Dƒ Review (plus DSC_0001, sample images, favourite lenses and more)

Started Dec 9, 2013 | User reviews thread
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InTheMist Veteran Member • Posts: 3,078
Dƒ Review (plus DSC_0001, sample images, favourite lenses and more)

I'm that guy. I always have a camera with me.

I want a full frame, fast, low light, low weight camera in my bag all the time. I don't want to wait for the little computer and monitor to boot up. I want the camera to get out of the way.

First, the Formalities
It's been a tradition of mine to post my DSC_0001 for new cameras that I get, even when I screw it up and face the wrath of the internet jackals.

OOC JPEG, slightly brightened. 50 f1.8 SE (Kit)

As you're pixel peeping these images, keep in mind that several have reported that the shutter count isn't zero from the factory. Some have 200-300 snaps. I take that as a good thing, believing (hoping?) that the camera has been well tested.

Additionally, as of this writing (Dec. 12, 2013) Lightroom/Photoshop doesn't support the .NEFs yet, so I've used Exiftool (google it) or Exifchanger on the Mac app store to change the camera type to D4 if you want to edit the Raw files. Thanks Horshack for the tip!

Lens Selection for Ergonomics
I got the Dƒ to be a smaller alternative to my D800. Virgin tripod hole, throw it in the bag, run-and-gun. Bash it, knock it, abuse it, use it, love it.

Since size is an important feature of this camera, let's talk about some small lenses first. Thanks, Nikon for making me buy another 50/1.8 because at launch, only kits were available in Switzerland, and many countries. The grip is really not deep, in fact, the camera is noticeably slimmer front-to-back than any other FX camera. This is pretty much irrelevant because from the screen to the lens mount, it's about same as my D800. That means with a lens attached, they're the same depth.

I tried all my lenses, including my holy trinity and 300 f2.8 just for fun. Yeah, it's clear, this camera likes small lenses. The heaviest lens that I could recommend is the Sigma 35/1.4 Art (awesome!) but it's a pretty weighty package in a smallish lens.

The lens that surprised me, and the only zoom I have that I liked from a size-and-weight standpoint is a shocker: the cheap and cheerful Nikkor 24-85 f3.5-4.5G kit. I actually prefer this over the 24-120 f4 because it's small, light and doesn't extend/creep when held with the front element down.

I got the Dƒ for lightness and low-light run-and-gun shooting, so I don't really fit in that other category that would find he Df attractive: users with lots of legacy lenses.

Shot on a D800 with 24-70 f2.8 in Raw

If anyone has a favourite legacy that works well, please comment.

Here is the sigma mounted:

Taken with a Nikon 1 AW1 with the kit zoom

Image quality
What do you want to know? It's the D4 sensor with maybe a few years of foundry improvements behind it. It's great - better in low light than the D800, no matter the down-sizing magic. I did try some tight crops, like I sometimes have done on my D800, and didn't even have enough pixels to fit my 27" display! I haven't seen any purple banding like I do sometimes on my D800 at high ISOs.

It goes without saying: great ISO performance, but frame and compose wisely.

Dƒ and Sigma 35mm f1.4

1000 shots and still a clean sensor!

Quiet. Almost D7000 quiet, including a nice, silky quiet mode. Nothing like the D800 at all.

I can't believe some people want it to be heavier. It's just right, IMO. It has a very premium quality feel. I got the silver. Obviously, right?

Actually, I thought silver may be less intimidating, but most importantly, I use my cameras. My D800 has been everywhere from frozen mountain top to howling desert and it's not all uniformly black any more. As the Df is going to be my new run-and-gun beater, the silver will wear better because there is less paint to wear off!

Seriously, tho, I find the body very classy. It's a looker!

For you D800 owners like me, I've had no focus issues, not even any fine tuning required.

However, whoever decided to put this focusing system in this wonderful camera needs a kick on the groin. It's really my only complaint.

Sensitivity? Meh, it's ok.

For example on ISO Hi 0.3, kit lens wide open, searching high contrast objects in my house late at night in an area that give me a 1/50 shutter speed (matrix metering) and you know what I could autofocus on? Nothing.

At ISO 12800, 1/50 (f1.8), it's starting to able to focus on high contrast things adequately. A bit brighter and it's fast and confident, though having all the focusing points grouped in the middle is annoying when using the rule-of-thirds.

I can focus and recompose, but I prefer moving the focusing point.

Do. Not. Want.

Speed is important to me. I count the mirror as a feature, not a detriment.
Every mirrorless camera I've tried has been disappointingly slow in some area. I also do not like to look at the world through a tiny computer monitor. I shoot stuff that moves under sometimes tough conditions.

Some of my favourite images came from a camera that literally two seconds earlier sat forgotten in the bottom of my bag.

Forgotten except for the weight, that is.

I find it much better than the D800 which rode in my bag almost every day for 18 months. Noticeably, lighter. It's a bit taller than the D7000 and weighs the same.

Don't underestimate the weight difference. I like it.

It's got plenty of those! I can't help but think that Fuji did it better with shutter speed and aperture. The PASM dial is superfluous. I think locking the shutter speed dial is unnecessary, and locking the exposure compensation dial is a huge mistake. As soon as the "new" wears off, a drop of superglue is going in that exposure compensation detent hole. I've gotten used to the locking ISO dial - to the point that I kind of like it.

The back and front buttons are pure Nikon and familiar.

Would I recommend this over a D800 or D610? No.
The D800 is a much better camera for almost the same price, the D610 technically very similar, for a much lower price.

So who is this camera for?

I think the Dƒ could go well with photojournalists or people who shoot that kind of style: street, rough. But why would they put the leader in low-light sensor technology in a camera with a focusing system that under-performs in those environments? Wouldn't a PJ already have a D4?

Wedding and events? Something excellent in low light, but looks unassuming, even classy? Maybe that's it. But aren't wedding people being asked to do video these days? Forget about video, there is none.

It's also not a true "poor man's D4" because of the 5.5 FPS (although the buffer lasts a looong time). It also just doesn't have the grip to help using long lenses more comfortable.

So, who's left? Someone who wants a nice looking backup/addition to another FX camera, shoots a lot of street or low-light and/or panics at the though of being more than two meters away from a full frame camera that can start in 0.2s in case he misses something.

I can't help but feel that this camera is shooting for a niche that is perhaps too small.

Do I fit on that niche? Yes, I do. So while I've given the individual detailed scoring sort of pedestrian ratings, I give this camera 4.5 stars as an overall score. If they had had a better focusing system, it would have five.

That assumes the price comes way down, fast. At the current asking price of nearly US$3000, there are simply better buys out there.

Some more sample images below:

Very forgiving in post processing and beautiful dynamic range. Again with the Siggy.

Some more thoughts and samples on my blog.

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It's more important how an image looks as a thumbnail than how it looks at 100%.

 InTheMist's gear list:InTheMist's gear list
Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) Leica M-Monochrom Nikon 1 AW1 Nikon Df Nikon D810 +18 more
Nikon Df
16 megapixels • 3.2 screen • Full frame sensor
Announced: Nov 5, 2013
InTheMist's score
Average community score
bad for good for
Kids / pets
Action / sports
Landscapes / scenery
Low light (without flash)
Flash photography (social)
Studio / still life
= community average
Nikon Df
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