Throwing a curve

The wedding party kept talking about what a great athlete Marisa is, so I had to see for myself.

(Her husband Joe also said he really wanted to make the blog, so we joked I’d only put in photos without him in it. Don’t worry Joe, you’ll join the party soon.)

Lens: 24mm f/1.4
Camera: Nikon D3s

mike - Just in time for the Wedding Olympics…

Michael Saab - Sweeeeeet!!

Saab Weddings - Sweet!

Craig Cacchioli - Cool idea. So much concentration on her face! Just the one attempt at getting this Ryan?

nadine - i love this, ryan!

Peter Lippert - Nice idea: 3 pictures. And correct exposure. Keep on doing your style!

Fotograf nunta Iasi - Superb colors!

Sonya and David’s Alger House Wedding

Sonya and David were married on a Sunday. They booked me that Friday — after being unceremoniously double-booked by their photographer. So I didn’t get to meet them in person beforehand — what sort of people are they? I wondered.

Fantastic people, it turns out. The sort of people who wedding photography clichés are based on, because they just sort of do that stuff in real life. The photo in the cab, 100 percent blissful, heads together in a world-class nuzzle? That was just how they were sitting, on their own. They have the type of connection where, when she came down the aisle at the Central Park Ladies’ Pavillion ceremony, he met her halfway … and kissed her.

Sure, breaking tradition keeps me on my toes, but it’s also beautiful to watch.

They followed with an intimate, thirtysomething-person reception at the Alger House, with modern Jazz music from Cate Cox, including a stint with her Dad serenading everyone to the Doors.

A beautiful, fantastic day, despite exactly eight minutes of rain (the ceremony was saved from being moved indoors by the amazingly precise Dark Sky app on my iPhone). Sometimes it’s the jolts in life that get you where you need to be.

Thanks to Kacy Jahanbini for the help and great photos in this last-minute scramble.

Fabrice Drevon - Superb, as always… (and inspiring too!)
Thanks for sharing :-)

Elissa - So beautiful and so joyous! Momentous Wedding alert! :)

Michael - Fantastic set of images!!

Liz - Oh. My. God. The lights, the arches… I have no words. You are, as always, amazing!

Brian - Dude! The silhouette one in the tunnel did it for me. Fantastic stuff man!

Fer Juaristi - just beautiful my friend.

Chris Morri - awesome…like always

Charles Tibbs - Incredible, you are the wedding guru.

Steven Markow - Absolutely AWESOME!

Jeena Caywood - wow!

Udaya S Pisipati - A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!

winston mattis - Groom and bride with that back light bye themselves, how did you do that please?

Dennis Pike - People have never been so lucky that their original photographer was not available. Awesome work.

Sigríður Þorgeirsdóttir - Congratulations from Iceland. Fantastic photos.

Samantha Sendor - Ryan Brenizer is an artist. These are magnificent.

Ryan Brenizer - @winston: very dark interior and very bright exterior.

Heather - WOW that hairspray shot is beyond cool!!

Mercedes - These are gorgeous, Ryan!

Nick - Ryan saves the day again! You never disappoint, I always love your work. Well done sir.

Julianne Markow - As usual, nothing short of amazing, just beautiful. And I 2nd Dennis, what a lucky couple

Paul Von Rieter - That may be the single most awesome hair spray image tat has ever existed. end. of. story.

Sandy - I bet they are glad the photographer double booked them now, you did a fabulous job. Tunnel shot is brilliant

bryan - that last frame = mind blown.

Crystal - Ryan! Seriously you are incredible! Stellar work!

Bryce Wade - Awesome as always. Booked on Friday and shot on Sunday. Just shows what great customer service you provide as well as stunning pictures.

PJ - full of love on happiness…great work Ryan..

Bryan C. - The hairspray shot is as epic as you can possibly make hair and makeup. Amazing stuff as usual!!

Aaron DuRall - Ryab, incredible as always! Such an endless well of inspiration!

That shot of the bride getting her hair sprayed, was that a speedlite or was there just epic natural light behind her?

Again, amazing work!

Brian Kraft - Tasty stuff! Backlit hairspray shot with bride is money. Umbrella one and the couple in the arches also are super cool. Wonderful job!

Teresa - Oh my gosh. LOVE every single one! Great capturing of the details, the emotions. Love the bride crying. Love the shoe shot. Love the little kid grabbing bride’s dress. Love the emotions. Love everything!

Nessa K - The umbrella under the arch picture is insanity. I love the things you do. <3

Steph Gibson - Ryan, these are stunning, as usual! Love the silhouette under the arch, love the dancing and the shoes/tutu shot.. And LOVE the bride’s dress;)

Brennan McKissick - From one bro to another bro, sick work man. Always love your work.

Ian - Words escape me – what a wonderful, wonderful set of images. It certainly was this couples lucky day.

aga - Love your vision and style, Ryan. Love all the moments captured, so priceless.

