The Nikon D4s is the new kid on the block, showing off its shiny new Expeed 4 processor and presenting itself as the quintessential DSLR for professionals in photography. Meanwhile, Canon is still relying on the cool kid, the EOS-1D X, which has been on the market since March 2012. While the aging 1D X is still the go-to professional flagship of Canon, Nikon plans to tighten the competition with their D4s. Previously, we’ve made comparisons between the Nikon D4s and its predecessor, the D4, but how does the D4s compare to a true competitor such as the EOS-1D X?
Though similar in many areas, the Canon EOS-1D X ($6799.00, estimated retail) and the Nikon D4s ($6499.95, estimated retail) begin to show their competitive differences once you begin to break down both devices to the little details. Under a microscope, we begin to see differences in design quality, shooting speed, image processing, and movie recording, and as we make our comparisons, we begin to notice that not much has changed in the time since the release of the Canon EOS-1D X.
On the surface, both cameras are built with sturdy, metal material that is partially or completely absent from cheaper models. Both have tough shells with full weather proofing for all conditions.
In a match of size, the Canon EOS-1D X enters the ring at 6.2 x 6.4 x 3.3 in. (158 x 163.6 x 82.7 mm) and weighing 53.8 oz. (1526 g). Meanwhile, the Nikon D4s comes in at 6.3 x 6.2 x 3.6 in. (160 x 156.5 x 90. 5 mm) and weighs 41.6 oz. (1180 g). Both are very similar in size, but the D4s is a bit lighter, thus more portable.
The 1D X features two CompactFlash UDMA 7 compatible memory card slots, which is handy for extra storage. There’s no worrying about swapping out a full card at crucial times. The Nikon D4s features only one CF slot but also includes a slot for the Nikon/Sony supported XQD card. The XQD is developed by Sony and backed by the CompactFlash Association. Sony’s latest XQD S series runs at a maximum read/write speed of 180MB/s, beating the Lexar CompactFlash Professional 1066x, with 160MB/s.
Both cameras’ viewfinders provide 100% coverage. In viewfinder magnification, Canon beats Nikon by 6%, maxing out at 76%. However, the D4s features nifty little auto-dimming LEDs that show the entirety of the frame. No AF points get in the way of shooting a target.
The display on each of the models contains standard features, such as live view mode. Nikon D4s has a slight advantage, with the inclusion of an auto brightness setting for their LCD display. In terms of size, both displays are 3.2 in. (8 cm) for their fixed TFT-LCD. The 1D X has a slightly higher LCD resolution at 1,040, 000 dots, while the D4s’ resolution includes 921,000 dots.
1D X and the D4s have the relatively same playback features. Standards include quality and shooting information, histograms, magnification, image rotation, slideshows, and playback
At 18.1 megapixels, Canon EOS-1D X’s full-frame (24 x 36mm) CMOS sensor beats the Nikon D4s by a hair. Still, the D4s’ full-frame (36 x 23.9 mm) CMOS sensor keeps a professional pace with 16.2 megapixels. Both cameras are capable of producing RAW (14-bit), large JPEG, medium JPEG, small JPEG, and small RAW size files. The EOS-1D X also has the additional M-RAW option, while the D4s can exclusively create TIFF files.
For the EOS-1D X, the ISO sensitivity maxes out 51200 (Hi-2: 204800), while the D4s can reach 25600 (Hi-4: 409600). Though, the EOS-1D X wins with a higher normal ISO, the D4s can double the Canon’s ISO in the Hi setting.
Now, when it comes to endurance, both cameras can get quite a few shots from a single charge of their respective batteries. The EOS-1D X’s LP-E4N Li-ion battery can get an average of 1800 shots, but the D4s is more efficient with its EN-EL 18a Li-ion battery with an average of 3020 shots per charge, almost doubling Canon’s offering.
Inside the body of D4s, Nikon’s brand-new Expeed 4 processor is turning the gears faster than its predecessor, the D4 (Expeed 3), but does it compete with EOS-1D X’s Dual Digic 5+ image processor?
