Dec 202013
 

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The Nikon Df Camera Review by Steve Huff

Wow, what a whirlwind year this has been! There have been so many cameras released..and I mean GOOD, SOLID and AMAZING digital cameras here in 2013 (Olympus E-M1, Sony RX1R, Sony A7/A7r, Leica M, and others) and as this jam packed year comes to a close, my last camera review of the year is the new Nikon Df DSLR, and man oh man, what a beauty it is, in more ways than one.

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Disclaimer: My Review Style!

Most of you reading this probably have read reviews written by me in the past. If so, thank you for coming back! If not, then know that when I review cameras I review them in a “real world” way..in fact, this website was the  very 1st “real world” camera review site on the internet and over the past 5 years many more have blossomed (which I think is very welcomed and pretty cool) because many people want to read about a camera from someone who has really used it, put it through its paces and exposed its many strengths and weaknesses. Is it fast? Is it easy to use? Is it comfortable to hold? Does it produce nice results? How is the battery life? The Viewfinder? The High ISO and low ISO? Are there lenses available? To me this is better than shots taken in a lit studio to test high ISO or shots of a newspaper clipping to test ultimate resolution. None of this means diddly squat when you are out using the camera as it was meant to be used. So you will not see all of those fancy charts and graphs here, just my real opinions from real use.

The next two shots..The Nikon Df with a Zeiss 35 f/2 Zf lens. Wide open you get that signature Zeiss look. My fiancee Debby was tortured for this review with MANY photos taken, so I thank her for being a good sport :) 

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Yes, these are the things most of us want to see, more so than how many lines of resolution a camera can pump out on some boring test chart.  I also feel like most of us want to read reviews from someone who has used the camera for more than a couple of hours as then and only then can one really get an idea of how it will perform on a day to day basis.

We do buy cameras for the images it is capable of shooting, do we not? But if it sucks in its handling or AF speed then I toss it to the side like I have a few cameras in 2013 (Canon EOS-M was one of them). It is rare that a camera captures my attention so strong that I end up buying one for my own personal use or collection and keep it long term. It has happened with the Leica M cameras, the Olympus E-M5/E-M1 and even the Sony RX1. But what about this Nikon Df? Did it give me the emotional bond that is required for me to pull the trigger on this $3,000 set? Something that no DSLR has done since the original Nikon D700 (long before good mirror less options were around)…

Keep reading to find out…

Nikon Df, ISO 4000, 50 1.8 Kit lens

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What is the Nikon Df?

The Nikon Df is a new kind of DSLR for Nikon, but it is indeed still a normal DSLR with a new/old fancy design. While it performs much like a D800 or D610 or D4 it is the style and design that separates it from the crowd. In the past 2-3 weeks that I have been shooting the Df I have had no less than 5 compliments and inquiries on it. People see it and are immediately struck by the beauty of the camera. It looks retro yet modern though two people thought this was  film camera. So that right there tells me that Nikon designed it just as they intended.

A Look at the Nikon Df 

Yes, this has been happening often and proves that the majority think this camera looks amazingly good. This camera also gives 35mm shooters the absolute best low light high ISO performance available today in a production camera. Even just edging out the legendary Nikon D3s in high ISO,  according to the DXO tests. Basically this camera gives you Nikon D4 image quality (and again, even better in low light from what DXO says) in a much smaller and lighter body along with that sexy retro style. Smaller, lighter, equal or better performance to the flagship AND good looks = A CAMERA I WOULD USE EVERY DAY.

So the bottom line is that the Nikon Df is a throwback to the SLR’s of the 70’s and 80’s but in digital form, using the Nikon D4 flagship sensor, which they have somehow improved upon in some areas. It’s a mighty image quality marvel in an old school shell.

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To those saying this camera is ugly…well, all I can say is that I 100% disagree with you.

In fact, in my opinion, this camera is the 2nd most beautiful LOOKING digital camera in production today (Next to the Leica M). It is “sexy-retro” instead of “ugly-retro” and I much preferred the silver over the black even though both are really nice looking. The silver will get more attention so if you want to be low key, the black would be the way to go. But make no mistake, this is a beautiful camera and both the black and silver feel 100% exactly the same in the hand. In fact, give a blind man each camera and he would not know which was which. I say this because there has been nonsense online talking about how the silver is made to a cheaper standard. Absolute MYTH.

NOTE: They are both 100% the same in regards to build and materials. I have shot with and handled BOTH extensively.

I know SOOOO many of you just LOVE Cat pictures ;) So here ya go..three with the Df. Top one with the 50 1.8 kit lens!

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So again, the Nikon Df is basically a smaller, retro F series styled/inspired Nikon DSLR. It is the smallest DSLR they make, and when it arrived I was shocked at how small it was because I was expecting a big heavy beast. I was thrilled when I took it from the box and felt the lightness but at the same time, the robustness of it. While it did not feel tank like in the build, after a week or two I came to appreciate that it did NOT feel like that. If it was a tank, it would feel like a tank and then it would be too heavy for all day walk around use. It strikes a great balance that is actually quite hard to get just right.

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The Df is not nearly as small as a Sony NEX or A7 or Olympus E-M1 but in my hand , with lens, it feels about the same weight as a Leica M with a small classic 35 Summaron attached.

So the Df, for me, is the only the 2nd DSLR I would consider for my own personal use (at the time of this writing) as it is light enough and small enough – just at the limits of what I would consider the difference between an everyday shooter and a “stay at home” camera. This is my opinion as I adore small high quality cameras and am not a fan of large, bulky and fat. Your opinion may vary. The only other DSLR I would consider is the Pentax K3, but I would prefer the Df as it is full frame.

Three portrait grabs below in low light..the 1st one with the 50 1.8 at 1.8, the 2nd with the 50 1.8 at ISO 4000 and the last one with the 50 1.2 at 1.2

I have never experienced such amazing low light performance..well..since the Nikon D3s.

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What really blew me away…

What really blew me away was the fact that this small DSLR with its sexy looks gave me the absolute best low light performance I have ever seen (even seeming to beat the older and larger Nikon D3s). In almost any light situation I could snap a shot, even using AF with the simple 50 1.8 kit lens and it would lock, fire and give me usable results, even at ISO 16,000 or even 25,600. Shooting with a Leica M limits me  to 6400 tops and with the E-M1 I really do not go over 6400 ..ever. The Df literally laughed at the low light scenarios and spit out rich colorful images at high ISO. Yes, it is the King Of the Nighttime World.

Below..ISO 16,000 at night without any noise reduction! 

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So when I started seeing these kind of results I was growing more and more fond of the Nikon Df for what it is and what it could do so easily. It looked good, it felt good, it had amazing and simplistic manual control, it was lightweight and had the best low light performance from any camera available today. It comes in at less than half the cost of a Leica M and the Nikon also has a slew of classic and modern lenses available. What is NOT to like?

I have shot with and owned the legendary Nikon D700. I have shot with and did a small review of the D800. I have reviewed the Canon 6D with the best primes lenses. While I liked these cameras and the IQ they could pump out, they would never find their way to my camera stable as they are just too large, too heavy and they do nothing to inspire me to take them out. The Df is the opposite and in fact, it is one of the few cameras that have been able to get me excited to take it out and shoot lately. This surprised me as I expected to like it but not really “love” it.

The incredible low light performance means it can go with me anywhere and anytime as now I can shoot in any light and get usable results with good color and detail, up to ISO 16,000. Past that you can also get usable results but it will start to get noisy.

ISO 25,600 at f/1.2 with the 50 1.2 in low and really bad light

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High ISO comparisons to the Sony A7, A7r and Olympus E-M1

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The Nikon Df is astounding in low light and high ISO. But how does it compare to the latest and greatest from Sony, or even the smaller Micro 4/3 Olympus E-M1? Above is the shot (which is shown from the Df at ISO 12,800) that was taken by all cameras with the same focal length, same settings and same ISO’s. Below are the 100% crops. The Df is the cleanest without question but that little E-M1 is hanging in there!

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The Df is indeed class leading when it comes to high ISO and even though the sensor is 16MP, it offers plenty of detail and the ability to print as large as 98% of us will ever need.

The Nikon Df Haters – Why the hate? 

Upon launch of the Nikon Df many bashers and haters came out to trash the camera well before anyone even touched it. I am even guilty of accusing it of being fat, heavy and large well before I even held one (I was wrong on the weight). Complaints many had were about the look (which some thought was ugly), the price (which many thought was high) and the sensor (which many feel is dated). I even wrote a “what the Df is and is not” article to explain to those who were comparing it to a D610 or D800 that this was a different camera for a different audience and those who were wanting a Df would probably not want a D800 for various reasons. Believe it or not, there is something in us that emotionally ties us to our cameras and camera gear. If there is no connection to a camera for me then it is useless and a waste of money.

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A camera that feels good, is fast, is versatile AND can be easily controlled as well as look amazingly good can do that for me and many others. The Df, so far, is on the right track. Cameras like the D610, D800, D4..they do not appeal to me in the slightest due to size, ugly design, weight and the fact that they are just like 70% of other cameras on the market. Dare to be different because different is GOOD ;)

Let me state my thoughts after using the Df for a while and remember..I have also used the D700, D800, D3s, D4 and many other DSLR’s from Nikon including the D100, D200, D300, D7000, D5100, etc. I have experience with mostly all of them.

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If Nikon came knocking on my door and said “Pick one camera and one lens for free..anything in our lineup” I would immediately, without hesitating, give a clear and concise answer… “The silver Df and 50 1.2 Ais lens”. 

Yes my friends, I would take the Df over the D700, D800, D4 or any other Nikon DSLR made. I feel it offers the best of the other DSLR’s wrapped into one body that I enjoy MUCH more. For example:

  • The Sensor is the “dated” D4 sensor but guess what? It is still considered the flagship sensor in the flagship camera for a reason. Because it offers the best of everything. It is 16Mp and that is PLENTY for 98% of users wether they want to admit it or not. I remember shooting the Nikon D2h and D2hs (still own one) and printing many 20X30’s with those small 4 MP files. People would see the images and say “wow, what detail in that picture”. These were 4Mp 20X30 prints! So the 16MP in the Df sensor is more than enough to print large. Those who feel it is not are more concerned about pixel peeping or the specs than the actually photo process or printing. 
  • The Body is light. Yes, this is the main reason that I enjoy the Df! It is much lighter feeling than any of the full frame DSLR’s, and it feels good in my hand. Not cheap, not plasticky and damn, it looks fantastic. Never did I get compliments on my D700 or D2hs. I get a few on the Leica from time to time but have gotten the most with this Df. It has actually been a conversation starter on a few occasions and no, I do NOT want some large bulky grip attached.
  • The battery life is amazing. 1400 shots or more on one battery charge, and the battery is slim and light. What more can I say?
  • NO VIDEO! Thank goodness for this one. This camera is about photography, pure and simple. If I want video I have many other cameras that can do it for me and shooting video with a Df would be awkward anyway. 

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  • The controls. No other Nikon DSLR offers the controls of the Df. It is simple, it is classic and it makes sense. All right there on top of the camera where we want them via DIALS instead of menus and buttons. 
  • The shutter is actually not that loud. It is not silent but it is quieter than the Sony A7 and A7r and on par with my Leica M.
  • Af is quick and fast in good light and pretty fast in low light as well. No misfocus and no quirks. 
  • The kit 50 1.8 lens is rather nice. The 1st copy I had was giving me focus issues and I realized this when the silver body kit came in and focused perfectly. So if you get a good one, the 50 1.8 is a bargain. 
  • $2900 for a camera body that is light, attractive, full frame, fast, problem free, manual controls, best low light performance of any current camera and a cool kit 50 1.8 lens as well is a good price. Yes, it is expensive but to some it is well worth it. How much is the D800? D4? Leica M? Canon 5DIII? The Df makes me want to use it just as my Leica does, so $2900 with lens is a good buy IMO for those who want something serious, sexy and slick ;) I’d much rather own this that a D800, 5DIII, D4, etc. So to me, that says a lot. 

The 50 1.8 at 1.8

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The next two with the manual focus 50 1.2 Ais lens at f/1.2

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Manually focusing on the Df. Is it easy?

You have heard me talk about using manual focusing lenses on this camera such as the Nikon 50 1.2 and the Zeiss 35 f/2. This camera uses a typical DSLR optical viewfinder and does have a mirror so it is no different than shooting a Nikon D700, D600, etc. You are not looking through an EVF but a real optical VF (I now prefer a good EVF over optical) that can be a challenge to manually focus.

For example, if you are trying to eyeball focus through the VF, and shooting a lens like the Nikon 50 1.2 at 1.2, you will probably be off more than half of the time. I ended up getting frustrated trying  to manually focus just by looking and seeing when the subject is in focus. It did not work half of the time. Was it my eyes or was it just the camera? Not sure but when I started to use the focus confirmation I started getting 100% hit rates, even using a Zeiss 100 f/2 macro.

When you turn your focus ring you will see arrows in the Viewfinder that point to the left or to the right. What you want to do is turn the focus ring until you see the green dot in between these arrows. When this happens, you WILL be in focus. It is much more time consuming than shooting with an AF lens but if you have some older lenses laying around that are maul focus only, you CAN use them, so all it will take is some practice. After a couple of weeks I got the hang of it no problem.

Below is a 100% full size file from the camera using a Zeiss 35 f/2 manual focus lens, shot at f/2. Focus was on the glasses.

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So manually focusing the Df with certain lenses can be done, but IMO, takes some practice. Much different than shooting with a good EVF (which I feel is much easier for MF) or a rangefinder. But once you get the hang of it, it presents no problems and for some, may be preferred.

The 1st shot was taken with the Zeiss 100 f/2 Macro. Manually focused. 

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The 2nd shot is wide open at f/2 with the Zeiss 35 f/2

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Using older Nikon Lenses..

The cool thing about the Nikon Df is that you can use older Nikon manual lenses with this camera. Ai, Ais, whatever you desire, they will work. Nikon made sure that their :retro” digital would work with real retro lenses, so this is a very cool feature. There are lenses you can use on the Df that you can not use on the D800 or D4. If using Ai lenses you can manually enter in the lens data and pull up any selection of them later. For example, if you have 4-5 Ai lenses you can enter their focal length and aperture into the camera, then program a button to bring up the lenses. So if you mount a 28, you can pull up the lens selection and choose the 28. Mount a 50 and pull up the menu to load the 50. This way, your exif data will remain intact. You do not have to do this, but is there for those who want the correct EXIF data when using older Ai lenses. So the Df is ready to rock and roll and it even uses the older style mechanical cable releases.

The Df works great with a mechanical shutter release such as the one in the photo below, which I bought at Amazon HERE

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So what is wrong with the Nikon Df?

So what are the things I would have changed with the Df if I had the power f a Nikon God?

For one, the battery and SD card door. It feels a but flimsy and since Nikon decided to house the SD card in next to the battery, I feel that over time this door may become loose or fall off. It just feels flimsy in comparison to those on the D700, D800, etc. The SD card should have had its own door on the side of the camera. The battery lasts so long that we would rarely even have to open the battery door if it were not for the SD card being there.

Second, I wish Nikon would have used a better screen in the Vf for manually focusing. Maybe a split image? Yea, that would have been much better. They went out of their way  to market the Df as a camera that can use all of the old Nikon manual focus lenses but why make it harder to actually focus those lenses when you could have made it much easier by using a split image screen? That one has me wondering what they were thinking.

Third…I wish the shutter had 1/8000th second capability. When using fast lenses wide open during the day, and like it or not, many of us out there do indeed shoot like this, 1/4000th second does not always cut it. Most cameras at this price level have a 1/8000th second shutter.

Finally..the cost. While I have no complaints of the price I do feel it would have been a better deal at $2499 with the 50 1.8 lens. This would differentiate it from the D800E and even the D610, both full frame offerings from Nikon. While I would never buy a D800 for myself, the Df seems like a $2499 price point type of camera and I feel even more would be biting at that price point. But it does house the mighty flagship D4 sensor, and has improved upon the abilities of it as well. It is the smallest DSLR Nikon makes and the most attractive in my opinion. So deepening on the shooter, this may or may not be for you.  It is not for everyone, that I know. You will either love it or hate it.  Me, I love it, even at $2995 with 50 1.8 lens.

1st image – 50 1.8 kit lens bokeh balls – 2nd image with the 50 1.2 Ais at 1.2 and the third with the 50 1.8 again, at 1.8

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Pros and Cons of the Nikon Df

Pros

  1. The design is beautiful to these eyes!
  2. The lightest and smallest DSLR Nikon makes
  3. Old school controls and dials are a nice change from menu diving
  4. Battery life is jaw droopingly good, 1400 shots or more
  5. Fast AF, even in low light
  6. Best high ISO performance of any camera available, even better than the D4 and D3s
  7. No shortage of lenses available!
  8. Can shoot just about any Nikon lens, new or old.
  9. Uses the flagship Nikon D4 sensor, with improvements
  10. No video (to some, this is a pro)

The Df with cable release and strap by Cub and Co.

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Cons

  1. Viewfinder should have used a split image screen
  2. Battery door feels flimsy, should have moved the SD card to the side
  3. Some will consider this to be too expensive
  4. Some modern lenses are just too large to use comfortably on the Df
  5. No video (to some, this is a con)
  6. Only 1/4000th second max shutter speed

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Zeiss Zf Lenses – A great match for the Df

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When I owned the Nikon D700 years ago I also owned a Zeiss Zf 50 1.4, 100 f/2 and the 85 f/1.4. I also had the Nikon 14-24 which is a killer lens for wide angle lovers, but huge.

