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.
beautiful build quality,
excellent AF performance,
good battery life (but not extreme)
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.