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03-05-2014, 01:20 PM   #1
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Df mini review / impressions - in disorder. Seriously this review is crap.

Thought I'd quickly (well when I started I thought it would be quickly) chime in on this camera.

Picked up a black Df a few weeks ago, with the kit lens that has a silver ring on it designed to look like an aperture ring (however functionally it does absolutely nothing). Disclaimer: I like nikon /canon stuff for the most part, but I'm emotionally invested in pentax.



Impressions:

- I think it looks cool. In black. The silver one kinda looks a bit too much like a zebra with the black flash mount protector in place. If I had the silver one I'd pop that thing out and throw it away.

-the fake aperture ring on the kit lens is kinda funny. It doesn't do anything but looks similar to what you'd find on an older AI-S lens. I kinda get that they weren't prepared to go full mental and ditch some of the greatest advancements we've made in photography (auto focus, auto aperture). But they could have designed a lens with auto/manual options. Or maybe repurposed an older 50mm 1.4D?. The fake ring is hard to understand. Unless it's a joke. It's either really insulting or a winking dad joke.

-really chunky and solid in the hand. I don't at all understand people calling this thing cheap feeling. All of the surfaces are nicely tactile, with a warmth that develops over a few minutes, and holds for a while. It's cold out right now.

-I like the control scheme. The dials have a really quality feel. You turn them one click and they chink into place and stay there. There is no slop. The precision of these switches and dials feels luxurious. I primarily use aperture priority mode, and chimp exposure with compensation if I need to, works a bit better with a flash commander this way. It feels nice to interact with the camera in this way.

-shutter sounds ace

-aF speed is fast with the center aF point. Faster than my d600 somehow(?), but I haven't used a d800 or d4 enough to miss the difference compared to those cameras. I'm sure they are much faster... But I don't really care. I'm mostly a focus recompose, and zone focus dude anyhow, so the tracking speed I haven't used enough to criticize. Destroys the k5 in low light responsiveness, and never really misses focus if it locks on. Better still than the k5ii. Certainly nothing like the old back/front focusing problems that have plagued my pentax k10d and k5 experiences.

-image quality is good, maybe a stop better noise wise than the d600. But, seriously ISO 200,000 is useless. 100,000 maybe ok in BW for taking ironic facebook pictures of a typewriter, but not for much else.... 25000 is the max I might turn to, but practically anything below 12800 is ok.

-don't miss the lack of video. Rx10 if that's your thing.

-I can bring it to a party and not be that weird guy with the camera. People are receptive to this camera in a way they are not to most other dslr's out there... Except maybe the Olympus,Fuji, and to some extent the weird and cool sony stuff.

-I wish my pentax limiteds fit on the front of this thing. The Df looks kind of mashup with a modern zoom lens on the front, I think it would look even weirder on the silver model. With a nice prime though looks cool. Problem is, nikon doesn't really have a lot of small high quality primes.

-For some reason this camera gets a lot of polarizing reactions from people on the internet. In real life people think it's cool across the board.

-I don't understand the logic that portends the Df is a bad camera because functionally for the same money there Is a better camera in nikon's stable (d800). I like to pick up and play with the Df, and it sort of encourages me to take pictures with it. The d800 is a maybe more functionally suitable for hours of work, and has way more pixels, and has a faster aF, and better... I don't know modern styling maybe... But it all just seems like a d800 is used to do work. I don't want to do any work with photography anymore, I want it to be fun, and encouraging, and maybe even entice a bit of a sense of humor about itself... With a fake aperture ring (I hope that was the point otherwise it's downright mental).

-I think it's ok that the Df is maybe a bit more about style and ergonomic enjoyment, than purely about making the camera disappear in your hands and become an extension of your personality... Because if that last bit were true, it would end up sitting in front of the computer all day. There is something to be said for enjoying style. Unless you're in the third phase of kierkegaardian development and style truly is a distraction.... The Df is enjoyable on many fronts.

-Nikon's horribly self righteous marketing campaign was a huge buildup for something that maybe isn't so much about pure photography. Pure profit margins by responding to market forces maybe.

-it's kind of expensive. If you were going to purchase a new ff camera, maybe you'd pick this one. Depends on what you want I guess. For the money It doesn't do as well I'd say practically as the d800 maybe, as that has a more complete feature set? It's also true that a 4x4 is more practical than an old motorcycle. Unless you live in a city where it never rains, and you don't ever need to drive someone home or pick up groceries. If all you care about is yourself and you survive on convenience store fare... Then the Df is for you? This got weird.