The Zeiss Zf lenses are fantastic. high quality, smooth bokeh, Zeiss color and pop. They are not HUGE but they are well made. Check out the kit above or RIGHT HERE – that would be a dream kit for any Nikon Df owner who wants a full manual lens set. It can be yours for the low price of $6063, which is about half the cost of one Leica 50 Noctilux f/0.95 lens. Not bad at all when you look at it in this way :)

The kit includes a 21 f/2.8, 28 f/2, 35 f/2, 50 1.4 and 85 1.4 – five HQ lenses from wide to mild telephoto with a Zeiss hard shell case to store them all in. 

If I only owned the Df I would consider this exact kit. Yes, really.

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My final conclusion on the Nikon Df

The Nikon Df is a camera that has been welcomed by some and pushed away by others. It has been a polarizing release for Nikon with some hating on it before even holding one and others lusting after it as soon as images of the design were released. Me, I originally thought it would be a good camera but one that would NOT be for me due to the size, weight, and the fact that it would be a “DSLR in disguise”.

After receiving one in black and silver and using them for 2-3 weeks I realized that this camera is the only DSLR I would own today. It is much lighter than I thought, a little smaller than I thought and is a joy  to shoot with the right (light) lenses. It has gone with me everywhere for the past couple of weeks and has shot in bright light, low light and NO light without issues or any kind of glitch or fault. This truly is the “King of the Nighttime World” and if high ISO and low light is your thing, the Df is the champion at this point in time (end of 2013).

Besides the low light performance, the Df bring sin a handsome classic design, beautiful manual control dials that allows you to control any setting you desire quickly and easily. It offers a bright optical viewfinder that is easy to frame and shoot with even though it can be a challenge to manually focus with when using fast prime lenses. The build is good but not tank like or over built. I think Nikon struck the right balance here as they wanted to keep it light while keeping it solid. They succeeded on this front.

Shot with the Nikon 58 1.4 which is expensive at $1600+ and larger than the kit or Ais 50mm choices. It is a bokeh machine…

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The image quality performance from this camera is just what you would expect from a Nikon D4, which is the flagship in the pro DSLR line for Nikon, and MUCH more expensive, much heavier and much larger. The Df is a little powerhouse indeed. While shooting with this camera I was approached several times asking me what kind of camera it was. Some thought it was an old film camera, others just wanted one. One guy said he was going to travel the world in 2014 and wanted a “good” camera to take with him. He said all he owned was a $200 point and shoot and wanted a “real” camera. He fell in love with the silver Df I had with me and when he asked how much and I answered “$3000 with kit 50mm lens” he almost fell back. But then he said “you get what you pay for, and it is better to buy something good than bad and then regret it or sell it and lose money”. He then said he will indeed own this camera :)

It turned out to be a great conversation starter as it is quite the looker.

As for speed, usability, IQ and overall joy of use I give this one high marks and is up there with the best I have shot with. No complaints in any of those areas.

The Nikon Df is a superb little DSLR, and the only DSLR I would own and use on a daily basis. My preference after shooting with both is for the silver but the black is also quite nice. All depends on your preference.

As for the kit 50mm 1.8 lens, one of them was focusing incorrectly (the black kit) and one was spot on perfect and quite sharp. So if you get the kit and the 50 1.7 is overly soft, it could be that the lens is off. The Nikon Df allows you to compensate for that in the menu where you can adjust the focus for these kinds of situations.

Overall, this is a stellar DSLR and I can not imagine anyone not liking it unless you are really stuck on the traditional DSLR size, shape and looks. If that is the case, a D800 or D4 would suit you better. If you like the retro style and looks, it doesn’t get much better than this in a 2013 digital (besides the Leica M). With Christmas right around the corner, this could make the perfect Christmas gift for yourself or your photo geek loved one ;)

As for me..did I buy one? Well, I was constantly going back and forth only because I simply have too many cameras as it is. At the end of the day, I do NOT have a DSLR nor a way to shoot some of those cool old Nikon lenses. I ended up picking up the silver kit for those times I want to kick it retro style with an AF fast 50. No matter what the naysayers tell you, this camera does feel great to take out and shoot, and one that inspires is one that will be used. There is nothing from Canon that excites me..Sony DSLRS are not to my liking to where I would buy one…Pentax kicks some bootie but I love the design, feel, speed and look of the Df. I can have any DSLR or camera that I want and for me, the Df wins it. If I designed a DSLR for my own use it would be 75% Df and 0% Canon 5D. Enough said.

PS – To those who are saying it is too thick..remember, it is a DSLR. The thickness can not be changed with a Nikon or Canon DSLR that accepts the Nikon or Canon DSLR lenses. This thickness HAS to be maintained in order for the lenses to work. So you will never see a Nikon or Canon DSLR that is thin unless they invent a new lens mount. But for size, this is about as good as it gets for full frame DSLR. 

Enjoy!

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Where to Buy the Nikon Df??

The Nikon Df is available almost everywhere but when I shop for camera gear I buy from those I know well, and those who have never given me issues. For Nikon I buy from B&H Photo or Amazon. Both of these shops are huge, reputable, well known and have the best and easiest return policies.

You can buy the Nikon Df in many configurations at B&H Photo HERE

You can buy the Nikon Df in many configurations at AMAZON HERE.

When using those links above it helps this website tremendously as that is the main way this website is funded each and every month, with YOUR help and this is the best way to help. So if you buy a Df or ANYTHING after clicking on those links I THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart.

 

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If you ever decide to make a purchase from B&H Photo or Amazon, for ANYTHING, even diapers..you can help me without spending a penny to do so. If you use my links to make your purchase (when you click a link here and it takes you to B&H or Amazon, that is using my links as once there you can buy anything and I will get a teeny small credit) you will in turn be helping this site to keep on going and keep on growing.

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  319 Responses to “The Nikon Df Camera Review by Steve Huff”

  1. I am happy to see your new Video on the Nikon Df. It was great to see the size of this machine. I had initially Poo Pooed it as too large and heavy. I was wrong. Thanks for all of your help understanding this Wild Camera Marketplace. By using the original Nikon Lens Mount, the Nikon Df has a big advantage over the new Sony Full Frame Mirrorless cameras which is starting another line of lens mounts. After using my Olympus OM-D E-M1 for a month, I do not think I could give up my EVF. I have come to rely on the exposure that I see in “Real Time” in the Electronic Viewfinder. But beside this one feature, I would be interested in the new Nikon. Have a great Holiday Season.

  2. Not interested in the Nikon line, but it looks like a nice camera and a very thorough review.

  3. Steve,
    Not one mention that the camera body is too thick? Not one mention that the little button locks on the dials are a pain in the butt especially for the exposure comp? No mention that it’s too expensive compared to other fine Nikon DSLRs? The dials feel cheap and plasticky compared to other cameras? I think you went too easy on this one. I tried the Df too and I will pass, and I am a Nikon shooter and NPS member.
    -Brad

    • Too thick compared to what, a Leica? Compared to Leica it is thick as it is a DSLR, but when compared to a D4 or D800, it is not too thick. The button locks, I love them. If they were not there then it would cause all kinds of issues that people would complain about (dials rotating out of place as other cameras do). The locks are WELCOME IMO. Cheap and plasticky dials? I do not see this at all. feels just as solid as my Leica M and Sony’s as far as dials go. I would take this camera over ANY ANY ANY Nikon camera made today, period. (and I did). Different strokes for different folks..what you dislike about it, I love :) Goes to show that no one can make a camera that pleases everyone. No one. I judge based on joy of use, usability, speed, pride of ownership, size, weight, build, looks, versatility and IQ. In these areas, the Df excels (when tackling about full frame DSLR’s)

    • Too thick? Really? It’s a full-frame camera with a mirror box and an LCD panel on the back. The flange distance alone dictates a minimum thickness. So this is kind of a non-sequitur.

      And too expensive? You’re getting the D4 sensor (even better) in a camera that costs half as much (with a lens) as the D4 body only. What else could Nikon have left in and still kept it half price, I wonder? Plus you’re getting massively reduced weight and size and the retro controls (if you like that).

      And I would challenge anyone to actually be able to tell the difference between today’s plastic knobs and any aluminum ones (which is what they used to be made from in the ’70s). The Df is using the exact same sorts of materials for the top deck as the Fuji X100 (and no-one ever complains about those feeling cheap or plasticky).

      • IMHO, although more expensive and heavier, the D4 is a far, far, far better camera than the Df. I know it’s not good for walking around all day, but if you put a 50mm or 35mm lens on it with a good strap it’s not that heavy. The build quality, autofocus, frame rate, and indestructibility of the D4 is unmatched. As a D4 owner, there’s nothing about the Df that compels me. :)

        • The D4 is huge, heavy and back breaking and not to mention double the cost. If I were a sports shooter or pro that needed that tank like weight and build and speed then yea, I would maybe own it for work only. For those who read this site, 95% of them are at home shooters..personal stuff..family..friends..vacations and travel. The Df easily beats the D4 for these things, without question. I shot a D4 for a month. Hated it. Didn’t even want to review it and I love technology and cameras. I also preferred the D3s to the D4. BUt at the end of the day..is the D4 “better”? Yes, in build and pro features, yes, of course as it should be for the cost, size, weight. But for an every day shooter, no question, the Df is the one to go for. The Df will give IQ as good or better than the D4. It is solid, feels good, and works without a hitch or glitch. I have shot it in low light and no light and was amazed at the result. It is light, easy to hold all day and the battery is small with amazing life.

          I would never recommend the D4 over the Df to anyone except a pro who needs that bulletproof build and ability to bang around and keep on going for years and years. For the average enthusiast, the Df is the way to go IF you want to shoot Nikon. There are other cameras I like better of course but not in the Nikon OR Canon lineup.

          • I agree with you, Steve. Thanks for the dialogue!

          • i have shot with Nikons all my life: F, Ftn, F2, F5, FM2,D100, D700 ( way too heavy for me worse with my 14-24 2.8 lens ) and now the Df reminds me of the good original build quality of nikon. it looks and feels like my FM2. If you’ve ever used the older film nikon bodies, you will immediately “feel” the bond to this retro new body Df. I even still have my 50 1.2 lens so i did not need to get the 50 kit lens. It was easy to relate to your report because we were using the same exact body and lens. Mine is black though. i just love it. Steve i agree 100% with your report and comments.
            ps
            after a year of use, i traded in my D700 for an M9. Whatever other people say about the buttons on the dials, have maybe never shot with a nikon…love it.

  4. This is much closer to my feelings after using the Dƒ for a few weeks and over 2k snaps.

    Frankly, I love it.

    …but not the AF system nor locking exposure compensation knob.

    • I like the locking exposure comp knob because on cameras where it is not locked it always slides out of position and screws up my shots. The fact that it locks keeps it from doing this and after a few days of use it is a snap to adjust.

      • I think the locking dials are perfect. I just read a review on another ‘controversial’ site where the author claims two hands are needed to turn these dials.
        Funny thing, I do it very easily with just a thumb and finger on one hand. Left hand for the left side dials, right hand for the right side controls.
        Makes one wonder about how much ‘testing’ is really done…

        • I have no problem pushing a button with a single finger and rotating the dial with the rest of my fingers, either. You have to do the same thing on the top left deck of most Nikon DSLRs, when you want to change frame rate, etc.

          Frankly, when Nikon built cameras with dials and knobs in the ’70s they put locking buttons in place for dial rotation. So they’re just doing what they’ve always done.

  5. Hi Steve, great and balanced review! You’ve got me thinking about handing in my D800 + recently acquired 58 to get a black Df kit… Might suit my shooting style better.

    Could you comment on the 39 points vs 51 points AF debate, as in, are the AF points in the Df centred too much? What did you think of the build quality? Ruggedness on a par with the D800?

    Thanks for replying!

    • As for the AF debate…I ONLY use center point in ALL cameras no matter what I am shooting – for me, the Df is blazing fast, all I need. Wether it has 39 vs 51 doesn’t matter to me and in reality, to those who want more AF points..is 39 not enough? 12 more will get you the shot? If so, then it may not be for you. Thanks!

      • I only use one point AF, and am used to moving that point around with the multi dial to suit the desired composition of the image, instead of locking focus by pressing the shutter button halfway down. My question really is, will the Df AF system allow me to get my focus point as far out as the 51 point system allows me to do?

        • I’ll jump in here Mike with a simple answer…

          No. The Df does not have enough autofocus points for a full frame camera. It’s my only major gripe, frankly. The system is quick enough and accurate enough in low light, but focusing out to the edges can be a problem.

          Have a look here >>

          http://www.falconercommunications.com/photography/?nggpage=2

          Row 2, first image on left.

          If you’re shooting a full frame camera with an 85mm f/1.4 lens, for example (as was the case there), and you want to nail one of the subject’s eyes, and opt to keep your focus point in the center of frame and use the “focus and recompose” method, you will lose focus, because at that focal length and aperture combination, the plane of sharp focus changes the instant you move the camera.

          The only way to nail focus in a situation like that is to use the thumb pad to move the focus cursor. If the focus point needs to be too far left or right, not enough points doesn’t allow you to do that.

          In the example above, I think I was just on the edge of the D3s’ outer focus cluster. With the Df this shot would have been hard to achieve, and I wouldn’t have used it for such a shot. Wider angle stuff or normal or street, you’ll probably be fine most of the time. Landscape? No worries at all.

          So it will really depend on what sort of shooting you do.

          • Ive used center point and “focus and recompose” all of my photographic life, even when shooting at f/0.95 with the 50 Noctilux. Even with the Canon 85 1.2 at 1.2, never an issue. Even shooting highly paid professional jobs. Never a misfocus.

            • Some people don’t like using the outer focus points because they believe they are less accurate than the camera’s center focus point.

              But here’s the reality: If you use an 85mm f/1.4 (Nikon) or 85mm f/1.2 (Canon) lens for a portrait and want to nail focus on an eye, and use the “focus and recompose” method, you’re changing the focus plane relative to the subject. And the smallest amount at shallow depth of field with short tele lenses will throw your focus point off.

              Put another way:

              If you are 4 feet away from your subject with a 50mm prime lens wide open at f/1.4, then your depth of field is only 0.16 inches. In other words, your focal plane will begin at 3.92 feet away from the subject and will end at 4.06 feet. Now, if you focus on the eye and recompose to where the center of the camera is pointed at the subject’s chest with their head in the top third, then your 0.16 ft plane of focus is actually 4.5 feet behind your subject. Therefore, you have an out of focus image.

              At smaller apertures and with wider lenses, your critical zone of sharpness obviously doesn’t create these issues. But in the above situation it most definitely does, and this is why more focus points spread across the frame is better.

              • Robert, you are absolutely right. Generally speaking rangefinder shooters centre focus as they have no choice and get into the habit of leaving the subject somewhere in the middle of the frame rather than well off to one side and rarely use longer focal length lenses as they’re awkward to focus in the first place. These learned behaviours stop them seeing these issues even when they switch to DSLRs as they will continue to use 50mm or wider lenses and employ the same compositional techniques.

              • IAs long as you re-aim the camera by pivoting it more or less around the lens’ optical center (which seems as likely as anything else) the camera-to-subject distance won’t change as you recompose — which is why, as Steve observes, center-point focusing does work.

                On the other hand, using the edge focus points helps counteract field curvature, and (probably more important) it reduces the risk of either the photographer or the subject twitching out of focus during the time it takes to re-aim the camera. For people for whom this is a problem, the Df’s AF-point coverage area might be an issue — but for others, it won’t be.

            • Hi Steve, it’s a bit hard to do anything else on a Leica m :) however if you want to track moving subjects and you want to compose in camera (leaving space for the car/bike/animal to move into) then the quality of the outer AF points is key. I’ve not used a Df but the similar system on the D7000 was not as good at this as the D700 and D300.

              But if that is what someone is shooting why are they looking at this camera anyway? There are better tools for the job!

          • Thanks Robert, that’s very helpful. The “focus and recompose” method is indeed vulnerable for change of plane of sharpness issues, though it varies with focal length and invidual lens (field curvature) used. I’ve trained myself to use the thumb wheel to move a single focus point around, and find even the D800’s collection of focus points sometimes doesn’t allow me to move outward as far as I like, so a bit of focus and recompose is then required.

            Cheers,

            Michiel

            Oh, compliments on your Df inspiration site!

            • Yeah, center-focus-and-recompose just doesn’t work on account of field curvature at these FOV and DOF combinations; the corners will visibly focus shift.

              • Never had a problem..ever so what you are saying is incorrect. Every image on this blog over the past five years taken by me with any camera was shot “focus and recompose” when using a manual camera (Leica, Sony A7, Nikon Df).

              • I’m not making it up. It’s a well-documented phenomenon that’s been discussed by plenty of other pro photographers.

                See if you can get a hold of a Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 (D or G, doesn’t matter) for your Df and find someone to photograph.

                Use aperture priority and set the lens to f/1.4.

                Shoot your subject from about 8 to 10 feet away, use the center focus point, center your subject, and focus on one of their eyes. Lock your focus.

                Now shift the camera so that your subject is on the left or right side of the frame, while keeping your focus locked.

                Watch what happens.

  6. Thank u for taking time to write this BUT I think the a7 photos look better and is cheaper too. Let’s just see.

    • Df focuses faster than the A7. I returned my A7 after buying the Df. IQ was great, but Df if faster in focusing and one stop faster in ISO, plus the Nikon lens line… Sony is, however, getting closer.