The EOS-1D X still shows superiority by averaging a maximum of 12 FPS of continuous shooting. It can even shoot a maximum of 14 FPS with JPEGs. Even with its newer processor, the D4s is still only averaging 11 FPS. In terms of quality, the 1D X can output a maximum image size of 5184 x 3456, while the D4s maxes out at 4928 x 3280.
Handling of focus is another important job of the processor and a necessity for any action photographer, so it’s good to know that autofocus speeds and points serve their purpose for both of these competing camera models.
The Canon EOS-1D X includes more AF points at 61 points, including 41 cross-type points. The Nikon D4s contains 51 AF points, but falls short with only 15 of those being cross-type points. The D4s’ AF strengths lie with the inclusion of continuous video focus, which cannot be done with the EOS-1D X.
Video and Audio Recording
The video perks of the D4s don’t just stop at automatic focusing. A combination of higher dynamic range and better color depth for images and video means that more life is breathed into everything produced by the Nikon D4s.
Both devices output video in MPEG-4 and H.264. While the Canon EOS-1D X is limited to 1920 x 1080 30/25/24p, the D4s can also shoot at an additional 60p and 50p. Nikon gives videographers and cinematographers more shooting options by offering a wider range of compatible lenses from both the DX and FX series. The D4s offers 4 image area choices, including FX format, 5:4 crop, 1.2x crop, and DX format, as well as a few HD options.
For audio, both cameras have auto and manual level controls to choose from, allowing for professional audio recording straight to camera. Both cameras are also capable of timelapse recording.
The Canon EOS-1D X and the Nikon D4s prove to be a fairly even matched. Each provide their own slight strengths and weaknesses, even coming to a draw in some areas. The Nikon D4s proves to be a great choice for aspiring videographers and cinematographers, offering a wider range of recording options and automatic continuous shooting, while the Canon EOS-1D X is a better choice for action photographers, with more focus points, higher resolution, and a faster shooting speed. Which model you choose all depends on the uses you’re looking to get out of your professional DSLR camera.
||3.2 inch diagonal
||ISO 100-51200Extension settable: ISO 50; 102,400 and 204,800
||ISO 100 – 25,600 Lo-1 (ISO 50) Hi-4 (ISO 409,600)
|Battery / Batteries
||1x LP-E4N Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery
||EN-EL18a Lithium-ion Battery
|Approx. Dimensions (Width x Height x Depth)
||158 x 164 x 83 mm
||160 x 157 x 91 mm
||D Compatible with UDMA 7 CF cards
||CompactFlash© (CF) (Type I, compliant with UDMA) XQD Type Memory
||TFT color, liquid-crystal monitor
||Wide Viewing Angle TFT-LCD
||36 mm x 24mm
||36.0 mm x 23.9 mm
|Image Sensor Format
||HD 1,920×1,080 / 30 fps HD 1,920×1,080 / 25 fps HD 1,920×1,080 / 24 fpsHD 1,280×720 / 60 fps HD 1,280×720 / 50 fpsVGA 640×424 / 60 fps VGA 640×424 / 50 fps
||HD 1,920×1,080 / 60 fps HD 1,920×1,080 / 50 fps HD 1,920×1,080 / 30 fps HD 1,920×1,080 / 25 fps HD 1,920×1,080 / 24 fps HD 1,280×720 / 60 fps HD 1,280×720 / 50 fps VGA 640×424 / 30 fps VGA 640×424 / 25 fps
|Top Continuous Shooting Speed at full resolution
||14 frames per second
||11 frames per second
|File Format Still Images
||JPEG, RAW (14-bit Canon Original)M-RAWS-RAWRAW+JPEGM-RAW+JPEGS-RAW+JPEG
||JPEG: JPEG-Baseline Compliant with fine (approx 1:4), Normal (approx 1:8) or Basic (approx 1:16) Compression NEF (RAW) + JPEG: Single Photograph Recorded in both NEF (RAW) and JPEG Formats NEF (RAW): lossless compressed 12 or 14 bit, lossless compressed, compressed or uncompressed NEF (RAW Size S) TIFF (RGB)
|Great battery Life
|Multiple Storage slots