Nikon Df for Weddings by Mark Seymour

Three weeks, four weddings and one dementia sufferer, with the help of the new Nikon Df       
By Mark Seymour
Nikon-Df-blakc-and-silver

As a wedding photographer who primarily specialises in Jewish weddings, using a predominately reportage and journalistic style, I use the Nikon flagship camera the D4, with a selection of prime lenses.

But recently I was provided with the Nikon Df and it was great privilege to have the opportunity of trialling this beautiful retro styled camera from Nikon, in real life situations, where the pressure was on for me to deliver.

I initially played with the camera for a week adding some poignant black and white images to my personal project covering my fathers’ decline due to dementia. Once I felt confident with the controls and features I was excited to try out the Df for capturing my professional wedding images. I must admit I did revert to my D4 at the point where the high tempo dancing takes place at both Jewish and Greek weddings had begun because I wanted to feel totally comfortable, as you have less time to think and I needed the higher focus speed of the D4. That’s not to say the Df is a slouch, with the focus system borrowed from the D610.

Overall Impression

It’s a beauty, with overtones harking back to the classic days of film and the great Nikon cameras like the F3 and the Fm3. Nikon have done to this camera what we have seen happen to the beloved design of the mini, in taking the look of a camera with nostalgic memories and installing it with their flagship digital camera’s sensor, to enable photographers to have the best picture making experience.

This is Nikon’s lightest full frame camera at just 710g with beautiful retro dials on the top plate and a 16Mp sensor inside, but also includes a small LCD that gives battery info, shutter speed, aperture selected and number of frames left along with a great LCD and shutter lag to a professional standard. The shutter is also the quietest, which is often a bug bear with the D4 during wedding ceremonies.

ISO is sometimes difficult to know on the dial without confirming what it is in the viewfinder, especially in low light.

Image Quality and Buffer

I’m blown away by the qualities of this sensor, the dynamic range is superb and you can shoot anywhere up to 204,ooo ISO with the buffer not to the standards of the D4 so if you are a photographer who shoots in high bursts, at times you will hit the buffer limit

Below is a selection of images taken with the Retro Nikon Df in real life situations as well as a link to my website.

http://markseymourphotography.co.uk

 Nikon Df , 10,000 ISO, f1.8, 800 sec

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Nikon Df, 10000 ISO, F4, 80 Sec

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Nikon Df, ISO 6400, 200 sec , F4

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Nikon Df, ISO 6400, 200 sec , F4

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Nikon Df, ISO 4000, 500sec , F2.8

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Nikon Df, ISO 4000, 100 sec , F4

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Nikon Df, ISO 4000, 125 sec , F4.5

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Nikon Df, ISO 2000, 400 sec , F1.4 85 mm lens

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Nikon Df, ISO 3200, 200 sec , F4. 85mm Lens

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Nikon Df, 3200 ISO, F3.2, 500 Sec

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Nikon Df, 2500 ISO, F5, 25 Sec

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Nikon Df, 4000 ISO, F3.5, 60 Sec

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Nikon Df, 5000 ISO, F4, 60 Sec

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Nikon Df, 5000 ISO, F4, 125 Sec

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Nikon Df, 1600 ISO, F2.8, 200 Sec 35mm 1.4

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Nikon Df, 1600 ISO, F1.8, 200 Sec. Nikon 50mm 1.4

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Nikon Df, 1600 ISO, F2.5, 320 Sec.. 50mm f1.4

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Nikon Df, 1000 ISO, F2, 100 Sec. Nikkon 85 mm 1.4

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58 Comments

  1. Mark, excellent photos and great review. I was wondering though if you find it annoying that the focus points are more compressed in the centre of the frame than on the D4?

    How do you get round the problem of finding a focus point if the eyes of the person are not in the centre. Surely you cannot lock the focus and recompose due the shallow DoF at 1.4 –

    Many thanks!

  2. Love the images, the Nikon Df has proven to be a very capable camera with issues like all cameras but overall a very good camera. I love mine and would never sell or trade it unless its for a leica m240 lol.

  3. Loving these images. You have a great eye for composition and you are prepared to shoot some unconventional compositions that really work IMO.

    And those people who think the images are soft are WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, especially if they are too lazy to click on the link to your website where it is quite apparent that they are sharp, sharp, sharp.

    Image 17 is a beauty with lovely out of focus areas around the couples heads – the kind of “pop” with pleasing bokeh you can’t get with micro four thirds IMO.

    Lovely work.

  4. These are some very unique wedding images, though a bit much vignetting for my taste. I really like your colors. As far as people saying they are soft, I personally think sharpness is overvalued.

  5. If you already have a D4, what besides size does the Df really offer? I’d rather be shooting an RX-1R as my walkabout at weddings. As hard as I try, I can find no reason to spend $2800 on this camera. No MF aids on the screen, hard to handle for long with big hands, low-end AF. I just spent $625 on a Ricoh GR and this should serve me well, in addition to my trusted D700 for any event shooting I’m contracted for.