  7. I own two FM3A and an F6, so I do have a bunch of Nikon glass, which made the decision to check out the DF a bit easier. I have to agree with Steve on all points. The DF may have a few quirks (and which camera doesn’t), but it is flat out a great camera. I can’t stand digital DSLRs, and even the F6, for as great as it is, it is reserved for a few occasions. With the DF, Nikon brought back the pleasure of using a DSLR. Plain and simple. I love the controls, I love the weight and ease of use, and of course as far as image taking, the only limitation is your creativity and imagination. Low ISO capabilities in this camera are fabulous and more than enough until the end of time, for any photographer. ISO12800 converted to black and white is as good as anything I have ever seen. If you want more grain, add it with Silver EFEX. Yes, I wish it had a 1/8000 shutter as in the F6 but since I’m used to film Leica peaking at 1/1000, that’s no big deal at all.
    The DF may not win everyone over, and no camera ever does, but it’s a superb picture taking machine that of course film guys will love. I know I do, and I’m hard to please.

    • Twó FM3a’s? My God Max, you’re a self indulgent man! I love your images though… ;-)

    • I concur. Being raised on the F as my first camera, (dad’s old one), then shooting a FM2 throughout photo journalism school, this was like coming home again. Really, it’s the camera I’ve been dreaming about for 20 years. There is something mechanical and brilliant about those old FM’s and now with the DF. It’s inspiring. Being able to rotate the aperture ring on my Nikkor glass again (on lens that allow) is almost worth the price of admission alone. (An option that you need to change in the settings, as opposed to using that flat dial on the face) This camera isn’t for everyone, but for those of us from the TRI-X age, this is the camera I’ve been waiting for.

    • Thanks for helpfull remarks! (that perhaps would help me turning the A7 Down…:)
      Thorkil
      Ps. Wonderful Pictures you make!

  8. Bizarre how a ‘retro’ Nikon with manual controls doesn’t have an easy way to manual focus. In the good old film days you could even swap out different focus screens in a SLR.

    An no 1/8000th is a goof as well at that price point.

    • Ben, there’s a technical explanation for the fact that dslr screens are optimized for f2.8 and af. Can’t reproduce that explanation, but it’s there. Google it.

    • There is also a digital overlay on top of this screen which allows you to add a grid (from the menu) in the viewfinder. I am not sure about this, but I think that changing screens would have eliminated this. I would have liked interchangeable screens as well (especially for the price), and could have chosen a mat screen with the grid lines (just like on my old OM 2). I must admit that I haven’t had any problems focusing my manual lenses by using the green dot, just like it was mentioned by Steve.

  9. Sweet review Steve.
    Having used a DF with both my 50mm 1.2 AIS and 55 2.8 micro AIS, I would, without hesitation, pick the 55 2.8 as the “if only one lens” lens.

    Try one! Super cheap too if you buy used, and still cheap if you buy new – $410 via a link from your website!

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/36984-USA/Nikon_1442_Macro_55mm_f_2_8_Micro.html

    Best regards
    Huss

  10. Another very nice review Steve. I agree with much of you assessment. Currently I am testing the Df at a ballet performances, but I may prepare a short article for your site on why I think the Df is the best street-DSLR available today. Thanks for your wonderful work, site and happy holidays.

  11. Hi Steve,

    Will you also be reviewing the Pentax K-3?

  12. It’s a shame that the haters have already started hating! Looks like a great cam, Steve. I’m hoping you get your hands on some other lenses both AF and Manual.

  13. The look of the camera is beautiful, the dimensions a tad too much big for my liking (but I grew up with the Olympus OM-1…), the performance looks on par with the price…
    Haters? They will always hate something and argue endlessly writing posts… while the photographers are out shooting ;)

  14. Hi Steve!
    If you could possibly spare a minuet, I would love your feedback on a DF issue. (As well as some of your readers.) I apologize in advance for the length of this question.
    I purchased a black DF last week from my local camera store. I usually purchase from Adorama, but at least once a year, I support my local joint with one big purchase. This is primarily to support them, but also because they offer a personalized service I can’t get at the big NYC stores. I bust their chops with lots of little things over the course of a year, so I feel a certain loyalty.
    Plus, they had it in stock.
    Anyway, shortly into my first trial with the camera, it began freezing up for several seconds, as if I had set it to a long exposure. This happened a number of times with multiple lenses. I checked repeatedly to make sure it wasn’t me (I am firmly of the opinion that most stuff like this is user error) and without question, it was not anything I was doing. Indeed, I was using the most basic setup you could employ (aperture priority), shooting outside with plenty of light, and not engaging in anything elaborate. Just firing off some shots testing the gear.
    I brought it back to my camera store and attempted to repeat the problem….and it worked perfectly for hundreds and hundreds of shots. I literally couldn’t get it to misfire. After some probing, the gentlemen at the store thought it was an SD card problem. I did have the option of returning it (or exchanging it) but their policy is far less liberal then Adorama, and they indicated they would be stuck with the camera should Nikon not be able to find the problem. I took it home, reformatted the SD card, and it immediately freezed up again. (I cursed myself for not doing so at the shop…) I then tried 6 other SD cards without any problem whatsoever. I’ve now fired off at least two thousand frames without an issue. I also contacted Nikon and they pretty much agreed with the SD card diagnosis. Frustratingly, that same problematic card works perfectly fine in three other cameras of mine, all Olympus.
    I’ve never experienced anything like this in 6 years of shooting digital. And I particularly don’t like feeling like my $3000 investment is temperamental. I still have the option of insisting on a return, but it does appear to work perfectly fine.
    I’m sure there are lots of lessons in this story, but right now I just want an informed opinion, and you’re about as informed as it gets.
    So, would you bring it back, or roll with the current diagnosis?
    Thanks, thanks, thanks for any good advice one and all.
    (Apart from this issue, I really love this camera and was eagerly awaiting your review. Informative and entertaining as always.)

  15. I’m seriously tempted to get one now.
    I think it will replace my X100s as my AF body.
    I really needed the low light performance when in Vietnam shooting last month.
    The Leica M is pretty useless in this regard.
    Yes, it can go to 3200 or even 6400, but I think it looks it’s best at base ISO = 200.

    Great review Steve!

    Thanks

    ET

  16. steve I want to ask you something.
    I’m curious to know if how it behaves at high iso and the Sony a7 a7r than the nikon df with detuned MP to 15 and not 36. (someone told me that you can do)
    would you do this test for me? I just need to know the result, there is no need to publish it. I trust you.
    I’m curious to know if it behaves better than the a7 to full pixels, compared to the nikon df which I think really the top.

  17. If this camera had…

    a) a one-point AF system(Yep, just the center)
    b) no locks on every dial they’ve bothered to put on
    c) built in WiFi
    d) a split-prism viewfinder
    e) Canon EF Mount
    f) a lower price (by about 1000$)
    g) no buttons/dials for WB/AF selection

    …then I’d consider buying one. I want that Canon mount so that I can use Canon/M42/Nikon lenses on it. At the moment I’m using a Canon 5D Classic for those wonderful MF lenses (Zeiss, Tair, Jupiter, Helios etc.). The ergonomics s**k but I’m shooting RAW and manuall all the time so I’m only bothered to push the ISO button every now and then. It’s quite a basic camera. Still looks ugly though :D

    Btw, anyone ever heard of Canon EF-M? Not the EOS M, I’m talking about the film camera from the 90s. I wish Canon would release that camera with an ISO dial and call it a day.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3e/Canon-ef-m-three-quarter.jpg

    Had the EF mount but no autofocus(Had focus confirmation though, and a split screen viewfinder).

  18. Steve, Great review! The DF reminds me a lot of my very first serious Nikon FE SLR body! Did you do any rapid fire shooting to test out the buffering speed? I was thinking of using it for occasional sports shooting with the 200-400mm.

  19. DP Review criticised it’s af in lowlight.
    Design wise it is a mess. It looks like a retro camera that has been mashed together with digital camera.
    No doubt its IQ and lowlight abilities are very good but it certainly doesn’t seem to have the detail we have been seeing from other Full Frame cameras recently. And then there is the price…
    Thanks for the review Steve.

    • Well in my use I say otherwise. Funny because I have witnessed first hand on three occasions where dp review guys were testing and shooting cameras to review – I shot with them
      On three occasions. On two of those I had to explain a couple if things.

      Dp review is not the final word, trust me on that.

      The Df does fantastic in low light with the kit lens. I had no issues at all.

      Also, the buttons and dials are great IMO – after a couple of days it felt natural and my fingers knew where to go.

      Maybe some out there do not want to take the time to learn and explore a new camera – that is the problem with so many today. Worried about non issues when they should be out taking photos.

      When one aches his brain over things such as resolution, ISO, and AF points it boggles my mind. Learn the tool, use it, and excel.

      • Well said Steve! I really enjoyed your review and agree with everything you mention. I am enjoying my silver DF as well (with my new Barton strap). I think that this is a very exciting camera. You would not believe the number of baseless and stupid comments on DPR from readers of the DF review (not talking about you Dougbm).

      • Entirely agree – DPR got the AF performance wrong. It’s actually got great AF performance in low light.

        I actually suspect the AF module in DPRs test unit was defective. I had a D600 body that behaved the same way. DPR told me they are going to get a different body and retest the AF.

        • This whole thing has been blown out of proportion by people who don’t understand the DF and will likely never understand this camera. I think that too much emphasis has been placed on the AF performance of this camera. There is nothing wrong with the AF on this camera I agree. It has only been mention by DPR as if they were God all mighty, and now all the trashers are using this to complain about a camera they have not used, can’t afford, or hate because it is differrent.
          I also feel that this camera excels with manual focusing lenses no matter what anyone says about the focusing screen. Manual lenses on this camera just feel right. I still shoot film and I use and have used tons of manual slr’s and the success rate with f1.4 lens on any of those cameras would be practically the same as what you get with the green dot in the DF. Maybe I am just more use to manual focusing then most, I don’t know.

      • I agree with Steve here, I’ve handled the camera and the locking ISO and EV are just something that takes a little muscle memory to master. And that is 100% more reliable than accidentally flubbing either one and not knowing it until you get home and start reviewing your images.

    • I don’t think that they really understand this camera and why it was designed this way. They just did not like the camera. You either like this camera or you don’t. There doesn’t seem to be any gray zone.

    • For fun, I’m gonna go right through DP Review’s entire list of Cons about the Df…

      “Disappointing AF performance drops off in moderate light”
      It has exactly the same performance as the D7000, and works quite well in low light, depending, of course, on the lens in use.

      “Small coverage area of AF array”
      Yes, this is true.

      “Locking exposure comp dial is inconvenient (especially with large lenses)”
      This is a matter of personal taste and what you get used to.

      “Inconsistent use of materials detracts from sense of quality”
      Rubbish.

      “1/4000th sec maximum shutter speed”
      Remember when 1/4000th sec was introduced on the FM2 and was considered ground breaking? If you need to shoot wide open in bright light and one extra stop is going to make the difference, then yes, this might be a problem for you. But there are very few moving subjects that can be frozen at 1/8000th sec that can’t be frozen at 1/4000th sec

      “No exposure scale or histogram in live view”
      Yes, it would have been better if Nikon had included this.

      “Viewfinder focusing screen not best suited for manual focusing”
      Complicated topic. Would have added to engineering complexity and cost; the latter caused by maintaining focusing acuity with the Multi-CAM 4800 autofocus sensor module while grafting in a split-image/microprism screen.

      “Single SD card slot”
      Two is always better, I agree here. But not really a deal-breaker I don’t think. How many folks have actually ever had a card fail in-camera? Hasn’t happened to me yet.

      “Battery door prone to falling off some cameras”
      The battery door is actually hinged in such a way that it can be removed entirely from all Df cameras. Not sure why, but this is by design, not by accident.

      “Combined SD/battery door under the camera awkward for tripod work”
      Yes, this can be true, depending on what sort of mount system you use. But how often do you need to change batteries or cards in the middle of tripod shooting, and if you do, is it really such a chore to remove the camera if it’s using a quick-release plate?

      “Front command dial not terribly comfortable to use”
      Here I have to agree wholeheartedly. I would haver much preferred a horizontal dial inset into the forward bulkhead of the camera

      “Body is rather large and heavy, considering small grip”
      Yaaaaah … that’s pretty subjective and nitpicky, me thinks.

      “Slow AF in live view”
      No more so than most other Nikon DSLRs.

      “No two-button card format option”
      Yeah, this would have been nice, but again, not a deal breaker.

      “No percentage battery life/info available”
      Hmmmm, I’m pretty sure it’s there when you dig into the main menu… But I’d have to double check on that one.

      “No ‘live’ aperture control in live view mode presents inconsistencies
      between lens types”
      Yeah, this is an unfortunate oversight on several Nikon cameras.

      “No time-lapse option (available on D610)”
      Sure, this would have been nice.

      “No infrared remote trigger option”
      Not true. We used it with a remote trigger.

  20. Curious as to specifically how you rate the Olympus E-M1 against the Df. I notice in that ISO comparison, for example, that the Olympus does better than I’d expected and the two Sony models do worse than I had expected. Would also be worth a note in terms of focusing and general handling.

    • Great question, but it needs to be understood up front that this is apples & oranges. I shot with the Df over about two weeks. I also just purchased an E-M1 (already have a D3s and D7000).

      Here are the important bits: When you push the envelopes of low light and high ISO, the Df will outperform the E-M1 handily. But when you’re shooting in the sweet spot of relatively normal lighting and “average” subject matter, you’ll probably be hard pressed to see a difference in the images unless you make big enlargements and/or pixel peep.

      Yes, full frame will give you that creamy shallow depth of field advantage on the occasions where it IS an advantage ― oftentimes the reverse is actually true ― but that can be mitigated by certain newer M4/3 lenses (including a pair of Voigtlander f/.095 primes).

      Don’t forget that several of the Zuiko primes are exceedingly sharp, the camera’s focusing system (in all but the lowest light) is better and more accurate, and the IBIS virtually eliminates user shake (which also nets you sharper images). So Olympus is using a lot of tech that others don’t to compensate for the reduced sensor size. The E-M1 also omits the anti-aliasing filter (the Df retains one) for slightly sharper results still.

      • Plus one other consideration: the Image Stabilisation built into the E-M1 allows you to shoot about two – or more – stops (shutter speed) slower, handheld, than with many other cameras, including this Df. So instead of increasing the ISO (and getting grainy/spotty images) you can simply shoot two shutter speed steps -s-l-o-w-e-r- with the E-M1, without any need to increase the ISO. (That won’t work, of course, if trying to freeze fast movement.)

        So the better-high-ISO argument in favour of the Df versus E-M1 (see Steve’s comparison crops, above) doesn’t mean much in practice: when the Df may need 12,800 you may use 3,200 on the E-M1 for similar results.

        • Quite true.

          But as you stated, while IBIS will negate YOUR movement, it won’t negate your subject’s movement. So high ISO capability is still more globally valuable in more situations.

          On the other hand, if you’re talking a picture on a pier that’s moving ever so slightly and WANT a slow shutter speed to turn the water to glass while counteracting camera movement, then IBIS will be far more useful than high ISO.

          I’m sure that given time we’ll end up getting both IBIS AND high ISO capability in a single camera. Only question is: who will offer it first…

  21. Thanks for the great review. Are the dials and buttons customizable? There seems to be all kinds of knobs in front of the camera too.

  22. Timely article for me, as I’ve realized that many of the things I care about photographing happen in very low light (as low as EV0) and I’m increasingly dissatisfied with the results I’m getting from my E-M 5 under those conditions. But I’m not sure the Df is my answer. A couple of follow-up questions:

    — You mention DxOMark rankings; have you figured out how to make sense of them in the real world? For example, in your Christmas-tree image, you note that the Df is tops, but the E-M 1 “hangs in well” and I agree the sample images confirm that. BUT… DxOMark rates the Df’s high-ISO performance at a chart-topping 3279, while the E-M 1 comes in at only 757 (below the E-M 5, actually.) That’s a huge spread in numbers, but seemingly not so much in results. Given that, can you suggest any way to relate the DxO numbers to actual picture-taking performance?

    — Like you, I now prefer a good EVF, and one reason is that in dark conditions an EVF can “gain up” so it’s easy to see what the subject is doing. Did you ever miss this capability when using the Df in dark places?

    — Now that I’ve gotten used to it, I wonder how hard it would be to give up image stabilization for slow shutter speeds. Did you miss this at all when using the Df?

    • These are good questions, JL. Exactly what I was thinking. The E-M1 doesn’t look too shabby, particularly with those nice, fat Voigtlander lenses.

    • The E-M1 does hang in amazingly well.

      Keep in mind that an ISO ranking of 3279 and 757 is only 2 stops difference. The scale is exponential by the power of 2.

      The reason behind the discrepancy with DxO is that Olympus reports a higher ISO than what it really is. So you think you are shooting at ISO 6400, but it behaves more like ISO 3200. That’s why you see only one stop difference in the test images.

      On the other hand in real world use you have the combination of IBIS and deep DOF at wide apertures. This results in much lower ISO’s than you would typically have on a full frame camera.

      • Thanks for that explanation of DxO’s scaling. I take it that “2 stops difference” means that roughly speaking, if I’m satisfied with the E-M 1 at, say, 3200, I’d likely be satisfied with the Df at 12,800?

        • Exactly.

        • Personally, even with my D3s (or the Df I used), I wouldn’t shoot it at 12,800. Sure it’s useable, but in the low light situations where you’d typically use it, there is still noticeable noise and artifacting in the shadow regions. This can be mitigated to some extent in post, but it’s quite time consuming to get just right.

          If I can avoid it, I never shoot the D3s past 6400. It behaves very, very well at this level, and the Df would be very similar (fractionally better).

          Given that Olympus claims 4 to 5 extra stops from IBIS with the E-M1 (let’s assume 3 stops to be on the conservative side), then in similar situations you ought to be able to shoot the E-M1 at ISO 800 for the same result. And since most testers believe the E-M1 can go to 1600 or sometimes even 3200 with good results (but not past that), that’s a fair bit of flexibility.

