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Sony QX1 on Remote Camera Work

The Sony QX series cameras first arrived in the fall of 2013 and were intended to bridge the gap between small digital cameras and cell phones.  I wrote about these cameras last year when they first hit our shelves.  The biggest impression they left me with was the freedom of positioning the camera.  Sony has taken the QX system another major step forward with the brand new QX1 (available for pre-order).   The QX1 features an APS-C sized image sensor commonly used in entry level DSLRs from Canon, Nikon, Sony and others!

Sony QX1


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Photokina's Coming Up All The Lenses I Can't Even.

Nikon's not the only one having fun in the pre-Photokina run up. We're hearing that Sigma, Tamron, and Sony have also been announcing some new lenses, and we figured we should probably drop in and mention a thought or two on them for y'all.


People might argue with me, but for my money the coolest of the bunch is Tamron announcing the development of a 15-30mm f2.8 constant full-frame ultra-wide zoom... with image stabilization! Yup, joining the 24-70 and 70-200 will be a stabilized full-frame zoom on the wide end, completing Tamron's own holy trinity of lenses. Holier, really, once you factor in that theirs are all stabilized, and not just the 70-200. It'll be noted as model A012, and have 18 elements in 13 groups including a so-exotic-I-think-they-made-it-up XGM (eXpanded Glass Moulded aspherical) element. It'll also sport update coatings (including being Tamron's first fluorite coated lens) and a special copy of Silky Pix for working with images shot using the new SP line of Tamron lenses. Though, when it's coming and for how much are anyone's guess.

Preorder a Tamron SP 15-30mm f2.8 VC

After the Tamron, second most interesting has to be Sigma, who decided that announcing just one lens of a type was for chumps and actually announced two completely different 150-600mm f5-6.3 lenses at the same time. One is in their "Sport" line and is a pro caliber lens with heavier build and superb quality, the other is in their "Contemporary" line and offers a smaller, lighter lens in exchange for some of the quality and cost.

The Sport 150-600mm

The Sport 150-600mm


The "Contemporary" 150-600mm

The "Contemporary" 150-600mm


Both versions offer OS "optical stabilization," which is good because on zooms this big you'll need that unless you travel everywhere with a heavy-duty tripod at hand. The Sport model is splash proof and features 24 elements in 16 groups and takes a jaw-dropping 105mm filter on front. Oh yeah, and 2 of those lenses are FLD and 2 are SLD, so, dispersion ought to be pretty well addressed. The Contemporary model steps back ever so slightly from the ledge, topping out at 20 elements in 14 groups (only 1 FLD, but still 3 SLD), and a 95mm filter thread that doesn't quite manage to be reasonable either. Both lenses are solidly TBA in both the arrival and price categories, so, keep an eye out for more news as it comes.

Sigma 150-600mm Sport

Sigma 150-600mm Contemporary

If you prefer to get your super-telephoto lengths through more conventional means, they've also announced they're making a new 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverter, both of which are splash proof and autofocus up to f8 (so, yanno, not on the leviathans pictured above). If you're guessing that TBA is the trend here too, you're pretty good at this guessing thing then.

1.4x Teleconverter

2.0x Teleconverter

And, to close us out we have Sony, who's turning in the gnarliest looking lens I've seen in a while:


Those of you who this lens is meant for will know already, but those spikey rings everywhere aren't just a defense system or a way of attracting mates. The FE PZ 28-135mm F4 G OSS here is born to be a cinema lens, and all those are the tracks for easier use of cinematic zoom and focus rings, knobs, and other contraptions. Now, the FE designation lets us know this is an E-mount lens of the full-frame variety, meaning it's for use on the A7 family (A7,A7r,A7s) of mirrorless cameras. Care has been put into it to minimize breathing while focusing, and it'll maintain its focus point while zooming like a proper cinema lens. The three rings control the zoom, focus, and iris. All-in-all, a solid show of Sony's commitment to making the A7 family true stand-outs in the hot 4k video space. Availability I don't know, but the price for this bad boy will be around $2500 once we start getting them.

Sony FE PZ 28-135mm

Marc Lebryk

The Right Lens Part 2...

Welcome to part 2 of a three part installment in what my favorite lenses for portraits are. Just in time for the the soon to be changing leaves for fall, when I know you'll want to make some beautiful portrait images. (You can find Part 1 about lenses for Sports HERE). You may not have all, or any of the lenses I talk about in this series of blogs, but this will also help you add to your bag when you are ready to either get started, or make that jump to the good stuff. Lets get started yes?


