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We've been digging around under the hood of the Nikon Z50. We look at what Nikon's first APS-C mirrorless camera does and doesn't offer.
Nikon caused quite a stir with the teaser campaign for the Df, mainly because it is a camera a lot of people have been asking for, for a long time. Sadly, the reality of using the camera doesn't always vindicate that enthusiasm. To a great extent, Nikon has done a good job of combining the control logic of one of its film-era SLRs with the underpinnings of one of its contemporary models (or, at least, as well as could be expected). The problems come with the fact that those underpinnings come from the budget full frame model, the D610, and not the D800.
The Df is a pleasure to shoot with in good light and is capable of producing image quality consistent with its looks, pedigree and price tag. Metering is generally fairly reliable and white balance is really dependable. It's also built around an excellent sensor that offers a useful balance of low-ISO dynamic range, low noise at high ISO and sufficient resolution. However, the question that presents itself is: 'is this a half-price D4 or a D610 with a 50% markup?'
Image quality is the Df's strong suit - it combines an excellent sensor with a well worked-out JPEG engine, such that it can be depended on to take really strong images. Dynamic range is impressive, particularly at low ISO, while the high ISO performance is currently unsurpassed.
The Df shares the flagship D4's image quality, making it one of the most adaptable cameras on the market. That said, its advantage over other contemporary full frame cameras is pretty subtle, and some users may find they'd rather accept a fractional loss of high ISO performance for the increased flexibility that a higher pixel count can bring.
The Df isn't designed to be an always-to-your-eye, catch-the-moment modern DSLR, it's designed to be camera that you play with and engage with the controls of. And it does a good job of integrating its external, traditional controls with its modern command dials, encouraging the use of the dedicated controls (with all the at-a-glance settings confirmation they bring), but making things optional or customizable where appropriate. For example, the ability to choose whether to use the command dial or lens aperture ring means you can tailor your shooting experience to taste, or to provide the greatest possible consistency across different lens types.
The Auto ISO system is also sophisticated enough that, other than setting one of the front buttons to engage and disengage it, you rarely have to think too much about it, but being able to look across at the shoulder dial to check the baseline setting you've chosen is handy. The spring-locked exposure compensation dial doesn't work so well - its position on the left shoulder is a clear nod to historic Nikon SLRs, but it's awkward to change with the camera to your eye, and downright impractical if you're already using your left hand to cradle a large lens.
Autofocus performance is also disappointing, as is the decision to use a non-replaceable AF-orientated focusing screen on a camera designed in part for use with manual focus lenses. The live view magnification allows for more consistent and accurate focusing than even a good viewfinder could, but it's still plagued by the niggling faults seen in other recent Nikon DSLRs. The lack of any useful exposure information in live view means you're quite likely to find yourself using the viewfinder for setting exposure and the rear screen for setting focus - hardly a fluid experience.
Sadly, on top of all of this, the body just doesn't quite feel as solid or impressive as you might expect, for so much money. Although much of the body is made of magnesium alloy, the use of so many slightly mismatched materials and finishes means it neither looks nor feels particularly special when you get up-close. Our impression wasn't helped by the needlessly-removable battery door falling off the camera most times we tried to access the memory card (and we've seen reports that suggest it's not just a problem with the example we've tested).
So does the Df fulfill Nikon's promise of 'Pure Photography'? Not quite, in our experience. No matter how well the controls have been integrated, that promise needed more than some traditional dials stuck on top of what is essentially an enthusiast-grade Nikon with the video mode disengaged.
In our review of the D600, we noted several shortcomings that had resulted from the need to keep the costs down. But the difference is that the Df costs considerably more, yet shares much of the same cost-cutting. With the Df, it was clear Nikon wasn't aiming to build the best camera it could (that's what the D4 is), but we think it might have benefited from a more committed approach to the 'classic' concept. A split prism focusing screen option and a lower price tag might have made more sense than combining the company's best low-light sensor with an autofocus system that starts to struggle as soon as you take the camera indoors.
The image quality is excellent, though. In terms of its output, whether in Raw and JPEG, you really are getting a D4 for around half price. But just looking at the camera, you quickly realize that you've got the shutter mechanism and AF of a D610 with a 50% 'retro tax' added. And while you may get the D4's high ISO image quality, you don't get its low-light autofocus or backlit controls, both of which contribute hugely to its shooting capability in poor light.
The Df is rather pretty, of course, and that D4 sensor is extremely capable. Add to this the ability to use classic lenses and it's still got considerable appeal. If you like the way it looks, have some Pre-AI lenses you want to use, or hanker for the chance to use traditional dedicated control dials, then it's a camera you should seriously look at. But, unless you take 'Pure Photography' to mean that only the pictures matter and the camera itself doesn't, the Df doesn't quite live up to its billing.
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Category: Mid Range Full Frame Camera
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Movie / video mode
The Nikon Df isn't for everyone. This is a product that's as much about invoking nostalgia as it is about capturing the moment. Its control setup is slower than a modern DSLR, but should appeal to those photographers who want a camera that feels more like a camera than an electronic device, and its 16MP imaging sensor is excellent.
