Nikon Df -- Falling out and in love

Started 10 months ago | Discussions thread
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Shotcents
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Nikon Df -- Falling out and in love
10 months ago

Well, I have been one of the big mouths supporting the Df, but I've now spent time playing with one (my friend has it) and comparing it to my D800 and his D4, found the following:

Viewfinder-

There is NO significant difference. The Df finder looks a tad darker and the eye relief is different, but in the end there is NOTHING really better about the Df finder. The green dot works great and I could get focus right every time, just like my D800. But there's nothing to get excited about if you own old MF lenses. To be fair, I never really cared about this as I find MF has worked fine all along anyway. I would have liked a brighter finder of course.

Handling-

Totally subjective. This was instantly a nicer camera to use with a 20mm 2.8 AF-D on it. It's probably the best street shooters tool in the world. But putting the 70-200 VRII on it is a bad idea. It feels like you have the lens stuck on a pack of cigarettes due to the light weight of the Df. One might get used to it, but now the shallow grip of the Df feels wrong to me. Back to primes, this is just great to use. The SIMPLE fix would be a basic grip. It doesn't need to have shutter button functionality; just a grip extension to improve the holding area with larger lenses.

AF Focus -

Works perfectly, very fast. And it worked in very poor light. Would the AF unit from the D800 have been better? Maybe, but it's not really going to matter to most of us. I should also add that I'm no fan of the D800/D4 AF system. The Df appears to focus perfectly out of the box. My D800 and my friends D4 did not.

Controls-

Neither of us had any trouble using the top dials. Unless you are fumble-fingered, they're of high quality and FUN to use. There are some automatic transmission cars that can out-shift a driver with stick shift, but you do lose some involvement.

Image Quality-

I'll defer to my friend's observations as he's a pro who shoots the D4 as well as Canon's pro cameras. He says the Df has the best low-light sensor going. It's not a big difference over the D4, but he says the reviews will support his view. I don't want to get into a debate over this. I once believed that my D800 could hang with a D4 at ISO 6400, but that's koolaid from D800 owners. Then I saw what the D4 does and got to compare files and prints; a perfect example of how wrong online tests and charts can't always be compared to real-world shooting.

No Flash-

I'll shoot from the hip on this one: It's a dumb omission. It's not like it was traded away for anything, such as a better finder. It's just GONE and so we lose the wireless flash (built in) and a useful emergency flash that MOST of us have used from time to time. It's better than not getting the shot at all. When Bigfoot walks by in the dark, you can show him how cool and retro the flashless Df is because you won't get a shot of him!

Cosmetics-

I'm 51. My buddy is 42. We agreed on this: The D4 and D800 look like overweight M&Ms next to the Df. They look fine, but the Df exudes class and also does it without being BIG and drawing attention. It's classy AND non-threatening. It's the best camera for candid/portrait shooting because of this. Point the D800/D4 at someone and the reaction is like you've taken aim with a bazooka. The Df, my friend says, brings comments and smiles, but overall less attention. He's already been asked a few times, "Is that a film camera?" Nikon got the fusion part mostly right.

Summary-

What we have here is the best 2nd body for D800 owners. A D4 owner will benefit more from the added DR and resolution of the D800. The D600 owner would also benefit more from a D800. But if you already own a D800, the Df adds high ISO beauty right out of the camera along with smaller files. If you're moving up from DX or just looking for your 1st FX camera, the Df is a weaker pick than the rest of the line up. The Df sits in a narrow niche for many of us. If you have zero emotional connection to your tools as an artist the Df becomes an even tougher sell. I still plan to buy one, but it will be more of an indulgence than a purely logical acquisition. It's overall list of benefits to my system will be the smallest of any Nikon product I've bought, yet it's a camera I'm looking forward to using more than most.

Cheers,

Robert

 Shotcents's gear list:Shotcents's gear list
Nikon Coolpix P7700 Nikon D800 Nikon D5200 Nikon Df Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II +10 more
Nikon D4 Nikon D600 Nikon D800 Nikon Df
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