The Nikon Df in Ghana
by Steven Jermaine
Hello to all readers!
I had the opportunity to go to Ghana this March with my college, the University of the District of Columbia, for an educational and vacation opportunity. I purchased the Nikon Df about four days before the trip with the 50mm 1.8 AFD. Maybe not the smartest move but it’s the photographer and not the tool right? I was there for ten days and while we were there we stayed in Accra, Kumasi, and the Cape Coast.
The people were amazing and the experiences were a mix of emotions from fun to sad yet life affirming and renewing. I felt very much at home and welcomed by the Ghanaian people. I will always remember my time there and would love to return. Everything from the Slave Castles to the Last Bath to donating books and shoes to a small school there, affected me and still affects me to this day. As a Jamaican and American resident, I left feeling like I returned to my homeland and came back to America anew.
Anyways, the camera did a great job. I had reservations about the camera but Steve’s review put me over the top. The controls are accessible and easy to use for me. Others might have trouble but for me it feels great. The grip is small and I have big hands but it was not uncomfortable and as a camera I carry with me everyday I don’t have the same problem. The sensor doesn’t need to be talked about, it’s a proven sensor and it did a great job. For others who are looking at potentially buying the Df I would say try it out and I bet it will reach 80-90 percent of your expectations. It’s a great tool, light weight, takes great lenses, the auto focus worked great and still works great for me.
Anyways here are the images image sized per instruction. I included more than three but if that’s a problem choose the first three. Thanks Brandon and Steve!
My new website: www.kwesijones.com
Lovely photos Steven, and I agree very much with Einar – after 30 years using FM2s and an FM3a I just love the Df – everything I could have wanted in a digi cam – ok with the possible exception of 2 SD card slots. I have had no problem with focusing fast mf primes incidentally.
I have owned my Df for about three months now. And I am very happy with it. The image quality is superb, and the low-noise/high iso performance really does live up to the hype.
My only problem with the camera is manual focus. I shoot regularly with two ai-s lenses. The 50mm f1.2 and the 35mm f2.8.
I find that with the 50mm it is impossible to get precise focus via the ‘green dot’ confirmation. This is why I always shoot ‘live view’ at f2 and larger.
I have tried the green dot confirmation with focus set at both ‘manual’ and ‘auto’. I get slightly better results when it is set to auto, but the confirmation is still imprecise.
When I hear others claim that they get precise focus via the green dot I am envious. Is there anyway to adjust this confirmation point?
Possibly through AF finetune? It’s in the menu somewhere I think.
First class images !
I bought the Df about two and a half months ago. It’s the best camera I’ve ever used. But, of course, this is something personal. I just love using the camera manually with all the controls on top of the camera. My hands are not large, so the grip is perfect for me. In the end it’s about image quality and the Df gives stunning results. Thanks for sharing your photos, Steven.
Don’t have the camera, not interested in it, but have been to Ghana four times, produced a book of photos there, and recommend it as a safe interesting African country to visit.
I find the Df to one of the simplest cameras to use, particularily for travel photograpy. Shot close to 400 frames during the easter week in Amsterdam (Holland), most of them with my 35mm 1.4 AIS lense. This in combination with my old FM2 with film. Given the lense, i performs best between f 4 and 8. Use aperture priority, put it on f8, and choose appropriate iso dependent of light, and off you go. The higher aperature also mean less vournable with respect to dept of field and out of focus issues. With a manual lense its simpler to use than the FM2. It takes great pictures, think the sensor is just great, compared with my D700 and D300 shots of the past.
Its lightweight and easy to handle. What people often forgot is that this camera should rest in your left hand, controlling the focus and aperture. Your right hand is used to operate the shutter. This is where the digital herds screew up. It takes me directly back to the shooting mode of my 1975 Pentax SPF …
If you enjoy being a photographer focused on compostion and taking great pictures with a lightweight proffessional performing camera, the DF is a damned good option.