          None of which helps you, of course, if your subject is moving. In those circumstances high ISO capability still rules supreme.

          Most reviews suggest the E-M1 sensor offers a full stop advantage in high ISO usability over the E-M5, btw (IBIS notwithstanding).

  23. Like the Zeiss images, fantastic bokeh. Great low ISO. Still, I can’t get over a feeling that the camera stinks of Nikon’s desperation and utter inability to innovate. I am sure they are trying to come up with something that would change the market dynamics and Df is only the defensive part of their play aimed at particular market niche. Even with that understanding I just can get over the feeling they are simply exploiting part of their customer base. I am sure the Df will sell well, mainly to 40+ males invested into Nikon system over many years. But slapping retro design on traditional construction and aging sensor goes only so far and such products will not sustain Nikon, nor will they help the overall camera market to recover.

    • But it is more than a retro design..it is a scale back of weight, size and MANUAL dials which are wonderful in use. No other DSLR has controls like this. So it is more than a new coat of paint…it is a D4 in a small, robust, light and good looking body at a much better price. Maybe doesn’t have the other D4 features but we all do not need that. I ask myself “why would someone buy a D800 over this” – as i wouldn’t do it.

      • I may be more positive about the camera when I try it but my concern is more about Nikon’s product strategy – as I wrote I believe there is interesting customer segment that will make this camera succesfull. It is just that I doubt these kind of products will do much for Nikon’s future. This industry needs to win new young customers and Df will do little here. Both Canon and Nikon are asleep at the switch and Sony, Fuji and Panasonic don’t seem to have clout to turn the market around.

        • “Both Canon and Nikon are asleep at the switch…”

          Not to seem argumentative, but according to who’s perspective?

          They virtually own the photographic marketplace and their DSLR products massively outsell mirrorless cameras in their largest, most important markets. Meanwhile, mirrorless sales have actually shrunk even more than DSLR sales.

          The entire industry has taken a hit from the smartphone. So why would Canon or Nikon do anything to undermine a cash cow that is a proven seller right now?

          All that being said, none of us really know what’s going on inside Nikon or Canon, either. I’ve no doubt that innovative new products are in the design and/or engineering phase. The question is: when to roll them out?

          Too soon, and you cannibalize (read: obliterate) your existing market base as I discussed above.

          Too late and you risk being seen as no longer keeping up with (or leading) a changing marketplace.

          Still, neither company got to where they are today by making foolish decisions about such important things. My guess is that you will see both Canon and Nikon move towards smaller, mirrorless full frame cameras over the next few years. Sony may have got there first with the A7 proof of concept, but it will be Canon and Nikon that shift the entire industry that way with better, more refined, more holistic solutions.

          Is the Df a cash grab geared towards the over-40 crowd? To some extent, yes. But a lot of shooters do like the appearance of mechanical switchgear (much as folks of all ages still like mechanical or automatic watches even in our digital age). There’s something more engaging about it. Plus, you have Nikon’s best low light sensor ever in a relatively small, lightweight body. For many, that alone is enough reason to buy this camera. Personally, I think it’s priced about right. Maybe $300 to high, but hey, they need to make a profit to engineer those innovative new future products, right?

          In the interests of full disclosure, I just purchased an OM-D E-M1 because I absolutely love Olympus (always have) and the camera’s speed, technology, feature set and size are fantastic when I don’t want to pack my heavy Nikon kit (which, will, however, remain in my arsenal). But when Canon and Nikon do go the A7 route (and, again, I expect they will), I’m very concerned that the M4/3 format will quickly find itself on the endangered species list.

          Time will tell…

      • Mmm. Good question. Because the Df is a lot more expensive?

      • Help the camera market recover? Kind of laughable actually. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but things tend to go around in circle. You know why? Because the best cameras were already made 20-40 years ago. How do you “innovate” as far as cameras go? It’s still a box on which you have to slap a lens on, and get creative with. Yes, you can cram into all the latest and greatest digital gimmicks but at the end it is still a box with a lens on it. What would you put into a camera that will make you the next Galen Rowell or Cartier Bresson, may I ask? At least Nikon put out a capable digital camera that feel right in one’s hand (as the old Fs did, of course) and its easy to use. What else does one need to make meaningful art? If that of course is not the goal, the new iPhone 5s is plenty good for the average Flickr and Facebook snapshot that are clogging the internet.

        • Constant new discoveries in chemistry and optics are widening considerably our field of action. It is up to us to apply them to our technique, to improve ourselves, but there is a whole group of fetishes which have developed on the subject of technique. Technique is important only insofar as you must master it in order to communicate what you see… The camera for us is a tool, not a pretty mechanical toy. In the precise functioning of the mechanical object perhaps there is an unconscious compensation for the anxieties and uncertainties of daily endeavor. In any case, people think far too much about techniques and not enough about seeing.

          —Henri Cartier-Bresson

          • A tool for a professional like Henri Cartier-Bresson, but a tool and a pretty machanical toy for most of us amateurs.

            • Bresson’s statement is spot-on.

              That said, I would add that it is human nature to admire objects of engineering, whether it’s a locomotive, a car, a watch…or a camera. An argument can be made that good industrial design is art in itself; functional three-dimensional sculpture.

              To my eyes a Ferrari is every bit as beautiful — and required even more thought and consideration — as a Picasso.

    • So?

      “Aging sensor”? A real display of knowledgable comment.

      Any comments on the merits of the camera in use, or just so so sociocultural loungeroom table criticism?

      • The D4 uses the same sensor, Pros by D4. They know not only what they want, but what they need.

      • There is a belief out there that the D4 sensor, at 2 years old, is outdated rendering it close to irelevant and futile. Can you believe that? I saw much of that at the Nuthouse aka DPR’s forums, mostly by anonymous guys with no photos to show. That’s a coincidence I’m sure. We spoke to a leading Aussie photojournalist (David Dare Parker) about this issue and he just laughed, shook his head and muttered “Gear junkies!”…I think I’ll take my cues from guys like him rather than the anonymous forum illuminati.

        • That is the most ridiculous thing I have heard this week, lol. No sensor is irrelevant if it is still working. I know people who still use the Leica Digilux 2 for PRO work/portraits. Just two weeks ago my son shot the D2h and made a gorgeous print. Some people spend 90% of their time on forums acting like they know it all when they really know very little about photography. They are professional whiners more than anything, seriously. I love new camera tech as much as anyone but would never say other cameras are useless or irrelevant. If you own a D100 and it still works you can take amazing photos with it. Many of us WANT the latest and greatest but we do not NEED the latest and greatest.

          • What??? You mean I can go back to my aging X100 and actually take a good picture, even though it wasn’t released yesterday? Are you SURE? Those forum swine say that you need 25mp, the computing power of NASA and RIGHT NOW technology, usually a Sony (did you want a PS3 with that?). And you’re saying this is NOT SO…..Hmmmm….well, ONE of you is wrong! ;-)

            • BTW, Merry Christmas from Oz. In my corner the big day is gonna be 30C. Nice. Oh, and I think the company formerly trading as Nikon have gone belly-up. Something about the Df not having video and the exposure comp being on the “wrong” side. Guys never could discern left from right. If only they’d listened.

  24. Personally I have checked and reviewed the camera. In my opinion, the marketing guys at Nikon are leading the company in bad way. For sure the Df is a very good camera, but in some aspects it doesn’t worst the price. But price is going down already. When it will reach the 2200 USD, it will be a very good bargain. So wait and see. I’ll have a look at this Nikon Df and maybe it will come to replace my D700. You’re right, the splitter screen would have been a killer point, a killer USP!

    Thanks for your review and your enthusiasm, that’s really good!

    Cheers.

  25. Is the Finder Big enough with Glases on? Somebody Said You can’t See the Edge of the Finder.

  26. Really nice and interesting review!

    I guess for me personally the Df has too many elements from my dreaded D7000 for me to like it. Nevertheless this is a great option for people who want something nicer than a standard bulky black plastic DSLR.

    I am very confused by the shutter speed controls. So there is 1 dial to select from a selection of shutter speeds, and then there is another dial to deviate from those and fine tune your shutter speed. And then if you want your shutter speed to be automatic, you have to use yet another dial. That’s 3 dials just to work just your shutter speed… I feel like the desire to combine old and new functions has led to a cluttered and confusing design.

    • I am not trying to be sarcastic, but have you ever used a semi automatic aperture preferred camera, with a shutter speed dial, an aperture control dial on the lens and an exposure compensation dial to be used when the camera is on aperture preferred mode (like the Olympus OM2)?

      • Or a Nikon FE2??? LoL!

      • Yes! That’s exactly what I mean: that’s the classic way. It works very well.

        The DSLR way is usually a PASM dial and dual control dials, it also works well.

        The Df seems to have both lumped into one… poorly.

        To explain my point, say you want to set your camera’s shutter speed from automatic to 1/100:
        – On a classic SLR you would spin the shutter dial from A to 100. One operation.
        – On a DSLR you would spin the PASM dial to S and then spin the control dial until you reach 100. Two operations.
        – On the Df, you first have to spin the PASM dial to S, then you have to spin the shutter dial to 1/125, and then you have to spin the control dial to fine tune it to 1/100. Three operations.

        Am I the only one thinking this is awkward?

        • Right after posting I realized an SLR of course would not have 1/3rd stop markings. My bad. But I hope you get my point that something is… off.

          • I think that you need to use it to understand that it can work exactly like an old slr. It varies with the type of nikkor lens you are using. Nikon has had the same lens mount for so long that many changes took place with the way the lenses communicated with the body. The df can handle all of those changes. Some will use the aperture ring on the lens, other’s will use the command dial, etc etc.

  27. I finally played with a friend’s Df last week, shot with it and my Canon 6D (as well as our Leicas) for a full day. Your review is spot on, though I agree with one of your commenters in that I found the dial locks distracting, especially on exposure compensation. A lockable dial would be better (my 6D has this), as it could be freed when shooting in tricky light, and locked when conditions are constant or simple.

    I thought carefully about buying the Df instead of the 6D when it was released and went for the Canon more because of the lens options (f/4 zooms) that I liked better than Nikons. Reading your review, I kind of wish I’d gone for the Df instead. At the time, I thought the Df and light primes would overlap too much with my Leica, after playing with it, I realized that wouldn’t be a bad thing. Oh well, the 6D is every bit as good as you said it was in your review and I have the 85 f/1.2 L on my wish list. That baby should make up for a lot of Df envy.

    Great review as always, even if it added a bit of buyer’s remorse.

    • Df? F4 zoom? You made the right choice. Stick with the 6D.

      • F/4 zooms are why I bought a DSLR at all, my primary camera is a Leica M Monochrom with 35, 50 and 90mm primes.

        My point is that since buying the 6D and building a nice little lens kit for it (24-105 and 70-200 f/4 zooms, 35/2 and 85/1.8), I realized that a Df could easily have handled a similar suite of glass, been adequate with the zooms for events, but would be superior to the 6D with the primes.

        I’m not much of a DSLR guy, this is not my main outfit.

  28. Is the Df that much lighter than the D610 or Canon 6D? I held both the Df and 6D, body only, and weight felt about the same.

  29. As always, great review… thanks for share your conclussions…

  30. Hi Steve. I know it’s physically a bit larger than a Leica M, but in everyday use when carrying it around, does it feel much bulkier/heavier than the M? I guess it depends on which lenses you are using too. Thanks for a great review!

  31. Thanks for your review, Steve.
    I must admit, in the digital age I like the design of Nikon pro and semi pro cameras which are based on the design of the F3, which appear more natural and user friendly.
    My issue with this retro cam (which several people independently have dubbed “hipstaCam” is that they based its design on the probably most ugly Nikon film camera, the FA. If the basis had been the F3 I would have thought “hmmm, nice”, if it had been the F2, then I would have called my credit card company to prevent me from becoming too spontaneous. But the way it is, with no possibility to exchange screens for manual focus capabilities, to me this really appears to me as a half baked attempt by Nikon to cash in on “da hipsta crowd”

  32. Thank you for a fair and honest review, I have this camera and totally agree with your review. Thanks again Steve keep up the great work

  33. Once again, a flawed high ISO comparison. You need to downsample the A7R from 36mp to 16mp if you’re going to “fairly” assess it against the DF.

    • You are 100% wrong my friend. My reviews are “real world” not silly scientific tests that mean absolutely nothing when it comes to using these cameras.

      Who is going to buy the A7r and downsize all of their images to 16mp? No one. What you see here is what you can expect to get out of each camera “as is” – those who do the down sample ISO tests are ridiculous as it means nothing when talking about the performance of said cameras.

      They should be looked at as they are and with out of camera files. That is what you will get with an A7 and an EM1. That is what I show.

      • Just a sec, Steve — I’m a big a fan of your real-world approach, but I do think that’s a fair question.

        Reason: Yeah, we photographers love to pixel-peep — but in the real world, “regular people” don’t want to see our pixels! They want to see the whole cat or the whole girl or the whole building or whatever.

        That means they’re viewing a print or a monitor that shows the WHOLE image at some fixed size — which in turn means that different camera files get downsampled by different amounts to reach that fixed size. Does that make a difference? That’s what I’m hoping YOU can tell us!

        We don’t need to get all numerical. Just tell us what you think: at full screen on a big monitor, or printed on (let’s say) 13 x 19 paper, how much difference would we see among those three cameras? I’m guessing not so much, but I’d still like to hear from the guy who has actually tried them all.

        • Exactly, it is hard for the brain to compare 2 images of different size. In the real world we make the photo a certain physical size. I would like to see them with the Df upsized and also with the A7R downsized.

      • Thank you Steve! I seriously hate all the down sampling bs because really who wants to take their 36Mp files and do that to all of them. It’s just ridiculous.

        • It’s not rediculous, there’s not a single situation in which I would ever upload a 36mp image on the web for public use. So yeah, I were to have a 36mp camera I would want to downsample its files for practical use.

  34. I think Nikon got a lot of things right with the Df! Unfortunately, for me personally, they also got a number of things wrong (not the least of which is the value-to-cost factor, which I know is different for everyone… shutter speed, AF, and video).

    I applaud Nikon for their approach, and I can definitely see this being a great camera for many people.

    But what I hope most is that Nikon takes note of some ‘lessons learned’ and comes out with a Df 2 that will appeal to a slightly broader market. The Df1 for the ‘purist’, and the Df2 for those looking for a slightly different feature set and performance factors. That would be a great combo!

  35. it is just the way SLR should be design!

  36. @Steve: Yes, the 58/1.4 is a bokeh machine, and a lot more. Extremely sharp it is not. When can we expect your review? I’m using the beast othe D800; the Df might be less demanding?

  37. Thanks Steve for a very balanced review. It is much appreciated. BTW, I noticed your second item on your Con list is the flimsy battery compartment door. I believe DPReview’s latest review of the DF had the same assessment. I asked several times and wonder if you could perhaps now comment on the A7r and A7’s compartment/compartment door. My NEX5 and NEX6 doors are quite flimsy too. Are the A7’s built the same???

    • I’ve never really thought of my NEX-6 battery door as “flimsy.

      I purchased the A7r recently and it has a similar battery door to the NEX that was designed to be removed for the addition of a vertical battery grip (a great addition!).

      I think the battery doors on both cameras could be complemented with the addition of a door lock, or better still, a twist lock like the one on the Nikon DF.

      • thank you for answering my question about the A7r’s door to be similar to the NEX. I also agree about the lock. Often times the doors swings open because I failed to close it well.

  38. I am happy for You that You like the Df, but the only positive I can find on this ridiculous looking thing is the sensor. A mirror less full frame camera with this D4 sensor would have been awesome. Although I like manual dials, the way they have implemented them on the Df is somewhat awkward and ‘half arsed’. Compared to the D610 the price is a bitter joke considering image quality alone. BUT, we have a lot of choices these days and, man, am I happy with my new Pentax K3 and my ltd. primes. Cheers, Hans

    • Have you handled the camera? If not, why to you say that it looks ridiculous. I really can’t get over how many people make such comments as if they are the only ones who know how things should look like. Do you tell your neighbor that his car looks ridiculous?

  39. Funny, how beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I don’t like plastic blob dslrs and wouldn’t own one, and I do own and dig old nikons and other manual slr cameras and rangefinders etc, but I can’t imagine ever paying for this camera. Just seems like a confused design all around.

    • How can one judge a camera without ever even holding one or using one? You just can’t. I was against this camera when they announced it. Just like I was the V1. I ended up falling for both after extensive use. It is a great camera with a wonderful design based around usability.

    • I agree, ‘confused design’ is exactly how I would describe my feelings towards it! I didn’t like it when it was announced, nor did I like it in real-life either.

      To me, it just seems like a marketer’s camera. Yes, there’s a good sensor in there. Yes, I’m sure the performance is there. But the whole vibe around this camera feels like blatant marketing to me. ‘Pure photography’ they say? Since when hasn’t that been possible with just about every other camera? For me the camera comes across as a cheap attempt at pushing some nostalgic buttons, all the while not having any of the nostalgic context. It’s a DSLR in a mangled ‘retro’ housing, while purposefully missing a modern standard-feature just for the sake of ‘pure photography’.

  40. All these Canon childishness annoys me a lot. I love reading and watching you, Steve, but you need to stop trashing Canon for no reason.

    • Sorry but I am brutally honest and call it as I see it. I reviewed the 6d and praised it highly – you must have missed that. I give credit where it’s due but just because you don’t like it when I speak the truth doesn’t mean I will all of the sudden stifle what I say.

      Always spoke my mind And always will.

