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Thread started 03 Jan 2020 (Friday) 19:01
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List all reviews of Nikon Df

Nikon Df, reviewed by Tronhard

 
Tronhard
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Post edited over 1 year ago by Tronhard.
     
Jan 03, 2020 19:01 |  #1

A fusion of Tech and Technique

The Df is an amazing camera that CAN be used as as digital DSLR, or it can be the digital version of the film cameras I used to use back in the days when I first started as a photographer. You can choose which personality you choose or apply a combination of those two interfaces.

Its intent is to re-create, as much as possible, the experience that photographers had when using a film camera. But it recognizes that digital photography has other elements that film did not have and it has tried to deal with those without losing the analogue interface. The experience of using film required a discipline of approach that one does not have to have today and what some regard as shortcomings, I see as a recreation of those conditions, and I'm fine with it. The clues to the fusion philosophy are in the whole design ethic:

The ability to use Non-AI lenses
The use of analogue dials controlling the essentials
The fabulous sensor, upgraded with a new processor to improve low-light/high ISO performance. It encourages you to use available light and fast prime lenses.
The removal of video to concentrate on stills, making the camera more compact and lighter.

Let me address some of the criticisms I have seen addressed at this

FIRST: It's a STILL photographers' camera - that deserves no apology, there are many DSLRs out there that do video just fine.

SECOND: It doesn't have a built-in flash. Neither did the film cameras, but it has a perfectly serviceable flash hot shoe with all the capabilities of any Nikon camera built-in.

THIRD: The unit does not have enough focusing points. It has a lot more than most film cameras did and it works fine in reasonable conditions.

FOURTH: There is only one card slot. Film cameras could only hold one film at a time. In the days of film when I was shooting around NZ, Australia and Asia for landscape, wildlife and travel production I could carry only a limited amount of film and that had a finite life in the very hot conditions. When I took a photo I would not know if it came out for maybe a month before it was developed. The temptation was to take several bracketing shots, but then there was the limited film capacity to consider. It generated a discipline of being sparing and very careful with my settings and composition. I still do that today with digital and shoot a lot less than my contemporaries who only knew the digital environment.

FIFTH: The controls have lock on them - yep and so did most of the film cameras, it's about learning to get used to them, once you do it's automatic.

This camera is all about taking time to enjoy the process of taking a photo, as well as the final outcome. In a similar situation my daughter's boyfriend asked about my record turntable and asked why I would still have one of those when an MP3 player was much more efficient. My response was that playing a record became an occasion in its own right and that was a big part of the enjoyment for me - in exactly the same way as taking a photo with the Df does.

I have now retired from my photographic career, I take photos for free and for me. I still have over $50k of Canon gear, which I have used since I went digital and I shall continue to use it. I chose Canon for its glass, but I always respected Nikon - I used them both when I shot film. I chose to switch brands for this body alone because of what it is specifically and I am happy that I have done so.

There are a lot of photographers out there who crave the latest technology on the belief that a better camera will make them a better photographer, or that the gear is somehow holding back their innate abilities. In 38 years of photography I have never felt constrained by the gear (I have used Nikon, Canon, Olympus and several other medium format brands). I have felt constrained by my skill in using what I have. For those who want the latest tech this is not for you, move on and be happy. For those of us who value that process this is a fine camera and worthy of respect.


"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
We aren't remembered for the gear we use, rather the quality of the images we create. Me...
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jcothron
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Jan 03, 2020 19:09 |  #2

interesting, sort of getting back to the basics. There is a lot to be said for that in my opinion.


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Spencerphoto
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Post edited over 1 year ago by Spencerphoto. (3 edits in all)
     
Jan 03, 2020 19:51 |  #3
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Your post reads more like a defence of the camera than a review. ;-)a

Putting that aside, it looks like a fun camera to use and it would be very nostalgic for me, even though I have always shot Canon DSLRs. It makes me wonder how quickly I would revert to the old-style controls and whether I would actually find those old control sets faster and more intuitive than modern, menu/button controls.

My compact/travel camera is a Lumix LX100, which has some old-style controls, and I enjoy using them, so I suspect I would love the Nikon. I wish Canon made something similar (EF lens compatible). I would be very tempted.


5D3, 7D2, EF 16-35 f/2.8L, EF 24-70 f/2.8L II, EF 24-105 f/4L, EF 70-200 f/2.8L II, EF 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L II, EF 1.4x III, Sigma 150mm macro, Lumix LX100 plus a cupboard full of bags, tripods, flashes & stuff.

