Nikon D4S Review – Field Testing Part 3

For my final batch of photos with my Nikon D4S, I decided to do some documentary-like photography around Greenwich Village. I purposely chose to shoot from dusk to evening to test the camera’s amazing high ISO capabilities.I started in Hudson River Park, where I found a beautiful flower bed—but it was in the shade and very windy. It was 7 pm and still bright, but the situation required quite a bit of sensitivity. I needed to set a narrow aperture of f/8.0 to get enough depth of field and use a fast shutter speed of 1/320 second to freeze the flowers being blown by the wind. To achieve this, I had to crank up the sensitivity of my Nikon D4S to an equivalent of ISO 1250. As you can see in the image above, the resulting image is almost completely free of noise. It has the smooth tones and rich color saturation that you would have expected from shooting with the camera at ISO 100 or 200 a few years ago.I stayed in the park until dusk, then wandered onto the jogger and bike path. At this point, the light had dropped to about EV 7 (ISO 100), which meant I had to use ISO 6400 to get an action-stopping shutter speed of 1/500 second with the aperture set to f/4.0. The Nikon D4S’s autofocus system had no problem tracking the cyclists and roller skaters in the dim light. Noise was noticeable in the images at this higher sensitivity, but they still retained a good amount of detail and color. As dusk turned to night, I left the park and began a stroll through Greenwich Village. With the Nikon D4S Replacement Camera Battery set to Auto ISO, I shot a series of portraits of people walking on the street and sitting inside and outside restaurants. The D4S’s sensitivity climbs from ISO 14,400 equivalent all the way up to an amazing ISO 229,880.I got one of my favorite images of a couple of musicians and a dancer at dusk in Washington Square Park, shot at 1/125, f/4.0, and ISO 28,735. There is definitely noise in the image when viewed at 100% magnification, but color is preserved fairly well, and at smaller magnifications the image looks fairly clean.To test the video capabilities of the Nikon D4S, I took it to Tompkins Square Park one evening. I wanted to experiment with the extremely shallow depth of field that the camera’s full-frame sensor can achieve when paired with the AF-S 50mm f/1.4 lens. I set up the shot to focus on some flowers in the foreground, then shifted focus to people walking by in the background, and shot several clips using a shutter speed of 1/125 with apertures ranging from f/1.6 to f/2.8.I found it very easy to compose my shots on the LCD and check exposure with a quick test clip. I had some trouble focusing accurately at normal magnification using the Nikon D4S’s LCD monitor, but I solved that problem by increasing the live view magnification to enable critical focus at the press of a button. While I kept the sensitivity at ISO 200 equivalent for the best footage, you can record movies in manual exposure mode using Auto ISO. This is undoubtedly useful in certain news and documentary shooting scenarios where light may change while shooting.ConclusionIf there is one fundamental difference between professional cameras and amateur and enthusiast cameras, it is this. A professional camera is designed with the idea that you can rely on it to shoot no matter what. It has the versatility and performance to shoot weddings, car races, and keep shooting through storms, riots, and hard landings on dirt airports.I haven’t gotten in trouble with the Nikon D4S, so I can only make an educated guess about its durability based on its rugged construction. However, its versatility and performance are unmatched by any other camera I have ever used.Of course, the D4S has far more features than most of us (including me) need. (Personally, I find it too expensive and too bulky.) Still, I find it very enjoyable and satisfying to use such a responsive, well-made precision tool. That might be a reason to buy one – even if you’re not getting paid to shoot every possible situation and take award-winning photos.

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