Steve Koo - So many good ones here, Ryan! The hairspray shot is great, and I love the two portraits at the bottom.

Ivor Tetteh-Lartey - Wonderful intimate moment in the car. Amazed they got you at such short notice,lucky.

matt haines - Ryan, you have too many brilliant ideas per wedding. Extreme Idea Density. It’s disturbing when I have to bookmark one of your blog posts for not one brilliant concept, but two or three. You must have an army of minions alongside you to make this all work on time. Love the backlit hairspray and the shoe framing the other shoe. That’s just for starters.

Neil Redfern - Unbelievable images, your work never fails to inspire. I love the shot of the bride and groom reflected in the window. Fantastic!

Jenny J - the kid hanging onto her dress while dancing. central park silhouettes. first look. drive over… sooooooo effing goooooood.

Becky Male - I just stumbled upon your work by chance, I love this shoot, brilliant photography. The shoot in the archway is amazing. Double booked by their original photographer – it certainly turned out for the best.

Faria Reza - really awesome..

Georg Aufreiter - man, these are sooo good – like all your photos! I would have loved to join your london workshop but couldn’t….how do you get such soft light at the party? like the running boys shot?

Coming (very) soon: Sonya and David’s Alger House wedding

I’m impatient today. I’m working on the blog post right now, but I finished stitching this together (It’s a five-image panorama) and said “Hey, I want to share this.”

So here you are. More to come.

Camera: Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: Nikon 85mm f/1.4G

Eric Kotara - This is spectacular! Your game just keeps getting better and better, Ryan.

Alvaro Poblete - omg so nice shot! how do u expose for a shot like this?????

good work!

greets from Chile!

Mary Stoyles - breathtaking…

Eduardo B. - Hi Ryan,

Where is the D800 review?


Lynne Valeri - Your work is fabulous Ryan … A true artist.

A 42nd St. Reprieve

Brenizer-method panoramas plus the D800 equals a really great way to test your computer system. The full-res shot of this image weighs in at 211 megapixels. There’s less than three weeks remaining to get in your entries for the contest, so get out and shoot!

As an interesting look at how using lighting can change the mood of a shoot, keep in mind that this was taken only a few minutes and 500 feet away from this shot, both outdoors in the same light. Variety is key.

Camera: Camera: Nikon D800
Lens: 33-image “Brenizer method” panorama with the Nikon 85mm f/1.4G (equivalent of 36mm f/0.44 according to Brett’s calculator)

Fotograf nunta Iasi - Very sharp image and very nice!

Roberto Montalbano - Awesome! You are the master, no surprise :)
So you seem to be back to the nikon 85 1.4, did you find your old one into the same cab you forgot it in.
Can’t wait to read your review of the D800.
How about a new “what’s in my bag” video? The last one is two years old now :P
Cheers, thanks for sharing your talent with us!

mike - Crisp.

Max - Ryan, how do you get the subjects completely perfectly stiched? Even if I tell them don’t move there are some differences. Are they in one pic?

Awesome pic!

With Gusto

It’s a wedding, have some fun. I certainly have been.

The top one reminds me of something crossing my mind recently. Somewhere around now I’ve crossed the threshold of shooting my 250th wedding. It’s been interesting to see what aspects of growth are in photography, and what are specifically wedding expertise, whether it’s the comfort of a wedding feeling like your natural habitat or just having learned every lesson the hard way. I once was on a bumpy trolly ride with a bride and groom when the bride had someone pour her a Solo cup of Coca-Cola.

“Hey, how about I take that and give you this Sprite?” I said, aping my best David Tutera.

Two minutes later, a big bump in the road, and there was Sprite on the dress. No biggie. Coca-Cola? Probably a biggie.

So when Chika wanted an ice cream, my first thought was “OK, let’s have some fun.” My second thought was, “That’s a Vera Wang. You get the coconut.”

Of course, the lower shot was taken in Mexico, where all bets were off.

You’ll see. Oh, you’ll see.

Lens: Nikon 85mm f/1.4G and Nikon 24mm f/1.4G
Camera: Nikon D800

mike - Yum yum : D

Veronica Varos - hahah, love these! and the story. :)

Mark Dickinson - <3

Micah G Robinson - I love it!
Life is too short to not live with gusto!

Saab Weddings - Very nice!

rich - these are sweeeeeeeet. haha – such great moments!

Coming soon(ish): D800 review


I’ve got lots of experience with this thing now and I’m ready to review it … but the only problem is that means I have to stop shooting with it.

There’s something about a 36MP camera that makes you want to take photos that look best in ginormous print sizes.

Lens: Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6
Camera: Nikon D800

BeingLovingDoing - Can’t wait

Jeremy Beasley - It’s probably the really high resolution :p

Will Eagleton - Wow, I’m really curious to see that review! From what I’ve seen it seems best as a lower ISO camera, losing detail with higher ISO/fast shutter at night sort of thing. I also see the Sigma 12-24 which I came so close to getting, but it was supposedly soft in the corners – and from the above picture it looks fine! Darnit!

mike - Looking forward to reading it.