Nikon is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, and as part of the celebrations, the company has unveiled special editions of its professional D5 and D500, alongside the 'holy trinity' of F2.8 zooms. Feast your eyes
Nikon Japan has announced a limited edition version of its Df DSLR with gold embellishments where the standard version has bare metal. Produced as a limited edition to mark the first anniversary of the Df's launch, the gold model will come in two forms – body only, or paired with a gold-ringed AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G. There will be 600 units of the body-only form, and 1000 of the kit with the lens. Read more
Luxury goods brand Brikk has released the price of its forthcoming 'Lux Nikon kit' that has been finished in its trademark yellow gold and which will be on sale this month. Set to cost $41,395, the kit will include a gold plated Nikon Df body, a Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 lens with gold plated lens cap and lens hood, together with the usual charger, cables and software, and will come in a specially made gold plated Zero Haliburton hard case. Read more
Nikon has posted firmware updates for the Df, D5200 and D3200. As well as a number of minor bugs and performance issues, support has been added to the D3200 and D5200 for the new collapsible AF-S DX 18-55mm F3.5–5.6G VR II, allowing them to display an error message if the camera is turned on with the lens in its collapsed state. Read more and get the updates
The Nikon Df is, at first appearance, the camera many people have been wanting for years - a classically styled DSLR with traditional external controls. A lot of what's under the Df's retro skin is pretty familiar with the 16MP full-frame D4 sensor and the AF system from the D610. But does the Df bring together the best of the old and the new for a compelling shooting experience? Find out. Read our full review
The Live Planet VR system may look like something out of a science fiction movie, but this stereoscopic, 16-lens camera and its associated cloud platform may be one of the best tools out there for live-streaming events in 360 degrees.
The Canon 90D is a DSLR that operates best when used as if it were a mirrorless camera. It offers live view autofocus that's competitive and easy to use, class-leading image quality, and video specs that'll appeal to the masses, all in a familiar, DSLR-shaped package.
What’s the best camera costing over $2000? The best high-end camera costing more than $2000 should have plenty of resolution, exceptional build quality, good 4K video capture and top-notch autofocus for advanced and professional users. In this buying guide we’ve rounded up all the current interchangeable lens cameras costing over $2000 and recommended the best.
Long-zoom compacts fill the gap between pocketable cameras and interchangeable lens models with expensive lenses, offering a great combination of lens reach and portability. Read on to learn about our favorite enthusiast long zoom cameras.
If you want a compact camera that produces great quality photos without the hassle of changing lenses, there are plenty of choices available for every budget. Read on to find out which portable enthusiast compacts are our favorites.
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Shimoda Designs has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund its new 'ultra-aggressive' lineup of camera bags that includes three backpacks, two rollers and a handful of new and improved accessories.
Meike has added yet another mount option to its 85mm F2.8 manual macro lens, which was previously available for Canon RF, Canon EF, Sony E/FE and Nikon F mounts.
Camrote version 1.2.0 adds new zoom and time-lapse capabilities to select Sony camera systems.
Google has officially unveiled the Pixel 4, with the addition of a telephoto camera headlining the camera updates. Other improvements include real-time HDR preview in live view, added brightness and exposure controls, and an updated portrait mode with better depth mapping.
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The Flujo Signature Pro has passed its funding goal on Kickstarter and the first units are expected to ship in November 2019.
Based on the images Ilford Photo shared alongside the tweet, the film stock will come in four different formats and be released on October 24.
Host Ben Krasnow of YouTube channel Applied Science shows how film cameras used a micro LCD projector and a small incandescent light to project the time and date onto photographs.
Sony Semiconductor's 24MP sensor has been at the heart of many excellent APS-C cameras over the past few years, but the impressive results we saw from the 90D's new 32MP sensor suggest that Canon has finally answered with a formidable chip of its own.
Firmware version 1.30 adds a number of new customizability settings and addresses a number of issues present in past firmware versions.
You've seen sample photos from a pre-production Fujifilm X-A7 shot by our friends at DPReview TV – here are some of our own.
A new type of ultra-thin lens uses a large number of microstructures to focus light onto a sensor.
We would expect the iPhone 11's Portrait Mode to outperform the Pixel 3, and it does. But Google has its work cut out in more than one way if its next-gen flagship is to stay competitive.
Researchers from Institut für Mikroelektronik Stuttgart have developed a pixel design with the potential for massively increased dynamic range thanks to the ability to 'count' the number of times an individual pixel resets when it becomes saturated with light.
The redesign brings a new interface and a number of other fixes to the desktop app used to manage Adobe's Creative Cloud apps and services.
Founder of Imaging Resource Dave Etchells has confirmed that the site he created more than 20 years ago is set to close at the end of the year.
The small change could be a sign of things to come in later iOS 13 updates for the default Camera app
Pixelmator Pro version 1.5 Avalon comes with a number of upgrades, including support for macOS Catalina, the Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR, as well as machine-learning powered noise reduction and improved performance.
Nikon's Z mount just evolved to include an APS-C product line. So what does this tell us about the company's APS-C strategy?
If you want a camera that you can pick up and use without having to page through the manual first, then this guide is for you. We've selected seven cameras ranging from compacts to full-frame, all of which are easy to operate.
Following a successful Indiegogo campaign earlier this year, Canon has now announced the impending public availability of its compact IVY REC camera.
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Sigma has announced the pricing and availability of its compact full-frame mirrorless camera, the fp. It will cost $1,899 for the body-only and $2,199 as a kit with the Sigma 45mm F2.8 DG DN Contemporary lens.
Nikon says it made the Z50 for Instagram users, but technical editor Richard Butler finds little evidence of this, which leaves him wondering who's going to buy it.
Tech analyst firm TechInsights has broken down the components inside Apple's iPhone 11 Pro Max and estimated the camera components to cost $73.50.
Need more Z50 sample photos? This gallery was captured using a pre-production Nikon Z50 while filming this week's episode of DPReview TV.