OK, so there are lots of variables for portrait photography to consider when getting started in lens selections and there are links to ALL of the lenses listed in this blog at the bottom of the post. Do you need a specific lens, or kind of lens to shoot portraits? Simple answer is no. The more complicated answer is that if you're looking for a specific effect, then yes. First lets get started with Depth of field. As I tell workshop attendees, or students in general, depth of field in a photo is created by three factors. Focal Length, Aperture, and distance from the camera. When shooting in a studio on bright white, none of the information about these lenses means as much. I don't shoot with a 85F1.4 in the studio to shoot bright white because that's shot usually at F10 or higher, which honestly I can shoot at any lens that has an 85mm Focal length. When on location though, or looking for a certain effect that means that just about any lens can be used as a portrait lens depending on what you need out of it. In fact, this shot here was shot using a 400mm F2.8.

_M4S1445s(Nikon D4s, 80ISO, Nikon 400mmF2.8VR, 1/250th@F3.5. Paul C Buff Einstein set to 1/32nd power above Ashley shot through a 47" Octabox. Paul C Buff Einstein unit bare bulb behind the background set to 1/16th to give a little bit of an outline. Both Einsteins fired by PockeT Wizard Plus X Units from another in the Camera hot shoe).

The 400mm lens compressed the background so that even though she was only a few feet from the background it's nice and out of focus, along with her taped hands. The shot was really focusing on her face/eyes and I couldn't get that with anything other than the 400mm (trust me I tried other things). If you are wondering about long lens compression, check out this example using a cat! Compression and depth of field are only two factors in choosing a lens for a portrait though. Shooting in a Studio is different than shooting for effect. As I mentioned above, shooting on bright white you can use just about any lens, at any focal length because you are generally shooting at F8 or F10. The lenses in question here are going to be more specialty, but for depth of field purposes and not low light purposes. Generally folks think of low light when they think of a 50mm F1.4 or F1.2 lens, but today I want you to think Depth of Field and backgrounds. When I want to shoot a portrait, I have a few go to specialty lenses in my bag. I have a Nikon 24F1.4, a Nikon 50mm F1.4, and a Nikon 85mm F1.4D lens. Normal lenses in my bag for studio portraits include a Nikon 24-70F2.8G, and a Nikon 70-200F2.8VR2. Quite the collection, I know. (you can actually see ALL of the gear that I own and use on my Gear Page). It took years to get them all, and there is still one lens I would love to add to that list that I haven't yet, but I'll get there. Each of those lenses has their own purpose, not to be abused. They aren't the only lens options either, but I'll get to that.


(Nikon D4, 400ISO, Nikon 70-200F2.8VR2@115mm, 1/100th@F2.8. Nikon SB900 in the Rogue XL Pro Lighting kit set to Strip softbox mode above to the right of our Nurse of the Year set to iTTL, and a Nikon SB-800 Speedlight zoomed to 105 set to fire via SU-4 Dummy slave set at 1/8th Power shot into the flags. The SB900 was controlled by a SU800 Speedlight commander on the Cameras Hot Shoe.)

In the sports blog I mentioned using a 70-200mm and it can be used for quite a bit more than just sports. It's a great range for portraits as well especially at F2.8. I own a Nikon 70-200F2.8VR2, but there are lots of options out there in the land of the 70-200. Obviously Canon has it's Equivalent 70-200F2.8IS2, but Sigma and Tamron also have their hats in the ring with their 70-200's. Over the last two years I've been incredibly impressed with Sigma's build and image quality and when I teach I recommend Sigma when someone may not be ready to spend the big bucks on the Nikon or Canon equivalent. The point is that the 70-200 is a major staple of any photographer's bag, and if you don't have one then you should start there. This is why so many companies make them. This is why a Nikon 80-200F2.8 was the first big boy Pro lens I ever bought. In fact when I sold it to buy the next one, I even got as much as I paid for it. Just like for Sports, the 70-200 is great for portraits with a wide open aperture. I prefer Nikon, but whether you like Canon Sigma or Tamron check here!


(Nikon D3s, 500ISO, Nikon 50mmF1.4, 1/100th@F1.4. Nikon SB900 set to iTTL shot through a 32" umbrella held over the models head triggered by a Pocket Wizard TT1 in the camera hot shoe, which also triggered two Dynalite 400UniJR units set to full power in the barn in the background attached to a Pocket Wizard TT5 each).