Gman - Weee, can’t wait! Amazing shot, really looking forward to your review.

Michael Saab - Can’t wait to se your review!

KW - Really like the lighting. Great mix of the ambient and off-camera.

Geoffrey Tischman - Waiting impatiently for your review!

Aaron DuRall - I want to see how this shot was lit and composited! It is absolutely incredible! Go figure, right? Ha!

Suzaidee Mohd Shom - I’m looking forward for your review :)

Andrew Nesti - Reviews by good photographer are always a useful thing! Can you say something about latitude vs D4 and jpeg quality because for some jobs if you use this monster I’ll be tempted to use less resolution!

Craig Cacchioli - Very dramatic… love it!

rich - holy cow – i was just there yesterday! amazing shot!

Scott Painter - I’m with Arron. I want to know how the lighting was pulled off.

Eric Kotara - Wonderful light!

Sam Seite - Awesome!

See me (and other amazing photographers) at the Canada Photo Convention!

RCKY2Artist’s depiction of Canada Photo Convention

I am so thrilled to announce that I have joined the line-up for the Canada Photo Convention in Vancouver on April 23-24. And honestly, this is a convention I’d want to go to even if I weren’t speaking. I’ve been to a number of conventions before as a speaker and an attendee, and you tend to see the same people over and over again. Here, you have a lot of the top rising stars in the industry, including people like my buddies Jonas Peterson and the Nordica dudes, and so many people who are cranking out work that is fresh, original, and well, so hot right now. I’m honored to be among them.

I was born so close to the Quebec border that all the signs in my hometown are also in French. I absolutely can’t wait. I promise lots of new material in my presentation, and a few new moves for the dance floor afterward.

Even though the convention is a year away, it’s filling up incredibly fast. So sign up now!

Cole Roberts - It’s going to be a lot of fun. Looking forward to meeting you in Vancouver.

Paul Krol - going to be great!

Roger - Ahhhh…The Royal Enchanted Yaksmen – NICE!!!!!


120527 223939 24mm f1 4A

Three days in to the party, a first dance.

There are so many stories from this wedding at the ridiculously gorgeous Banyan Tree Mayakoba in Playa Del Carmen. I can’t wait to share them.

Lens: 24mm f/1.4
Camera: Nikon D3s

mike - Love that use of light. We’re still working on nailing our flash techniques for the dancefloor.

Stefan Hellberg - Photographer Switzerland - wow! If you get the chance you must take a day to go down to Tulum, Sian Kaan, might be one of the most beautiful places in mexico. Check it out!

Thanks for sharing.

Craig Cacchioli - Nice shot, but stop teasing us and show us more :)

Fotograf nunta Iasi - Beautiful photo!

Daryl Charles - Really nice…I Love the lighting effects…Can’t wait to see more.

Jeffrey Benzon - Awesome as always Ryan. Pretty awesome place to shoot a wedding too. Can’t wait to see more.

JPanda - Fantastic Shot!

I assume this is with 100% natural light? (no flash?) or is that off camera flash to the right of the photo?

Bryce - Light from the videographer? Can’t wait to see the series of photos from this wedding.

Humberto Benavides - Hi Ryan, what type of flash difusser do you use at weddings ?

Announcing the first Brenizer Method contest, sponsored by B&H Photo

110917 174318 85 copy

Time flies. It was almost four years ago that I started playing around with panoramas not for the traditional reasons of super-wide frames or insanely high resolution, but to dance my way around a simple problem of physics: to get incredibly shallow depth-of-field, generally you need a lens with a long focal length set to a fast aperture, but that restricts you to a narrow frame of view. You could shoot medium or large format film as one way around this problem, but physics gives us another problem: there’s a good reason you don’t see f/1.4 lenses for large format cameras. They’d be ginormous. But using panorama techniques effectively increases the size of any camera’s sensor, allowing us to use super-fast and relatively compact SLR lenses to achieve incredibly shallow depth-of-field even on wide-angle frames.

I loved the look I was getting and set out to see what I could do with it. How can I shoot panoramas with people? Of candid action? How could I use flash? I was happy to share the things I was learning, and photographers seized on it, trying it for themselves and naming it the “Brenizer method.” (You can read more about it, including a tutorial video, here)

Years later, countless thousands of photographers around the world have made this technique their own, using it for everything from weddings to still lives to even George Clooney. It makes me thrilled to see people taking this and using it in ways that achieve their own vision or just make beautiful photos … and so I want to see what y’all can do with a little incentive.

To that end, I have partnered with B&H and some fantastic photographers for the first Brenizer Method contest. We want to see exactly what you can do. The basic tool is simple — it’s just a way to shoot at crazy effective apertures like f/0.4, but that alone doesn’t make a photo good, you do. And so I’ve partnered with some amazing photographic teams to help the judging:

The judges: Vancouver’s Nordica Photography and Brisbane’s Feather and Stone (and me.)