      Thx

  41. Steve,
    Thanks for the review! I was drolling on Df simply it seems like a camera that i’ve been waiting for (i dream of a digital FM2) . But in the end i decided to get the Sony A7 for this reason:
    – price. I’m one of those guy who can’t afford it :-( if it’s $500 cheaper i might have an even harder time in making a decision
    – it is still too big and heavy, way bigger than an FM2. I was hoping it’s 500g or lower to replace my X-Pro1

    One day when the Df is available in used market and cost < $2K I will get it as it is the most beautiful DSLR out there!

    • Another thing is manual focus. I prefer using EVF and focus peaking for MF. Having experienced manual focusing with D800 i sometimes miss my target focus as my eye staring at the green dot and my hand shake a bit so i have to refocus again

    • For me, there are a number of ‘pros’ for the A7 over the Df, but a big one that’s often overlooked is the ability to real time exposure adjustments. I think that’s really the fundamental basis for what’s not only a new breed of cameras, but also a new approach to shooting!

  42. Steve, Digital Camera Review stated that in mod. to poor light it has bad AF, did you find soon.

  43. Love how so many readers think they can design a camera better than Nikon, and know exactly what everyone in the market wants. The Df is a hybrid camera for a reason, and looks aside it delivers on performance. Can most of the haters actually perform as well as this camera?

    Well done Steve. It’s not easy writing such long detailed reviews.

    • Very nice review. I don’t know about Nikon hating and I’m sure it’s a capable camera, but for some of us (at least for me) it’s just disinterest in blowing $3k on the latest in a seemingly endless line of super duper wonder cameras that will probably be obsolete and have lost half it’s value after a year. Since I don’t need ISO 6400 or make a 3 foot wide print I don’t see what this will add that I can’t already do with my current camera.

      • I don’t shoot ISO6400 because I can’t. It looks awful on my 7D and my M9 won’t do it. But I know I’d like to. I have many 3 foot wide prints on my wall and people buy my prints at 3 foot wide. I couldn’t justify my M9 at the original selling price, but I could justify it second hand at the price I paid for it, although it was still absurdly priced then. I’m glad the DF is out. I’m wavering. At a wallet bleeding £2750 in the UK I just won’t get it. At £1900 as an HK import I might. If the price drops by 30% in the same way the D800 has I’m in.

      • FF cameras keep their value much longer than other cameras. The 5 year old D700 is still fetching $1500 used on ebay – more than half it’s value new.

    • i like the design aesthetic of the camera. my biggest gripe with the camera was size/weight and primarily their marketing. that whole “pure photography” just put me off. it was crass and exploitative imo and quite at odds with what i was seeing; a very modern, all digital cameraand not at all what they marketed it as.

      if not for that marketing, everything else seems pretty good. the price is appropriate, the sensor fantastic and design superb. i just don’t like feeling of being so blatantly sold snake oil. the product can stand on its own with simpler messaging.

  44. Great review, Steve!

    I would consider this if I had the extra $$ for a camera that was for added fun and something different. IQ-wise, there are so many great cameras out there right now at all price points, you’re really knit picking the details and maybe missing out on the fun of shooting with any particular type of camera. Everyone has different wants and tastes, but with that said, I’d pick up a camera like the Df for the nice form factor and controls… not to mention the great IQ with especially clean high ISO/low light images look very pleasing.

    Sure, IQ is great, but I suspect a lot of readers who already subscribe and check your site daily have a pretty nice camera setup already that is more than sufficient. It really is the design and tactile experience that goes with the Df that makes it so appealing. A lot of people may not care about such things… just get the best highest IQ and fastest no hassle controls is all I need, who cares about how it looks and that you have cool dials and retro style. I am not one of those people. There are definitely high performance image making monsters out there for more or less, but they often are in the boring shapeless forms of plastic black lumps… does what’s inside matter more and negates what I find unappealing about the package?… perhaps for some, but I make no apologies for giving extra appreciation in looks and designs as well as functionality and concept. I really want something that looks cool and feels and works uniquely satisfying. Part of the joy of taking pictures does come with the type of gear you have and use and for me the look and design and how I hold and work with the camera is just as important as the end result I try to get from the photos I take with it.

    For now, my E-M1 is quite satisfying all around.. and since I just bought it, I don’t think I can justify a 2nd more expensive camera so soon.. maybe at the end of next year when I’ve saved up some $$ and hopefully the cost for the Df may go down to no more than $2500 with kit lens (or less without).

    Thanks for the great review and insight, Steve.

  45. hi steve, what kind of strap was on on your Df again, sorry couldn’t find it in google.

    Thanks!

  46. Canon 6D seems like a very reasonable alternative to the Nikon especially at current prices. I just picked one up for $1289.00 that is $100.00 than the em1 and Xe2 and it’s full frame.

    Great review Steve keep up the good work and a spectacular holiday to you and your family.

    r

  47. Took my Vivitar 135/2.3 series 1 into the local camera shop, tried it out, bought the kit on “Small Business Saturday”. This is the first DSLR that I like to pick up and use. Switched over to Leica after the D1x. My line-up for cameras in film days was the F2AS, Nikon SP, and Leica M3. Now it’s the Df, M9, and M Monochrom.

    I see many Df users converting their pictures to Monochrome. The performance of this sensor, the uniformity of the image, would make a great Monochrome camera. Dfm.

    • But it won’t mount those vintage Sonnars.

      • True that! The 105/2.5 made up until ~1971 were Sonnar formula lenses, almost identical to the RF version. “1mm longer” for back-focus. The 135/3.5 remained a Sonnar formulta lens from 1950 (RF) through to the Ais. I have the original F-mount and the Ais versions of that one. Two more lenses to use on this camera.

        “Growing up” using Nikon SLR’s from the 70s, this one is easy to use with winter gloves on. Like riding a bicycle.

      • This comment ended up out of place, was in response to a comment left above by “Marlboro”.

        Thinking about it, a waste of time to respond to some brat like him.

        • “Marlboro” who was also posting under three other screen names with childish idiotic comments has been banned. :)

          • Steve, I’m wondering if you have post processed the pictures in any single way – because I find that there are still some “Nikon skintones” on some pics while there are none on others. I really love Nikon for their technologies and the contents of the camera, but I just can’t live with the colour of their skintones as I really *dislike* it.

            Anything you can say about it?

            Thanks.

          • Well Steve, I am glad you got rid of this Sasha guy or girl. I guess I felt that I had to respond to some of his condescending comments and insults. If you want you can delete my responses to this Sasha. They now seem out of place. Thanks and Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  48. Maybe because I already know the price of the camera so I’m bias but these pictures don’t make me want to go out to buy a Nikon DF. When I first saw your website it was the NEX-7 and just by looking at the pictures I wanted that camera so badly but settled on a NEX-5 due to cost.

    Then I saw the OMD and then I want and bought one used. Same with Leicas (want one but can’t afford it).

    I really wished you shot some with the 58mm f1.4 (maybe I missed them in your review) because that is the only thing making be want to get the Nikon DF.

  49. I love the grip on my F6 and like the grip on my D3. Too bad the Df doesn’t have a more ergonomic grip. I’ve gotten used to the press and spin manner of adjusting the modern Nikons and find it fast and efficient. It would’ve been better for an auto-ISO setting on the ISO dial. Cool looking camera otherwise.

  50. Thanks for the write-up and all the hard work, Steve.

    Others report manual focus works like a breeze. You seem to hesitate a bit?

  51. Appreciate all the hard work that went into this comprehensive report. You echo my sentiments exactly.

  52. Steve,

    I really like the style of your enthusiastic reviews where you can easily demonstrate that any camera would sings in your hands, looking at the pictures. I did not have a chance to handle Df yet but the mix of manual and electronic controls seems quite counter-intuitive. Having Canon 1Dx I really see no reason for multiple knobs and dials in addition to buttons. I guess that the choice of the user interface should be this or that. Second thing I’m puzzled about is the sector this camera places itself in: Is this an extension of DSLR line, fashion statement or the separation from best mirrorless cams from Olympus and Sony?

    BTW, Eos M is not so lame anymore regarding AF after firmware upgrade. There are also accessory grips available to improve the handling as well as the unbelievable deals you can have for buying into the system. Maybe this underrated cam should have another look?

    Merry Christmas

    Richard

    • Well, as I said in my previous article YOU are not the target market for this camera. If you like teh 1Dx control scheme (I hate it) you will hate the Df. This is not for everyone, it is for those who prefer manual dials, control and a ratro design. Not for those who enjoy traditional DSLR’s. I cant stand trad DSLR’s so the Df is right up my alley. I have quite a few freinds who purchased the Df and love it. One sold his D800 after buying the Df and couldn’t be happier. But like I said, if you LOVE the D800, D4 or Canon STYLE and designs you will NOT like the Df. Two sides to every coin.

      • I don’t hate cameras. I love my Contax G2 and lenses, time to time winding a roll of film just to remind myself of appreciation for well executed, beautiful tool and user interface. Often side by side with my 1Dx.
        I’m confused by Df concept no matter how beautiful pictures it could take. I would like to be part of Df target market. For some reason Sony’s A7’s seems much more logical and appealing concept than this Df to me. The only advantage on Nikon part is the current range of available lenses, not the camera and its capability, I think. Could you compare Df with A7R based on your experience? I would like to know how the strengths and weaknesses of different philosophies matches.
        Thanks in advance.

        Richard

  53. An excellent review and that 50 1.2 looks like a great performer. I got myself a black DF and am excited about the file quality, not only at high iso. Concerning MF lenses, I picked up inexpensive Nikkors such as the 85 f2 ais, 105 f2.5 ai, 200 f4 ais. Outstanding optics built to last and priced in the USD100-300 range. And then I had to have Nikon`s jewel, the Noct Nikkor 58 1.2 ai. This one is made for the DF. An expensive combo, yet still costing less than a Leica M sans Noctilux.

  54. This is the kind of comment that puts a :-) on my face.

  55. Steve,
    I received my Nikon Df last week and have shot 2 orthodox weddings on it so far.. will post u results early next year….
    Very happy with this camera

  56. Steve,

    Thanks for your review of the Df. As much as I love my M9, there are those times that I grab my D700. I have been thinking that the higher ISO range and EVF of the M 240 could bridge the gap. Maybe it would, but I orderd the Df from B&H (via your link). I’ll see how it feels and spend some time using it. I’ll still have two cameras but I can take advantage of all of my great Nikon glass.

    BTW, I use manual lenses on my D700. Nikon and Zeiss. I have been using a KatzEye focusing screen and have found that it works very well. Some compensation must be made when metering in low light, but once you work it out no problem. Wonder if they have plans for the Df?

    Thanks again.

    Sanford

  57. Great review Steve, big thanks.
    One thing you didn’t mention is the quality of the raw files.
    These image samples you posted are remarkable.
    They have a very unique signature and look much different than many of the shots you post from other cameras.
    They have an excellent color balance, richness, and smooth sharpness.
    They don’t have that modern Nikon look with a green push that we see in the D7000, D600 and D800.

  58. As someone who’s been around cameras most of my life (Dad was a wedding photog, I still get misty whn I see Rollei 2.8F’s like he always used), the design language of the Df really, really punches my ticket. That is has mostly D4 internals is a real gift. Dad didn’t have much use for 135, so he let me use this ‘Nikon F’ camera he bought on a whim, complete with the original 58 1.4 and the Nikon clip-on selenium meter (IF I still had it, I could pay for one of these QUICK!). It didn’t take a plain shutter release . . . . .

    I would propose to indulge my inner curmudgeon and use only MF Nikkors with this (they’re often VERY cheap since they’re not ‘oughta-focus’) like that photo Nikon used in their promotion.

    This is one of those cameras that ain’t for everybody. But I really think it would fit me like my favorite Wranglers.

    Once again, THANKS Steve !

  59. Ex D4 user here and am pleased that Steve has found exactly what I predicted. Those who feel the D4 sensor “dated” or “Limited” are armchair shooters The images from this sensor are amazing compared to just about anything short of a D800 at ISO 200 at 200% and above. You can read dPreview if you like, or DxO etc ad nauseum… just take a picture for God’s sake, please!!! In fact, forget what dP writes and just look at the RAW comparison images. It readily shows how amazing this camera is. Can shoot a black cat at night with moderate moonlight and it’s full of detail.

    Great great great camera and its performance was quite predictable. Every time a new camera comes out we hear the same stuff about nit-picking omissions, typically from folks who haven’t been closer than an internet article to the actual camera.

    Ditched Nikon due to what is to my eye far inferior color balance to Canon. Can only hope C comes out with something like this.

    Great report Steve, Bravo!

    h

  60. Hey Steve,

    You nearly made me contradict myself ! As much as I was reading, I started wondering… The 105/2 in FF and AF in a nice retro styled über & leichter D300… ;) As often, you speak to my heart ! :)

    However, I feel the next generation FF will cut it for me, not the current one. Details like the SD door may sound like complaining for nothing, but it’s just not acceptable on an +2400$ camera. And while NOT a dealbreaker, my ego would expect something in the 18-22mp, for the sake of improvement over the Oly, and EVEN more stellar hi-ISO.

    Add a sensor stabilizer, a razor sharp and small AF 35mm/1.4, a good year on the fee’s side and the Nikon Df Mk II might gladly be my first FF camera ever !

    For the moment, I’ll stick to the E-M1 and keep my FF fantasies for later & better !

    Many thanks again for the wonderful article AND stellar pictures ! Makes me realize I still have a long way to go to perfect myself !

    Cheers ! Keep up the great work !
    Best regards,

    William

    PS. Dare I ask you correcting the typo in my article’s banner ? Sorry to bother…

    • Sound’s silly to reply to oneself (sorry about that) but now that I think about it, I’d love to see a Nikon-Oly (-Sony ?) joint venture. I thought the idea deserved to be expressed on such an influential platform as Steve’s.

      It would work the following way:

      Specifically developed Oly 5 axis stab goes to Nikon for the Df Mk II (and maybe to Sony for the A8/Rx2 line ?). Big, fat, well deserved royalties for Oly, which created an incredible system around this incredible stab !

      In turn, Nikon (and Sony ?) provides Oly with a 20mp sensor on the basis of a Sony piece, destined to a fixed 35mm/1.8 stabilised, ISO 25’500 clean FF retro camera. A future “PEN PRO”, with an electronic rangefinder style deported EVF ?

      Smaller royalties to Nikon/Sony, as the leadership is not as valuable over Canon in the sensor’s area, than Oly’s in the stabilization department.

      I don’t know about you, but I would LOVE to see this become reality. All those product lines wouldn’t compete with each other, but nicely complement.

      My two cents…

    • Wiliam –

      Just gp tp dpr and compare RAW at higher ISO’s between the Df and Oly Anything. It’s not even as close as Steve’s pics show. No contest… none

      Sensor stablilizer. Nice for stills…. worthless for anything that is moving in low light. Then you actually need a fast camera, not some magnetic gizmo. This thing is just what Steve says.

      Low light? Tell the others to stay home. Go to sensorgen.info and see what happens, even to a D800 at about ISO 800, vs. this Beast. Look at dpr’s actual tests.

      Currently using Canon/Sony/Leica BTW. if I’d have known this was coming a year ago I guess I’d have tried to do more color comp in LR. But the D4 is heavy..

      Oh, focus in low light? If it’s anything like the D4, no worry…

      Oh, I know… “… for a camera this much money…” yada yada. Take some pictures and you’ll see why there is nothing like this on the Market

      • Stabilization does make a big difference in the 1/20 – 1/50 range: human subjects often are still enough to be sharp at these speeds, but the person holding the camera, not so much because of the need to operate the camera. Still, maybe the extra weight of a Df plus lens vs an E-M plus lens will help.

        • Hate to go hammer and tong here, but IBIS makes NO DIFFERENCE to the subject in any way at all. None.

          It only makes the button pusher more apparently stable. Try shooting a child under 1/50. Very difficult in my experience. I am a bit OCD about blur and reject pics that some would no doubt pass as fine.

          When you need more light gathering on a moving subject you need a faster, bigger light gathering system. No way around this. If you can slow down the process you can certainly gather more light, but moving from 1/80 to 1/20 because you think you can is a false security. Physics is Physics.

        • IBIS compensates for YOUR motion, not your subject’s.

  61. It’s a good start, but for the Nikon DF Mk2 can we have:
    The exposure comp dial moved to the right.
    Detents at half stop positions on the shutter speed dial.
    Slightly more sensible front dial.
    A full magnesium alloy body.

    And while I’m on a roll, I’d like Canon and Nikon to fit in body stabilisation to every camera they make.

    • Sorry to destroy your dreams, but most of that will never happen.

      Exposure compensation and ISO dial are on the left side on the FE/FE2 cameras which are most close in looks to the Df.
      Moving exposure compensation to the right would make that side even more crowded with functions.

      Are you serious? Nikon never had half stop detents on the shutter speed dial. If a fixed aperature is needed then just use Aperature priority Auto exposure. Besides Nikon added the 1/3 STEP position so the camera can be used like a D600/610 with intermediate shutter speed settings.

      A redesigned front dial is possible.

      Nikon will never make an internal body just for the Df. And a Df2 based on D800 would be much more heavy and big.

      Canon is going all-in with IS even for WA primes. Forget them adding in-body IS. Nikon only added VR to the 16-35/4 lens but not to the shorter primes. So maybe there is still some hope for in-body VR. But I wouldn’t bet on it.

  62. This camera is a disappointment. It is not really retro at all, as there are far too many buttons and digital controls for that. It doesn’t even offer the option of a split image screen viewfinder. It is also unbelievably over-priced. Sorry Nikon you messed up here. If you want retro, why not buy a real retro camera anyway?

    • I still use many film slr’s and this whole thing about the split image screen is way over blown. Just a mat screen will do. I think that with autofocus and the digital overlay on top of the screen, Nikon had no choice here. I would have liked to see them offer the option of changing screens. They must of had a reason for not offering interchangeable screens. Maybe will find out in the next few months. As for the dials, I don’t agree with you. With the dials, the camera can be used like old film camera, so this camera is like having two cameras in one. Like Steve mentionned, this camera is not for everyone. Some will love it, other’s will not, and that’s OK.

