The most befuddling thing about the D4 is Nikon’s
choice to go with dual memory card slots for a
CompactFlash (CF) card and the new XQD card format.
One of the biggest selling points of the D3 models over
the competition was the attraction of its dual CF card
slots, which photographers could configure in a number of ways: as a back-up, as overflow, or to record still
image and video files onto separate cards.
Though it’s understandable that, sooner or later, the
now 18-year-old CF card format will go the way of the
dodo bird, it’s still used by most professional photographers who wouldn’t know an XQD card from a greeting card. The XQD card format, which is smaller than CF
but bigger than SD (Secure Digital), was announced by
Sony, SanDisk and Nikon back in 2010.
Earlier this year though, SanDisk dealt XQD a blow
when it said it had decided not to make the cards. Lexar
and Kingston, in the mean time, never got on board
with the new format, which was actually developed
by the CompactFlash Association as a successor to CF
cards. That left Sony, which started selling the cards in
January, and Nikon, with the D4 (the only camera using
XQD as of this writing).
In a bid to get the early adoption of the cards off to a
fast start, Nikon shipped the initial D4 cameras with a
16 gb Sony XQD card and reader included, a free combo
worth approximately $185. The D4 that I tested came
with this set-up. (It’s unclear how long this free XQD
add-on for the D4 will continue.)
Both Nikon and Sony have said the XQD cards offer
Schneider_XSPR_PDNmediaKit 1-2p_mf_Layout 1 8/25/11 4:06 PM Page 1
shooting and the multi-selector mode dial now has a protection guard around it. The vertical grip has improved
too: There’s more to hold onto and shooting with the
Nikon D4 in its vertical position feels comfortable and secure. The back-illuminated buttons are also a nice touch
and help you get the camera set in dark conditions.
The 3.2-inch, 921,000-dot LCD screen on back of
the Nikon D4 is gorgeous and offers 46x magnification for extreme zooming during image playback to
make sure all your pixels are in order.
The focus selector switch on the lower front left of
the D4— which lets you toggle bet ween autofocus and
manual focus—now has an AF button on the switch
that lets you change modes on the fly, just as with the
prosumer-oriented D7000 DSLR, which was our camera of the year in 2010.
Overall, the D4 feels like a tighter ship than the
previous models, with design improvements and refinements that subtly improve the camera’s shooting
experience. And, of course, this heavy-duty pro DSLR
is fully gasketed and sealed to protect against dust,
moisture and accidental drops.
write speeds of 125 mb per second and up, and should
be able to produce a third more frames in a burst than
CF. Nikon has also said the cards will improve 1080p
In my D4 testing with longtime Nikon user Jordan
Matter ( www.jordanmatter.com), we didn’t notice any
striking difference between the two formats. While
shooting FINE JPEGs with the D4, we could hammer
down the shutter and shoot with the XQD or with a
SanDisk Extreme IV CF card until either filled up. I got
slightly longer bursts with the XQD while shooting 14-
bit, lossless raw (NEF) images—between 80 and 90
shots before the buffer filled—than with the CF card
but, for me, the difference is negligible since I rarely,
if ever, sustain such long raw bursts. We noticed no
difference in performance or quality when shooting
1080p to either card.
On the downside for Mac users, since the XQD reader
is USB 3.0, a format not supported by Apple, you won’t
get the benefits of faster transfers to your computer yet.
(Unless, of course, Sony comes out with a Thunderbolt
version though that’s not expected any time soon.)
All of which begs the question: What was Nikon thinking? Anecdotally, many photographers we’ve spoken
with find the XQD slot to be a strike against the D4 rather
than a plus. That could change if the format sees more
adoption but it’s unclear if or when that will happen.
Revolutionary B+W XS-PRO Digital Filters feature
extra-slim mounting rings, especially suited to
DSLRs with wide-angle and zoom lenses. The
super-thin design prevents vignetting in even
the widest shots. Plus, convenient front threads
facilitate mounting of additional filters, screw-on
shades & lens covers. Available in UV, Clear and
now Kaesemann Circular Polarizer.
DIGITAL! Made in Germany