SO you have a 70-200, or you are looking for something a little more specialized but not wanting to break the bank. Then you should look into what I think EVERY photographer should own. The 50mm Prime. It's considered a "normal" lens, and it's a pretty standard focal length. Great for street photography, great for walking around. Anyway, you don't buy a prime lens to shoot it at F10. No, you buy a 50mm F1.8 or F1.4 to shoot at F1.8 or F1.4. You know, the place where all other lenses can't go? Yea. Exactly. The 50mm can run you anywhere between $75 for a used 50mm F1.8 (in Canon OR Nikon) Or you can get the F1.4 version for a few hundred. (Nikon's is $400 refurbished and Canon's F1.4 is about the same.) Beyond the $400 version, the wizards at Nikon, Canon and otherwise have masterminded even better 50mm (or equivalent) lenses for public and professional consumption. Canon makes a 50mm F1.2 lens, and Nikon makes a 58mm F1.4 lens. These lenses are supposed to be the cream of the crop in terms of 50mm Primes. At $1600 and $1700 respectively they aren't for the feint of heart or wallet. This is probably a good time to mention the alternatives to the Canon and Nikon lenses. Until Recently a 50mm lens was a tough thing to mess up. Sigma has proven that 50mm lenses should all be the mecca of quality considering as a lens they have been around a very long time. To prove it, they have released their 50mm F1.4 Art lens to compete with the Canon and Nikon super high end equivalents. I recently reviewed this lens for Roberts (you can read that review HERE). I love my Nikon 50mm F1.4, but Sigma has knocked it out of the park. If you've got the money go for the Sigma 50mm F1.4 Art lens on this one. Otherwise, 50mm F1.8's are cheap and awesome!


(Nikon D3s, 200ISO, Nikon 85mmF1.4D, 1/4000th@F2. Nikon SB900 Speedlight with a SD-9A Battery pack shot through a 32? umbrella held by Tom above the subject to camera right zoomed to 105mm set to iTTL +1.7EV fired by Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 unit triggered by a Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 Unit on the camera with an SU-800 in the hot Shoe.)

Why shoot at F1.4? Well it provides a very silky smooth bokeh (out of focus portion of the image) that you can't get with any other lens. That's why a 24-70mm at 50mm F2.8 will give you the same viewing angle, but not the same depth of field. The wide open aperture is what these prime lenses are all about. If you're really looking for an even creamier wide open F1.4 though, you should look for the 85mm F1.4 lens like seen above. The 85mm F1.4 lens is a staple in the portrait photography world because of the incredible depth of field it provides wide open. It will provide such a shallow depth of field that when focused on someone's eye, their nose will be out of focus in the image. The important part is the background though. Totally gone. Beautiful out of focus portions. It really draws your subject out of the background, and puts them at attention in your frame. The 85mm is expensive, but when it comes to portrait lenses, this really is the big one. Nikon and Canon both make a 85mm F1.8 and F1.4. Canon actually makes a 85mm F1.2 instead of a F1.4, and you pay a premium for it. Both Canon and Nikon's 85mm F1.8 can be had for $400-$500 and they are beautiful copies of the lens. I actually own an older Nikon 85mm F1.4D which you can still buy for about $900. The Brand new Nikon version will set you back around $1700, but the Canon 85mm F1.2 will set you back almost $2200! Sigma also has a 85mm F1.4 lens, but it's not of the newer Art lens variety. I've heard good things, but I've got my money waiting on their 85mm F1.4 Art lens when it's time. The Canon or Nikon 85mm F1.4 lens is kind of a stretch in cost for a lot of folks but there are few better portrait lenses that I've the same depth of field. I love my F1.4, but there can be some awesome deals on 85mm F1.8 lenses out there. If you're getting an 85 for the first time, look at the 85mm F1.8 lenses first and you might just save a ton!


(Canon 5D Mark II, 100ISO, Sigma 35mm F1.4, 1/200th@F1.4. Photogenic light shot through a 36?x36? softbox set to minimum power pointed mostly towards the background to help diffuse the light enough to use such a wide aperture)

Ok, so not just longer lenses have fast apertures. What if you want that shallow depth of field at a wide angle? Nikon and Canon have taken care of you there too with their 24mm and 35mm F1.4 lenses. I personally prefer the Sigma 35mmF1.4 lens over the Canon and Nikon because again you get 97% of the performance of the Nikon or Canon Counterpart for 50% of the price. I said the same thing when I reviewed the Sigma 35mm F1.4 Art lens a few years ago. Nikon and Canon also have 24mm F1.4 lenses, which are a lot more specialty than they are necessary, but I own one and I love it. When shooting a portrait, I regularly find a shot where I can use the nice wide angle and shallow depth of field created by these lenses. Absolutely beautiful. When it comes to the wider fast primes, I again have to say the Sigma 35mm F1.4 is by far my first choice for the 35mm version, but the Nikon 24mm F1.4 is my first for the wider because Sigma doesn't make one of those (yet). Again, if you're just getting into it definitely check out the F1.8 lenses too because they as usual can save you a ton if you aren't sure if it's for you! That said I've also heard incredible things about the Sigma 18-35F1.8 zoom lens. A F1.8 zoom lens? Yea, not a typo. I haven't actually seen one, but I've heard nothing but incredible things about it.