      • Fair points, but why spoil it with so many of the digital buttons/add ons? They could have kept it simple and had a shutter speed dial, an exposure compensation dial, etc. As was the case back in the day. To me they have fused 2 cameras into 1. Some will like that, but I think it is a missed opportunity to have produced a genuine retro camera. I will stick with my Voigtlander Vitomatic lllb and my Olympus OM.

        • True enough but if they had taken the digital buttons off the camera people, would have bashed it for that. I guess they tried to please everyone which is impossible to do. I stil think it’s a great camera but certainly not as retro as my OM2.

  63. Good to see a hands on report with the camera.

    Don’t take this as a slight, but none of the images in the review made me go WOW, like it happened sometimes with the Olympus E-M1, Sony A7R or Canon 6D reviews. Just saying that besides the High ISO performance, nothing here inspires me IQ wise.

    • Agree with you. But end of the day it’s just another week, another new camera. You seem surprised?

      If you want inspiration get an MF film camera Rolleiflex or a Blad and an IQ to dream for.

      • Checking Ebay lately, looking for MF camera, but everything seems too much for my pocket. A TLR could be my only option, even tough sometimes I see some Pentax 6×7 around that might fit the bill. Any advice?

        • I’ve no experience at all with Pentax 6×7 so cannot comment really. Hasselblad is expensive so count that out. Rolleiflex 2.8 or 3.5F is expensive so count that out too. Hmm.

          A Rolleiflex T can be had for under £300 in the UK or maybe an MX similar price but for even better value a Rolleicord would be a good bet say a Va or a Vb as they are the last ones of the line. I paid about £140 for a Mint Rolleicord Va II a few years back and they are still aprox the same price now, only real difference between the Cord and the Flex at that lever is the wind on knob on the Cord v the lever on the Flex. Great camera, great lens, great results.

          • Meh.

            Sorry, I tried to help you Pedro but it seems ALL my posts are moderated by Steve lately for “whatever” reason.

            • Will keep an eye out for the Rolleicords. Meanwhile heard about the Mamiyas, C330 and similar. Still possible to find them in good condition?

              • Yes the C330, I did consider that before entering the Rollei world a few years ago. Great camera with the added advantage for a TLR of interchangeable lenses too. Best look at the later “Blue Dot” ones though and as with any older camera make sure it is in full working condition.

                The later Mamiya 645 Pro/Pro TL is another worthy contender I forgot too. Cheap as chips these days and the results are gorgeous, I just sold a 645 Pro TL myself and it was a great camera. A staple of the wedding Pro for many a year. Good lenses and they’re also cheap too. Being an SLR far easier to use than a TLR out in the field. Plus you won’t really notice any major real difference in quality between a 6×6 or 6×7 negative compared to a 6×4.5 neg.

                Mamiya 6 & 7 are for me personally the pinnacle of MF photography but you’re look at Blad money for those pretty much. You’ll have to wrench my Mamiya 6 from my dead cold fingers. :-)

    • Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  64. Steve,

    Enjoyed the review, as always. I can’t tell you how much I wanted to like the Df. The D4 sensor in a less expensive body would’ve been great for me. Sadly, I handled it and it just felt terrible in my hands. Thick, boxy and with a strangely “hollow” feeling, it felt nothing like an FM or F3. The shutter release, for example was at a very awkward angle for my hand and the grip was angular and uncomfortable, as well.

    I don’t know, but it seems to me that Nikon has given us a mixed bag here: Great sensor in a mediocre body, combining parts from various current dslrs, but just not hitting a home run.

    For some, the sensor alone is enough, and I understand that. But, I was hoping for an ergonomically pleasing package. For me, Nikon has not given us that.

    By the way, I handled the EM-1 and A7 on the same day. Both felt more substantial and ergonomically superior, albeit a bit small. But things fell to hand nicely, at least.

  65. Just a quick point re max shutter speed being 1/4000 – the Df does have an ISO 50 setting (its marked L1 on the ISO dial) which you can use when the shutter speed is maxing out. So you need ND filters for shooting wide open less than, say, a Fuji X-E2 and in practice the 1/4000 shutter isn’t a problem.

  66. A very good review, thank you!

    But for me, nothing to get excited about or to justify the expense
    I will just sit it out till a Nikon mirrorless, interchangeable lens FX body is announced

    But..

    How about a Nikon Df v’s Nikon 1 V1 “Crazy Comparison”
    Df kit in the UK = £2749
    New Boxed Nikon 1 V1 (ebay) £150 inc 10mm
    Preferably the Df’s 50 1.8 v’s the V1’s 18.5 (not the expensive 32)

    best regards and seasons greetings
    Paul

  67. Hi Steve,
    I like reading your reviews. I tried both the DF and d610. There is almost no difference on the weight… Although DF is a much “nicer” product, I believe you get more for your money purchasing the D610 if you are not a night photographer. What I believe is also important is the fact that you find a osmosis with the camera and it becomes an extension of your hand and your eye. If the look of the camera can help one with this, it is fine with me. I personally don’t care.
    I wished they had put the 16MP in the D800 and keep the 36MP in the D800E and DF was a full frame mirrorless Nikon that would accept F mount lenses. I would have paid 3000$ or more for such a Nikon. Right now, Nikon and Canon are the only companies offering all kind of solutions at different prices when it comes to lens choices… and none is offering a sustainable Mirroreless product. Is that because they thought they could keep their customers captive? With the new Sony and Olympus, I don’t see any reason to stay with Nikon because of my lenses.

  68. Has any other camera in recent memory created such conversation? Such polarization? Some love it, some hate it, others try and justify the costs vs the spec sheet. Nikon must be pleased with all this buzz.

    I for one love it! No other digital camera has ever created such an immediate emotional bond. I love the large buttons and familiar dials. My failing eyes appreciate scanning the dial settings vs a small LCD. I grew up with F Series cameras and still shoot an FM2. The DF just feels and looks right to me.

    My 6D is more ergonomic without a doubt and produces a wonderful image but we never bonded, it never motivated me to want to shoot more, never got me excited. Hence it will be sold in favor of the DF. Not a spec sheet or a cost basis decision but an emotional decision. If you get it, you get it and if not that is ok too.

    Thanks for anther great review Steve. Now time to go shoot!

  69. Taking a wild guess here…you never handled or shot with it..

  70. Hi, Steve – great review, as always. (And, if you’re using that tube integrated amp to drive your Sonus Fabers, you might be my favorite blogger in the whole world!) I have a quick but specific handling question – I have large hands and am “camera grip sensitive” – the grip on the Df looks smallish from what I’ve seen. Was the camera comfortable to hold in general? Did the grip feel deep enough for your fingers to wrap around? What about with a front-heavy lens, like the 35/2 ZF.2? Thanks again!

    • Hey John, thanks! My hands are small, so for me the grip was fine..but I am also used to a Leica M without a grip so I may be used to grip less designs. For some, the grip of the Df will feel too small. If you have large hands especially. As for the amp…I audtioned a few amps thanks to my local dealer, AZ Hi Fi – A Leben CS600 and the Line Magnetic 518i a – both beautiful and amazing build and sound. I chose the Line Magnetic 518ia. The sound of this amp is magical, ethereal, 3 dimensional and a perfect match for my Guarneri Evolutions. You would not think so though as the Guarneris are supposed to be tough to drive. That 22 WATT SET amp plowed through them without an issue, even to crazy loud listening volumes that would hurt my ear. Never harsh, never fatiguing. Just beautiful holographic music. I recently built up a new system after having to sell my old system due to my divorce. Took me 10 years to build up the original so decided to do this one in a matter of months.

      • 22 watts for the Guarneri’s… I guess quality counts after all! ;-)

      • Steve,
        I really enjoyed the review and this camera is probably on my list, somewhere down the line. However, what really knocked me out was the photo of the Line Magnetic integrated. Could hardly believe my eyes. So, I had to read through 71 comments to see if anyone else noticed how unusual – in a very good way- the amp was.
        Not only a more enjoyable read here on cameras than, I think, Mr. Rockwell’s site, but now you motor past him on electronics as well. I’m an audio dealer, and tip my hat. 845 is my favorite output tube, if I had to pick one (about as hard and pointless as ‘favorite lens’, or favorite child). You’ll never go back to solid state, or push-pull for that matter.
        Congrats on the amp. (Please be open to trying it with some different speakers some day. Am sure the dealer will have suggestions. You may be surprised. Nothing against the SFs, but horses for courses.)
        Anyway, off topic. I do appreciate your review after reading Lloyd Chambers and DP Review. You help put some things in perspective for me.

    • I’ve been using a number of lenses on mine, don’t have the Zeiss 35/2 but- the Nikkor 105/2.5, 55/1.2, 35/2.8 Perspective Control-Nikkor “all metal focus mount”- well-balanced on the strap. The 70~180 Zoom-Nikkor, 300/4.5: front heavy as they are on most cameras. The Vivitar 135/2.3 Series 1, a “little” front heavy, but it is about the same as the Nikkor 135/2.

      • I suspect that you have never used a real camera. Others of us have, and for a long time. Your posts here show that you are an immature, spoiled brat- probably a 12 year old little boy typing on his IPhone and content with phone camera point-and-shoot grab shots.

        You can go back and watch SpongeBob now.

  71. Df is the same size as 6D or D610, and same weight too. Start whining.

    • A rip off for you but not for me. I guess I am part of that group that you qualify as being boneheads. You sound like you are a really nice guy, but I think I would rather hang around with the rest of us boneheads. There is still some civility left with this group of boneheads.

  72. I have never been a pro but even I can tell you that having dedicated old style shutter speed dial with speed labels are sexy. I wish nikons would make lens with manual aperture rings. One feature I absolutely love in my RX1

  73. Based simply on the series of photos Steve shot of the Christmas tree ornaments, using the Df, A7 and A7R, I’d say the image quality is markedly superior from the Df. By the way, check out what Lloyd Chambers reveals about shutter vibration issues affecting sharpness. Those “nifty” little Sonys are too light and small when using much more than a compact “normal” prime. For now, the Nikon is the better choice for most users.

    • Exactly. People want less weight, but forget what “mass” does for stability. It’s all a trade-off. It’s the same with size; do you want all controls to be small and bunched-up? I don’t.

      • No issues with stability with a Df, at all. It’s lighter than a D800 but not light as a NEX. Also, I hate bunched up controls as well, which is why I like the Df. They are NOT bunched up. They are easily accessible and spaced up on top where they should be. Not one single issue. Those who think it is an issue are those who A: Do not have the camera or B: Are just so used to a standard DSLR they have no idea how to control a camera. Also, the Df can be used in full auto without ever having to touch the controls if desired. But when you do need them, they are simple and easy to operate. I find it much easier than operating a Canon 1Dx or other DSLR’s. I mean..every dial and button is right there, easily laid out. Once you learn where they are, they are easy to set without even looking.

      • Last week we had a snow and ice storm. No problem changing ISO with two fngers and winter gloves on. Thumb to press the release, index finger to change ISO, eye to finder for the readout. Release side is setup like a Nikon F2 with the PSAM dial where the advance was. Lay your finger across the PSAM dial to the shutter-speed dial, flex the finger for release. No problem using a 135 at 1/60th.

        In terms of sound- this DSLR is quiet. The “Q” mode for slower release is best suited for tripod use, similar to using the self-timer on a Nikkormat.

        Steve- great review. It’s nice to read the opinion of another Leica user that this Nikon is a fun to use camera.

  74. Noise signature, someone somewhere mentioned that the Nikon has a more pleasing noise signature v.s. A7/a7r…and now that I’ve read that I seem to ONLY see that. And I agree 100% and it pisses me off, maybe I’m smoing the crack, but I swear that I see it now. :-(

  75. Hi Steve,
    Df is not really in my scope of interest. But one shot made me smile – the one with the amp on 845 tube. Aren`t you tempted to get a pair of vintage RCA tubes? Would be like using vintage Leica lenses… Well, almost :-)

  76. Thank you Steve for a cool review of the Df.
    I’m now tempted even more as I sold all of my Nikon gear and kept 3 FM2’s, the Nikkor 105/f2.5, Micro Nikkor- 55/f2.8, Micro Nikkor 500/f8 and a beat-up but still usable Nikkor 50/f1.2.

  77. Thickness:
    Minolta 7D: 78mm
    Nikon Df: 67mm
    Sensor and LCD add half an inch or so compared to a fim camera, NOT an inch and half.
    At least get your facts straight Before making an argument.

    • Yeh, your the expert on looks.

      • I am so glad that you have joined us as our official expert on looks on this web site. We have been searching for you and really appreciate your condescending approach. You are like a real inspiration to us all. Thanks very much, and Merry Christmas!

  78. Hi,
    strange as well as you and somme other photographer testing the Df report a performing AF in low light. A few minutes ago, I read on dpreview poor performances of the AF in low light conditions.
    So, who’s telling the truth? Because if a consumer spend monney and the had a bad feeling in using the Df, it could be disappointing. In my case, I’m working with a D700. So if you have to choose… D700 or Df from the AF performances point of view?
    Thanks a lot!
    Regards.

  79. sorry for some type wrinting error…

  80. This camera pisses me off. Because I discovered the whole of it is more than the sum of its parts. And though it is way overpriced I’m keeping it. And I’m almost surprised that I am. And that tells me my prior judgement was flawed until actually using it.

    A couple thoughts on the review- this isn’t Nikon’s smallest or lightest DSLR. The D5100, for example trumps this model in that department. And I wouldn’t refer to the Df’s viewing system as an “optical viewfinder.” It’s reflex viewing, with a complex system of mirrors and prisms to reflect and reverse and reverse again the image, so that you are viewing right through the lens itself without any bits or bytes in between. In the day an ‘optical viewfinder’ would be something we see today in a Leica M or an X20- a little window on the world rather than reflex viewing.

    I will use the manual-focus only lenses I still have. The way underrated 28/2.8, perhaps the best SLR 28 of its day; the 40mmP (originally released with the FM3a) for that old-school ‘glow;’ the classic 105/2.5. What more is needed? Can always crop an image taken with the 105 to pretend I used a longer lens.

    • Join the club. As I have been saying, and other’s as well, you need to use this camera for more than just a few minutes, to really enjoy it. It grows on you.

  81. There are some rumours going around that the Df is not considered a professional camera, so I decided to look into it a little. It makes sense to me that DF ownership would qualify as a professional purchase considering its performance and cost.

    I went to the Nikon Professional Services website and found the Df was indeed *not* listed on their “Do I qualify?” page. I went to message them via their site for clarification and as I was doing so it prompted me to enter information about my query. There were several drop-down menus to get to specify the Df but it was eventually listed under “Professional” equipment. A seeming mismatch somewhere. Here is the response I clarification I received from them:

    “In terms of price class and sensor/ISO, it definitely belongs into the same class as D800. However Nikon decided to go for enthusiast specs for other camera functions and it lacks the system compatibility of Pro cameras so it’s really a cross over camera. Based mainly on the price point and some specs we class it as Pro camera. Nikon confirms Df ownership does not contribute towards NPS membership.”

    So, it is and it isn’t a Professional camera. Hmmm…

    What camera “system compatibility” is the Df lacking that might disqualify it from being considered Pro?

    • The only one who can deem it as professional is the one who shoots it. It 100% can be used as a pro camera. I used the Leica M9 for pro work for two years yet “the internet” tells me it is not a pro camera. Hmmm.

    • Nikon isn’t quite sure how to categorize this camera, and have placed it in that narrow region between prosumer and professional. But if it’s NPS membership you’re after, then for the time being it probably doesn’t qualify (though Nikon tends to be somewhat flexible about this depending upon whether or not you meet their other criteria).

      As to system compatibility, thus far I haven’t found anything about this camera that does not integrate fully into the Nikon system, including their CLS system. There might be a rare accessory here and there that only work with the D4 or D800, but for most shooters it’s unlikely you’ll ever encounter such a circumstance. And if you do, there’s always a work-around (third-party or otherwise).

      I wouldn’t hesitate to use the Df professionally, though obviously it’s not the perfect tool for every shooting situation (but then again, neither is the D4 … capable as it is).

    • I’ve sold two photogravures this week for $1,500 each and the images were taken with my $50 Holga. Enough said.

  82. I’ve read in a magazine that that reviewer didn’t like using nikkor zoom lenses with the df! I only have nikkor zoom lenses. Thoughts?
    I’ll need to read up on how it might do as a back up / second camera for aviation shots.

    • I would never buy a zoom for the Df. If I wanted to shoot with zooms I would buy a D610 or D800. For me, the Df is not about zoom lenses just as a Leica is not about zoom lenses (no zooms on a leica M at all).

      • Had put on a wide angle zoom for street shots over christmas and it was ok, better than the 600 possibly because the weight balance when one is walking and snapping. But don’t disagree a plain 50mm or 35mm is instintively better fit.

  83. The camera is nothing but ugly (IMO), but the IQ is impressive.

    • Goes to show..one mans ugly is another mans beauty. ;) I feel all DSLR’s made today are hideous looking – fat, cheap, bulky, and no originality whatsoever. Cameras like the Leica M and Nikon Df, to me, are gorgeous in looks and in use.

      • For me as well. I think it looks really good even more so live.

      • Insightful, Funny thing is it seems like I share the same feeling with you about Leica M and the current mee-too-ergonomic DSLR design, but I can’t call Df gorgeous or original…

        If the word ugly is misleading, I can say that the intention, a digital camera with its interface mimics a film camera, is simply great, but it is half done to my eyes.

