It’s not heavy, it’s my Nikon D4S

It’s not heavy, it’s my Nikon D4S

With apologies to various rock legends for ripping off their song title, that’s how I felt after shooting a concert yesterday with a review . I wanted to stress the low-light shooting capability of the camera, so I deliberately brought a slower zoom (my really handy ). That allowed me to be a little more maneuverable in the crowd, but forced me to bump my ISO way up. I picked ISO 25600 (I probably could have survived with half that, but I wanted to really push the envelope). In any case, the delivered in three really major ways:

First, it shot when I wanted it to, as often as I wanted it to. With virtually no shutter lag, amazing frame rate, and huge buffer, AF in the low light was the only thing slowing it down. Even AF was a no-brainer when aimed at the stage, it was only when trying to shoot other fans (in the dark) that even that was an issue. Obviously that is one place a faster lens would have worked better.

John Molo on drums for MoonAlice for their 420 show
, @ 200mm, f/4 @ 1/2500, ISO 25600

Second, even at ISO 25600 there is virtually no visible noise. The camera’s noise reduction is certainly not invisible, so I wouldn’t wander around with the camera set to such a massive ISO, but there are very few other cameras where I would even consider shooting at that speed.

Roger McNamee focusing on his jamming for MoonAlice
, @ 112mm, f/4 @ 1/400s, ISO 25600

Third, the dynamic range and in-camera processing are amazing. Shooting backlit into the video wall behind the performers, the default exposure was spot on and there were virtually no blinky highlights. I’m a died-in-the-wool Raw shooter, but the JPEGs were, frankly, awesome. All the images in this article are un-retouched JPEG Fine images shot in sRGB – they have only been resized & watermarked.

Pete Sears on Bass for MoonAlice
, f/4 @ 1/200s, ISO 25600

Of course, that brings me to the keyword “my.” As fun as this camera is to shoot with, and review, it is nearly 3 pounds, large, and $6500. So on the one hand it is the perfect camera for committed shooting opportunities, like actions sports & wildlife photography. On the other hand, it is a massive commitment, and really good full-frame cameras with higher resolution like the are 1/3 the price and half the weight. So I expect for many folks, the will be a specialty item – perhaps rented from the excellent – for when they really need it.

With the even fan shots work
& @ 100mm, f/4 @ 1/20s, ISO 25600

I’ll have plenty more to say about the as I shoot with it on our Texas photo safaris in early May. Of course, those will be welcome to try it out as well.