  
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Tronhard
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Jan 03, 2020 21:25 |  #4

Spencerphoto wrote in post #18985757 (external link)
Your post reads more like a defence of the camera than a review. ;-)a

Putting that aside, it looks like a fun camera to use and it would be very nostalgic for me, even though I have always shot Canon DSLRs. It makes me wonder how quickly I would revert to the old-style controls and whether I would actually find those old control sets faster and more intuitive than modern, menu/button controls.

My compact/travel camera is a Lumix LX100, which has some old-style controls, and I enjoy using them, so I suspect I would love the Nikon. I wish Canon made something similar (EF lens compatible). I would be very tempted.

To be honest my post was a repeat of one I posted on DPREVIEW.COM. The camera got severely rubbished by some, especially when it first came out because it did not fit into the conventional pattern of modern DSLRs. I am pleased to say that the response since has been supportive of both the camera and my review.

The Df was certainly not for everyone, and it was not slated as a compact travel camera, its name said it all Digital fusion - that is a merging of modern tech with old style technique. Hence the title of my post. It was a camera for film shooters who wanted to sense that feeling again.


"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
We aren't remembered for the gear we use, rather the quality of the images we create. Me...
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kf095
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Jan 08, 2020 14:42 |  #5

It doesn't have a built-in flash. Neither did the film cameras,

My EOS300 film SLR camera has build in flash.
I think, first AF film camera was made by Konica, it came with flash.
http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Konica_C​35_AF (external link)
Or was it about Nikon only?

Any real world comparison with Canon for high ISO?
DPr has studio test for DF and 6D and DF is disappointment.


Old Site (external link). M-E and ME blog (external link). Film Flickr (external link). my DigitaL and AnaLog Gear.

  
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Tronhard
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Post edited over 1 year ago by Tronhard. (10 edits in all)
     
Jan 08, 2020 19:33 |  #6

kf095 wrote in post #18988546 (external link)
My EOS300 film SLR camera has build in flash.
I think, first AF film camera was made by Konica, it came with flash.
http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Konica_C​35_AF (external link)
Or was it about Nikon only?

Any real world comparison with Canon for high ISO?
DPr has studio test for DF and 6D and DF is disappointment.

Simply put this camera hearkens back to the PRE-EOS days. We're talking the Nikon F, F-M, F3 etc. Or to put it more chronologically the mid 1970- mid 80's. These cameras had minimal electronics and certainly no built-in flash. The EOS and its ilk came out in the 1990s.
Here is Nikon's description: http://www.nikon.co.nz …l-slr-cameras/df#overview (external link)
A video overview: https://www.youtube.co​m/watch?v=b84wlQsaLHg (external link)

Note several reviews say they don't like the sub-command dial and say you have to use it for aperture selection - this is only true for Manual mode. If you set the camera to Av mode the main dial is used to select aperture, so no problem.

The sensor is the same as that in the Nikon D4 which I believe is a respected unit. SOME reviewers panned it because of the small number of focus points, clustered in the middle and no auto exposure illumination - but others say it works fine and that is my experience, and if you read the DPR user reviews they agree with me.
see: https://www.dpreview.c​om/forums/post/6222749​7 (external link) It's worth a review.
and: https://www.youtube.co​m/watch?v=L1pnNINLAtg (external link) to walk through the controls in detail
plus: https://www.youtube.co​m/watch?v=N6otYAMgLtY (external link) just tolerate the pauses for music...
and: https://www.youtube.co​m/watch?v=N6otYAMgLtY (external link) - the reviewer is wrong that there is an electronic release on the side as well as the screw cable one.

To quote Ken Rockwell "The Df is a great camera for we long-time Nikon shooters. It's a camera we own for love and magic, not for logic's sake. We buy the Df with our hearts, not our brains. If you're a photographic artist, you want the Df, but if you're a computer technician, you'll prefer the D610 or D800. "

Ken Rockwell said it was rubbish at 204,800 ISO, however since I rarely shoot anything above ISO-1000 I really don't care!
These images were taken with the Df on a tripod. I think they would be classified as low light! ;-)a They were taken in autofocus mode. I simply focused on what I needed, locked and recomposed.


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"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
We aren't remembered for the gear we use, rather the quality of the images we create. Me...
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Tronhard
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Post edited over 1 year ago by Tronhard.
     
Jan 08, 2020 19:41 |  #7

I found a couple of photos taken, hand-held, in dim light at ISO 1000. They are taken in the Victorian home at Alberton, Mt Eden, Auckland.

I'm not a pixel peeper and they work fine for my purposes, but you may have a different perspective.


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"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
We aren't remembered for the gear we use, rather the quality of the images we create. Me...
Trevor

  
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Dillan_K
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Jan 08, 2020 23:42 |  #8

It sounds like a very interesting camera. I thought it was merely a Nikon DSLR with a nostalgic aesthetic. Thanks for opening my eyes!