        It’s a matter of taste after all, anyway….

  84. $2900 for a full frame camera with a fast kit lens is NOT expensive, especially a camera with the best high ISO performance on the market. I think it is priced just right. I noticed when reading your review that you seemed to love every minute of using the Df. I think I’ve only read this in your EM-5 and EM-1 reviews. If it’s a sweet camera with great IQ, no problems, and makes you want to grab it and go shoot, then I’d say it’s worth every penny.

  85. Very interesting that you chose to purchase the Nikon Df over the Sony A7/A7r?

    I hummed and ha’d and eventually took the plunge and bought one yesterday.
    I was worried about the AF performance in low light after both DPReview and Ken Rockwell bashed it, but both you and Thom Hogan said it is fine and I trust both of you more :)

    I need something better for low-light than the Leica M and also something that can replace my X100s as a walk-around candid AF street camera.
    A professional photographer bought my X100s so it made the decision to pick up the Df much easier.
    B&H even threw in next day air UPS for free, so I’ll get it by Christmas :)

    I can’t wait!

    ET

  86. Hi Steve!

    I would love to see some pictures of/from Nikon DF coupled with Leica Summicron-R 50mm and 35mm :)

  87. The magic lens for this camera is the 58mm 1.4 G in my opinion. A retro body df and a gorgeous bokeh machine! Steve, please do a review on that combo. Also, any comments on the shutter sound? I hear it’s very nice.

    Aloha,

    Larry

  88. In the – intermediate – end, I’m not convinced by the Df’s solidity and ergonomics. The D800 has a lot going for it in the ergonomics department. Slightly smaller, Df weight but D800 build quality, D800 AF, D4 sensor, I’d jump straight in.

    Modern DSLR’s faceless blobs of plastic? Nonsense. I find the build quality and the ergonomics of the D800 (and the D700 before that) admirable, state-of-the-art. They last a long time, nothing flimsy about them. Just modern, professional quality.

  89. So looking at the DPReview, they pretty much don’t get this camera.

    Reading this review, Steve does get it.

    Looking at the Df’s “popularity” going at 30% at DPreview, double that of the camera in second place, and almost 9x the most popular Nikon at “3.7%”,..

    “Steve Rules, Baby!”

    • We love you Sasha, you have become our token expert on looks. You seem to have developed a new expertise in stats. We appreciate your continued participation.

  90. Nikon Df is 1% (1 mm) narrower and 0% (0.5 mm) shorter than Canon EOS 6D.
    Nikon Df is 7% (4.7 mm) thinner than Canon EOS 6D.
    Nikon Df [765 g] weights 1% (5 grams) less than Canon EOS 6D [770 g] (*inc. batteries and memory card).

    from camerasize.com

    Nuff said.

  91. I REALLY REALLY wanted to love this camera, but in the end I’ve decided that it needs to go “go manual or go home”. It still needs better Manual focusing, and if at all possible should shrink a bit more.

  92. Hi Steve!

    I think this camera looks great and it pulls some heavy nostalgic strings for sure! What I´d like to ask is if the old F-lenses for my old Nikon F3 would work? I have been using some with the Olympus OM-D EM-5 and an adapter since good glass is good glass and I kinda like that old mechanical feeling even though the lenses are a wee bit heavy. I could totally see myself owning this body and keep using it with my old lenses.
    I also agree that for a camera that is said to embrace the old ways should have a split screen in the viewfinder!

    Finally, your comment about designing a camera stuck. Why not do it for fun? Either you write up a wishlist and post on your site or everyone contribute to the design. Could be interesting to see the result and if the companies would listen.

    Merry Christmas to you all!

  93. I’ve owed the F2, FM, F5, D2xs, and D800. I’ve used the D3 and D4 extensive (company camera). Like the D700 compared to the D3, I was hoping for something similar to compliment the D4. Th Df ain’t it. Awesome sensor, but the retro, lack of video, flimsy battery cover are causing me concern. I’m not a heavy video owner, but even if you don’t shoot it at all, you have to consider the resale vale. Without video you just lost a large chunk of the resale market. If I want retro, I buy another F2, or a Leica, or…. Hey – anybody wanna buy my Hasselblad bodies, or my Sinars? All this consumer BS about size and weight, is just that . I want a solid reliable machine, that is fast and matches the functions of my second body. Another point is the next round will be on board wireless. Really surprised that this is still not the case with Nikon. In my opinion, the D4 is the best thing on the market – and that comes at a price.

    One other beef. High ISOs are important, these days, but it’s more than the quantity of light, it’s also the QUALITY. Just being able to shoot a sharp image at 128,000 ISO doesn’t cut it, if it looks like crap. Please! No more “racoon eyes”!

  94. And “what’s wrong with it, second item” is the dealbreaker….I bet at Nikon there is at least one engineer crying up the wall when he reads this remark….if you retro a camera you should also retro the viewfinder, or maybe even more precise you should AT LEAST retro the viewfinder. My Nikon F3 (the only camera I’m fond of, pount) has the best viewfinder I have ever seen, used, learned to love and cherish. Now it has a combination of centre wedge (for lit scenes) and a fressnel for darker scenes…..in fact there was always (even in pitch black concert halls) something to focus on.

    Greets, Ed.

    P.S. Steve it compaires in form to the 70th and 80th but in functionality (AF/P bracketing and the rest) it is more a 90th camera (and that also sucks).

  95. “The SD card should have had its own door on the side of the camera. The battery lasts so long that we would rarely even have to open the battery door if it were not for the SD card being there.”

    Are you using ridiculously low capacity SD cards, or do you have to take them out the camera to empty them?

  96. Hi, I think the DF looks cool and seems to hit most of it’s targets BUT it’s way overpriced here in the UK, £2900 GBP ,a lot of Nikon fans are very annoyed at Nikon’s pricing in the UK and are voting with their feet – straight to Fuji and Sony most of the time. I’m sure the price will drop to a similar level to the USA and then and only then will it be a fair deal IMHO, Nikon UK – sort yourselves out :) Cheers Paul

  97. Hi Steve. Thanks again for the great site!!! Happy Holidays. Do you think that the Df makes a good complement to the EM-1?

  98. When I first heard about, I was thrilled. A retro style NIKON camera to be used with my beloved 17-35 mm 2,8 and my 80-200 2,8 ED glass.

    But then:

    Price too high: Same built quality and technical features compared to the D 600 at the double of the price? The sensor is too outdated to justifie this pricepoint. Not in terms of quality but it is not a new sensor, now used some years on the D4. So the development costs are already compensated. And the D4 will have a sucessor in 2014 ( Football worldcup Brazil ) or latest 2015. So it is a sensor close to the end of it’s livecycle!

    No video? I use video and I didn’t buy the D700 for that reason. Nobody would have skipped the camera BECAUSE OF having video but some will because of NOT HAVING VIDEO, stupid move! So for me, not a one for all-camera. For capturing video I have to bring a second body.

    Why – at that price point- not implementing a more advanced AF-System which even found its place in a 1100 $ Body (D 7100) and would work better under lowlight conditions to meet the capability of the sensor?

    The high ISO potential is great, if I use a contemporary lens with VR. If I use a old Nikon Glass, a lot of the high ISO capacity is compensated. I know, that NIKON will probably never support a IS as Olympus does but only in this way one could get the most out of his old NIKON Lenses.
    By the way: A 1.8 aperture at 50 mm was in “film times” a mediocre aperture, just a normal kit lens as delivered with every 400 $ amateur body. 1:1,4 was good, 1:1,2 was outstanding and state of the art.

    I spend tons of money on my NIKON equipment so far but ahead of investing in a new camera I made up the following calculation:

    OMD EM1 body 1500 € + Panssonic Nocticron 1:1,2 (Estimated) 1400 € = 2,900 Euro
    NIKON Df Kit + Kitlens 1:1,8 = 2,900 Euro

    The combination of 1:1,2 and Body IS on OMD EM 1 gives it a Lowlight capacity on par with the Df when using “old” glass without VR.

    But then:

    OMD: A beatuiful “pure” retro looking body, rocksolid FULLMETALL construction ( NIKON DF (-) with better sealing , Body IS ( NIKON DF (-), Tiltable TOUCH screen ( NIKON DF (-), WIfi ( NIKON DF (-), superfast and accurate AF ( NIKON DF (-), small body but best ergonomics ( NIKON DF (-), Video ( NIKON DF (-) 10 FPS ( NIKON DF (-), supersilent shutter sound ( NIKON DF (-), Focus peaking ( NIKON DF (-), not even Split image screen)).

    So the decision was easy and not regretted so far: OMD EM1

    The problem in – not only my sight is: Since 2-3 years NIKON stopped to deliver top of the line products concerning built and features. The seem to try just to deliver as much as necessary, not totally to piss off their loyal customers but leave away all what could turn a product in a really thrilling and profoundly refined product.

    If you would compare it to the car market:

    The Df is a car with a Porsche Engine but the technical features of a “VW Golf Basic Ediition” at the price of a midrange BMW.

  99. Hi Steve,

    Welcome in the ‘Df Appriciators’ Camp….. Don’t think the ‘Df Antigroup’ will stop now telling you
    what’s wrong about the Df or even your view

    I am now in Vietnam with my Df and 24/2.8-50/1.4-85/1.8 all AF-D and everything
    you mentioned I experience. I plain language…..I like the Nikon Df.

    So much that when I come back I probably sell my Leica M9 and 4 lenses, because de Th Df does everything I want and has a super-bonus…called Low-Light High ISO !

    Maybe 1 or 2 Zeiss lenses and a 105/2.5 MF AIS and I am perfectly equipped.

    Merry Chistmass and a good 2014

    Hans van den Broek
    Netherlands

  100. Steve, I doubt you are still reading the comments this far down, but thanks for your awesomeness. Your reviews are so fair and well-written, they are rare in the interwebs and hugely valuable!

  101. Dear Steve.
    Thanks you for a very nice review of the Df
    I might end up with a Df, because its makes those very solid, good looking and extremely well-balanced Pictures,
    but I’m divided between the Df and the A7 (not the 7R).
    The colours of the A7 is good, but the colors of the Df and the look in general might be a more pleasent and solid feeling after looking at several 1000′ of shots.
    Just have to find out.
    Best
    Thorkil

  102. See in that mirror picture, quickly looking at it you look like the Nosferatu from the film!

  103. Hey steve, I’m no good at camera, but when i does, i do like the vintage one. I never own DLSR before because none of then look vintage enough for me, but this one, 100% i want it :). Can i use Canon f0.95 on this camera, sorry I’m a bit noob. Asap.

  104. Hey Steve,

    Your comments regarding B&Hs policies for 30 day returns in your video are TOTALLY WRONG.
    I just received my new Df in time from Christmas from B&H and the camera boxes and body were covered in finger prints.
    The boxes also showed signs on the tabs of having been inserted several times because they were all frayed.

    When I took a test shot and uploaded it to CameraShutterCount.com (which does support the Df) it says the camera has 932 actuations!
    32 I could have lived with, but mot 932 :(

    This has ruined my Christmas…

    ET

  105. After owning a slew of Nikon bodies starting with a D50 and currently a one yr old D800, I have no problem saying the Df is as exciting to me as my first dslr. It is a joy to shoot and even though it is less “advanced” than my d800, it is my first choice. It may not shoot bigger than the d800 but it is clearly better.

  106. It’s a fail. It looks like a FM but it cannot be focused like one.
    It’s got the heart of d4 but AF from d600. Why?
    Why cripple it?

    Leaving the video out was a really good move.

    Couldn’t nikon have made it fully manually focusable like a real FM? Or even provide options to change screen etc. or given it a proper autofocus system?

    Nikon and canon are both guilty of crippling cameras with lot of potential. Too bad for us……I love this but can’t buy it on looks alone.

    Can we have a nikon d700s please.

    • If you don’t like it….it is not your camera…..there is no obligation to buy it…

      I am sure when the FM came out and Internet and these kinds of fora would exist than…many would have say…..why didn’t they do this and that..

      It’s good that Nikon and other manufacturers make their own decisions ….. it brought us many many good products…if the Nikon Df will be one of them…time will tell

      I believe JFK once said:

      Some people look at thing and say..why?, I see things as they are and say why not…

  107. Hi Steve
    Merry Christmas to you and your readership.

    The ultimate shoot out must be a comparison between the alpha 7/r, the Df and the Leica M240.
    I would use the 35mm and 50mm lenses each make has to offer.

    I am not convinced that the technology has not advanced enough that Nikon couldn’t make a F3 sized full frame dslr. The alpha 7 is tiny by comparison to the Df with twice the megapixel, movie mode and exceptional low light performance. If Sony kept the Minolta name and called it an XD7d, I would speculate that people might look on it differently and they probably would have sold more of them. The Alpha 7 takes Nikon lenses as well.

    Curious to know what the outcome of the shootout would be.
    Best wishes for the season
    Noel

  108. The Nikon D1 series and D2h had problems with skin tones due to IR contamination, and a number of photographers “dug out” the Hot Mirror Filters from Kodak DCS days to correct it. I see no issues with the Df and Skin tone.

  109. Using the Df for portraits today, no problems with skin tone noticed. Also used the M9 alongside the Df. The old Nikon Digital cameras, the D1 generation and D2H had problems with skin tone to IR contamination. Use of a Hot Mirror filter fixed that problem.

  110. Just a brief comment. I had the chance to shoot with this camera the other day for about a half hour. It handled beautifully, and the image quality was superb!

    My only real gripe is with the manual focusing. Steve is right, unless you have very good vision, you will have to rely on the focus indicator to achieve sharp images with fast glass. ( I did not try live view.)

    If I go back to a dslr, this will be the one.

    Oh yeah. I also agree with Steve about the silver version. Nothing cheap looking about this body. I prefer it to the black.

  111. For Ben, I’ve found the Df easy to manual-focus with my AiS lenses. The screen snaps in and out nicely for me. Plus the focus-check, , is absolutely accurate, and becomes second nature after only a little practice. I can be concentrating on the view and still see the green carets and dot at the bottom of the finder. My Nikon 28mm F2,100mm F2 and 135mm F2 lenses have been “magic” for me since photojournalist days. Have no problem focusing these on the fly with the Df. With the handy wheel on the built-in diopter, I can use my eyeglasses or not. I usually select F-stop for desired depth of field, so use the ISO wheel to adjust the shutter speed to 1/4000th or slower. (I love this camera. It’s like favorite film Nikons, but high-end digital. The low-light is sometimes like night vision glasses — the captured image is brighter that what the eye saw.)

  112. Agree, Marc. For me, the Df screen snaps in/out of focus better than my film Nikons. The focus-check green (carets/dot0 is highly accurate with all my AiS and AI-converted lenses.

  113. Ujwal, you can manually-focus to your heart’s content with the Df. Why would you think otherwise? In fact, I find it easier to focus my manual-focus lenses with the Df than my FM3A. As for AF, it’s very fast and accurate with the kit, AF lens. Why would you say it does not have a “proper” AF system … especially when you then lament that Nikon did not make it fully “manual focus.” Is there something I’m not getting, here?

  114. Hi Steve. Thanks for another great real life review. I am amazed at the wide range of polarizing views on the DF. I initially was very neutral on the DF. As much as I love my older Nikons (digital and film) and I was one of many who wrote to Nikon years ago about making a digital back for the F3, I was a bit disappointed at first – just by reading specs and some initial critics.

    A friend got a DF early on and allowed me to give it a try. That was it. Mind change. This is a camera about feel. Sure, it doesn’t have everything a modern DSLR may have. Sure, it’s priced on the higher side. Sure, the ergonomics isn’t 21st century.

    For me, photography is about art, creativity, self expression, etc…

    I have a whole bunch of cameras. I can tell you, my D4 sits on the shelf a lot. Only used when I need to cover something that requires the capabilities a D4 can give me. It’s not something I want to carry all day long. The DF on the other hand is in my hands almost all the time. The last camera that had me holding it and playing with it was my M9. To me, Nikon created a DSLR that brought back “feeling”.

    I’m not going to argue about ergonomic and technological advancements over the years and how this DF is just going “the wrong direction” that so many nay say’ers are putting out there. If it bothers you that much, buy the D610 or D800. Nikon makes cameras to fit your needs.

    I think the main thing is to find the tool(s) that fit your way of shooting. Nikon isn’t going to go back and make the next D5, D810, D620 or whatever they call it by copying the DF. Take the DF for what it is. It’s a solid camera in terms of PHOTOGRAPHY and will do the job. It’s going to fill a niche in the camera market.

  115. Thanks for the review, Steve.

    I’ve had the Df for a couple of weeks now and I am enjoying it. This is my first “DSLR”. I’ve owned various SLRs and still have an FM3a. I also have a X100s (I had the X100 before that).

    Before the Df, I could never bring myself to buy a DSLR. When the Df was announced, I was interested but somewhat concerned about size, handling, manual focus ability, etc. But when the Df arrived at the store, I went in tried it out. I was surprised how well the camera felt in my hands and how it seemed lighter than it looked. I mounted a manual focus lens on the camera and I seemed to have no problem with manual focusing. Since bringing it home, I have tried it with various AIs lenses and I can manual focus them wide open with no problem. I still prefer a split image screen — probably because this is imprinted in my mind as this is what I grew up with. In addition, the AF (with the 50mm 1.8G) seems to work fine in low light. I also love the sensor on this camera. And although the Df is larger than my X100s (though not too large), it is easier/quicker to steady it for handheld shooting (good for slower shutter speeds). The Df works for me!

    I’ve also tried a A7R and A7 at the Sony store. Looking through the viewfinder made me dizzy. And the EVF image seemed too small for me to be able to make out what is being framed (when shooting something with a lot of detail). I was not expecting that as I have no problem with the EVF on my X100s.