Yes you hold the camera with your left hand, just like you hold a classic camera, a Leica or many medium format cameras. I strongly dislike the big grips and its frustrating to see photographers with little experience of more compact designs complain about the conscious omission of a “fist grip”. It was a shame Olympus caved to the younger mob with the EM1. The EM5 was a much more compact and elegant design.
The combo with the battery independent, rugged and compact FM2 is a good one. Great to so easily switch to using film, using the same lenses and ergonomics. The qualities of black and white and slide films can’t be replicated and have their own poetry. I wonder how many people have experienced the amazing show of Velvia 50 projected through a nice lens in a dark room together with some good friends.
The Df is a wonderful camera. So easy to use.
It’s worth noting that Df has recently won two prestigious European design awards – the Red Dot award for product design and the TIPA award for best premium camera.
Thanks guys for all your kind words. Arize, yes I try to keep the post processing at a minimum especially when I shot over 600 images. But also the Df sensor is amazing, the pictures of the flowers was shot at 12,800 and held up very well but we all knew that.
Great images. Really enjoyed looking at them. Also enjoyed your light handed approach to processing. None of your files were over cooked and no VSCO. Thanks!
Great images! Vibrant and a real sense of warmth and connection. Must avoid GAS…..tempting though…
GAS is hard to fight but you have to find the camera that draws you to shoot everyday. I carry the df or my f3 with me everyday and I shoot professionally with the Df. Don’t ever touch one if you don’t want to buy one lol.
No doubt about that sensor. Lovely skin tones and nice images!
Great pictures! My dream camera, if I ever were to go FF, is a silver Df with a fast prime. Looks like you had plenty of fun with this set up and captured a lot of the atmosphere.
Thank you for the kind words. And yes a silver Df is beautiful. I got the Black to remain some what inconspicuous. Somewhat lol.
This comment was for hans van den Broek and josh, don’t know why it ended up at the bottom. Anyway, really nice images.
Exactly. Just like on every other Nikon like the D700, D800 etc. The green dot works perfectly, so no need for split prism. No AA-filter – maybe – but the samples I have seen seems perfectly sharp and very detailed even at very high ISO.
Stefan, I found that the green dot indicator was not accurate enough to hit perfect focus with my 50 1.2 and especially 105 1.8 wide open. I had to bracket my shots. Which is y I did not buy one after I returned my rental.
If Nikon provides a proper focus screen (matt field w split screen) then I would change my mind.
If you have problem with both 50 and 105, maybe there is an other problem
I use 50/1.2 too and 105/2.5 both AI-S…green dot 100%
From Ming Thein’s site, which I verified with my camera:
“The green dot works if your lenses are f2.8 or slower. For f1.4s…no dice. You will find that there’s quite a bit of focus ring travel over which the green dot stays lit; the extremes are never in focus.”
If you are shooting at 2.8 or slower, then no problem. My 105 1.8 (not 2.5 like yours) was not usable wide open unless I made multiple attempts and then picked the best one.
Stefan, back to your post. Excellent photos and the DF obviously works well in AF with AF lenses.
I question the truth of Thein’s statement. I use my Df with only manual Nikkors, all with larger apertures than 2.8 and the green dot is 100% accurate. I only confirm maybe half of my pictures since the viewfinder is clear enough to focus accurately using only eye, but I have tried to verify the 2.8 claim by Ming but unsuccessfully. Perhaps he based his statement on specs from other models? Who knows, but that the electronic rangefinder in the Df is 100% correct is clear when one has experience from the camera. I believe Steve Huff also confirmed the accuracy in his review when he tests with a 50mm f1.2 lens.
My experience mirrors grey’s. Ming’s “review” of the Df lacks any photos and lacks details. I’m finding more and more drive-by interweb reviews after playing with the product for a few hours are of limited value Because someone puts up a blog does not make their opinion better or worse than anyone else’s, and I would prefer listening to those who deal with the product month after month, and have actually experienced the good and the bad.
