Nikon Df. Review from the reader Radozhiva

Review of the Nikon Df camera and examples of photos from it, especially for Radozhiva, prepared Sergey Koveshnikov.

Nikon Df

Nikon Df. General view photo

Nikon Df - it is very unusual and ambiguous full frame digital SLR camerain the classic Nikon DSLR design. The ambiguity manifests itself both in the control features (more on that later) and in the positioning of the camera on the market. You can often find mentions that the camera belongs to the professional segment (including on the official website). However, certain technical restrictions, obviously made deliberately, strongly hinder the use of the camera precisely as a professional tool. On the other hand, the complete absence; green 'automatic modes and a considerable price, sometimes surpassing some professional FF cameras, tells us that ordinary amateurs, and even more so beginners, will bypass this device. Thus, the audience to which this camera is addressed is, first of all, advanced enthusiasts who are well versed in photographic equipment, who will not be confused by the control only in manual and semi-automatic modes, but who have absolutely no need for purely professional gadgets and functionality. Well, hipsters too, of course.

Thus, it turns out that Df is the most professional amateur and the most amateur professional Nikon camera :)

Despite the fact that the prototype of the camera was ready back in 2009, the camera was presented only in the fall of 2013. This is due to the catastrophic earthquake in Japan in the spring of 2011.

Df - the lightest and most compact in the world FX format at the time of release, it remains the same for the current day. Together with the battery, it weighs only 765 grams. For comparison, the youngest of Nikon FF D610 weighs 850 g D750 - 840 g., Canon 6D - 770 g. Even crop D7000 weighs more - as much as 780 g. Approximately the same picture is observed when comparing dimensions.

Comparison of camera sizes

Comparison of camera sizes

However, according to the manufacturer, the camera has a weatherproof housing made of magnesium alloy. In the hands of the camera feels soundly and efficiently made, expensive thing. Although all the same, a feeling of super reliability, "bulletproof" like D700, for example - no trace of it.

Nikon Df

Nikon Df

The camera body is made in the style of classic Nikon film cameras such as the F3 and FM, two body colors are available - black with silver and completely black. Beauty is a subjective concept, but for me personally this classic appearance simply admires; and speaking objectively, Df stands out sharply against the background of identical, to the point of being completely indistinguishable, modern digital SLR cameras, regardless of the manufacturer. Good or bad - everyone decides for himself.

As usual, the whole point is in the details.

As usual, the whole point is in the details.

The heart of any digital camera is its matrix. Nikon Df has a 16,1MP full-frame matrix, exactly the same as on the flagship  D4 и D4s. This is a sensor. NC81366W and unlike the vast majority of new products from Nikon, this part production of Nikon, not Sony. Anyway, the camera is not without pride made in Japan, which is twice explicitly mentioned on the case :)

Nikon DF - made in Japan

Nikon DF - made in Japan

Of course, the relatively small number of pixels by modern standards over a large area of ​​the matrix could not but affect the sensitivity parameters in the most positive way. Moreover, the matrix works in poor lighting conditions even better than D4 (as confirmed by tests on DXOMark). Perhaps this is due precisely to the lack of the ability to shoot video.

The standard ISO values ​​are from 100 to 12800; all of them can be considered workers, with certain reservations. The camera works just fine in low light conditions, which seriously pushes the boundaries of creativity. AutoISO works flawlessly, and you probably won't ever want to turn it off. It is possible to give the camera the value of the minimum allowable excerptswhich it will install on its own depending on the attached lens in accordance with the golden rule of photography.

Sample photo at ISO 12800

Sample photo at ISO 12800

Data can be written in traditional JPG, TIFF, 12-bit and 14-bit RAW, and unlike, for example, D750 - RAW may be uncompressed. Maximum burst speed reaches 5,5 fps. When shooting in RAW (14 bits, lossless compression, image correction options are included), the Nikon Df buffer accommodates 16 frames, i.e. a series, depending on the speed of the memory card, can be approximately 20-25 frames.

The shutter life declared by the manufacturer is 150'000 operations. The maximum shutter speed is 1/4000, nothing outstanding here.

Autofocus module - Multi-CAM 4800FX 39-point, similar to that used in D600 и D610. As usual, there’s not much sense from 39 points - all of them are piled in a heap in the center of the frame and occupy an area that does not cover even a quarter of the frame area. However, a similar problem in one way or another is inherent in all full-frame Nikon DSLRs.

Nikon Df Optical Viewfinder

Nikon Df Optical Viewfinder

But it is possible to focus with lenses, the maximum relative aperture of which is up to f / 8, although only at 7 central points.

