D3S. The Live View switch at the back also makes it easy to flick between photo and video Live View mode, even if it does mean you need to take your hand away from the record button to flick it. We'll cover more on the ergonomics of the D4 in our review.
The D4 has a number of in-camera photo effects, most notably HDR and multiple exposure. The HDR effect (as seen above) is rather subtle and when compared side by side with a non-HDR photo, they look pretty similar. The HDR photo has a little more detail captured in the tree branches at full magnification thanks to the increased dynamic range. It's a nice feature to have, but won't be challenging any HDR processing the photographer can do afterwards in post, by merging multiple exposures of their own choosing.
When shooting in HDR, photographers have the option of letting the camera stay in HDR mode for a series of shots until the feature is deactivated, or keep it turned on for just one shot. There's also options to change the bracketing options (1, 2 or 3EV).
It's called "golden hour" for a reason, at sunrise and sunset when natural light is at its most inspiring. This shot was taken at a relatively low ISO level (at 640) and the image has no visible signs of noise when inspecting it at full magnification.
Moving across to the D4's metering modes now, there are the tweaked Nikon 3D colour matrix III metering, spot metering and centre-weighted metering modes. Using the matrix mode on this shot with tricky gradations in lighting shows just how well the D4 can cope in exposing correctly for all areas of the image. There's only a slight blow-out of highlights at the top corner where the sky is peeking through the trees.
While f/2.8 might not be the widest aperture available on a Nikon lens, combined with the full-frame sensor, it gives some amazing, smooth and creamy bokeh, particularly useful for food photography. Even with just natural light illuminating the plate, the D4 still produces a great-looking photo.
Again, the D4's matrix metering mode does an excellent job of exposing correctly for all parts of the image, particularly considering the colour cast given by the canopy above the musicians.
Now we start moving into the high ISO capabilities of the D4. Here's a shot of our obliging model posing for the camera, taken at ISO 3200. The 100 per cent crop is inset to take a look at the noise profile as the sensitivity starts to climb.
A shot taken at night-time proper. Even though there was a fair amount of ambient light for the camera to lock onto, the D4 didn't skip a beat when focusing in low light. The exposure for this shot was 1/60, f/2.8, ISO 8000.
Below is a short clip taken on the D4 at ISO 2500:
More low-light tests, this time in a much darker situation. The exposure for this shot was 1/400, f/2.8, ISO 12,800.
A 100 per cent crop of the previous shot, showing very little colour noise.
What does a shot taken at the D4's maximum sensitivity, ISO 204,800 look like? Here's the resized-for-web version. It's pretty much used exclusively for emergency shots when the sensitivity gets this high and we doubt most pros would be hitting this level at all given the noise, but here it is for your perusal nonetheless.