To help the reader assess whether the following opinions are of any value to them personally, I will begin with a little personal background, shooting style, equipment preferences, etc. First off, I am a passionate photography hobbyist, not a professional. Furthermore, I would only rate my skill level and talent as average at best. Of the thousands of photos I shoot over the course of a year, I can sincerely say that I am pleased with only a small percentage. For that small percentage that somehow magically transcend the reality of the moment, however, I find the pursuit of beauty and emotion through the lens of a camera to be immensely gratifying.
My first camera as a teenager was a totally manual Pentax K1000 with two prime lenses: a 50mm f/2 and a 135mm f/2.8. As a kid who had to mow lawns and do other yard work to pay for film and processing for every exposed frame, I quickly learned to make every shot count. To this day, I still prefer to shoot manual (with the exception of auto ISO when not using off-camera flash/strobes) unless I am in rapidly changing lighting conditions. In this case, I shoot in aperture priority mode to prevent missing shots that would otherwise require too much time to manually adjust both shutter speed and aperture to remain within ISO limits. Also, I still shoot to make every shot count by carefully planning composition and lighting before releasing the shutter. Moreover, I still prefer to only shoot with primes. At this point in my journey, I am disciplining myself to get by with only two primes: a Nikkor 24mm f/2.8 and a Nikkor 105mm f/2. In a pinch, I may allow myself to grab my 50mm f/1.8 for lower light or a shallower DOF. Lastly, I thoroughly enjoy the creativity and challenge of working with manual off-camera flash.
As for my shooting preferences, my favorite subjects includes nature, landscape, architecture, events, quirky details like an array of bolts on a bridge trellis, street scenes, and portraits. I am very active and mobile on foot, bicycle, and motorcycle and strongly prefer that my equipment not get in my way and restrict my mobility and thus restrict my photography. I want the flexibility of throwing my camera bag in my motorcycle top case, strapping a tripod to the seat and heading across town to catch some nighttime city skyline shots one day and the next day hiking a few miles to the top of a local mountain with a light stand, shoot-through umbrella and speedlight to shoot some portraits of family and friends.
Of all the above personal preferences and style, I can unequivocally say that the Nikon Df has far exceeded my expectations and fulfilled my every desire in a camera. In fact, given my preference for mobility, I feel that the Df has liberated me to expand my photography even further. As an example, I just recently returned from a week in NYC during which my only transportation was subway and foot. Over the week, I traversed Manhattan and Brooklyn several times with my shoulder strap across my chest and my Df on my hip, oftentimes literally crushed by a mass of humanity on a packed subway. I would have never conceived of carrying my other camera, a D700, in such conditions. Comparatively, the D700 feels like a ponderous brick that I would have grown weary of toting within a day. Not so with the Df.
If you can relate to any of the above preferences and styles, you may find the following impressions of the Df helpful:
Image Quality: What can I say? It has the same sensor as the D4. The colors are deep and rich and the images have crazy detail. With these amateur eyes, I can't really discern a difference in image quality between my D700 until ISO exceeds 4,000. Above that, however, the Df smokes the D700. Actually, in my opinion, shots from the Df are quite usable even at ISO 12,800. To paraphrase another reviewer, taking a shot in a dimly lit room with the Df and then reviewing the shot in the LCD monitor makes it look like someone just turned the lights on. It is really that impressive. All I can say is that image quality and especially the low-light capabilities of the Df rocks. It is quite amazing. As for megapixels/resolution? I don't need more. I have no plans to print a billboard size photo. Actually, I prefer the lower file sizes due to lower storage requirements and lower processing demands on my Mac or Linux machines.
Auto Focus: I don't typically shoot sporting events with erratically moving athletes or shoot rapidly moving wildlife, so I haven't pushed the Df to its continuous focus limits. For continuously focusing on a person walking across a room or a car approaching on a city street, I have found that the camera keeps up perfectly well, even with a 'D' type lens with a screw-drive type focusing mechanism. As for missing an auto-focus assist lamp, for any photo that I would consider taking with ambient-light only, I have had no focusing issues. The only time I have had an issue auto-focusing is when using off-camera flash in very dim conditions. In this case, I simply increase the ambient light until I can focus. No big deal in my opinion.