Cole and Jacob of Nordica, and Seth and Tenielle of Feather and Stone are absolutely fantastic photographers, skilled in various techniques and brilliant in compositions. Seriously, spend some time drooling over their work. They also don’t as far as I know, use the Brenizer method. In the end, this contest isn’t about using the biggest lens or the most photos in a panorama — it’s about creating the most compelling photos — and I’m excited to have them aboard.

The Rewards

Honorable Mention photos will be featured on this blog and related social media sites and linked to by the B&H media mammoth. All photos will be credited with links back to your Web site (if you have one.)

The top three photos will be awarded gift cards to B&H Photo. Third place will win a $50 card, second place will win a $100 card, and first place will win a $150 card. These photos also will be given top spot in the Web feature.

The Rules

First, of course, these photos must be taken with the Brenizer method. Not all panoramas count — what the method does is rely on a fast aperture and close enough subject distance to show a visibly shallow depth of field. This is not a Brenizer method photo:

Samples110528 172057 24mm f2 110528 172121 24mm f2 22 images

But these are:

The entries do NOT have to be wedding photos, or even of people. They just have to use the method to create compelling photos.

We will be accepting entries until midnight EST on July 1, 2012.

All photos will be properly credited and you retain full copyright. Images will just be displayed in conjunction with contest results.

How to submit

E-mail entries to No more than five entries per contestant, and use a separate e-mail for each photo. Each entry needs to contain a reference to the camera and lens that were used, and how many frames were used to make the final result. Please include how you would like to be credited, both your name and the Web site.

Resize photos to 1000 pixels on the largest side. NO WATERMARKS. My assistant will be managing the entries so that judging will be as blind and fair as possible.

Eric Kotara - Exciting! I’m on this!!!

Arol Horkavy - I’m all over this.

mike - This should be pretty amazing.

Ryan Seung Burkett - Hopefully I can find time and something to do for this! Def’ cool!

Jolene Oldham - I remember when you were showing me the Brenizer Method in your stairwell before covering a wedding! Was that four years ago already?

Sean Molin - SWEET. I’ve got about 25 of these bad-boys to choose from.

Owen Robert Cherry - Is this contest open to Canadian residents?

Ademir Ribeiro - Is it open worldwide?

Joris van der Linde - Speciaal voor Rens Pontier.

Johann - July 1st ehh? Too bad it’s not later. I was considering attempting a “brenizer method” of mr. brenizer in action on July 7th.
Looks like I’ll just be enjoying the wedding (and secretly learning).

Taz - Any chance you can push the deadline back to August 1st? I’ve got a few outdoor shoots lined up in the middle of our British summer where I would like to try out the BM.

Emilia Jane - Oh I can’t wait to see the finalists!!

Bart van der Mark - Very nice… am a big fan of your technique and I will be thinking about sending in a photo…

Paul Krol - has anyone Brenizer’ed a bear in the wild before? compelling, yes? Damn bear has to stay in his spot for all the outer shots though..oh man.. I guess I will just stick to humans.

iain gambles - I’m in!

Lem - Sounds awesome. I’d love to give this a shot!

Anton Chia - Thank you Ryan for doing this. This is one exciting thing to watch out for.

sam hurd - hmmm… so i guess i should just enter my brenizered alec baldwin portrait since you already called out my george clooney…

Shahid - I think a better 1st prize would have been a chance to shoot with mr. Brenizer himself or maybe a chance to learn and practice the method by the master himself

Ryan Brenizer - Shahid, I’d be happy to give a free workshop slot to the winner, but not everyone may be living in a place where they can take one. Let me think about it.

Nick Thomas - So is this still happening, or what? :)

Ryan Brenizer - Yeah, the deadline is July 1st! Submit!

Sandeep - I just got to know about the contest today :( I guess i m too late to post entries now….I hope to catch up for the second contest :D

Michael - Is there already a date known, when you will announce the winners?

Grandview Wedding: Tom and Nicole

I’d met Tom, a photographer himself, way back when he attended my very first workshop. I always love working with photographers of all stripes, since we can really just jump into a sort of creative collaboration. Doubly so when the couple is as kind and open as Tom and Nicole. It was a deeply emotional and beautiful day, the April weather bringing just the right coolness to get the Grandview dance floor moving — not that much convincing was needed. The ceremony was at their alma mater, Marist College, a gorgeous campus where all the ground is apparently at a 45-degree angle.

Julianne Markow - Beautiful work, and seriously that couple is adorable!

Pankaj - Hi Ryan,

First of all, I am a huge fan of your Photography. I would like to know, whilst doing wedding photography / Reception night photography, do you use keep your flashgun on top of your camera i.e. via hot shoe or do you use wirelessly through remote?

please help

Kind Regards,


Elissa - Flippin’ beautiful. Love all of the people dancing and the origami bouquet :)

mike - Rocking it Ryan.

Hugo Martinez - Awesome as always Ryan. The ring in the light tube is amazing.