(Nikon D4s, 50ISO, Nikon 24F1.4N, 1/250th@F1.4. Paul C. Buff Einstein set to 1/32nd power shot through a 47" Paul Buff Octabox overhead held by a C Stand. Einstein triggered via Pocket Wizard Plus X unit via a Pocket Wizard X unit in the cameras Hot shoe.)

So there you have it. That's a quick rundown of the lenses that I love for Portraiture in no particular order. yes there are Lots of lenses out there that can be used for portraits, but the Fast Aperture Primes are usually the best. A friend of mine absolutely loves his 100mmF2.8 Macro for portraits. While I don't own a 100mm F2.8 Macro personally, I can attest that the shots he's gotten out of it for portraits have been wonderful. They keys are to shoot at a shallow depth of field in enough light, and your portraits will be much more pleasing. Nikon has really started filling out it's lineup with a lot of F1.8 lenses which cost significantly less than their F1.4 counterparts. If I didn't own a large portion of the F1.4 counterparts already, I'd probably own the F1.8 versions due to cost. They create exceptional images, and are a truly valuable piece of gear in anybody's bag. Hopefully that helps narrow it down.


Remember, what's the effect you are looking to achieve? What's the angle of view you want? Those two things will determine what portrait lens is right for you, and your shots! The shot above was much much more than a bit of fast glass, but none of it Photoshop. If you're looking for something more like what's above than you'll just have to stay tuned, because that's a whole other story for a whole other day. More Soon.


Profoto AIR TTL-N

Do you own a Nikon camera?  Have you been waiting to shoot TTL with no wires, more modifiers than you can shake a stick at and 500 watts of color correct and exposure accurate power?  Your wait is nearly over.

Profoto's incredible new battery powered monolight the  Profoto B1 500AIR TTL unit has received rave reviews since its release with a Canon TTL transmitter early this year.  It was certainly one of my favorite new products of the year and one of the most innovative lighting tools in as many years as I've been taking pictures.

Read a hand's on review of the B1 here.

Hit this link for the Preorder


Walt Kuhn

Announcing a new class with Walt Kuhn: "Free" Canon Rebel camera class

If you purchased your Canon Rebel at Roberts, begin the process of learning how to use the camera to it's fullest. Learn what the buttons and dials on the camera do! You paid good money for your camera - now let us teach you how to us it.  Free to anyone who purchased a Canon Rebel at Roberts. $30 to anyone who did not purchase the camera at Roberts

Presented ByWalt Kuhn
When:September 15th, 2014 - September 15th, 2014
Where:Jewish Community Center
6701 Hoover Road
Indianapolis, IN 46260
Register Today


Roberts Sponsors Winona School

Roberts Camera is proud to sponsor Winona School of Photography 2014 in Brown County, IN this June 22-25! Winona is an affiliate school of Professional Photographers of Indiana and Professional Photographers of America.

Winona School Indiana | The Winona Experience
2014 Instructors Dennis Hammon, Woody Walters, Bridget Harmon-Smith, Michele Gauger, Kevin Hudson & more!

Meredith Reinker

Nikon Day...err...Nikon Week at Roberts!

Each year, one of my favorite weekends here at Roberts is Nikon Day.  We love having our friends from Nikon to our great city to talk gear, show off long glass, and answer our questions...but more importantly is that Nikon likes to buy our customers lunch!  The only catch is that we have to cook it.  Luckily, I have a husband who would rather be in front of his grill than anywhere else!

While Nikon Day is always a great event with good deals on Nikon gear, we are taking it up a notch this year and cramming lots of great events into one week.  Here is what we have going on starting on June 12th.

Thursday, June 12th: Advanced Nikon DSLR Seminar - Focus on D7000/D7100/D600/D610 series - taught by Nikon Super Guy Alex Podstawski - Hampton Inn in Carmel

If you are passionate about photography and intrigued by high-end technology then this seminar on Nikon Digital SLR cameras is for you! Spend two hours with a Nikon expert learning about the advanced features, menus and controls and see what all of the "buzz" is about with Nikon D-SLR cameras.