The viewfinder is large and bright, not least due to the use of a pentaprism rather than a pentamirror. JVI has an increase of 0,7x and, most importantly, 100% frame coverage.
The main screen is large enough, 3,2 inches; bright, although it still doesn’t save you from exposure to the sun, and it’s pretty accurate in color reproduction, as far as I can tell. Many are sure that the screen, like the matrix, is borrowed from the model D4.

The camera also has a small information display in the usual place for DSLRs, where only the most important is displayed - the exposure bar, battery charge and the number of remaining frames. Although the screen is tiny, it has its own backlight, beautiful cold white color. The indication of the current AutoISO value is somewhat lacking, but, in general, it is better than nothing.

Built-in flash, like the main "donor" D4 - it’s absent, which means, on the one hand, that you need to spend a little more money to build the CLS system, and on the other, you get battery saving, a more aesthetic appearance and the notorious low weight.

Perhaps the main feature of Nikon Df is that its mount has a unique function - a folding foot rheostat rheostat. Thus, This camera is compatible with almost all F-mount lenses.issued since 1959, including pre-AI and without any filings.

There are a few things to note about compatibility: the bad news is that not every lens fits. The good news is that, in general, lenses that don't fit do not deserve the attention of a camera owner at this level. First of all, these are the lenses of the IX-NIKKOR series from cropped film cameras of the late 90s, which do not shine at all with their characteristics: everything is entirely dark zooms. Also a pair of autofocus lenses made especially for the F3AF camera. Well, and a little more exoticism, which you cannot find in every museum.

Management

How unusual is this camera in control, in other words - how much does the content match the appearance? Well, here we must admit that under the stylish beautiful case hides a completely ordinary Nikon mirror. There is nothing here that would force not only to fundamentally change the habits of a modern photographer, but do not even have to remember new buttons / items in the menu. Everything is logical, understandable and familiar to everyone who used any of the Nikon Central Controllers released in the last 10 years.

Back panel

Back panel

Customized wheels for ISO input, shutter speeds and exposure compensation certainly add their own film-era charm. This is not to say that they somehow speed up or, on the contrary, slow down the reading and entering of parameters, delight or annoy, no. It's just a little different. In addition, for everything "non-standard" (except for exposure compensation - it can be set only through your wheel), you can, one way or another, use a more familiar way of control - through the main dial or through the menu. In general, the camera allows you to customize yourself very, very quickly and flexibly, an innumerable number of menu items are dedicated to customizing controls for a specific user and for specific tasks. In general, the menu structure is practically the same as that of modern high-end Nikon cameras.

The ISO value set using its drum with the AutoISO function turned on sets its lower threshold, which is extremely convenient in operation.

View from above

View from above

The control wheels have individual locks made in the form of buttons. Control wheel shutter speed it is locked in positions 1/3 STEP, X, T and B, to move to another position, press the unlock button in the center of the wheel. This is quite convenient to do by pressing the button with the index finger and at the same time rotating the wheel with the thumb and middle finger. The same is true for the correction wheel exposure, all positions of which are also automatically locked. Wheel positions for time excerpts from 4 to 1/4000 are clicked with one finger, without the need for unlocking, which is quite convenient and logical.

What is NOT convenient and NOT logical is the control of the ISO sensitivity selection wheel, as well as the correction wheel exposure all positions on it are automatically locked, but the unlock button is not located on the wheel axis, but somewhat on the side and behind on the camera body. Switching ISO with one hand while holding the camera near your eyes is almost impossible. At the very least, you need to lower the camera lower so as not to unnaturally twist the brush, or even intercept the camera. This is terribly annoying. Therefore, I deliberately, on my copy, carefully disabled the locking mechanism and now the wheel flips between its positions with the movement of one finger. It is a pleasure to work with this mechanism in this mode. For all the time, there has not been a single case when the ISO settings got lost spontaneously as a result of, for example, the wheel hitting the cover or clothes, so we can safely say that at this moment the Nikon engineers were frankly "too clever".

Another note regarding control mechanisms is the front control dial. The fact that it is installed vertically has almost no effect on the convenience of work, but it affects the low height and its overly tight course. So tight that one would think that this is a factory marriage, if not for numerous complaints on the Web about a similar problem. Confidently you can rotate the disc with only two fingers, and then, provided that the hands are not wet.

Although, both two claims are multiplied by zero, if you remember exactly how the developers imagined (and told in press releases) the use of this camera - leisurely artistic shooting for your own pleasure, when you can spend as much time on each frame as necessary, you can slowly spin the wheels, push the buttons; no one should be in a hurry, obviously, according to the intention of the developers, the owners of such a camera have long been everywhere :)

Top right photo

Top right photo

Shooting modes, unlike typical amateur devices, there are exactly four - M, A, S and P. In order to change the mode exposure you must first pull the selector up, and only then turn it to the desired position.

