DxOMark has analyzed the sensor of the new Nikon D4s, and the results aren’t really surprising. Since the camera is more of an update to the D4 rather than a full-fledged successor, we didn’t really expect the D4s to outperform the D4 by any significant margin. And indeed, this is what DxOMark’s measurements confirm. While the D4s has slightly better overall performance at ISOs 3200 and up, the D4 performs just as well if not a slight notch better at lower ISOs when it comes to dynamic range, tonal range and color sensitivity. The same is true for the Nikon Df.
Comparing the D4s to its main competitor from Canon, the 1D X, reveals just how much better Nikon’s technology performs. Sorry, Canon fanboys, but your brand of choice loses this round. The D4s outperforms the 1D X in all regards, and by a significant margin, too. The D4s has about 1.5 stops better dynamic range at base ISO and stays ahead of the Canon until ISO 1600. While signal-to-noise ration and tonal range are pretty much equal for both cameras, the D4s again outperforms the 1D X significantly in the department of color sensitivity, with a consistently better performance at all ISO values.
As for the camera’s overall low light performance, DxOMark deems it slightly ahead of the D4, but still not as good as the Df, with the D4s receiving 3074 points for ISO, and the Df receiving 3279 points. The Canon 1D X, on the other hand, only scores 2786 points in DxOMark’s ISO test. Whether or not the D4s is the camera to go for depends on many other factors, though. Is it within your budget? Does the Nikon system come with the choice of lenses you need for your work? Is its AF fast and accurate enough for your needs? While DxOMark’s sensor test reveals a lot about the camera’s performance in theory, one shouldn’t base a buying decision on it alone.