The D4S is an upgrade to the very capable Nikon D4. It crams in almost all of Nikon’s decades of camera expertise into one very large and serious-looking digital SLR. To say that it’s large is actually putting it mildly — it’s almost twice as large as some entry-level DSLRs and almost thrice as heavy — enough to give you a neck ache in a few minutes.
One of the primary reasons for the size are the dual grips — it can be held horizontally or vertically and each mode has its own set of buttons. It also has the largest battery you’ve ever seen in a DSLR (more on that later).
Launched early this year, the D4S has almost two years on the D4. So what’s changed? In a nutshell, D4S looks almost identical to the D4, but is faster (Nikon Expeed 4 processing), shoots better video (1080p video with a new 60p mode) and has a new ultra high ISO mode of 409,600. The D4S has a full frame (FX-format) CMOS sensor — this means that the image sensor is as large as a single frame of traditional 35mm film. This combined with the effective pixel count of 16.2 million pixels (16.2MP) and the super high ISO capability means that you can get great images in almost any lighting conditions.
Like the D4, it’s built to be fast, accurate and unfailing — particularly suited for fast moving subjects. Thanks to the upgraded processor, it can shoot 11 frames per second while performing auto focus and light metering for each shot in between. And just so that you don’t run out of battery, the enormous new EN-EL18a lithium-ion battery is rated for over 3,000 shots on one charge.
Probably the only downside we could see was that the D4S did not upgrade the memory card slots. It still has one CF card slot and one XQD card slot — instead of the preferred two CF or two SD slots. XQD cards are hard to get, expensive and strangely, the D4/D4S are the only two DSLRs that still use XQD card slots. For the unabashed professional photographer or anyone who wants a camera that can keep up with anything you throw at it, the D4S is an obvious choice.
Others might consider the smaller, cheaper, lighter (but almost as capable) Canon 5D Mk III.