Daniel Dunlap - Holy Smokes! And I completely agree with Paul Rowland. Dang.

Nessa K - Stunning work, Ryan. I absolutely love the black and white photo of them together. Those tiny streaks of beautiful light made for one amazing photograph. :)

Fotograf nunta Iasi - Lots of emotion captured in these photos. A beautiful photographic session.

Anton Chia - Gorgeous wedding! The flash composite wide angle formal shot took my breath away. Two thumbs up!

Vivek Sinha - The wide angle shot in front of the hotel is the coolest one!

D800 teaser: Ariana and Eric at the Metropolitan Club

To say that Ariana and Eric are a pretty cool couple is like saying that the Metropolitan Club — pretty much what you’d expect from a place built for J.P. Morgan to hang out in — is a pretty cool place to get married.

The D800 is a very different sort of camera than the D3s or D4, but a performer in its own way. And, since this is an ISO 3200 photo in a very dark spot, it’s a surprisingly good low-light performer. Of course, the exported TIFF of this photo was 217 megagbytes, so I will never have enough hard drives from now on.

Lens: 35mm f/1.4
Camera: Nikon D800

Urška - Wow! The colors and the composition is just stunning!

Magnus - Lovely!

I also shoot from behind a lot (with a flash) but tend to overblow the exposure – any recommendation to keep it to a minimum (except keeping the flash as low as possible of course)

Emmanuelli - I presume you are using tiff while ACR gets the new NEF format? Or do you usually process tiff?

Kelli Nixon - Love the shot! But I agree with the others about the overkill on the image size of the D800. Don’t get me wrong, I like the camera, but there are some things that I am having a real issue with on it. The grip being $400+ dollars is a bit insane!!

I really wish, like the others, that you could shoot at 16MB with it. 36MB is just too much for weddings.

Geoffrey Tischman - Beautiful photo – the detail on the ceiling and hanging lamp is phenomenal. Curious to get your full review of this camera- I was going out of my mind waiting for the D700 replacement and now am super hesitant due to not wanting to shoot with a 36MP camera- I think it’s beyond overkill!

Biarritz Bonheur - which aperture for this shoot?

Diane Hornbuckle Dobry - Love the Metropolitan Club. They can afford that place? wow. Good for them, and good for you.

Ryan Gauper - is there somewhere explaining your use of TIFFs?

mike - Gorgeous!

Matt Donahue - Beautiful photo. Do you color balance your flashes?

Ket Pang - simply stunning!

Craig Cacchioli - A lot of grumbles about the size of the image files. Perhaps Nikon have taken the leap a bit too soon. Sure, the cost of hard-drives is ever shrinking as the size of them is ever-increasing, and processors become more powerful, but let’s face it, this is a specialist piece of kit which is most likely not supposed to be used for weddings.

MikeV - is this a teaser of the D800 review?? coming soon i hope

Ryan Brenizer - All: If I’m going straight from the RAW converter to Photoshop for final processing, I export as ProPhoto RGB 16-bit TIFF to have as much data as I can, since that file only exists for about 15 minutes anyway.

Tony - The 35mm 1.4G is driving me nuts I can’t wait to order it. I’ve had the 24-120mm f4 VR II since September of last year and I’ve just never been crazy about that zoom range so I’m going to try out this 35mm as my wide prime and maybe throw in a 24mm 2.8 af-d. I’m a little jealous of how clean the D800 file is too I just ordered a D700 in December but oh well it’s still a workhorse of a camera. Can’t wait to see the full review.

Iftekhar Amin - Makes it sound like you’ve decided that it’s a keeper =).

I’m curious – do the compromises in speed make for the camera being less useful than the previous ones?

Kandid Weddings - Love the composition and back-lighting. Looks majestic.

Review: Nikon D4


Specs and Purchasing Information
838794The Nikon D4 has some big shoes to fill. Nikon’s professional line of cameras has been a benchmark since 1959, and it is the next iteration in a line that has seen both revolutionary cameras like the D1 and D3, and relative missteps, like the D2H. It has to compete with Canon’s similarly specced 1D-X (slightly higher in resolution and price). It has to complement and provide unique advantages over the megapixel-monster D800.

But there’s only one real challenge it faces in my book … and it’s not easy. Can it pry my beloved D3s from my hands? I’ve taken 338,378 photos with my D3s’s. They’re worn down to the gunmetal and aren’t slowing down. The D3s is the first camera I’ve ever used that isn’t just good, but something more important … it’s not annoying in any real way. Anyone who’s worked with a lot of cameras on a wide variety of shoots know how profound this is. The things cameras can do these days is astounding, but boy can they also be annoying. The D3s just does its job and gets out of the way, even at crazy-high ISOs, so what can Nikon do to make professional users buy a pricey upgrade?