Ergonomics: I'm a male with a small skeletal frame standing 5' 9.5” with a BMI of 20. The Df fits my frame and hands perfectly. If you have ham-sized hands, you may struggle. The camera is compact with a lot of controls crammed into very little real estate. Coming from a D700, I went through an adjustment period to become accustomed to operating the camera due to the drastically different layout. Most challenging for me was learning how to most effectively work the sub-comand dial with my right index finger while staying clear of the camera strap. The more I use the camera, though, the more comfortable I have become with it. Even with larger heavier lenses, a 105mm f/2 in this case, the camera feels perfectly balanced in my opinion, unlike the opinions of some other reviewers. Ergonomically, I can't say that I would recommend that anything be changed. Otherwise, it would compromise the size, weight and aesthetics that I find so appealing about the Df.
Controls: I'll openly admit that all the dials and buttons on the Df delight me. When I interact with the physical world, I like to feel in control, or at least have the illusion that I am in more control. Yes, this is more psychological than practical. But it is the psychological motivation, after all, not the practical motivation, that inspires me to pick up this camera and want to carry it everywhere every day. I have not been this inspired and motivated since my K1000. The ISO and Exposure Compensation dials on the top left? Spot on. The Shutter Speed, Release Mode and Exposure Mode dials on the top right? Spot on. I have found all the dials easy and pleasing to use. They feel solid, have great tactile feedback and reassuring clicks. I'll stress, though, that I enjoy interacting with the physical world and especially enjoy operating machines. Besides photography, my next passion is operating sport motorcycles. Mastering the motor skills, dexterity, and lightning fast mental spacial computations required to operate a motorcycle smoothly, quickly, proficiently and safely are extremely rewarding for me. For some of the same reasons, I find operating the Df (just another machine) very rewarding. If on the other hand, you are the type of person who does not enjoy operating machines and are only motivated by the ends and not necessarily the means by which to reach the ends, perhaps the Df is not for you. Another analogy: if you think the journey is of lesser importance than the destination when traveling, then perhaps the Df is not for you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Different strokes for different folks.
- I find the single batter and SD card slot compartment quite clever unlike some reviewers. The SD card feels less substantial than the Compact Flash card with the D700, but I'm getting used to it. At least my Mac has an SD slot rather than requiring a separate USB CF card reader on my Mac as with the D700.
- There is no LCD protector as with the D700, or my prior D90. Instead, you'll need to purchase some polycarbonate film LCD screen protectors to stick on your LCD screen. Well worth the money since I already have some scratches on the polycarbonate protective film that would have otherwise been on my LCD.
- My preferred carrying method is a shoulder strap across my chest with my camera near my right hip at the ready. When carrying like this, I find that I inadvertently rotate the metering selector dial. I never noticed this with my D700, but I was not nearly as mobile with my D700.
- Live view: I hardly use it, but I am impressed with the artificial horizon feature for leveling the camera on a tripod.
- Auto ISO: I like the additional option of allowing minimum ISO to be determined by lens focal length. I also like the additional option of decreasing or increasing minimum shutter speed by a stop or two to account for your hand steadiness on a given day. This is a bonus over the D700.
- Battery life: As other reviewers have noted, it is phenomenal. A few days of relatively heavy shooting between charges. Of course my limited use of Live View extends battery life.
- Aesthetics: The camera is beautiful. I can sit and marvel at its beauty just as I can marvel at the beauty of an MV Augusta or Ducati motorcycle. I'll not hesitate to admit that its beauty, along with its image quality, size and weight was a major factor in my purchase decision.
If you have not deduced this by now, I am very pleased with my Nikon Df. Having dropped nearly three grand on a camera body, you may not think that I am frugal. In reality, though, I am very frugal. My wife would even present a strong argument that I am downright cheap. My frugality notwithstanding, I have not experienced one second of post-purchase regret after purchasing the Df. The more I use it, the more I enjoy it.