  • We will explore the HD movie features found through out the line up of Nikon Digital SLRs
  • Learn about the Creative Lighting System and how to control light with built-in wireless flash capabilities in Nikon D-SLR cameras.

Here is some additional info on Alex...Alex Podstawski has been working as a Nikon Technical Representative since early 2012. At age 13, he began shooting on his first camera, a Nikon FE and has been working with light and cameras ever since. Working in the photo industry since age 16 and shooting weddings only two years later, Alex has gained experience uncommon for someone his age. His specialties include infrared and ultraviolet photography, portrait, landscape, wedding, event, wireless flash, and auto racing, among others. With years of experience working in photo labs and specialty stores, as well as a diverse professional career, Alex is eager share his knowledge and enthusiasm for photography at every opportunity.

If this sounds like a great class to you and something that you could benefit from - please sign up - we would love to have you! It's only $25 to register AND we will give you a $25 gift card at the class to be used towards your Nikon purchase on Nikon Day.


Friday, June 13th: FREE Nikon Photo Walk around Downtown Indy

While I love our classes, I am always a sucker for a photo walk, especially this photo walk because it will be my FIRST (my two kids and all-the-time job don't leave me a lot of time for photo walkin')! The idea of walking around our beautiful city, talking with our great customers, learning about photography, taking pictures and getting to use gear that I could never otherwise afford sounds like a really awesome Friday night to me.  Fingers crossed for good weather.  Our Nikon reps will join us and bring some loaner lenses to try out, but BYOC (bring your own camera).  If this sounds like a great night to you too, make sure you register because space is limited for this one.


Saturday, June 14th: Nikon Cookout in Carmel!

Our Nikon reps will be on-site at our Carmel store from 10am to 3pm! They will answer your questions - try and stump's hard, they know so much! And, they can help you find the perfect camera.  Stop in to register for a $500 Roberts/Nikon gift card!!  Yes, you read that right - we did not accidentally add an extra '0.' That is a $500 gift card to be used at Roberts towards your purchase of Nikon gear.  You can register for the gift card at either store location, but the reps will only be hanging in Carmel.  We will have some great close-out deals on Nikon point and shoot cameras, and we have a ton of Nikon refurb on hand - so come in and check it all out.

If that's not enough to get you in the haven't tried one of our hot dogs.  We will be grilling up some awesome hot dogs (we will even have a vegetarian Tofurky dog option), chips, drinks, and cookies courtesy of our friends at Nikon.  My husband will be manning the grill himself, and like I said, it is one of his favorite places to be.

We know it's a lot to digest, but the main take-away here is if you like Nikon, next week is your time to shine! We hope you can join us for some of our events!  Cheers!



Just Added: Nature Photography Class with Rich Clark

Photo by Rich Clark

Photo by Rich Clark

So, how's everyone liking our new Education & Events department? Did you even notice we had one, filled with way more classes and workshops than we've ever done before? if you haven't taken a look, maybe now's a good time. We just added a new special workshop we're doing next month with nature photographer Rich Clark. He's kind of A Name, especially here in Indy, and he has a lot of really pretty pictures in his portfolio. And, for $49 (plus $3 to get into Eagle Creek Park) you could take a three hour workshop on nature photography with him May 31st from 5-8pm yourself. Neato, right? If you're interested, you should reserve your seat here.

Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't help our Canon rep out and point out in our Events section that we have another session of Canon's popular EOS Discovery Day around the corner to support our equally-upcoming Canon Day shopping event.



It's the sort of event where the Canon tech gurus teach you how to make the most of your EOS camera, and what you can do with flashes and all those settings and features that make Canon what it is. It's technically a free event, but to keep the powers that be happy and show y'all love you some Canon we charge $25 upfront, and then you'll get it back at the event in the form of a shiny $25 Roberts gift card. If you're interested in getting the most from your Canon, follow this link here and sign up: EOS Discovery Day.


Great Gear for the Great Outdoors

Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.  I remember my grandfather saying this to me when I was very young and it rooted in me a strong purpose to be conscientious of my effect on the outdoors.  Moreover, this succinct thought encourages us to be less encumbered by what we bring with us and concentrate on the experience of being outside.  On the flip-side, Ansel Adams when asked what tripod he brings with him was quoted as saying "the biggest one he could find."  Whatever your mindset, the gear we choose to take with us can quickly determine how successful we will be when photographing outdoors.