The most obvious answer is video. The D3s does video … decently. It uses the amazing night-vision chip well for video in the dark, but it’s only 720P, which is below-standard for professional usage, and most of the controls are sort of tacked on. So if you’re looking for a fast-FPS professional Nikon that does great video, you don’t really need to read the rest of the review, just buy the D4. It does 1080p, it has dedicated video controls and a much better live-view screen. Go for it.

But that’s enough of that. This is a camera review. I’ve had video-enabled DSLRs for almost three years now, and … I really don’t care. I’d rather do what I do really well then tack on something else I do decently. The question is how it performs as a photographic tool.

The answer? It is both the best workhorse camera I have ever used and one that I’m ambivalent about.

The good:
Build quality and ergonomics: Every flagship Nikon DSLR has felt incredibly solid, and with more curves and a clearly huge amount of testing, they’ve added little touches of finesse to make this the best one yet. Check out the back:

20120106 nikon d4 backjpeg

Nikon managed to add video controls and two joysticks — one for horizontal operation and one for video — without making the camera feel cluttered. There’s some additional gripping for vertical holding, a lighter but still-powerful battery — just a fantastic overall design. It’s a potential self-defense device as much as a camera.

The screen and Live View: Live View is tied to a camera’s video functioning, which means that in the D3s it works … OK. But in the D4 it’s fantastic. Sadly the D3s Live View only works up to 1/250th of a second, which can leave you hanging in bright situations. But the D4 Live View works at any shutter speed, has a fantastic refresh rate, and allows autofocus that isn’t super-speedy but is surprisingly accurate even in poor light.

You might ask why someone who doesn’t care about video is so impressed by good Live View. Sometimes you want to shoot from angles that aren’t so easy to get your eye in front of:


Or when you don’t want to stare directly into the sun, or into a very close light bulb:


Live View is also an incredibly helpful tool for advanced photography, particularly for someone who likes to manually focus fast lenses. Nikon’s fastest lenses, the 50mm f/1.2 and 58mm f/1.2, only come in manual focus varieties, but the problem is that the optical viewfinder doesn’t show anything like the true depth-of-field of an f/1.2 lens. Live View is almost a necessity to get good focus with these lenses wide-open:


It also comes in tremendously handy for freelensing and even tilt-shift, since it very accurately shows the plane of focus.

But even if you use AF lenses, perfect manual focus comes in very handy for precise situations, such as being able to zoom in on someone’s eyelashes in the dark, with the LCD being much, much more light sensitive than your still-adjusting eyes. That allowed me to know I was getting this image sharp at f/1.4, since the scene was almost completely dark:

Which brings us to:

The great sensor: Like the D3s before it, the D4 is a champ at high ISO. Sadly, while the D3s was a huge step above the D3, which was a GIANT leap over the D2X, the D4 is no better than the D3s in this space. In fact, the D3s is probably very slightly better, but at a given print size it’s pretty much a wash. They’re both fantastic, but the D4 isn’t breaking any new ground.

Of course there are other advantages. Resolution is slightly higher at 16 megapixels, and now it natively goes to ISO 100 instead of the D3s’s ISO 200. In the photo below, to bring down the sky’s exposure and sharpen the foreground I had to shoot at f/14 at ISO 100. With the D3s I’d have to shoot at a less-sharp f/20 at ISO 200.


But the big guy on the sensor block these days is the D800. And it’s true, that thing works magic at ISO 100, with unmatched resolution and dynamic range among DSLRs. But the D4 sensor is clearly designed for sports and photojournalism where ISO 100 is a rare luxury, and according to DXOMark it starts to outperform the D800 in dynamic range at higher sensitivities. As a wedding photographer in New York, I live in dark spaces, so this is worth consideration.

Unlike the 5D3, the D4 deals very well with pushed exposures or dodging.

But a light-sensitive sensor is nothing without light-sensitive…

Autofocus. Sadly the AF system doesn’t correct the one thing about the D3s that is almost annoying — the AF points are clustered too closely together on the FX frame. At first glance it looks exactly the same as the D3/D700/D3s AF system, but it’s rated to be twice as sensitive in low-light, and when you do a lot of work in poorly lit environments you can feel the improvement (even though the D3s is no slouch.) The lighting at this wedding with Sam Hurd was intensely purple, which drove the normally-great Canon 5D3 autofocus a bit bonkers, but it was hard to shake the D4 off its game:


Overall, this and the D800 seem to be the best in class for low-light autofocus. We’ll see if the 1D-X has any tricks up its sleeve.

The Bad(ish):

Honestly, very few things are wrong with this camera (as long as you get one that isn’t locking up). But there are some niggling issues that affected me, and may affect you.

