I've been looking to get a Nikon D4 for a while now. Quite simply, the cost of it has kept me from buying it. I had a shoot over the weekend where I knew the light would be poor, flash wouldn't work, and fast shutter speeds would be necessary so I rented it from Lens Rentals. I wanted to see if it would really make a difference over my Nikon D800E.
It did. And it didn't.
Most of my income is from either product shots in a studio or event photography. The D800E is fine for what I do, even though 36 megapixels is overkill 99% of the time. For product shots, I actually use my D700 since my clients don't need anything that large. I use my D800E for events and I find that I need to shoot at high ISOs quite often. The D800E is not bad since I can reduce the noise and still retain quite a bit of detail since I usually down-res the files for the client.
I've often thought about what a D4 could do. With fewer pixels, I would cut down on import speeds and storage. Plus, it has a one stop advantage in noise (according to DXO.) So I rented one instead of buying one.
First the negatives... it's $6000!
Now the positives... it is better in low light, but not that much better when viewing on my 27" screen. When viewing at 100%, you can definitely see the noise difference between the two. When viewing the photos full screen, there really isn't that much difference. One thing I did see is the D800E's contrast and colors are affected more than the D4's at high ISOs. The D800E loses contrast and color at higher ISOs when the D4 doesn't.
The D4 can shoot at 10 frames a second; the D800E shoots about 4. Do I need 10 frames a second? Not very often but it's nice to know you can when the need arises. It sounds cool. Not only shooting at 10 frames a second but just a single shot. It reminds me of the sound a Viper makes when firing on Battlestar Galactica.
A couple of minor issues that I noticed... blue skies are just too blue. I blame this less on the camera and more on Adobe. Second thing I noticed was the autofocus. It wouldn't lock on to focus as quickly as I thought it should. I missed quite a few shots because the camera just wouldn't focus fast enough. It has the same focusing system as my D800E, and I don't recall ever having this issue this bad.
Do I want the D4? Yes. Do I need the D4? No.
Do I need the D800E? No.
Do I need the D700? Yes.
Do I want Nikon to put the D4 chip inside a D600 body and charge $2000 for it? YES.