Here are some suggestions to keep you nimble and capable when your taking in the sights.

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Marc Lebryk

The New Nikon D4s...

Originally posted on

For a photographer, getting a new camera can be a tough yet exciting thing. Really it only happens once every so often, kind of like buying a Car. (At the Nikon D4s Price tag of $6500, it's eerily like buying a car actually...). I don't remember who said it to me first, but it has still held true through all the years, that you Date your cameras but you Marry your lenses. When it's time to upgrade your camera you can't be too attached to the old one, because the newer ones are always better than the older ones and if you're going to stay relevant in this world of photography; sometimes you need to spend the money to upgrade. I personally leapfrog bodies. Until I got my D4s I was using a Nikon D3 and D4 for my photography. When I decided to buy the D4s, the D3 is the camera that was sold. Selling old gear is an easy way to help afford new gear and unless you're super attached to something for some reason, you should be ready to dump the old for the new when it's time. You can do this to save yourself money and to keep your gear up to date at the same time! I like to take my gear to Roberts Camera where I buy about 95% of my gear where they put my gear into the Used Photo Pro stuff. When I buy used gear I buy it from them because it comes with a 6 month Warranty. I digress though. When using a camera everybody is different but one thing that lots of people have asked since I bought the D4s is this: "Is it worth it?". What a great question, and there are going to be a lot of points in this blog to answer it, so keep reading.


Before I get into anything I should mention I'm not paid for this review (which I have already agreed to be re-posted on Robert's Camera's blog). I have been paid by Roberts Camera in the past, but I host workshops with their Education program. This is not part of that in any way. Simple as that. There will be positives and negatives about the Nikon D4s camera in this review but it is all my OPINION. If you don't like my opinion that's fine, I probably still like you. That's how opinions work. There will probably also be quite a few grammatical errors and misspellings as well. Just fore-warning anybody reading it now. Now that the disclaimer part is out of the way, lets do this.


(Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Taken the old Fashioned way... With a Tripod.
(Nikon D4s, 100ISO, Nikon 24-70F2.8N@34mm. 13 Seconds @F14. Manfrotto Tripod and head)

As I said in my Nikon D4 review two years ago I've owned lots of Nikon flagship Camera bodies. I shot Canon (which I was provided) when I worked for the Indianapolis Star, so I'm very familiar with their lineup but yet I still bought Nikon for myself. Not to say Canon is bad, because that's blatantly not true. I've always just preferred Nikon the way that I shoot. With that, I've never thought anything was wrong with any Nikon Camera that I've owned until the next one has come out. When I had my D2x I couldn't figure how they would have improved the Autofocus with the D3. But they did. When the D4 replaced the D3s, it was the same as it is now with the D4s replacing the D4. I didn't think my D4 did anything poorly or wrong until I got the D4s in my hands. Not to say that the D4 does things poorly or wrong, it just does them differently. A good way to describe this would be to say that the D4s is a very optimized version of the D4. All of the technology has been fully realized inside of the D4 and now is operating at it's full potential. It's kind of like when the Original Xbox came out all those years ago and the games looked good, but 5 years later the games looked 1000 times better even though it was the same console using the same hardware. Things get refined as time goes, and technology's true potential is unlocked as new technologies are developed. This is absolutely the case with the Nikon D4s in that while it's still very much a D4; this one has been washed, waxed, and has a brand new Corvette engine under the hood.


(Nikon D4s, 320ISO, Nikon 70-200F2.8VR2@122mm. 1/250th@F5.6. Two Paul C Buff Einsteins with Sport Reflectors set up to light the track set to 1/4 power. Lights triggered via Pocket Wizard Plus X Transceivers from on the camera Hot shoe)

If you look at the straight nerd numbers the Nikon D4 and D4s have the same hardware running the Autofocus. The Multicam 3500FX platform. I am not exactly sure what that means, but I know my D2x had the Multicam 2000 in it, so I'm guessing that bigger numbers are better. Nikon says that the D4s's autofocus is faster than the D4, and I wondered how that could be. As I mentioned earlier, I didn't exactly have lots of problems with my D4 the way that it is. The real difference is the Expeed 4 processor in the D4s which is supposedly 30% faster than the Expeed 3 in the D4. Essentially Nikon is making the most out of what they already had, which is smart. That means that the D4s does not acquire focus any faster than the D4 did, nor does its initial accuracy in low light situations increase. It does however do more thinking every second, which means that while things are moving and the camera grabs focus IT STAYS THERE.