You Can’t Buy Just One: Most of the people in the market for D4s are professionals, and thus need backup gear. If you shoot with two cameras at the same time (like I do), then you’re probably going to want to buy two. The D3s looks and feels so similar that you’ll keep forgetting which is which — until your thumb reaches for a button and you remember that it’s not there. The fastest way to do things with the D4 are via the new joysticks, but that was another thing to remember when I had a D3s slung over the other shoulder. The AF mode switching, the metering selection, there are so many little changes that will frustrate you down the line. If you use a D800 as a second body, not only will your files randomly be vastly different sizes, but you’ll be dealing with three different memory card systems. Which brings me to:

Hybrid cards: Nikon had this right with the D3 and D3s, and now Canon has it right with the 1DX. The best way to implement a dual-card system is with two of the same kind of card. I am constantly switching cards in and out to back up as I go along, and with nothing but CF cards the chain is seamless — all cards are either in the camera or actively being downloaded at any time. But throw in a different sort of slot and it all becomes some sort of strange juggling act that is at best annoying (there’s that word!) and at worst can endanger valuable data by misplacing a card. Honestly, I can’t wait for the D4s where they figure out whether the XQD system was worth it or not. Go all-in or don’t.

This is an amazing camera, with a few quirks that will only annoy people who are very set in their D3s-shooting ways. It combines Nikon’s excellent flash system (with upgrades like remembering flash-head zoom positions after they’ve been turned off and on) with a great overall sensor and a world-class body. Is it worth the $6K when the D800 is half the price with more resolution or the D3s is still hanging around at a discount? For most Nikon sports photographers and photojournalists who increasingly live in a multimedia world, the answer should probably be yes.

For people who are counting every dollar? Perhaps, going forward, but ponder this: if I were unethical, I could have written this review without ever touching a D4. Any of these shots could have been taken with the D3s and you’d never know the difference, even with 100 percent crops (the difference between 12 and 16 megapixels isn’t huge). Only the images where I used Live View in the day time provided a clear practical advantage.

But I have loved mine to pieces, and kept turning to it, as these sample photos will show. This is a camera that is built to work:


Buy it here

mike - Reading…learning…smiling : D

JVS - Thanks for the honest review Ryan!

Jonathan Martinez - Extraordinary images produced from that puppy. Thanks for the read!

Chris Aram - I have eagerly been awaiting a “real” review from a photographer whose work I love and trust. Thanks for both the review and the eye candy. Beautiful work!

brett maxwell - great review, but you didn’t answer the question on everyone’s mind: will it be your primary camera (or two) this year?

Ryan Brenizer - @Brett: The answer you seek is in the subtext. I also have the D800 left to test.

nadine - really great photos, ryan :) and thanks for the review. i still haven’t made up my mind about my d4 yet.

Max - So… If I buy one of these, can I take pictures like those?

Steven Mackie - WHO puts a ring inside a light bulb!!?? I mean c’mon ;)That’s crazy how good that looked.

BTW, should that be freelensing or freelancing?

Jeremy - Thanks for the review. The annoying items you listed were enough for me to stick with my d3s…for now at least.

Christian Berens - WOW! Such precise images! The camera is truly great, but the photographer is also… I guess you get a little credit haha.

Tera Nelson - I just nod my head at your mind blowing images.

Reché Rush - Nice…REAL Nice…

Ben Chrisman - Nice review Ryan. I agree completely. The D4 is the best camera I have ever used.

Varun Saran - I’ll save this for a nice through read tonight, but from skimming: I agree with the comments on card slots! Excellent images as always!

Alejandro Carabes - now you making want to go in dept to get this awesome camera.

David {Dig It Photography} - Great hands-on review, thanks.

Matthew - Amazing review and the photos are awesome. Can’t wait to read your D800 review.

Scott - How romantic… Awesome photography!

Daniel Sheehan - Love it Mate – have 2 D4’s myself and see a significant difference between my D3’s (not d3s) – thanks for the review and promoting the canera!!

Diego Tabango - I love my D4 to bits but it hasn’t been my best experiences. It has locked up on me several times, and it appears Nikon has changed the way AF-S/AF-C “focus” priority worked in previous models.

Lukas Gisbert-Mora - So not really a big need for an upgrade from my D3s, D4s could be the one to wait for than. That second to last photo in the Church, amazing, how wide was this?

Zeus - Lovely, lovely work! It’s clear you could make great images with a shoe box and some duct tape. Thanks for sharing! It was a great read! It was also much appreciated that someone finally put into words the whole idea of “less or more annoying” in use.

Great read once again!

Fotograf nunta Iasi - Nice review the D4 is the best camera!

Colton - Any complaints about the green hue on the LCD? I’m diggin’ my D4, but I am having a crazy hard time getting past the fact that every image looks green through the LCD.

Paul Bohman - About the inaccuracy of the optical view finder with wide aperture lenses: Do you have any idea why the preview seems incapable of showing anything wider than about f2.2? Does the camera body close down the lens, or is it an optical property of the prism/ground glass? This is something that has bugged me for a while.

Craig Cacchioli - Looks like a great camera. You certainly have some great shots to show off the dynamic range.

adrienne - Beautiful set of photos and i like your ability catch the moment. Love the choose of the lens: beautiful backgrounds. Congrats.

