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Thread: D4s V D800s - a Users Perspective

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    A. P's Culinary Indiscriminant mongo's Avatar
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    D4s V D800s - a Users Perspective

    Cage (Kev) asked a question in one of the threads that got Mongo thinking about doing a small write-up on the D4s. He did not intend to do this but now realises that possibly a lot of Nikon users may unnaturally wish they had the supposed top of the line which is currently the D4s. Mongo did for years and then finally got a D4s about 2 months ago. However, ask Mongo what he thinks of it 2 months later……..


    Initial impressions were very positive and largely still are. However, would Mongo recommend one to others………generally, NO. However, that is a “soft” “NO’ not a harsh one. The answer really depends on what you intend to do with it and what camera you already use.


    In doing this sort of opinion about something like this, it is virtually impossible to do so without directly comparing it to its nearest rival from the same factory i.e there must be a comparison between the D4s and say, the D810. Both cameras offer a great deal but one is charging you twice as much for it. You cannot help thinking whether or not it is worth the difference. In most cases, for most uses, Mongo would have to say it is not.


    GOOD points:-
    beautiful build quality,
    nice handling,
    excellent AF performance,
    good battery life (but not extreme)
    excellent colour
    excellent clarity and sharpness from the sensor
    very good noise control (but not amazing)
    lots of frames per second (if you really need that sort of thing)


    NOT SO good things
    price for what you get (definitely not worth double of what a D810 costs)
    size - larger but still reasonable to handle
    weight - greater than most others but less than it looks
    crop capacity - good but nowhere near as good as D800/D800E/D810


    Those are just points that instantly come to mind - there are others.


    To qualify some of this a little, if you are a professional photographer; particularly one who does a lot of studio work, you may think it is worth while and Mongo would not necessarily disagree with you. However, even in that case, Mongo cannot see that that work could not be done almost equally well with, say, a D810 for example at half the cost. Also, any higher ISO qualities of the D4s do not really get a work out in a studio situation.


    The D4s is slightly sharper in Mongo’s experience and can produce a slightly better quality image. It has 1 stop better ISO upper limit. However, at the top end of ISO quoted limits, Mongo has always though those to be fanciful and therefore places no great importance or weight on this point - whether you shoot at 12800 or 25600 is immaterial if neither is really that good that you would use it without have great reservations and wishing you did not have to. The best indicator of sensibly, usable upper ISO in most conditions is to take a point about 70% of that quoted by the manufacturer.


    If you shoot long lenses for birds for instance, the D800/D800E/D810 are in Mongo’s opinion, better cameras for that purpose unless you are very close to the subject or requiring very little cropping. Having used D800 and D800E for a while for mostly birding, it was a real revelation as to how amazing it is to have a 36mp sensor compared to the D4s’ 16mp when it comes to having to crop heavily. There is simply more there to be able to crop with in the 800 series. So, for some uses, it may well be a step sideway or even backward to go to a D4s.


    The positive side of a D4s, is that, if you now have one and would have been just as happy without one, you can still take comport in it in strange ways but nonetheless good ways. If Mongo had to shoot portraits, close images of birds (like he did in the zoo), or similar, he would have no hesitation and have some pleasure in grabbing the D4s instead of the D800E on his way out the door as a matter of choice. However, if the D4s was not available to him, he would not miss it and go off to do the same task just as happy with any of the 800 series.


    So, if you thought you always wanted one, take some caution in what you wish for. It is a case of horses for courses but even on that basis, the D4s does not offer such a measurable gap over the 800s and some other series of cameras, that it would be worth twice the cost or even measurably less than that.


    so, Mongo is not condemning the D4s - it has some virtues and happy to keep owning it now. However, he does not think it is worth all the extra hype. He has always managed to get what he wants from his old camera and has not really gotten anything with the new camera that he did not manage to get before. It reminds Mongo of a car he once was sure of he wanted. He took one for a test drive one day. He had done about the equivalent of 6 blocks distance when he returned it and was glad he did. He stopped yearning for one before he even got out of the test car. Lesson:- hire or otherwise try something before you buy it if it is going to be a major purchase especially if it comes with a lot of manufacturer’s hype.


    That is how Mongo sees it - that is how Mongo calls it. Others of course, may have different views but Mongo would be happy to hear from one who genuinely feels they are getting double the money’s worth or otherwise feel it is worth the price for what they get above and beyond say, a D810 series camera

    The only thing left is to use both bodies to do an identical subject shoot using reasonably high ISO and compare the overall experience and results. Watch this space.
    Nikon and Pentax user



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    THanks Mongo

    Interesting thoughts, would love to hear about night photography comparison for the 2 cameras, didn't realise that the D4s had such a low mp count compared to the 800's
    Steph

    D800E, Nikkor 14-24 F2.8, Nikkor AF-D 50mm F1.4, Samyang 24mm F1.4


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    A. P's Culinary Indiscriminant
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    Quote Originally Posted by pfft View Post
    THanks Mongo

    Interesting thoughts, would love to hear about night photography comparison for the 2 cameras, didn't realise that the D4s had such a low mp count compared to the 800's
    thanks for looking and your interesting question Steph.