(Nikon D4s, 1250ISO, Nikon 400mmF2.8VR with TC20eIII Extender for a total of 800mm. 1/1600th@F8)

I really love the new Group Area AF. It basically takes 5 points and uses them to grab and track whatever you're shooting. I never felt as though my D4 was deficient in tracking using the 9 Point AF-C by any stretch. I am only accustomed to assuming that all cameras miss a frame from time to time while shooting a 8-12 fps sequence. I've seen it with any Nikon or Canon body that I've ever used, including the 1Dx. I'm sure that the D4s is capable of missing focus from time to time, but it's a lot more rare now. It used to be that right in the middle of a sequence you would have a frame or two that would be just slightly out of focus (or in Canon's case wildly out of focus) and then it would snap back into sharp for the rest of the sequence. This is no longer the case with the D4s, especially not with the New Group AF. (For clarification; I was using my Go To settings for team sports on my D4s, which you can read more about in this blog post from last year.) So I said that the D4s is essentially the same hardware, so you may be wondering why this works better? It's the Expeed 4. It's gotta be. It's a lot faster, so it's doing a lot more Autofocusing every second than the Expeed 3 could. In computers, two years is more than a lifetime. Nikon knows this, and that's why they do a refresh of their flagship with the 's' moniker every two years.


(Nikon D4s, 1800A-ISO, Nikon 24-70F2.8N@70mm. 1/320th@F22)

So now anybody reading this is wondering when I'm going to get to High ISO and Image quality. (Assuming you didn't Command+F when you got to this page to jump right to it). Nikon Touts that there is a 1 stop advantage in High ISO to the D4s over the D4. They are right, and they aren't. Years and Years ago, as I recall the story, Kodak hired some scientists someplace (they probably all looked like Doc Brown) to determine the best resolution for a Digital camera sensor. To that recollection Kodak decided that 11-12 Megapixels was the Sweet spot in terms of resolution for the size of the pixels in the sensor to best absorb light and digitally record a scene in in almost any light. When the D4 came out people were upset because it was supposedly only "As Good" as the D3s in terms of High Iso when viewed at 100%. Yes, it was "As Good", but it was also at 33% higher resolution than that 12 megapixel maximum that Kodak projected years ago. That means in reality if you sized the D4 images down from 16 to 12 megapixels, you easily got another stop of High ISO out of it. I've never hesitated when I've needed to push my D4 up to 12k ISO, and have even, on occasion, pushed it up to 25,600 with very acceptable results. The shot below is of Roofus the stray cat that I made while shooting birds in our back yard. We call him Roofus because he likes to sit on our roof and look in the window at us, but I digress. To get started, this is a full resolution frame at 25,800ISO in good healthy light outside. I wouldn't be a halfway decent photographer if I didn't have a cat photo in this review. (Duh). Secondly, I would normally crop into this image a little bit on the top, but then it wouldn't be a full resolution image now would it?

Roofus25k(click to ultra biggify to 100%) Roofus at 25k.
(Nikon D4s, 25,600ISO, Nikon 400mmF2.8VR with TC20eIII making 800mm. 1/2000th@F6.3)

With the Nikon D4s, I feel as though there is some good AND bad news when it comes to High ISO. The good news is that the D4s does indeed provide 1 stop better High ISO than the Nikon D4, but maybe not in the way that you expect. When you're shooting at 25,600ISO you have to assume that the camera is going to make up some information and there WILL be grain. I mean, come on, in the image of the street below I was shooting hand held in the dark. Grain is in fact the sensor making up information, which is why detail is lost and ect. If you are looking to buy a Nikon D4s and assume that 12,800ISO is equal to the D4 at 6400 you might be a bit disappointed. Nikon D4s's images are 1 stop better actual quality throughout the range but the actual grain still remains at about the same level between the cameras. You may be saying; wait, the grain is the same but the pictures are better? How? Well, the Expeed 4 processor has done quite a bit to wrangle noise, and in quite a few cases there is a noise improvement, but where the Expeed 4 really stands out is in what it does for color depth, tonal range, and the kind of grain you will find in your images. Where the D4 favored less grain over detail, the D4s maintains the level of grain, but increases the level of detail.


