Nikon Df Review
Shooting with the Df
Our first concerns, when we were told about the Nikon Df, all hinged around how well Nikon would manage to integrate its traditional control dials with the modern camera that lies underneath. After some firmware tweaks, Fujifilm's X100 and X-Pro1 have shown it's perfectly possible to build a modern camera with traditional controls that's still enjoyable to shoot with. However, whereas these cameras and their lenses were built with a single operational philosophy, the Nikon has to accommodate a family of lenses with a variety of different capabilities and controls. Thankfully, for the most part, we needn't have been too worried.
Most of our concerns about the Df were somewhat assuaged once we'd spent time actually shooting with it. If you don't like using the slightly awkward front dial to change aperture, you can push that function onto the rear dial (with the option to do so only in Aperture Priority mode). You also get to choose whether or not to use the lens aperture ring - meaning you can use it if you want, or continue to use a command dial, giving a pleasant consistency if you're switching between AF lenses with and without aperture rings. We've looked in more detail at shooting with older lenses on the next page, but this ability to choose is at the heart of most of what the Df gets right.
We're less convinced by the shutter speed dial, which falls into the same trap as Fujifilm's retro cameras - it's only marked in whole stops, so you need to use the command dial to make changes with any greater precision. At which point, it's probably quicker to just set the shutter speed dial to '1/3 STEP' and use the command dial full-time.
ISO and Auto ISO seem pretty well handled - especially if you're familiar with current Nikons. You can set one of the front buttons on the camera to engage and disengage Auto ISO, so there's only a need to go into menus if you want to change the upper ISO limit or the minimum shutter speed (minimum ISO is always taken from the physical dial on the camera's shoulder). Those people wanting to specify their shutter speed and aperture, then let Auto ISO do all the work will be pleased to find that Auto ISO is available in 'M' mode, and exposure compensation is available to select the image brightness.
|The lockable exposure compensation dial on the left shoulder will be a familiar feature to film-era Nikon shooters, but it's not terribly helpful - especially when shooting with large lenses.|
The one major shooting annoyance we've found is that the only way of changing exposure compensation is with the locking dial on the top left shoulder of the camera. There's no option to move the function to a command dial, so you have to find and press the central locking nub and simultaneously rotate the dial. It's no more awkward than on a Nikon F3, but anyone who arrived in photography within the last twenty years may find it less fluid than they're used to. The problem is made worse if you're shooting with a big lens - you need to move the hand that's supporting the whole setup, transferring all the weight to your right hand, clutched round the small grip, just so that you can press and turn the dial, before shifting everything back again.
Live View woes
While the dedicated controls of the Df have been pretty well integrated, we were a little disappointed to find that the camera's live view system still feels bolted-on. We don't expect many people buying into the Df's 'Pure Photography' ethos to be using live view but, given its effectiveness for fine focusing, it's something that deserves to be implemented better.
The Df can't control the lens's aperture mechanism while in live view mode, if you're setting the aperture using the camera's control dial. Instead (as with most Nikon DSLRs) the aperture diaphragm stays fixed at the setting specified when you first engage live view. Why is this a problem? Because it means that any attempts to fine-focus aren't necessarily being conducted at the right aperture (usually wide open, although with some lenses you'll get better results slightly stopped down).
For example, if the camera is set to F8 when you enter live view, then the lens will remain at that aperture, even if you then decide to shoot at F2. So if you attempt to set focus in live view, the image you're actually looking at will have much more depth of field than your final shot, meaning you can't focus the lens accurately enough. For proper focusing you therefore have to remember to engage live view every time with the lens set to its maximum aperture (or at least, a larger aperture than you're going to shoot at).
|What you see is what you get? Depending on the type of lens you're using (and how you're using it), the Df's live view may not be operating at the aperture you expect - a situation that can easily lead to manual focusing errors.|
This isn't a problem if you're manually focusing older lenses, since rotating the aperture ring forces the lens to your chosen F-number, but this means there's another inconsistency of behavior between different types of lenses to be aware of.
The thing that will affect users of older lens, though, is the lack of an exposure scale in live view mode. Instead you'll need to look through the viewfinder to set exposure and then jump to live view to set the best focus. The problem is less acute in aperture priority mode, because you can see how much exposure compensation you've applied by looking at the dial - just as long as the camera is in a position where you can see it easily, which may not be the case when using a tripod. (The amount of exposure compensation you have set is only shown onscreen in live view while you're changing it).
Photographers who fly frequently in the US may want to finally invest in that TSA Pre-check status: in standard security lines, cameras and all other electronics larger than a smartphone will need to be placed in a separate bin for screening.