Jason - I tried reading your review but I kept getting distracted by your images. :) Loving your work as always mate.

melissa - Awesome honest review, thank you, so helpful! I’ve been on the fence… :D Love your work, these photos are gorgeous!

Dmitriy Frolov - I always like to read something interesting from you. This one is no exception!

Doug - Just got mine a week and a half ago, and you’re dead on with, “you can’t just buy one.” The buttons are different enough that shooting with it and the D3s is driving me a bit nuts.

Marctriyandi - Another good review, you can convince people to use this camera from this article.

Serge - I have read around the Net that there are some focusing issues with D4/D800. So here’s a simple test that confirms proper autofocus operation:

Phillip Gao - Spectacular angles for the shots Ryan. The review has got me thinking about Nikon.

Josh Jones - Great review. I definitely agree with you on the autofocus. Definitely the fastest I have used. I just wrote a similar review of my Nikon D4, also from the perspective of a wedding photographer. If anyone wants to check it out they can read it here:

Ben - This makes the choice harder still…. I love my d3 at weddings much more than d700, I wonder if the d4/d800 would be the same> Thanks Ryan!

John Fredy - I jumped from Nikon D600 to D4. I am a pro photographer. I want to share my opinion in using this camera. I am very impressed with the image quality generated by this camera. Great camera in low lighting something I need more than anything. I think spot metering in low lighting works much better than matrix for color rendering and overall exposure work. The focusing is very fast and in low light situation it works great. Love it.

The unit has an incredible dynamic range. The ergonomics are excellent, and weight is less than my D600 with a Power Grip. I have shot images at 12,800 ISO with little or negligible noise, and at 50 ISO images need only minor post. I especially like the ability to Auto bracket at up to 3EV. This is great for HDR’s.

I recommend this camera for professional photographer. I mean that Nikon has created a camera that does all the things a camera in this category should at this point in time with no glaring omissions. It is definitely a new benchmark for Nikon.

I chose amazon for this purchase because of the great customer service I have gotten in the past, and this was certainly the case this time.

Ashley - Great review, although i probably go with the 800 was good to read up on the d4 also. thanks

Peter Kalogeropoulos - Great review as usual!!

Simon Young - I use the D4 alongside the D810 and find myself turning to the D810 more and more. It seems to get a better Auto white balance and has more “Wiggle room” at low ISO. For indoor and sports shoots, the D4 is still my first choice but if I am realistic about print sizes, either camera will now do pretty well any job. Si.

Just … trust me.


Sometimes photography requires a good deal of trust. The coordinator from the New York Botanical Garden stood in front of me and said “We have transportation, and you have access to all the wonders and beauty of the gardens at your disposal. Where would you like to go?”

“Well … I saw a really great patch of unmowed grass. Can we go there?”

Trust can pay off.

Lens: Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6
Camera: Nikon D4

mike - Extreme angle!

Stefan Hellberg - Photographer Switzerland - Sweet!

Two questions, did you use a speedlight or reflector to cast some light in their faces?

Are you sponsored by Sigma? It’s pretty. Ice someone your caliber is only(?) rocking it on sigma, especially with all sigma haters out there…

Thanks for an awesome share, have a great one!

// Stefan

Ryan Brenizer - I wish Sigma would sponsor me! But you have to shoot with their cameras, too, and I don’t like those as much. ;-)

Jeffrey Benzon - Agreed. My couples are always happiest when I skip the venue’s recommended spots and get them to trust me for stuff like this. This is awesome Ryan. I see you have been shooting the 12-24 a lot lately. Do you like it better than the 14-24 for this kind of work?

Craig Cacchioli - That wide angle is awesome. Almost feels like you dug a hole to get that low! Do tell… speedlite to illuminate the faces?

rich - i will never see unmowed grass the same. super beautiful shot!

Rebeca Irene Sierra Mauga - love your work, this is gorgeous!

Eric Kotara - Great review Ryan, with some lovely work to back it up!!!

Nicole Chan - I LOVE this!

Street-Level Love

Fun times yesterday with Beatriz and Ramon.

Lens: Sigma 12-24mm f/4.5-5.6
Camera: Nikon D4

Elissa - Oooooh I like this one a lot.

Kimo Okimo - bella work..

mike - Love those shadows.

Blanca Martínez - Impresionante foto!!

Joel C Adelaide - Cool framing.

JPanda - Beautiful shot!

Max - Love it!

Deanna Dusbabek - Love this!

Anton Chia - Sugoi! Love the silhouette and the mystery.

Craig Cacchioli - Loving your work as usual Ryan

Steven Young - Really, really nice Ryan!

Coming Soon: Nikon D4 review


I’ve run this puppy though its paces, and know what I love and what I don’t.

Here we have literal shot in the dark — ISO 6400, f/1.4, 1/15th — from a wedding where my buddy Sam Hurd had me help out and test new gear along the way.

Lens: 24mm f/1.4
Camera: Nikon D4

Justin Wright - Video light on the couple?

Craig Cacchioli - Fantastic use of light, or more specifically lack of!