    • I’m sorry, but I looked at the original full size 16.2 megapixel photos and they look soft. Perhaps it’s because the ones I looked at were shot at ISO 6400. There just isn’t that much detail. Not even as much as the pictures in Steve’s OMD EM1 review. Normally, I don’t pixel peep, but the softness of the photos just jumped right out, and looking at the full rez pictures confirmed it.

      More importantly, the photos do capture some beautiful moments and I’m sure they printed nicely.

    • The full size versions are not soft to my eyes either. Looking at the link Sipho posted above, they look quite sharp or as sharp as the iso they were shot at would be expected to resolve… in fact, for such high iso they are excellent with a film-like texture that reminds me of tri-x. Beautiful images Mark. Thank you for sharing.
      Jorge

  6. The same images on smugmug are razorsharp. The softness here has nothing to do with focus, as close inspection of the images readily reveals, but with the size of. The files Mark submitted. The riddles is unraveled.

  7. Mark,

    I think these photos convey the emotion of the moment beautifully. Not ever image has to be razor sharp and these are sharp enough to do the job in a very artistic way!

  8. I think this is exquisite work. And plenty sharp, but that’s me – and I’m sure the highres images look even better. Many images are excellent, but image 17 is a masterpiece of composition and lighting, in my eyes. My hat off.

  9. Mark — I’m not sure why some of these images appear soft on this site; but it’s most likely a compression issue. Just visited your website, and your work is magnificent. Very well done! Congrats on the Nikon Ambassador status, too.

    It might be additionally helpful to folks here to know which lenses you shot these images with. There’s no Exif data.

    • Thank you for your generous comments Robert, they were shot on a variety of lenses. The first two of my father were shot on a very old Nikkor 50mm 1.8 AIS lens with manual focus, something I’m not used to these days !
      The portraits were taken on the Nikon 85mm 1.4 and the 35mm and 50mm 1.4 lenses, whilst the ceremonial shots were taken on the Nikon 16-35 mm f4 Lens
      All the best, Mark

  10. Shooting wide open, slowest sutter speeds upper low light. Greater that, the lens, camera will out of focus and not best F stops for sharpness. Slow, blurring form camera shake and/or subject moving. These look like great low light photos to me. Natural, there for imperfect. Rightfully so.

  11. I’m not sure if high ISO is the best way to have great wedding pics. Even if you will use the nevests bodies wit brightest lenses- 10000 ISO will not give you all. Sometimes strobbing, using another sources of light is mandatory. Lack of light means thin photos…

  12. Mark, exquisite work, really.

    I do not agree that the images are soft; I only looked at a couple at the largest size available, but they are lo-rez, even at full size I can view on my browser. I would like to see any one of them at full rez, though, if possible.

    Because all cameras are sharp enough (IMHO) these days, speaking as an ex-pro. film and digital photographer, what I like about these images, as shown here (and assuming the originals will be sharp enough for their intended use) is the composition, the timing of the moments captured, and the non-digital look.

  13. Steve’s images looked a little soft too. I think we have got used to super sharp super detail images eg SOny A7r and even OMD-M1 etc. This sensors renders beautifully but sharpness does not seem to be it’s forté.

  14. Mark, thanks for your thoughts, write up and images. I do have one question. Either on screen or printed, and laid side by side could you regularly identify a D4 photo versus a Df photo?

    I ask because the sensors are the same, or virtually the same. Thanks for your additional thoughts. Peace and happy new year.

  15. Hi Mark,

    How did you find the shape of the Df in your hands compared to the feel of your D4…I haven’t had the chance to play with a Df yet and was curious how it felt to someone used to a large dslr like the D4 ?

    Thanks,
    Harv.!

  16. As much as I’m (still) attracted by the Df, these images do not convince me I’m afraid. Apart from the sharpness thing, which doesn’t seem to be better on Mark’s blog (and yes, I know sharpness is only of relative importance), the colours ánd the b&w are not to my liking. Maybe it’s just a matter of style, so I have to apologize maybe for expressing what in the end is just a personal opinion.

    • Nice images! I’m sure the bride will be happy having most of them. But , for some reason, this set of images reminds me of my Canon 30D I was shooting long time ago with a cheap sigma prime lens which gave me hard time focusing.

  17. Wow. And there I was dismissing the Df as a lame retro/hipster marketing gimmick. Both the B&W and colour images here are lovely. Really lovely. So tell me, is the real appeal of the Df that it gives us the qualities of the D4 sensor (which by the look of these images is something special) in a much lighter package rather than the faux old-fashioned packaging that everybody has been focusing on?

      • Makes sense. Which makes it all the more frustrating that Nikon didn’t go all the way and put the D4 sensor into a stripped down body the size of an FM2 (or even a X-Pro 1). I’d have bought one of those in a heartbeat.

    • I thought the same thing too. You have to click to enlarge and it will show that they are not out of focus.

    • Even after clicking on the images to enlarge most of them appear out of focus. Was there an issue with the upload? I have to believe that there is another explanation. Other than that they are nice images.

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