Huss, the focus confirmation works for me as mentioned. not to say a better focus screen wouldn’t make it easier, i used to shoot Leica R and never had problems without any other aids. but maybe i am getting older… i adapted some of the old R lenses to the Df too and am happy to enjoy using them again. Best. S
Huss, having accurate manual focus with the Df is as simple as leaving the camera in AF mode when fitting a MF lens. I’m hitting accurate focus almost all of the time (the non hits are down to subjects moving etc)
Nice shots. My experience over the past few months with the camera is that files are great, controls are good, but the grip is uncomfortable, even with a gariz halve case it is not comfortable to carry the camera in hand. No focussing issues even with manual lenses due to available focus confirmation. A great camera for slower shooting style.
It can be but for me I don’t have that issue but maybe it’s the way I hold it. Enjoy the camera and thank you for the kind words.
Stefan might mean that the grip is too small/shallow to have the camera dangling by your fingertips for very long, like you can with the D800 and certainly the D700.
Nic shots Steven; that must have been some trip. That country, and a “foreign” camera to boot. With that 50 it’s a simple but very effective set-up I think.
By pure coincidence I took one out for a ten minute trial walk on the street today, my 24/1.4 fitted (leaving my D800 in the shop…). I’ve just been slinging the files through LR4, and was impressed. Conditions were very sunny, contrast very high, but that sensor has some dynamic range! Sharp, wonderful colours. Different fom the D800 of course, but a lot of detail. Nothing to complain about.
I quickly got used to the handling as well, although that 24 (600 grs) made the weight advantage over the D800 barely noticeable.
It made me wonder whether I should hand in my D800 (and a lens, that 58?) for a Df body… Black of course.
Thanks for sharing your experience!
Black definitely. That’s the color I have. It was a wonderful trip everyone should go. And yes the 50mm was the best lens for me on that trip. I switched from portraits to environmental to street with ease.
Love that approach; keep it simple, that will benefit your photography!
Excellent shots. Love the last one that looks almost monochrome, with the only colour being the matched blue shirts to blue windows.
I go by the shoot when your brain and heart tells you. That feeling you get when there’s something there. I hadn’t even noticed the windows till just now. Ha got to trust your brain which works much faster than we can comprehend. Thanks for the kind words.
And a better grip, with full frame auto focal points ala D800 together with indoor focus assist and perhaps a built in flash, not asking for much. Amazing pics granted, but for less than stellar ergonomics and a very high price tag despite its limitations, I reluctantly returned mine as well.
Much prefer the ergonomics of the Df to the D800 I also own. It isn’t trying to be a D800, it just shares the same mount – that’s what people need to understand.
and a vertical power grip option .
Can’t imagine adding a grip to the Df. Why porkify a relatively compact, lightweight, balanced heft?
The Nikon DF would be the camera I would buy if I went FF. I would only hope Nikon would make some much needed improvements. It would not be for the final image, it would be for easy of use. Nikon’s WEB page even had a survey on the camera, hopefully they will use the data. I am waiting for the DF 2 if I go FF.
If they just had a split prism and took out the AA filter, I think it would be perfect.
Ever used an Df? I don’t think so
The green dot and MF is accurate 100%
I use it since nov13 with AI-S Lenses
I have a D700, and it’s true that the green dot is adequate. But it’s not ideal. The dot shows up in the corner of the viewfinder, so you have to take your eye off the scene while you’re focusing. What I think Nikon should do is get rid of the green dot, and instead make the center focus point turn green. That way, you’d never have to take your eye off the scene. Best of both worlds.
What Josh said and the AF improved. Nikon is able to all these things, none of it is going to from break though technology.
Josh, why take out the AA filter? For all the good that would do, I found the images (raw) form the Df almost bitingly sharp and very very detailed. My D800 has a softer sharpness, if you understand what I mean.
Really nice black & white images. Its nice to see some decent images shot with a DF. Any thoughts on this camera size and weight for travel?
Good pictures. Df is currently at 120% of my initial expectations. Was very happy when I first got it and after two months I like it more for every day. I use it only with manual Nikkors.
Wow very nice photographs…I hope the Sony a7s performs this well with high quality glass.