Nikon Df review

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LCD AND VIEWFINDER

LCD has 3.2″ diagonal and 920,000 dots. There is not much to be said about it except it is amongst the best modern LCD units.

Viewfinder is also big and bright and it is a joy to use, as all full frame viewfinders are.

NIKON DF SENSOR

Nikon Df shares the sensor with the Nikon flagship model – D4. It has a relatively modest 16 megapixels which translate in superb high ISO capabilities. There is really no reason not to use ISO values up to ISO 12,800 since the digital noise is kept under control. RAW files have a very neutral color balance when loaded in CS6 and that’s just the way they should be; you can tweak them to you personal preference as much as you want.

There are a lot of things I did not like on this camera, but image quality is not one of them. It is absolutely flawless.

NIKON DF AF SYSTEM

Since the Df has such a good low light sensor, you would want it to have superb AF, but nooo…  AF system is the one from D600/D610 which means small coverage area and inconsistent low light AF. It works fine in daylight though.

NIKON DF VIDEO MODE

Nikon Df does not have video mode. Nikon says it is to keep “pure photography” feel but I see no reason why video should not be implemented. Df has a video capable sensor and live view already, so it should have been built in just for the sake of it. It can be handy even if you do not intent to shoot videos.

MEMORY AND BATTERY

Nikon Df has a single SD memory card slot and it is located in the same compartment as the Li-Ion EN-EL14 battery. The battery should last for 1000 shots according to official data. I shot somewhere around 500 photos during my review time and the battery indicator barely fell from full to 2/3.

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CONCLUSION 

Df left me with mixed impressions of a camera that does not use all modern technology that is available and it seems that Nikon lacked the courage to make it as basic and retro as it could have. Controls are a strange mix of modern and old school; it has shooting mode dial and twin dial controls but also dedicated shutter speed, ISO and EV dials. Ergonomics is just not good; it feels awkward and badly balanced so I never got that special feeling when the camera becomes a natural extension of my hand.

There are a lot of specifications that should have been better at this price point; lack of video (better to have than not to have it), unrefined AF system, some missing options in menu system etc. I think most users would be happier with the D610 (better handling and specifications for less money) or with the D800 (same price but better sensor, ergonomics, build quality, AF system, video and almost everything else.).

Image quality is superb, there is no doubt in that; you basically get D4 IQ in far cheaper package, but Df is still a very weird creature. Not enough retro and without all the modern gizmos it should have had it is probably the ultimate rich-hipster camera, nothing more.

NIKON DF PRO

  • Sensor and image quality
  • High ISO
  • Design
  • LCD quality
  • Large viewfinder
  • Great battery life

NIKON DF CONS

  • Too much unnecessary “locks” on external dials
  • Too much plastic (especially the top of the camera)
  • Lack of proper grip makes camera awkward to hold for longer periods of time
  • Front command dial difficult to rotate
  • Bad weight distribution
  • Neck strap mounts on ergonomically bad position
  • Dial layout confusing and slow to use
  • Basic AF system
  • AF performance in low light
  • Only one memory card slot
  • No video mode
  • Only 1/4000 shutter speed
  • Too expensive for what it offers

Above: high ISO is as clean as it is possible. Left 6400, middle 4000. Right one is at 204,800 and is noisy as hell but shows what the camera is capable of; it is taken handheld in a room where the only light source was orange light from electric extension cable – for my eyes this was complete darkness.

 

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