    At present, Mongo is not sure of the answer. It would take a lot more practical use of the camera(s) in those conditions to really be sure. However, unless there is something extra or special in the way the D4s processes noise ( and there well maybe - not really sure), Mongo can only assume it will perform the equivalent of 1 stop better than the D810 would at the same ISO. That is a simplistic assumption on Mongo's part at this stage and he is happy to be shown otherwise.
    Last edited by mongo; 18-10-2014 at 11:51am.

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Thanks for the perspective of a real user M.

    While I've never seriously considered a D4s(or even a D3s or D3) as a real option, of course cost has been a major consideration but not exclusively either.

    Even if I had that sort of money(D4s money) to spend, I'd almost certainly spend it but on a body that is 'capable enough for my purposes' but also on other stuff too(most likely lenses, but again not strictly .. other stuff such as high quality filters, tripods or heads for such .. etc).

    In saying that too, over the past close to 10 or so years I have now spend nearly 2x D4s bodies on all manner of photo gear .. some wasted, some used to it's fullest.
    It's just that spending over $10K is a lot easier over nearly 10 years, than it is in one shot(pun intended )

    If you don't mind me posting more in this thread(I'll keep it brief I promise ), I will have more to say on the topic of noise and stuff like that.
    Been meaning to start a thread on the topic, but time is usually against me .. if not, then the cranial capacity to remember to do so has been the hurdle.
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
    {Nikon} -> 50/1.2 : 500/8(CPU'd) : 105/2.8VR Micro : 180/2.8ais : 105mm f/1.8ais : 24mm/2ais
    {Sigma}; ->10-20/4-5.6 : 50/1.4 : 12-24/4.5-5.6II : 150-600mm|S
    {Tamron}; -> 17-50/2.8 : 28-75/2.8 : 70-200/2.8 : 300/2.8 SP MF : 24-70/2.8VC


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    A. P's Culinary Indiscriminant
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    Thanks Arthur and of course, please feel free to post whatever you wish in this thread.

    Mongo did forget to mention that the cards capable of being used is not great but more on that when Mongo can quote some specific details.

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    Ausphotography Addict feathers's Avatar
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    Thanks for the interesting read mongo.
    I have the d800, and very happy with it. Thanks for confirming my decision of choice

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    Thanks Mongo for creating this interesting thread.

    As some of you already know, I spend most of my photography time (70%) shooting birds using a 4 mpix DX (D2Hs, since 2005), a 12 mpix DX (D2X, since 2009), a 36 mpix FX (D800, since 2012) and a 16 mpix FX (D4s, since March 2014).

    For the last 7 months, I mainly use the D4s for my wildlife and sport photography. I now hardly use my D800 for birds. Why ?

    #1 : the D4s is much easier to use with very long lenses, especially when they are attached with a teleconverter and used handheld (faster and more accurate AF, much higher keepers rate with slower shutter speeds),

    #2 : the D4s files are very easy to use : NEF for fast post-processing & JPEG (excellent sooc) for immediate sharing and printing,

    #3 : the IQ of the 16 mpix from the D4s is more than enough for me (I now don't like the rendering of the cropped image from my D800 anymore, as I prefer every time using a TC on the D4s to get close to my subjects),



    For sports, especially indoor ones, the D4s is the king for capturing fast actions, for excellent and reliable Auto WB with changing artificial lightings and for high ISO. It's really hard to use my D800 in these conditions as the JPEG sooc files from the D4s are much better than the post-processed NEF files from the D800.


    For indoor and available light (especially mixed artificial lights) portraits (wedding, kids, family, etc), the D4s is much easier to use and produce far better IQ than my D800.


    Overall, for my personal shootings, the D4s is the easiest camera to use with any lenses (and any combos) in any conditions. It saves me a lot of times with its high keepers rate and its excellent NEF files.

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    A. P's Culinary Indiscriminant
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    thanks Sar, Mongo was hoping you give us your experience with this camera also. Frankly, Mongo cannot disagree with just about everything you have said. As Mongo said, he does like it a lot, does not condemn it and it would be his camera of choice in many situations.

    If you can get close enough or use converters well, it is the camera of choice but if not, Mongo like the ability to crop with the D800E.

    Mongo would love to know if you think it is worth double what a D810 is worth ?? Mongo would have been happy to pay about an extra 30% for it over the D810 but not 100%. That's what Mongo thinks the extra value of this camera is really worth.

