Nikon has announced the Nikon D4, their new flagship professional digital SLR camera. The Nikon D4 betters the D3 and subsequent D3s in many areas, with Nikon setting a firm eye on having this new camera in place for the 2012 London Olympic Games.

The appearance is close to the Nikon D3, with some ergonomic tweaks to make everyday shooting more confortable and convenient, including some minor changes to the body and button positioning. It is lighter than the D3s, weighing in at 1.18kg.

But it’s the internals that are really interesting. There is a 16.2-megapixel FX CMOS sensor (full frame 36 x 24.9mm) offering a normal ISO range of 100-12,800 but expandable to a staggering 50 to 204,800, offering a lower ISO for very bright conditions and very very high ISOs for shooting in the dark.

Another neat trick the Nikon D4 has in its armoury is backlit controls. This again supports the low light functionality and makes it easy to find the button you need, when you need it.

The Nikon D4 includes the Expeed 3 processor, first seen in the Nikon 1 cameras launched at the end of 2011. The Expeed 3, Nikon tells us, makes the D4 faster noticeably than the D3s - and that was no slouch.

Other internal elements driving the Nikon D4 have been improved too. The Multi-Cam 3500FX autofocus module has been improved, offering 51 focal points, but importantly, now offering much better focusing in dark conditions. You'll also be able to select focal points manually more easily thanks to a new control, without taking your eye from the viewfinder.

Advanced scene recognition comes from a new 91k-pixel RGB sensor. Constant communication is maintained between the sensor, metering and focus systems to ensure that the scene appears correctly and less likely to be skewed by things like backlighting, with automatic face detection picking out faces to make sure they get properly exposed.

On the back of the Nikon D4 is 3.2-inch 912,000 pixel resolution display, with a light sensor to adjust the brightness, contrast and saturation. Nikon say the display is close to sRGB for improved colour integrity when checking images.

Nikon told Pocket-lint that the Nikon D4 is "by far our best camera" when it comes to shooting movies. You get a full range of movie shooting modes, with common selectable frame rates at Full HD and 720p. It captures in H.264 and you can record for up to 29.59mins.

Supporting video capture, however are a range of neat features. You can output live clean uncompressed video through the HDMI. There is both a mic and headphone socket, so you can monitor the audio with 20 levels of adjustment on offer. 

Connectivity doesn't just sit in support of movie capture. There is also an Ethernet port, so you can hook straight up to your media centre. IPTC information can be added in the camera itself, with a range of preset options available, speeding up the workflow for the pro photographer.

There is time-lapse shooting built into the camera, but you also get encoding included, so you can preview your captured time-lapse on the camera without the need for a computer.

With the added WT-5 Wireless Transmitter (an optional accessory), you'll get HTTP and FTP access, so you'll get remote control. For those looking for a truly mobile solution, the HTTP mode has been designed to work with the iPhone screen resolution, so you'll effectively get iPhone control of your camera.

There are two memory slots on offer, a standard CF slot, and a slot for the new XQD format memory card, which promises data speeds of 125MB/s.

Of course, this being a pro camera, all this (and we've only picked out the highlights here) comes at a price of £4799.99 (body only). The good news is, however, that the Nikon D4 is available from 16 February 2012.

ReadNikon D4 pictures and hands-on

ReadNikon D4 offers HTTP mode, optimised for iPhone control