There are two programmable buttons on the front panel, as well as in its rightful place a very convenient button, usually present only on models of the professional line –AF-ON.

Example photo on Nikon Df

Example photo on Nikon Df

The release button is threaded for a mechanical release cable. Nowadays, this thing is not so much for the benefit as for maintaining a nostalgic image. Although, if you still have a cable from the old "Zenith", then you can save on buying an electronic one. the built-in intervalometer with extremely wide possibilities completely replaces it. The cheapest version of the remote control, with an infrared remote control ML-L3, not a ride - there is no infrared receiver.

Automatic white balance It works quite adequately, but in natural light the camera tends to sometimes slightly move the white point towards the magenta. Automatic modes BB there are even two: the first works similarly to most other cameras - in all conditions it tries to keep the colors neutral, the second differs from the first in that when the color temperature is lowered (incandescent, flame, sunset) it keeps warm colors. A very interesting feature for those who are used to shooting immediately in JPEG.

The burst speed at 5,5 frames per second should be enough for the eyes for any unprofessional photography. On the selector of the drive mode, you can select both the maximum burst speed and the slow speed, the low speed is set through the menu.

One of the artificial limitations that was mentioned at the beginning of the review is a memory card. It is only one (which is almost unacceptable for professional work, since the possibility of duplication of images is not provided) and in addition the SD / SDHC / SDXC format. From an amateur point of view, this is a definite plus: these cards are cheaper, more common, and card readers of this particular format are more common. Supported cards up to 64 GB.

Another limitation is the relatively small 1230 mAh battery. On a commercial shoot, you can plant a handful of these in a day, especially in the cold; for an amateur one - enough with a head and one, since not in extreme conditions it keeps at least 1000 (or even 2000) frames.

Image quality

As you would expect, the flagship sensor allows you to get just the same uncompromising image quality. Color reproduction is excellent, even at the default settings. Due to the use of incredibly huge pixels by today's standards in the matrix, getting pixel-by-pixel sharpness is no problem; and the bonus to this is that even in conditions of very insufficient lighting quite tolerable pictures will come out.

Sources can be downloaded at this link.

Personal impressions

Due to the fact that Nikon Df, as already mentioned, is the lightest full-frame on the market, it is very easy to operate with it, especially with the almost weightless standard fix - "fifty kopecks". However, if you plan to take this camera with you, say, on vacation, keep in mind that it is still quite a weighty "brick", unable to compete with mirrorless cameras in this regard.

A rather unexpected nuance that surfaced during operation is compatibility with lenses. No, on the technical side, everything is absolutely flawless, it's aesthetic: harmoniously, from the point of view of appearance, only native Nikkor lenses of the film era “sit” on this camera, and even then - not all. In addition, the small size and weight of the carcass predetermine varying degrees of inconvenience when using heavy professional zooms.

The level of the camera is quite high, so that you can scold anything in it only from a subjective point of view; The quality of the output image is amazing. Having taken a few shots, you understand that it’s not 50, not 90, and not even 99, but 100% - what happens at the output depends only and only on the radius of curvature of the photographer’s hands. Within reasonable limits, naturally, Df practically does not limit the user to anything. This again plays into the hands of the image invented by marketers for this product - this is a camera in which nothing distracts from the creative process of photography, including the camera itself.

Postscript

There is a paradoxical and very funny pattern in the world of photography: often here and there you can see how people choose photographic equipment with an eye on the pros. It is universally and categorically considered the standard and measure of quality, while amateurs should strive entirely towards the pros. At the same time, if you look, for example, at the car market, you can easily see the absolute absurdity of this approach: a professional (it does not matter if he is a taxi driver or carries goods) will never buy a Porsche for work, a car enthusiast will never dream of what he bought for his hard-earned trunkline a tractor, or a bus, or a wedding limousine to drive to work or dacha. With all this, it would never occur to anyone to say that Porsche is worse than Scania, or vice versa. They have an extremely different set of qualities that satisfy completely different needs.

The same is true for professional photographers - they have a clearly defined and very specific range of tasks that they successfully solve using appropriate, no less specific tools.

What should an enthusiast photographer who wants to get (and do not ask 'why should he, if he is not talking about' - after all, Ferrari is not produced for Formula 1 pilots) the highest possible image quality to do? Saving up a lot of money for equipment with functions that they will never need in real life, and then, having saved up, carry around a large, heavy and ugly (yes, this can also be important!) Camera?