  116. Great and fair review! I think that all this talk about size is relative. I have very large hands. I traded in my nikon D7000 for an olympus EM-5 and the cameral was great but it was too small for easy handling. I would always inadvertently press buttons I didn’t want to press when trying to change settings in the field. I eventually sold it and got the D600 which fit very nicely and felt natural in my hands. But, I think that this Df will be my ideal camera. I am going to sell my D600 and get the Df and a couple of fast primes.

  117. I have just bought a Df (having had at various times an F3, R6.2, M6, D300, D700, 5D, and M9) and am enjoying using it. Although it came with the kit 50 1.8 AFS SE lens I am using a 50 1.8 AF D lens which is neater and has less distortion which I need since I take a lot of photos involving buildings, walls, posters, etc. I use aperture priority with the aperture ring on the lens. The D focusing using the camera’s focus motor is fast enough. I am also practising manual focus with my old AIS lenses and that is getting more reliable. I much prefer it to the Leica M9 that I sold a few months ago – I found the electronics too unreliable and the optical double image viewfinder was fine for focusing but very poor for framing and parallax (no wonder so many fine art photographers who use Leicas produce photographs with body parts cut off by the framing – I used to think it was deliberate).

    • Hi Philip,

      Experience almost the same track as you, all tough I have to sell my M9 when I get back from Asia (Thailand/Vietnam)
      Me too the kittens at home, instead the 50/1.4 AF-D and the 24/2.8 and 85/1.8 all AF-D lenses.
      The 16Mp sensor is very well matched with the AF-d lenses in terms of lines vs resolution
      Working now 4 weeks with it…it’s got it all

      See some results at my Flickersite (Last 5 sets 1 color and 4 B&W)

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/crowdedhousenl/

  118. Hi Steve, good review and great website. I got my Df in the first wave of deliveries and whilst I like the camera (I switched up from a D700) I have to say my jaw dropped when I saw the US pricing. If I’d have known that the camera would cost the same amount in US dollars as it does in British pounds I doubt I would have bought it. I read Nikon’s justification for the pricing on the Amateur Photographer website – it was absolute nonsense. They might as well have said “we acknowledge that British people are idiots and we are happy to take advantage of them”.

    I am also a Leica owner, so I am used to extreme pricing. But with Leica I never really had a problem with it mainly because I could rationalise the cost in the context of their need to address a different technological challenge to that faced by the DSLR manufacturers without necessarily having the same resources or economies of scale. The Leica community has had to be patient and forgiving and has finally been “rewarded” with the M which is reasonably priced and technologically up to date (although I won’t be giving up my Monochrom any time soon).

    But Nikon should be ashamed of themselves. They did not need to do this to its UK customers and for many of us it will leave a bitter taste. I will be writing to Greys (awesome shop – if you’re ever in the UK you should take a look) to share my thoughts as I know the message will go direct to Nikon and if enough of us make a point about it they might think twice before pulling a stunt like this again.

    Anyhow – whinging aside and assuming money is no object – great camera that will get some serious use over the coming years.

  119. Thanks for a a good review Steve. I think you are spot on with what you say regarding megapixels. I think you could have pushed harder the fact that the Df is the only dslr on the market with manual dials. A lot of confusion around this product stems from that Nikon choose to include compatibility with G lenses. If they had instead mirrored the functionality of the FM3a the differentiation would have been clearer.

    I need manual dials to work well. I work with a light meter and tripod and one exposure usually takes 15-20 minutes to make. Sometimes a whole day. So I need to instantly see the exposure settings of the camera and know what the focus is set at. If I need to actuate displays or power buttons I get frustrated because the camera is getting in my way and I loose MY focus (far more important than how the camera focuses).

    For me this is the main reason the Df exists: too finally provide photographers like me an alternative.

  120. I had to have it from the first moment I saw it… Been wanting this creation for years, and I’m 100% satisfied with my purchase. People can talk all they like, get out and shoot people!!!

  121. Let me just throw something out here.

    Photographers seem to be a funny bunch among hobbyists. A large part of them seem to be among the most insecure of hobbyists,beyond that of fans of other kinds of Stuff, in that they pay an inordinate amount of attention to ‘What Pro’s Use.’ This obsession with WPU has been going on for decades.

    This WPU obsession makes as much sense as me going up to taxi drivers (professional day in and day out drivers who do it for money) and asking them what car I should buy.

    This WPU worship extends to many internet blog and reviewer sites. As though some stranger’s casual one-time use of a consumer product should decide for me if I should buy it or not, as though their opinion is fact and not just a subjective data point, as though their opinion is somehow more important just because they have a website.

    Soon consensus builds. Interweb posters copy each other, bloggists play to the same audience and echo each other. A common wisdom develops, and must not be questioned. Like I said, us photo hobbyists tend to be insecure and look at the opinions of others to determine what we ourselves should think. Soon, all our pictures look alike.

    And then there’s Steve. He went out on a limb here and bucked the Consensus. He approached this item, this Df, not with a lot of drama and preconceived notions and a cloud of mental baggage, but as a picture taking machine in its own right. I may not always agree with Steve, but he is a rebel here.

    Congratulations to Steve for daring to speak his own mind and come up with his own assessment, and not just echo that of the self-proclaimed In Crowd. It’s pretty refreshing.

    Just wanted to throw that out.

  122. hi Steve,
    I wonder if you make side by side comparison the images from Df and M240, in my mind they are producing pretty close and similar color rendition i think. thanks

    • They are close but still, the M will give a different and more pronounced 3D effect with a tad more bite and sharpness. Plus, the M is much thinner and feels like a slab of metal in your hand. Very smooth. The Df, while very nice, is not a Leica M. But a Df with 50 – $3000. An M with 50 – $8k min.

  123. Why you guys always need the best gear to take a picture? I don’t get it.

    • No one “needs’ any special gear to take a picture. What many fail to understand is that there are thousands, tens of thousands even hundreds of thousands who enjoy using the “gear” as much as they do snapping the photo. Just like in many hobbies, the gear is just as important for the enjoyment – the gear itself is many times the hobby. Just like in high end audio..no one needs a $30,000 system to listen to music but I know guys with $200,000 systems and guys with a $150 system. It’s all about what one enjoys..and when it comes to personal hobbies and enjoyment we all have the right to do and buy and use what makes us happy, excited and fulfilled. Really has nothing to do with the final picture but the enjoyment of getting there.

      • Agreed. On the same subject I liked this bit by Ken Rockwell:

        “The Nikon Df is a special camera for the experienced photographer who knows what he wants. If you’re a casual buyer who selects a camera based on features, price, specifications and test reports, get a Nikon D610 instead for less money. The Df is a camera for those who appreciate magic; if you don’t understand the importance of magic, you’re probably not a very good photographer and certainly will never understand the raison d’être of the Df. Yes, the D610 costs less and does more — but who wants to shoot a plastic camera? I want to love my camera, not just look forward to when I throw it away in favor of whatever comes to replace it.”

        http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/df.htm

  124. Steve,
    Reading somewhere of your review, you said that EM-1 sharpness surpass Df and A7, has it true? I check the iso war sample above, EM-1 seems sharper. Then why need big cam if the small one is better at least on sharpness dept?

  125. Hei Steve, interesting,
    but I like Your Leica photos more.
    Only ones that seemed as worthy was the few with the Zeiss 35mm lens.

  126. I’ve only just read this review and I found it very interesting and informative. I was undecided about this camera and I am even more so now – why? Because Nikon make great claims about this camera having the same sensor as its flagship D4 – except that within weeks of the launch of the Df Nikon announced the D4s with a new 24mp sensor. So the Df no longer has this unique ‘flagship’ selling point. More worrying though is the possibility of a soon to be launched Dfs with the new, bigger D4s sensor. So why buy a Df now when the risk of an ‘s’ version is likely to be round the corner and will completely under value the Df? We really should worry about Nikon’s marketing strategy.

    • Ray – I hear what you are saying.

      However, technology marches on. One can never know with certainty what is coming when. All we really do know is that in all things technological, generally performance continues to improve while costs stay the same or decrease. In other words, there is always better value for your money ‘later’.

      I’ve been using computers since about 1979, 20 of those years professionally. My technological advice for cameras is the same as it is for buying computers. If you are in need/want of something, buy it now and get the best you can afford, and don’t look back. Then, make the best use of what you’ve got. Unless you have insider knowledge that something new/better/cheaper/more-desirable is definitely imminent, waiting will only frustrate you.

      ‘Around the corner’ is a relative term. Something new is *always* around the corner so if you wait for the corners to finish, they will never end.

      • I agree whole heartedly…. If we always waited for the next big thing then we ‘d never purchase anything… Plus, if you do buy a proposed Dfs model you’re only about a year into it before something else will come out, and this camera is one you but to use for years… 16MP is more than enough resolution, and it’s low light performance is the best on the market… So what if you find yourself at 2nd best in 6 months? It’s still more than good enough!

        • I agree whole heartedly that we shouldn’t wait for the next best thing, especially when we don’t know if and when it might appear. But with announcement of the D4s we do know the technology is already here to upgrade not only the D4 but also the Df. So if I was considering a Nikon D4 I would not now buy one but wait for the announced D4s; Nikon have effectively killed off any further potential D4 sales and the sudden drop in price only demonstrates this. As for the Df I was undecided about the camera not because I was thinking of buying one, I’m not, but because of its specifications. Steve’s review indicates that it is a good camera and this doesn’t surprise me. What surprises me is the marketing link with the flagship D4 and how the D4s breaks that link. As a result the Df now sits in a strange position as the lowest resolution full frame camera from Nikon once the D4s comes on stream and a key plank in its sales pitch gone. Something I feel Nikon will address very soon with a Dfs. It is of course a personal thing but were I considering a Df then Nikon have created the position where I would not now buy one simply because they have created a potential upgrade via the D4s improved sensor. Equally there track record shows that ‘s’ models always follow and I predict the Df will morph into the Dfs within a year. As a result the value of the still very new ‘second best’ will plummet.

  127. Had the DF for almost a month now and I am very pleased. One thing I would like to stress is how good the files are from this camera. Sure you can get similar low noise levels and punch from other sensors but most of them require a work around to get there. Not so with the Df – the pictures turn out very pleasing.

    I got the kit lens in case I would ever need an AF lens but 98% of the time this camera has a manual lens on it. I don’t use split screen on my F3 or in my Hasselblad. Had to pay money to get a screen without and have troubles understanding all this talk about split screens. Makes me wonder whether you have actually used a camera where you can’t properly see the center? Split screens suck and are for beginners.

    I did buy the magnifying adapter for the prism (DK4) as I always preferred the larger magnification instead of hp-finders. Haven’t even mounted it yet since I find the finder works really well to focus manually in. The reason I believe has to do with good contrast. The Df finder has far more contrast than a 5D markII I used the other week.

    The things I don’t like are that I feel Nikon compromised. They should have made it more like the FM3A or Leica and left out autofocus and the control wheels. Better be pure in concept than pure in marketing. Some like the versatility the Df offers, that it CAN function as your run-of-the-mill DSLR with those lenses, but I would have preferred a cleaner approach. I view the Df as the digital Nikon F4 – an older sibling it shares many of its controls with.

    I also don’t like that Nikon used fake leather plastic on the front while using nice feeling rubber on the back. The grippy rubber makes the plastic feel like plastic. This feeling is enhanced when using the cheap plastic kit lens (which has great image quality) and is subdued when using a great quality, all metal, manual Nikkor.

    I also would have liked if they hid a video function in a menu. I use video twice a year and it would have been good to have. But I salute that they left out all external video buttons and I would use an external sound recorder anyway. Hoping for a software update enabling this at some point.

    Other than those minor things the Df is a fantastic camera. Before it I never even considered any DSLR, was still using film and thinking about getting an X100 since I need good physical controls and hate the stuck-in-the-90’s wheels, big top display, menus and hold-to-change buttons.

  128. A very informative review Steve!

    As it happens, I am waiting for delivery on one of these (black body only), and had already made the decision to buy one before reading your review. Just thought I would kill some time while waiting!

    I started with a Nikon F back in 1964 and am now in my 50th year as a photographer. In 1971 I moved to an Ftn. Eventually an F4 and then a D200 when I went digital. This led to a D300, a D3 (I missed full frame) and finally a D800E. There is one snag – I am getting older and cameras got heavier! My lifestyle was reckless (I smoked) and consequently don’t breathe as well as I used to. Humping cameras is no longer my forte and for that reason I sold all the heavy digital bodies recently. I still kept the film bodies, more for nostalgic reasons although I still bang off the odd roll of BW now and then, and the old lenses, so imagine my joy upon finding a camera that I could use with all my old pre Ai lenses, namely a 28mm, 200mm, 55mm micro and 50mm f/2. So there it is – I am going backwards in order to go forwards.

    I am astonished at what people look for today – too thick?? Plasticky knobs? Are these things going to make people better photographers? Try handling an 8 x 10 and see how you get on with the knobs and the lens plates held on with a couple of swivels! Image quality has always been my number one priority, and of course years ago this was governed by the lenses. It seems today that ‘photographers’ are far too preoccupied with design features, even though they are not designers, rather than taking pictures. I reckon I can take some pretty good photographs with any camera, including an iPhone, and I never once thought about knobs and buttons when I am working. I am only thinking of the image and whether it will work or not. My portfolio includes pictures made with Coolpix’s, and even an iPhone, as well as those made with medium format professional gear, because for convenience, that is all I carry about me when ‘off duty’.

    I haven’t even handled this camera yet, and when I do I will just learn how to use it and be aware of its strengths. The features that attracted me are first weight or rather lack of it, and secondly I can use any of the lenses in my collection from pre Ai to my ‘G’ lenses. That makes it worth all the Nikons I have ever owned!

    Anyway, thanks for the hands on review. It has given me confidence about image quality, and I am looking forward to taking many more pictures yet, even if I do creak on a personal health level.

  129. Hi, Steve…

    As a D800 and an X100S guy, I am truly leaning towards ditching both for the Df.

    I don’t usually have tons of glass. I use a 35 1.4, a 50 1.4 and a 70-200 2.8. Sold my 85 1.4D a few years back, and still kick myself over it.

    So, a question about the ‘magic.’

    If I were to shoot a midnight street shot, say, on Bourbon Street in New Orleans with the D800 and the 50 1.4, and then with the Df and the 50 1.4…under the same conditions, what differences would I see? Color? Rendition? Contrast?

    I do see a certain ‘magic’ in your Df photographs. A kind of light, a kind of color, that is unique. A mood, and a very appealing one.

    Any thoughts?

    Best regards,

    Steve

  130. Drat, it still has the dang mirror. If it were mirrorless, comparing to the Sony A7, it would have .7 in. less body width and 11% less body weight. Hmm, maybe mirrors aren’t so bad after all?

  131. Best review of the Df I have read Steve – very thorough, many thanks for all the work. Have ordered one – primarily because I don’t like the plastic Nikon DSLRs – just not the same feel as my FM3a and FM2s. Found your site from Nikon Rumours, glad I did.

  132. I wonder what for a retro look, if you lose confort and effectiveness.

  133. I have been shooting with the Df for a week now and must say that I absolutely love it. I had toyed with the Fuji XT 1 but am so glad I went for the Df. Build quality is much better than some reviewers stated – I cannot fault it and I love the way it handles – easily as nice to use as my FM3a and two FM2s. I cannot compare the image quality to “plastic” DSLRs as I don’t have any but the low light, no flash images (for me at least used only to fast film) are fantastic. Although I have two 50mm mf lenses and a 55mm I thought I would try my first af – the kit 50mm f1.8. It feels a bit naff as it I very light but certainly easy carry all day and image quality is very nice. I bought an SB700 for fill in flash – makes a very handy outfit – although for most shots in low light – unless you need fill in, best to keep the flash gun off – the sensor is so good. So although I was a bit negative when I saw the price I must say that this is a delightful camera and Nikon have indeed really crafted a camera for those who have had long time love affairs with the FM3a or FM2.

  134. This is the camera I want Pentax to make. My brain thinks dials and aperture rings. Assuming it is replaceable, an old-world focusing screen would be the first and probably only accessory; I already have everything else including lenses. Please Pentax, make the LX-D!

  135. I have had the Df for about a month and a half now…. shooting with both Zeiss ZF2’s and NIkkor 85/1.8G and fast 2.8 zoomers and fixed F4 teles.

    On my first weekend out with the camera the autofocus, and AF tracking, pulled in a complete shoot for me, a soccer match in early morning backlit sunlight. Coming from micro four thirds, I was stunned. Out of 302 shots I processed 50 as keepers… and that was only for compositional interest. Almost all the shots were exposed and focused properly.

    My hobbiest interest takes me to primes through the studied subject; hence the Zeiss manual focus Zf’s. It is here where I feel I have rediscovered the joy of photography, having been born with a 1956 Canon rangefinder in my hand, sporting a Schneider 50mm lens. There seems to be nothing but bare machine between me and the focal plane now… the process now rendered to just expose, focus on a subject of interest, compose, then squeeze the trigger. It doesn’t get any better than that, working on the most sumptous of sensors as artist’s palette.

    I’ve never had another Nikon, nor FF since pro-Minolta days in the late eighties as a hobbiest. I cannot compare anything to anything. But, I don’t care. I have my sensor. I have my camera. I have my Zeiss. I am in heaven.

  136. Also my two year old grandson take good pictures with this camera. It is also my prefered camera to take pictures from my grandchildren. The af is fast , the df is light and the standard kit 50mm/1.8 is perfect for kids. I agree with steve, this camera is fun every day. For saying that i own a lot of different cameras, digital and analog. On the street i use sony rx-1 or leica Monochrom, but children with the DF.

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