Finding time for Photography with a Nikon Df by D.J. De La Vega

Finding time for Photography with a Nikon Df

by D.J. De La Vega

Hi Steve,

The last article I sent to you was all about going the extra mile to make the time for photography. Setting aside dedicated time solely for the purpose of exploring my art. This article however is quite the opposite… It is all about my quest to juggle my photography with my family and work life.

First let me start by clarifying, I am a really, really lucky guy!!! I have an amazing family and a steady job, I could not ask for anything more from life, I want for nothing. When it comes to my favourite craft, there is simply not enough hours in the day for me to dedicate as much time as I would like to photography. For this reason I have become quite adept at shooting the everyday things that surround my every day life around my everyday routines. Always carrying a camera with me whether I am walking the dog with the kids in the park, popping to the shops or cycling to work in the rain. Historically my trusty X1 went with me no problems, small light and unobtrusive. However there are two main reasons I have drifted back to DSLR at the expense of the little powerhouse. Firstly, the X1 is quite delicate in it build quality. It really disagrees with being flung around, bumped and banged and heaven forbid it would ever get wet and dirty. Secondly I always shoot Raw with the compact and this is where the problem of finding time for my photography arose.

Post production for me has always been a headache, I much prefer shooting the photos, experiencing and capturing the moment. The though of sitting indoors staring at a screen endlessly editing photos on my prehistoric laptop send a shudder down my spine, especially if I have a lot to work through. This has led me to try to streamline my post production workflow.

Getting back to how lucky I am, I recently upgraded my D7000 to the magnificent Nikon Df. I learned photography on a Pentax K1000 and later acquired a Nikon FM2n, so getting back to the manual dials and classic style of shooting with the Df has really inspired me. The pace of using this camera is a mix of slow and methodical like my X1 but a lot faster and more responsive. I love the organic quality of the JPEGs from this camera and do not have to spend long at all tweaking them on the computer. Also enter into my life the new Adobe Photoshop Express app on Windows 8. This little app is a dream come true for me…I am new to the iPad/tablet generation but no longer do I have to log onto my ancient laptop to do “proper” photo editing. I can quickly pop the SD card straight into my tablet, adjust a couple of sliders on-screen and I’m done. Minutes instead of hours!
With all my modern conveniences now at hand it was time for a little vacation to visit family dotted around the country. With the Df permanently attached to my shoulder I had the pleasure of shooting some of my own stuff here and there in-between visits and family functions. Just a quick note on the build quality of the Df… it is brilliant. The right balance of sturdy metal ruggedness, but just about light enough to carry around all day every day.

It’d be my honour to share some of these shots with you and your readers to give me a bit feedback on how the finished articles stack up against my older work. Remember, I spent more time shooting than I did quickly and dirtily editing them, so go easy on me…

Photo 1: Shooting the fountains on the street in Peterborough.



Photo 2: Peterborough Cathedral Selfie… Correct me if I’ wrong, but I’m sure this is what the upward facing mirrors are for???



Photo 3: Peterborough Cathedral



Photo 4: The most nonchalant cyclist in London.



Photo 5: The Photographer Photographed, using what appears to be an Olympus film SLR.



Photo 6: The Photographer Photographed, using what appears to be a Canon DSLR. 


Photo 7: A classical underground busker. A great character and a fantastic musician.


Photo 8: A beam of light in the Natural History Museum. With the weather and the queues I was lucky there was any light left that day. 


Photo 9: Lincoln Cathedral 


Photo 10: A view of Lincoln Cathedral.



Thanks for looking and thanks in advance for any feedback!
DJ De La Vega



  1. Thanks (belatedly) for sharing these images, and for your narrative. I recently acquired a pre-owned, like-new Df, and decided to search for older Df articles on this site. I instantly recognized your name, from your article on your trip in the northeast USA with your Leica X1. I remembered really liking those images, and have enjoyed these, as well. (I never bought a Leica X-camera, instead deciding to try a Nikon A, a very nice APS-C compact camera that was seriously mis-labeled as one of the Coolpix series, a marketing blunder, in my opinion.)

    I am loving my Df. I had thought it would be mostly useful with compact lenses, because of its skimpy gripping area, but it also handles very well with my larger “pro” lenses, including my pre-II 70-200/2.8G VR, which are a wonderful ergonomic fit in my relatively healthier left hand, while my left arm and shoulder support the weight. (Age, wear, and tear have not been so kind to my right hand, wrist, and shoulder.) I have other DSLRs more-suited to shooting sports, action, wildlife, and birds. The Df is perfect for just walking about with with a camera.