Actually, that was before.

Before the release of Df.

Nikon Df

Nikon Df

You will find more reviews from readers of Radozhiva here.

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Comments: 234, on the topic: Nikon Df. Review from the reader Radozhiva

  • Michael

    Working on the D4 and thinking about the further change of technology (well, damn it, anyway, any device ever needs to be changed), I will hang, in terms of quality and convenience - my eyes no longer strive for D5 \ D6 (+ price). All the same, thoughts and desires to buy a new DF-2 that appeared on the horizon (well, it will come out) are already calming down. Moreover, the matrix was promised in two versions from D5 / D850. Who needs a high iso or a megapixel under 36 - everyone's choice

  • Emil

    Questions about the camera.
    1) The review states that any mechanical non-autofocus lenses can be installed, with a few exceptions. Therefore, the question is whether it is possible to install a line of lenses from Kiev-19 on this camera, namely Mir-20N, Mir-35N, Kaleinar-5N, etc. with an “N” mount. They have the same bayonet, but they are interested in compatibility in practice, someone tried to work with them, do they jam?
    2) Is there not only mechanical compatibility, but also exposure metering - that is, will Nikon's rheostat transmit the aperture value from these models and thereby determine the exposure correctly?
    3) Does the menu in Russian from the manufacturer exist, or is it all unofficial flashing with a possible loss of functionality?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      1) you can
      2) if the lens from Kiev is "correct", then everything will work. Details here.
      3) all Nikon Df cameras are equipped with a multilingual set, just select the desired language from the available ones in the settings, Russian is there

  • Emil

    Arkady, thank you very much for your answer !!!

  • Emil

    And you won't have to grind anything on the lenses of this series? that is, clicked - and to shoot?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Yes. But in very rare cases, lenses from Kiev still have a too long aperture ring skirt, and some do not have a protrusion for a rheostat. It seems that whoever wanted and did them, but in the overwhelming majority - just put them on the camera and they work like native AI / AI-S lenses.

  • Emil

    Excellent. Thank you so much for just the perfect consultation!

  • Dmitry (Moscow)

    Not a bad review - very subjective, but that is what I liked: another person's gaze at a camera well known to me is interesting. I know those who do not understand DF at all and spit the request, because he is unusual for those who initially started with modern CZK. And my first normal device was Nikon F3 - and the DF was made vaguely similar to it. Here the author of the review noticed that the front wheel is tight - I am not. Why? Yes, I set the aperture from the ring on the lens (yes, this is also possible). I don’t put AF-S lenses on it - they are too heavy, large, it’s inconvenient. Yes, this is not a universal apparatus at all! I would even say that it has AF as a completely optional function. It was not created for this. The only thing I am unhappy with is that Nikon did not want to release DFx - with a 36-45 megapixel matrix, 16 is still not much. All Ai lenses are rated for 24-30 megapixels, the best of them pull and higher resolution. And I found out about this only recently - after testing 850 Nikon, but in Nikon itself they always knew about it!

    • Nicholas

      That is, do you think that even old lenses will be able to “resolve” the matrices of modern DSLRs / UPC? Otherwise, I'm going to upgrade to a fullframe with 36MP and there are big questions about which optics to take ... The same Nikon fifty for example, is it worth taking the newer version 1.8G, or is it not worth overpaying and you can take the 1.8D Mk.III?

      • Seladir

        People are often too pessimistic and sharply draw the line where the lens supposedly will no longer "resolve" the matrix. A 36MP full frame has a pixel density like a 16MP crop. It seems that fifty-kopeck fixes feel great on such cameras.

  • Dmitry (Moscow)

    And, by the way, I will add: the weight of the DF is about 760 grams. - this is the weight of the Nikon F3HP. Ideal for a device that you carry with you on a daily basis - it does not burden.

    In addition, DF is good because color profiles from D2x are placed on it - colors come out “film”. At the same time, in other parameters it surpasses other cameras, carriers of those profiles. That is, the color from it is BETTER than from the D4, and not "the same". Well, of course, all this is also very subjective. See the color with your own eyes, compare - this is the most reliable.

  • Dmitry Kostin

    I noticed that on Avito for a year and a half, dead DF often came across.
    Basically - the failure of the shutter. Moreover, breakdowns occurred at a relatively low mileage - for someone at more than 80 thousand, and for someone he did not live up to 200 thousand.
    For comparison, D3s / D4 runs are 400-600 thousand on 1 shutter.
    It’s a pity that Nikon didn’t install the same shutter and AF module from D4 ... after all, the DF was an expensive device.

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