(Nikon D4s, 25,800ISO, 1/20th@F2.8. Nikon 24-70F2.8N@55mm shot hand held with only minor editing in Photoshop CC)

I shot the frame above coming home from shooting a video at the NCAA Tournament of a reporter from the Detroit Free Press (more on video in a bit). It was a hand held snap. While there is still grain in the image at 100% crop; look a all the color that's still there! That frame would have equaled somewhere between 400 and 800ISO on my Nikon D2x back in 2005 (assuming the D2x was having a good day and the frame was lit really well). Plus look at the fact that you can still read the "St Joseph St" on the street sign even at this lower resolution saved at a level 9 in photoshop! That's what the Expeed 4 is doing, and that's what's giving he D4s it's claim to a 1 stop better High ISO. Lets jump a few stops..... below is a photo of my Friend Tom at 102,400ISO with a 100% crop view. You can see that at normal web viewing size, the noise is acceptable, but at 100% you lose a lot of detail. Regardless, I'd have NEVER taken my D3s or D4 out to 102,400ISO. The D4s though, makes me think that there may be life that far out into space.

_M4S0791(Tom with detail at 100k ISO....Click to biggify)

The Nikon D4s is capable of an expanded range of ISO's up to 409,600+ ISO. This is in the expanded range, which means once you pass 25,600, it reads H1, H2, H3, and H4. Honestly Nikon should have had the back LCD read WTF instead of H4 when it got to that point. In my opinion 409,600 ISO is completely unusable under any circumstance. This is a shot of Tom at that setting.

_M4S0785 H4, or 409,600ISO is Nikon just going for Bragging rights over the 1Dx. Click this for the full size image because you obviously have trouble seeing the grain in this smaller one....

(If you're wondering it was shot with the Nikon D4s, 409,600ISo, Nikon 24-70F2.8N@24mm. 1/8000th@F10)

Lets face it; this is a golden age for photography. If you would have told someone 15 years ago that Nikon would produce a camera with a useable 25,600ISO, that would let you shoot handheld in the dark they would have laughed and said they hope they live to see the day. That day is here. I did have a theory, that the Noise Reduction would be better on Jpeg images with the Expeed 4 than on RAW images. That remains somewhat inconclusive because while the jpeg images seemed slightly cleaner out of the camera, but they had more color related noise as well as had quite a bit less latitude to work with in post.


(Another (slightly cropped) full res image at 51,200ISO under crummy Florescent lights)

(Nikon D4s, 51,200ISO, Nikon 70-200F2.8VR2@200mm. 1/5000th@F3.5)

While you can see in the shot above, when the light is crummy the noise can be crummy as well. The noise is very useable, but at 100% you're missing details. Someplace that doesn't really matter as much is with Video. Not all photographers do video, but I can tell you when it comes to video this camera is equally a video camera as it is a still camera. I am personally a big fan of Corey Rich's photography and he is doing a launch video for this camera for Nikon. He followed around Dave Black, Robert Beck, and George Karbus and did video of them doing what they do best. Shooting action sports. Those guys are good, check out their work. My video experience wasn't to that level of setup and intensity; however mine was as any news shooter's would be. Last minute, and working with what I had.

That video was shot using nothing but street lights on my Nikon D4s set to 1/30th, F4 at 16,000ISO. Audio was recorded with Sennheiser G3 lav mic, which fed directly into the Stereo jack on the D4s (which is also why the sound only comes out of one channel. The file is straight out of the camera). If you shoot a lot of video. This thing is a game changer. While it doesn't shoot at 4k, most devices can still only display at 1080P anyway. I haven't pushed it, but I would imagine that even 51,600ISO (Maybe even 102,400) is very useable at HD video size. This is certainly going to take film making to a whole new level.

Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 10.07.42 PM(If you can't make that youtube link large enough, try clicking on the screencap)

So wow. That's been a lot of info, in not a lot of time. Well, not a lot of time for you, at the time that I'm to this part of the review my wordpress has informed me I'm on 44 revisions. I suppose the conclusion from my initial question above is YES. Is the D4s worth it? YES. Yes it is. To each their own, but I find the added features of the D4s camera to be worth the money to get it. The video aspect of it, as well as the extra speed and processing inside the body will go greatly over the next few years where it is my primary camera shooting everything from landscapes, portraits, and product, to sports of all kinds. The Extra dynamic range and detail inside the High ISO does indeed stand up to Nikon's claim of 1 stop better High ISO, and I look forward to how that is going to impact my photography. I had my NPS allotment sent to Roberts Camera here in Indy where I buy most of my gear, and you should too; because they are great people. They are always ready and willing to help me solve a problem and on one occasion I had someone on their staff bring me things on location in a bind; without asking them to do it. It's that kind of extra mile that makes me shop there, over and over again. They are good Great people, and I always try to push great people. Get your links below. Mores Soon.

Nikon D4s Preorder