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    I don't own a Nikon, but some of my friends do. I have to agree with Sar, MP is not everything, I much prefer to use my 1DX with lower MP than the 5D3 which has many more. Pixel density seems to play a bigger party in IQ than MP. One friend is getting rid of his D4 so that he can upgrade to the D4s for quite a few reason I won't go into here, needless to say, he "needs" it .
    This is a comparison of the 3 leading cameras from nikon for those interested in the technical stuff.
    http://www.dxomark.com/Cameras/Compa...___963_945_767 (you'll need to click the Direct access button)

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    Quote Originally Posted by mongo View Post

    Mongo would love to know if you think it is worth double what a D810 is worth ?? Mongo would have been happy to pay about an extra 30% for it over the D810 but not 100%. That's what Mongo thinks the extra value of this camera is really worth.
    Mongo, it depends on when you use the D4s to see if this camera is worth double the price of the D800.

    From my experience, I can give two examples (among others) :

    #1 : Last April, I shot a wedding (mainly indoor, without flash) using the D4s et the D800. Most of the keepers were from the D4s, as the D800 required higher shutter speed to avoid camera shake (so high ISO use, with terrible noise) and crappy auto WB under artificial lighting. I was using NEF+JPEG on both cameras. At the reception, the D800 was struggling with its AF under dim lights. Not the D4s. The next day after the wedding, most of the D4s JPEG (SOOC) files were given strait away to the bride and the groom for immediate printing and sharing. The JPEG (SOOC) from the D800 were not usable.


    #2 : Last June and July, I went twice on a boat to shoot White-Bellied Sea Eagle with some friends. Once again, the D800 required much higher shutter speed than the D4s to capture these raptors handheld from the boat with long tele lens. To get a decent image from cropping on the 36mpix sensor, the original file must be 100% perfect (no camera shake, free of noise, etc.). And in these shooting conditions, it was extremely hard. All my best images from these two outings were captured with the D4s.

    There are some other situations (including birding) where I also have unique opportunity to capture images that I cannot afford to miss and the D4s is the only camera I can rely on every time.

    Is the D4s worth twice the price of the D800 ? Yes, when I know that it's the only camera I can trust 100% to get decent pictures every time. Otherwise, I just grab my D800, D2X or D2Hs...

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    A. P's Culinary Indiscriminant
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sar NOP View Post
    Mongo, it depends on when you use the D4s to see if this camera is worth double the price of the D800.

    From my experience, I can give two examples (among others) :

    #1 : Last April, I shot a wedding (mainly indoor, without flash) using the D4s et the D800. Most of the keepers were from the D4s, as the D800 required higher shutter speed to avoid camera shake (so high ISO use, with terrible noise) and crappy auto WB under artificial lighting. I was using NEF+JPEG on both cameras. At the reception, the D800 was struggling with its AF under dim lights. Not the D4s. The next day after the wedding, most of the D4s JPEG (SOOC) files were given strait away to the bride and the groom for immediate printing and sharing. The JPEG (SOOC) from the D800 were not usable.


    #2 : Last June and July, I went twice on a boat to shoot White-Bellied Sea Eagle with some friends. Once again, the D800 required much higher shutter speed than the D4s to capture these raptors handheld from the boat with long tele lens. To get a decent image from cropping on the 36mpix sensor, the original file must be 100% perfect (no camera shake, free of noise, etc.). And in these shooting conditions, it was extremely hard. All my best images from these two outings were captured with the D4s.

    There are some other situations (including birding) where I also have unique opportunity to capture images that I cannot afford to miss and the D4s is the only camera I can rely on every time.

    Is the D4s worth twice the price of the D800 ? Yes, when I know that it's the only camera I can trust 100% to get decent pictures every time. Otherwise, I just grab my D800, D2X or D2Hs...

    thanks Sar and a very interesting read. Its very good that you have had far more experience using the D4s in a variety of different situations. Needless to say, Mongo has only had it a short time and only used for birding so far. Perhaps as Mongo uses it more broadly, he will come to see more of its real value.

    Also, Mongo has never thought to use the Jpeg facility in conjunction with the RAW. You have Mongo thinking about that and how much time might be saved if the jpegs SOOC are really that good. So, he will give that a try also.
    Last edited by mongo; 23-10-2014 at 7:55am.

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    Member Belly's Avatar
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    Hey Mongo A very interesting thread to start and one that grabbed my attention as I to can provide some feed back. Thanks to all who responded especially Sar whom I can back up somewhat.

    I have had the pleasure of owning both the D4 and 800E for the last year and whilst both have there merits I find my 800E sitting in my mates shop for sale and being replaced this week with a new D4s. Why? Firstly there is nothing wrong with the 800. My original intent when purchasing a high MP camera such as the 800E was purely for landscapes and the ability to heavily crop into an image; which I have been able to successfully with the 800, but not as much as I thought I would. For me that's about where this two horse race stops and it has taken me a year to figure that out.