    Regarding your images in this article, I have yet to decide upon favorites, though the cyclist certainly caught my attention.

    Be well, and continue the good work!


  2. thanks for sharing. loved your photos and i can relate to your dilemma of life getting in the way of “our” photography. i too usually just shoot on the fly. we do with what we are handed. i too am a nikon df shooter and still have my old nikon lenses. so i can relate to your article too. love my camera. keep it up and share more pictures. the cathedral shots were my favorite. thanks.

  3. Great work, and the fact that you did went B&W added a little drama to the photos. One thing did jump up at me for some strange reason: all the photos are well “centered.” Kind of a perfect symmetry in them. Ever thought of mixing it up a bit by shooting off-centered objects? Just curious.

    • Thanks. Well spotted, I never genuinely had not noticed on these 10 but that’s maybe why I subconsciously picked these as a set to publish. I have and do regularly shoot by the rule of thirds but something draws me to central composition. I can’t explain it, I suppose my brain like to compartmentalise things.

      Maybe it’s because historically I loved learning about and was inspired by the Bauhaus photographers and at one time obsessed over another German photographer Andreas Gursky. I suppose when I began studying the candid and street masters, I always kept a bit of that minimalist symmetrical approach when shooting.

    • I was in the shop buying the Df 20 minutes after reading Steve’s review. Very nice, smallish, lightweight camera, well built with a kit-lens excellent even when shot full open.

    • I agree completely with morten, and I absolutely love it. The build, the IQ the dials, they way it makes you think about and execute your shots.

      But by no way is the Df for everyone. Some people just HATE it.

      I suppose the answer would be what are you in doubt about? which aspect puts you off and maybe morten and I could give our opinion.

    • I just bought a used a DF with less than 10,000 clicks for $2,100. I’m wildly glad I pulled the trigger, as this might become my goto wedding camera from this point forward.

      But it’s also going to be my everyday walk around camera. Egads, I love this camera far more than I though I would. The weight and feel of the DF – it doesn’t feel like a toy – the way it balances so well with so many of Nikon’s old inexpensive manual focus lenses. Best of all, it slows me down. A LOT.

      I just posted a few photos on my flickr stream with the silver DF and a few of my old black and silver pre-ai lenses: Nikkor-S 50mm f/1.4, Nikkor-P 105mm f/2.5 and the Nikkor-H 50mm f/2.

      I agree with DJ, some people hate the ergonomics with the grip being too small, the dials are too fidgety – and for the M43 crowd, the camera is too big. The retro design…

      It really only took me a few minutes to hold it, get the menus set up the way I wanted (as I use Nikon a LOT, so it was entirely familiar), and get used to the buttons and dials.

  4. Dear DJ:
    Thanks for your inspiring photographs and common-sense equipment comments. I enjoyed the variety of photos.

    One question, did you use a tripod for the cathedral interiors?

    • Thanks Roger, no I never use a tripod. I think they take all the spontaneity out of photography. I do own one but would only use it if I needed to do something very specific like light trails at night.

      Plus the Df is killer at lowlight, no need for one anymore 🙂

    • The cyclist looks relax. Is it your intention not to balance the frame or what others term Dutch tilt to show action? He’s still looks-Keep calm and relax go cycling ad. Great camera, photographer, and images. Keep shooting!

      • Thanks, I did not intentionally shoot on the tilt. I saw him approaching, pedalling along without a helmet with his hand in his pocket and I only had a split second to react. I waited just long enough until he was isolated in the traffic (ie no cars behind him distracting and cluttering the frame.). I was panning and the street was on an incline and ended up with this, and as I mentioned in the article, I wanted to do as little post production as possible and left it how it was in camera.

  5. Very nice photos the one of the Cyclist is superb and the shots you have taken of the Cathedrals are amazing as I know both of those Cathedrals well. In B&W they just seem that more special

    • Thanks for posting Steve and thanks Ken and John. I used a 28mm 2.8 D inside and just the kit 50mm 1.8 G outside. I planned on hating the G cos it has that silly silver band on it and I’ve always loved my inexpensive 50mm 1.8 D. But the kit lens is stunning, great wide open and nice out of focus. Plus it focuses quicker and quieter than the D.

      • The 50mm 1.8G has always been a fantastic lens and the deal of the century for $200…I wouldn’t think the silly silver band would change that 🙂

  6. The nonchalant cyclist is my favorite! I also like the Natural History Museum and the view of the Lincoln Cathedral. Thanks for sharing!

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