Images have appeared which claim to show Nikon's forthcoming D850 DSLR, the development of which was announced this week. If genuine, the pictures indicate that the D850 will offer illuminated controls and a tilting LCD screen, but no built-in flash.
To celebrate the Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64 lens' successful Kickstarter campaign, Lomography has announced a chrome-plated version of the lens in Nikon and Canon DSLR mounts.
Nikon just released four new firmware updates, adding features and fixing bugs in the D600, D610, D750 and the KeyMission 80.
It probably hasn't made your landscape photography bucket list just yet, but there's a good reason to visit Idaho. Here are 9 must-visit locations in this beautiful state.
Oops... Adobe accidentally leaked their unfinished Lightroom-powered cloud-based photo editor 'Project Nimbus' to some Creative Cloud users yesterday.
Storm chaser and award-winning photographer Mike Oblinski just released his latest time-lapse, and it is absolutely stunning.
Looking to level up your video capture capabilities without buying a whole new camera? Blackmagic's Video Assist 4K is well worth considering, despite a few flaws and its lack of 4K/60p support.
We're big fans of Fujifilm's fast-growing GFX system, and the GF 110mm F2 lens is no exception. Positioned as the system's classic portrait lens, its optics are just as impressive with non-human subjects as well.
Nikon turns 100 years old today, and the company is celebrating with a wacky music video, some tributes to its history, and a new vision presented by president Kazuo Ushida.
Phottix just released the Premio Parabolic Umbrellas series, replacing their Para-Pro line with a stronger, deeper and better made set of parabolic umbrellas.
The Moto Z2 is Motorola's first dual-camera smartphone and, compared to its predecessor, comes with a number of improvements and new camera features.
Researchers at Stanford have revealed a new '4D camera system' built for robots. The system is based on the same light field tech that allowed Lytro cameras to refocus images after they were taken.
If you want 'beautiful rendition' from your lenses, follow this simple rule: only buy classic low-element prime lenses with lead glass elements—everything else is junk.
In an interview with CNBC, Leica Chairman Andreas Kaufmann said he dreams of a 'true Leica phone,' and hinted at what's next for the Leica and Huawei partnership.
Wildlife and nature photographer Peter Mather tells the story behind this exceptional shot of a mama grizzly and her cub searching for salmon in Yukon, Canada.
Popular YouTube channel TastyTuts has put together this 33-video Beginner's Guide to Adobe Photoshop—a godsend for anybody who wants to learn Photoshop from scratch.
The long anticipated replacement for the popular Rode VideoMic Pro is almost ready for shipping. The price of the upgraded VideoMic Pro+ will be £290/$300 when it goes on sale in mid-August.
A new iOS app called Explorest wants to help you find new locations to shoot. It's limited to Singapore for now, but the app is packed full of useful location scouting features.
Nikon's D850 development announcement is extremely light on details, so we assembled a wish list of upgrades and features we'd love to see.
Nikon has announced the development of the long-awaited replacement to its full-frame D810: the D850. Nikon says that the D850 will build on the strengths of its predecessor and offer 'new technologies, features and performance enhancements.'
Lens manufacturer Voigtlander has introduced a 65mm F2 macro lens for Sony E-mount that it says "rates as one of the finest in the history of Voigtländer."
The UK released a preview of their upcoming drone safety regulations, and it looks like drone pilots will have to both register their device and pass safety awareness tests.
National Geographic photographer Bob Holmes talks about light, and why you need to learn how to 'see' and not just 'look' at your subject.
Photographer Alessandro Barteletti shares the story behind his National Geographic Italia cover, shot with a 10-year-old DSLR and an iPhone flashlight.
Fashion catalog photographers in China have some next-level models to work with. In this video, you see one model hitting 30 poses in 15 seconds as the photographer snaps away.
Photographer Paul Adshead breaks down 11 photography-related smartphone apps he couldn't live without—from a pocket light meter to a lighting diagram app.
Fast-growing Chinese flash brand Godox is teasing a brand new flash trigger... for smartphones. The Godox A1 is a 'phone flash system' that can act as both flash and 2.4GHz trigger.
On July 12, Canon opened its newest Technology and Support Center, designed to serve the motion picture industry, in Burbank, CA. DPReview got a sneak peak and takes you behind the scenes.
The Sigma 14mm F1.8 Art is truly one-of-a-kind. It offers the fastest aperture of any lens that shares its focal length, produces beautiful sunstars and is incredibly sharp to boot. If you're in the market for a fast ultrawide prime, this looks to be the one to get.