Before I start, a short personal word.
Usually my preferred way of conducting a “video review” is to put the camera in a real world documentary situation and see how it works for me. Unfortunately, the original video review that was planned with the new Nikon D4s was cancelled at the last minute so my alternative was to shoot this short “morning scene”…
Two years ago I was lucky enough to test the Nikon D4, a pre production model (24h in 25p -night, 24h in 25p – day and “The University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna-image video”) so when the opportunity to test the new Nikon D4s came, I was very excited to see if Nikon’s engineers listened to user requests and made the camera (much) better than before. My expectations were high as Hiro Sebata, professional product manager at Nikon UK, said: “For moviemaking in diverse conditions, D-Movie offers broadcast-quality video in multiple frame formats”.
In reality some things did change for good:
• Full frame video image quality got a bit better (but it’s still not as sharp as we would like it to be).
• Audio level control is now available during recording.
• Quick autofocus can be activated before and during video recording with good results.
• 1080 50/60p was added!
• HDMI secured cable for a safe connection between an external recorder and the camera was added to the package.
• Moiré and aliasing reduced.
Controlling audio-Nikon D4s Quick autofocus button-Nikon D4s
Functions/features/sensor behaviour that stayed the same as in the original D4 model:
• Full HD crop mode video quality is very sharp just as on the D4!
• Clean HDMI output for an external recorder.
• Severe rolling shutter.
• Assign “PV” and “FN” buttons for almost smooth aperture control.
One more feature that Nikon is very proud advertising is the “three sensor crop formats” (Full frame/APS-C/Native crop). In theory this is truly a great feature as it might allow you to use one lens in a variety of shooting situations but practically the video quality difference between those crop modes is too big and certainly can not be advertised as “broadcast quality” (FX and DX modes).
Another obstacle preventing the user from getting the most out of the crop mode feature is the way the navigation for those modes is implemented in the menu. Totally senseless!
All in all, working with this camera left me with the same feeling I had when testing the original model. Nikon can certainly make great VDSLR cameras (see the video quality coming out of the D5300) but it will either cripple its usability (no full manual control modes) or, allow full control but cripple video quality performance.
The question remains open. Nikon WHY?
Camera settings used for this video:
• 1080 25p
• NL picture profile
• Edited on Adobe Premiere pro CC.
• 30% sharpening was added in post.
• Filmconvert plug in for slight color correction.
Johnnie Behiri is a freelance documentary cameraman/editor/producer working mostly for the BBC and other respected broadcasters. He is also co-owner of cinema5d.com