review of the Nikon Df

I’ve always wanted a Nikon D4.  That high ISO capability would come in real handy a LOT.  Alas, $6000 is way over my budget.  I rented one once just to see how it would be, and I came away unimpressed.  While the noise was less than my D800E, it wasn’t that big of a difference once the image sizes were decreased.

Many years ago when I was looking to upgrade my D300, I kept wanting Nikon to put their D3S sensor in a D700 size body.  It never happened.  When I started seeing all the rumors about the Df, I knew that was the camera I’d been wanting Nikon to make. Small body, small image size, high ISO.  Take my money, Nikon.

After having used it for about a month now, here’s my take:  it’s an awesome sensor wrapped in an ergonomic mess.  At first, I thought the dials on the top were silly and unnecessary.  Now, I think they’re unnecessary and silly.  Camera settings can be changed either with the top dials or with the front and rear command dials.  It’s easier to use the command dials, so I don’t see the point of the top dials.  I leave the ISO and shutter speed dials alone, and I use the command dials to change settings.  

The shutter button is what bugs me most about this retro-themed camera.  It’s on top.  Right where it was I got my first camera back in the ‘70s.  You know what, Nikon?  There’s a reason why modern cameras have it in front — it’s more comfortable.  The other retro feature that I’m glad went retro is the little grip.  It’s not only little, it’s somewhat slick.  The battery/card is accessed through a flimsy door on the bottom of the camera that’s a little convoluted to open.  I’m worried that the door isn’t going to last, so I’ve resorted to using a USB cable to transfer images from the camera.

I don’t care there’s no built-in flash or video.  I never use on-camera flash, and I have a D800E if I ever need video.

As for picture quality, it’s great.  With any of my f1.4 lenses and 204,000 ISO, it will get a shot in any light.  If there is noise, a little slide with the Lightroom noise reduction zaps it gone.  

Once you get used to shooting with 36 megapixels, going back to 16 is a big jump.  Not that I ever really need 36 megapixels, but you just get spoiled with all that resolution.  A big benefit of shooting 16 megapixels is speed.  Files transfer quicker, convert quicker, edit quicker, and take up less space.

I get it.  I get that Nikon wanted to make a throwback camera body.  It’s cool to look at and retro is all the rage.  I just wish they had put that sensor in an ergonomically modern body.  I get a lot of comments about it — everyone thinks I’m shooting film again.  I feel like a dweeb telling them that it’s a modern camera that’s supposed to look old.

This was a company dinner party shot in a cave lit only with candles.  No noise reduction applied.  Handheld.

This was a company dinner party shot in a cave lit only with candles.  No noise reduction applied.  Handheld.