Jan 032014
Three weeks, four weddings and one dementia sufferer, with the help of the new Nikon Df       
By Mark Seymour


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.


 Nikon Df , 10,000 ISO, f1.8, 800 sec




Nikon Df, 10000 ISO, F4, 80 Sec




Nikon Df, ISO 6400, 200 sec , F4




Nikon Df, ISO 6400, 200 sec , F4




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




Nikon Df, ISO 4000, 100 sec , F4



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



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



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



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



Nikon Df, 2500 ISO, F5, 25 Sec



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



Nikon Df, 5000 ISO, F4, 60 Sec



Nikon Df, 5000 ISO, F4, 125 Sec



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



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



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



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




Dec 042013

 ISO 12,800 Test – Nikon Df vs Sony A7 – Zero Noise Reduction and Low Light

Just for fun I decided to test the two low light champs in a low light zero noise reduction high ISO 12,800 test!

The Nikon had the $1700 58 1.4 attached and shot at f/1.8 and 1/640s – combo cost $4400

The Sony A7 had the $1000 Sony/Zeiss 50 1.8 attached and shot at f/1.8 and 1/640s – combo cost $2700

Both had Noise Reduction turned OFF to see the true sensor performance at high ISO (NR smears details).

Both focused just fine here.

You can click on each image for the full size from camera JPEG. You can see the Nikon vs Sony color signature here as well. The Nikon is known to be the best current production low light champ and high ISO shooter with that D4 sensor inside and the Sony A7 is the new sensor on the block. How do you think they stacked up?

Many have asked what speakers are shown here..you can read my review HERE. 



Sep 012011

Low Light and High ISO Sony NEX-5n Video Samples

Took the 5n out to shoot some low light video at higher ISO. I went to an aquarium and set the ISO to 3200 and 6400 using the kit zoom. My full review of the 5n will be up by Monday but here is the HD video samples and what the stock 5n and kit zoom can do in near darkness. Enjoy!

Aug 152011

ISO WARS: The Olympus E-P3 vs The Sony NEX-5!

When Olympus released the E-P1, the camera suffered from slow AF, poor high ISO performance and it always lost out to the Panasonic M4/3 camera (slightly) and other larger sensor cameras. The E-P2 did nothing to improve upon the high ISO but the AF did get a speed boost and the video control improved. With the new E-P3, Olympus claims better high ISO performance, and if you read my review you would have seen that I loved the AF speed boost, and just about everything else about the camera. But I did not really get into high ISO performance so much and I recieved a few e-mails asking me  to pit it against the Sony NEX-5 at 3200, 6400 and 12,800.

It was just over a year ago when I reviewed the Sony NEX-3 and 5 cameras. At that time, their high ISO capability was unheard of! 12,800 ISO in a small camera like that was a first, and everyone raved about the quality of low light shots, even me!

With its APS-C sized sensor (not quite full frame, but larger than the Micro 4/3 sensor) the Sony was able to do better at high ISO and low light than other small cameras and it competed with larger DSLR’s. The E-P3 is here and still has the 4/3 size sensor of course, so I wanted to see how it would stand  up to the NEX, not only in noise, but in detail. I used the 12mm f/2 lens on the Olympus at f/3.5. On the Sony I shot with the higher end 18-200 at 18mm, f3.5.

I did a quick and dirty test, using the STEADYSHOT  of the 18-200 and the built in IS of the E-P3. I turned OFF the Noise Reduction on the E-P3 as you can. The Sony does not allow you to turn it off but it does let you switch it to “WEAK”, so this is what I did. I wanted to let each camera give the most detail without letting Noise Reduction get in the way and smear it all up. I shot JPEGS as there is still no Lightroom or Photoshop support for the E-P3 RAW files.

The first comparison shot of a couple of books was taken in my living room, at night, with a very dim lamp shining in from my office. Here we go!

FIrst I will show you a couple of resized images from each camera – ISO 3200 and then ISO 12,800. After that I will show you the crops from each at 3200, 6400 and 12,800. You can click on the images for larger 1800 pixel wide versions.

The E-P3 at ISO 3200 – 12mm – f/3.5 – 12mm (24mm)


Sony NEX-5 – ISO 3200 – f/3.5 – 18mm (28mm)


Ok, let’s go to ISO 12,800

BELOW: E-P3 at ISO 12,800 – Click image for larger version – scroll down for 100% crops


NEX-5 at ISO 12,800 – Click image for larger version – scroll down for 100% crops



E-P3 1st, NEX-5 2nd



ISO 6400



ISO 12,800



What happens if you convert the JPEGS to black and white?

First the E-P3 at ISO 12,800 – Click image for larger 


NEX-5 at ISO 12,800 – Click image for larger


How about another subject with a little more light. I my Kitchen area…

The E-P3  - ISO 3200 – This time I had it set to F/2 though. MUST CLICK IMAGE FOR FULL 100% CROP VIEW!




and one more…





What I see in all of the images is that the Noise Reduction in the NEX is hindering the detail. Also, the Olympus 12mm lens is a sharper lens than the $799 Sony 18-200. I actually prefer the grit and grime of the E-P3 versions over the somewhat dull and mushy NEX versions. Olympus did a good job with the E-P3 and when NR is turned off there is still plenty of detail in the files, even at high ISO. Next test should be against the X100 :)

Also, if you have been on the fence about the 12mm Olympus Lens. I HIGHLY recommend it. It is simply SUPERB. B&H sells it HERE.

HOW ABOUT MORE VIDEO SAMPLES WITH THE E-P3? Even a low light video that is pretty free of grain!

I’m still waiting for the “PRO PEN” with a built in EVF. Also, the rumored Sony NEX-7 with built in EVF should up the stakes yet again. Below are a couple of high ISO shots taken with the E-P3 this evening just to test it out. Enjoy!

ISO 6400 – spot metered on the can – in camera B&W JPEG (not the art filter grainy B&W, but MONOTONE color selection. Click for larger.



ISO 3200, night..f/2 – 12mm


E-P3 – 12mm,  f/2 – ISO 6400, in camera B&W, NR OFF, evening, no lights on.


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Dec 302009

Since I have a Nikon D3s low light monster here I decided to do a silly experiment. As you all know I shoot with a Leica M9 and a 50 Noctilux F1 lens. The M9 only goes up to ISO 2500. Thats it! The D3s goes past 100,000 ISO but it is pretty bad that high so I have been shooting it in low light at ISO 12,800-16,000. At these crazy high ISO settings it is pretty damn good. Pretty amazing really.

But I wanted to see if the M9 at ISO 2500 with the Noctilux at F1 could perform as well as the Nikon D3s at ISO 16,000 with a Nikon 50 1.8 at F2.2 (the 50 1.8 is not really sharp until 2.2).When I say “perform as well” I mean, can the M9 get the shot in super low light with its limited ISO compared to the D3s? In other words, will you lose a low light shot by having an M9 and super fast lens over something like a D3s?

So to cut to the chase, the house was dark and I had a small light in the room where this was shot. I had both cameras at my side ready to go.

Keep in mind that these are OOC (out of camera) JPEGS. Both the M9 and D3s were set up to shoot B&W in camera. No RAW here, just a quick JPEG test using out of camera files.

First, here is the D3s at F2.2 and ISO 16,000. This looks FABULOUS to me, and below it is a 100% crop.


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