    Much of what Sar has mentioned I can attest to for example; I was shooting landscapes in Karijini NP with the 800 when I happened across a cormorant drying itself. My D4 was in the camera bag 100 or so metres away when it suddenly felt like I was walking into a gun fight with a bread and butter knife I didn't care when buying the 800 that it did 4fps but at that time I sure wished I was toting the D4. I shoot NEF and JPEG as well and the poor old 800 struggled to catch the action and then the buffer caught up with us and that was the end of that!!!

    The other week I went for a drive down BHP's access road and only had the D4. I found a large pond created by old excavations and full of bird life. I positioned myself in some trees while the ducks were flying around and started to rattle off the frames. My XQD card is the default and I never once hit the buffer, I shoot NEF and JPEG also on the D4. I changed from single point focus to 11 points of focus and let camera do the rest. I didn't get one shot that I could not have used and its these positive experiences that simply reinforce the next purchase being the D4s. From the same spot a lizard crawled out onto a branch to catch the early morning sun and with only a 70-200 I shot a few images knowing that even with 16.2 MP I'd still have enough to play with later on in PP - well I wasn't disappointed!!! The sharpness was amazing even after cropping over half the image away.

    Other things I like about the D4 over its sibling are the ergonomics and build quality. For myself cost does not factor, yes I wish these pro models were cheaper but that's life. It, the D4 does what I want it to and with style, it never lets me down, I simply love the AF system and the auto WB which I employ is consistently excellent, the metering is also excellent.

    For the shooting situations I sometimes find my self in the old adage "better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it" ring true for me.

    cheers

    Belly


    - PANACEA
    D4s | D4s | 80-400G f4.5-5.6 | 85 f1.4 | 24-70 f2.8 | 14-24 f2.8 | 105 f2.8

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    Excellent information Mongo.

    Ross.
    Ross. Nikon D810, Nikon D300s, Nikkor 18-200, , Nikon 105mm Micro lens. Nikon 200-500mm lens

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    A. P's Culinary Indiscriminant
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    this topic is getting more interesting by the day.

    Big thanks Merlin for your contribution and insight into the subject.

    The answer to all this seems to be, from what Mongo is distilling :-

    1. it depends to a great degree what you intend to use the camera for;

    2. how much it matters. Are you really relying on the end product like making your living from it

    3. it may only matter if money is an issue

    4. and quite a few other variables/consideration ..............

    It is reasonably clear that both the 800 series cameras and the D4 series have their merits and uses. Mongo's feet are fairly pragmatically planted on the ground. Whilst he accepts the virtues and a number of advantages of the D4 series, the question to a practical and pragmatic person is always going to be.....Is there really enough difference to warrant the extent of the additional cost ????

    Mongo himself admitted that he would be prepared to pay a max of an extra 30% on top of the cost of the D810E for a D4s. So, there may be a measurable value for some of those advantages. Of course Mongo is looking at it from a serious hobbyists point of view only. If you were a professional photographer or your camera played a very serious role in your life/living, then, it would not be surprising if you felt the extra money was worth spending.

    The original idea when posting this thread was to let people know that there may not be that much difference between the two series of cameras that is worth being consumed in the ...."I wish I had one of those..." thinking. Certainly, that remains Mongo's view for the serious hobbyists and he hopes his view is a measured , objective and dispassionate one based on his continuing happy use of both series of cameras for his purposes. Mongo must say that he has not yet reached the point that if he misses or misses focus on 4 or 5 out of 10 shots that he is going to be anything more than momentarily disappointed and more determined next time. His life will not depend upon it. So, Mongo is trying to keep perspective for his bird and general hobby shots which he thinks is most of the AP membership. If he was a professional e.g. wedding photographer and did not wish to burned alive by an angry bride days after the wedding, he would want to get 10 out of 10 shots perfect and thus may wish to take no chances and buy supposedly the best without asking the price.

    That is all Mongo is trying to say.

    Please continue to send in your views on this. Those who have used both series of cameras are particularly useful but all views are are important and have value. Mongo's is only one view of many.

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    Photo Bizarro nimrodisease's Avatar
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    Very interesting thread. Prior to purchasing my D800E earlier this year I obviously considered this quite a bit, and the way it seemed to me was that for a purely landscape shooter, the 800 seems perfect. However for a portrait/wedding/wildlife/photojournalist shooter, the D4 has definite advantages (at a premium mind you).

    So, while I take all kinds of photos, what I really love is landscape photography. This made the decision pretty easy for me. The price only made it easier.

    Would I love to have a D4, and would I use it? Heck yes. But I think I would still use the D800 for landscapes, which is most of what I do.
    My name is John.
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