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kf095
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Post edited over 1 year ago by kf095. (2 edits in all)
     
Jan 14, 2020 12:35 |  #9

Thanks for images provided, but I was looking for high ISO real user samples. Not base 1000.
I have Nikkormat and F2, btw.

Handheld, Nikkormat, ISO 3200 film @ 6400 :)

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Tronhard
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Post edited 12 days ago by Tronhard. (6 edits in all)
     
Feb 23, 2021 15:06 |  #10

kf095 wrote in post #18991995 (external link)
Thanks for images provided, but I was looking for high ISO real user samples. Not base 1000.
I have Nikkormat and F2, btw.

Handheld, Nikkormat, ISO 3200 film @ 6400 :)
QUOTED IMAGE

Hi Dillan:

It's been a while since I visited this thread and had not realized you had posted to it since my last one, so my apologies.

Since you own the Nikkormat, I expect you will very easily appreciate my differentiation of that generation from the EOS one.

As I mentioned at the time, I don't normally shoot in super low light conditions , but I can offer these images taken in available light at ISO 3200, both hand-held -

This first WAS quite dimly lit as it was an access area, not a public one:

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The second one was taken in conditions not dissimilar to those in your photo, I suspect. The images at the rear and floor of the photo are projected displays, thus the lighting in this area was relatively subdued to allow the projections to display with some clarity.


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Also a review of the Df by DxO Mark:
https://www.dxomark.co​m …w-new-low-light-champion/ (external link) They clearly rate the ISO capabilities of the Df sensor at above the level as the D4, (Df 3279 vs. D4 2965 - almost 11% better) and others (I believe I referred to them in previous links) suggest the D4 sensor was actually tweaked to better performance in low light conditions.

I guess a lot depends on the effect you want from the camera - there are many takes on this. Do you actually want the grain effect (which I rather like) that I see in your previous post or were you just pushing the film to get the shot?

Of course, low light performance has improved dramatically in sensor tech since 2013 when the Df was released, but that's not really the point of this camera - it's the interface and control elements that make the Df special. I have MUCH newer cameras, including the Canon EOS R6 and EOS 90D and 5DMkIV, but I still prefer the Df with its lower pixel count and handling.

"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
We aren't remembered for the gear we use, rather the quality of the images we create. Me...
Trevor

  
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kf095
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Post edited 12 days ago by kf095. (2 edits in all)
     
Feb 23, 2021 15:56 as a reply to  @ Tronhard's post |  #11

Found it. :).

Sorry for misleading. ISO 3200 is high for film. But on digital high ISO is high @6400 at least. And color images shows if here is more noise rather than BW conversion.
DXO is too complicated for me.
I get the picture by looking at dpr studio tests most. For some reason, I wasn't able to find it last time. But did it now.
https://www.dpreview.c​om/reviews/nikon-df/16 (external link)
Can't tell if DF is still the champion comparing to my RP :) .

I was attracted by DF been more suitable for old Nikkor lenses I have, but after seen DF for real after I post last time here, I went with RP. Old Nikkor lenses works fine on it and I like EOS controls most.


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Tronhard
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Post edited 12 days ago by Tronhard. (2 edits in all)
     
Feb 23, 2021 16:09 as a reply to  @ kf095's post |  #12

Absolutely, 3200 IS high for film. I rarely shot over 400 with my Nikon F3's and Canon A-1's or FG and I was shooting transparencies most of the time. Things have come a long way since then...

I have a LOT of camera gear and 95% of that is Canon, so I know where you are coming from. :-) I hung back when Canon went to FF mirrorless as I felt their offerings had to mature a lot - it felt like they were dipping their toes into the water with the bodies and just getting them out there to provide a mount to support their new and excellent RF lenses.

With the R5 and R6 I see a serious effort to engage now. I had to choose between the two and the lower price, combined with dual SD vs. SD+CF Express that I didn't need (I don't shoot video) made the difference. I am really impressed with the R6, and I don't feel the loss of image quality with 20MP - this sensor seems to have about 1EV of DR over the R5, likely because of the different sensor design and lower pixel count. I don't produce huge, detailed prints so I am fine with that.

Over here in NZ, getting deliveries has been challenging - it's been 3 months and I am still waiting for my RF 24-105 f/4 lens and Canon have no idea when it will turn up, which is slightly frustrating. Still I have the adapter and a couple of EF 24-105 f/4 units that will hold the line until the real thing turns up.


"All the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow", Leo Tolstoy;
"Skill in photography is acquired by practice and not by purchase" Percy W. Harris
We aren't remembered for the gear we use, rather the quality of the images we create. Me...
Trevor

  
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