August 19, 2014
Pretty near perfect
The main reasons I got the Df is for image quality, low light capabilities and the looks of the camera. Other reasons that I like the Df. I just love the JPEGs that come out of the camera. The Df begs you to take photos. The camera is smaller and lighter than my D800E. Holding the Df is a pleasure and reminds me of the days of manual cameras. The build quality is great and feels solid in your hands when holding the camera. There is no popup flash on the Df which I really like. The shutter is quieter than my D800E. Basically this is my go to camera.
Some of nits, which bug me, about the camera, 1) small LCD screen. If you have eyesight or reading problems the screen is just too small. 2) 1/4000 is the fastest shutter speed for a camera that cost this much, why? 3) I understand this is a retro camera, however it is digital right, video would have been nice. Not a show stopper, however, nice to have unless you are carrying another camera for video work. 4) The SD card is located near the battery. Why is not on the side like other Nikon Dxxx series camera's? Even with all this nits I still love the camera for some reason and why I gave it 5 stars. I like shooting with it more than my D800E. I have had the camera for nearly two months now.
August 7, 2014
A pleasure to use...
I have had a new Df for about three weeks and have put it through the paces. Overall, I am extremely pleased. Having all of your basic data (ISO, Shutter Speed, Compensation, Mode, etc.) visible at the same time on top of the camera makes this a real pleasure to use. Great weight. Great build. Great light sensitivity. I, too, would hope that any future version (if there is to be one) would have room for a second media card for overflow or simultaneous back-up. I could generally case less about video so am pleased that this camera is not cluttered with such features. Thanks, Nikon!
August 1, 2014
The finest digital I have used. "Pure Photography" for sure.
I had been waiting for some sort of retro style camera since going to digital. I always missed having the analog style design and I have always despised a built in flash. I just do. When I first got my Df I was happy to have the old style again, but discovered another purpose for this. When you look down to the top of the camera, it tells you everything without having to go through menus or look at a tiny LCD screen or push several buttons to see what you need to see. Exposure compensation, ISO, shooting mode, shutter speeds when in manual or Shutter mode, other details too when just looking down at the top. The camera is very, very light weight and the battery lasts forever. Use of the SD card is nice because it saves a few pennies on not having to buy more expensive CF cards. 16MP is plenty and delivers resolution that of the D4s. It's low light capability is incredible and has acceptable resolution up to ISO 6400, I have found, with the use of digital noise removal. The Df is a "traditional" photography person's camera, that's for sure, and missing the video. It was designed that way and I like it that way. That was the purpose of it's production, hence the commercial "Pure Photography", not Pure Photography and Video. Video is desired by some but not by all. In the production of this camera I'm glad they left it off. In my opinion newer DSLR cameras are packed with too much making them harder to learn for beginning photographers. Not the case for the Df. As a photography teacher I think it would be easier for students to learn on the Df than any other because of the lack of some features. Even though this is, the Df still does pack useable features. It's loaded; but easier. Only thing I would change about the Df would be to make it accepting and available a vertical grip with duel batteries and an SD card slot so you wouldn't have to take the grip off. Duel SD card slots would be nice too, and would give it a fatter grip making it more comfortable to hold. In addition move the strap lugs. When the strap is mounted it tends to get in the way when shooting with the index finger. Other than those things the Df is a perfect camera for the "traditional" shooter. I highly recommend this for anyone who is not looking for video and loves just shooting stills. Thank you Nikon for bringing back to life an old friend in digital.
July 19, 2014
Its Perfect for my Passion
The little camera that was born into so much negativity made me want to try it even more and once I finally did it was like it we were the perfect fit. I've owned a D2H, D2X, D200 and the D90 and D70. I still shoot with an old F2 and F100 and the Df is now in my bag with them as the perfect sibling. This camera is so easy to use, the dials are like second nature and I can work through my settings effortlessly. The image quality and prints are beautiful with colors that burst on their own. The old manual lenses are a dream to use and the quality of images is simply impeccable. I didn't think I could love a camera as much as I love the Df. Its not too big, not too small, in fact it fits perfectly in my hands and for what I do which is create photos through my passion and love of photography I dont thin I could ask for more. I believe anyone could use this camera for any type of photography. It may not be designed for the professional since Nikon has set it in the enthusiast category but it is capable of doing great things in the right hands and with the right eyes behind it!
June 29, 2014