-if I could only have one camera... It might be the Fuji x100s. If it had to be a dslr, and I was on a limited budget, k3 no question. If I could have a bunch... One of them would for sure be a Df.

03-05-2014, 03:54 PM   #2
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I think your review is spot on. And the reason it garners so much angst from those that don't have one. It has some amazing stills qualities and yet it is remarkably juxtaposed with large modern Nikon zooms attached to it and not having all its functions makes it less attractive for its price point.

My question is, does it have live view?

And a little bit of an odd thought, it would look good with FA ltd attached, perhaps Pentax should partner up with Nikon and re-badge them lol
03-05-2014, 07:26 PM   #3
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Back in the day, the silver top was the standard of the day and all black camera bodies sold for a higher price. Some ads listed all black cameras as "professional". Funny how the silver has become popular again. I kind of like the look and design of this camera. It has the look of a "traditional" SLR camera. I know that doesn't make it better but I agree with the style point. Pentax producing cameras in colors is all about style too, just a different style. It doesn't always work, the K-01 being a glaring example. With the camera business in a bit of sales slump, I think Nikon needed something that would entice customers to buy a camera when they weren't planning to.
03-05-2014, 07:42 PM   #4
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At least, this mini-review of yours is entirely honest, unlike some of the patronized reviews popping all over the places.
I don't have, nor did I ever own, a Nikon (nor a Canon) but I do read about other than Pentax gear.

I suppose if the budget would allow that I'd likely test the waters in the "other camps" while keeping the Pentax gear I have.

Nice job rendering a tedious task (review) in simple "facts".

Cheers!

JP

03-05-2014, 08:27 PM   #5
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Louicio - Yes it does in fact have live view - with a very good focus peek for manual focus.

Reeftool - I think you are correct in that nikon was working at finding a new category to go after. I think there was an interview somewhere that said with the change in the photography industry (read: smartphones) - that they would begin to pursue higher margin / lower volume products, which hopefully means they are committed to higher quality - as much is evident with the Df.

jpzk - thanks for the kind words! Cheers!

Here are just a couple of quick photos for the sake of comparison. I don't normally make things for public consumption, these are horrible and I am embarrassed. Nonetheless - here are some different iso shots. I just shot like I felt like, with no rhyme. Raws SOOC with whatever color profile my spyder said was right. All just for you. This is getting weird again.


Iso 320


Iso 1600


Iso 6400


Iso 25k


A little note about that last shot there - the room is lit by my computer screen. I can't really make anything out in the viewfinder, and I focused on the little drawer rail in the middle without any difficulty. I'm not sure what you'd call it in here since I don't have a light meter... but hold on maybe I can work it out a sec. Based on the parameters: 1/25s, iso 25600, aperture 2.8 - the EV is between 0 and -1. Focus nailed on the first try. It won't focus very well on something with little contrast here however. (ie: the middle of the drawer).

Last edited by spade111; 03-05-2014 at 08:35 PM.
03-06-2014, 05:57 AM   #6
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Not crap. Good, honest. Thanks
03-06-2014, 07:44 AM - 1 Like   #7
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I have a Df too. And I totally agree that the camera is and feels solid. And I have held lots of solid cameras in my lifetime to make that assessment. I've picked up the 28, 35, 50 and 85mm f1.8 lenses for it. The f1.8 lenses are light and feel really good on the Df.

I even put on a sports lens, the 70-200/2.8 VRII, and gave a try at some action shots with it. It did okay. Here is an example. It nailed all shots in focus in a sequence with its modest 5 fps as they approached. Focus speed is a function of the lens too and of course any Nikon camera with that 70-200 on it will focus faster.








03-06-2014, 10:59 PM   #8
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I too am now the proud owner of a Nikon Df. I had the opportunity to test both a black and silver model with the 50mm kit lens, and an 85mm f1.8G some weeks back. I thought the camera handled beautifully, and I simply could not understand what all the fuss was about. (I was surprised too that I found the silver camera to be the more attractive--I usually prefer black models.) What did it for me, though, was when I took my SD card home and opened up the files. I was simply blown away. This , I thought, was the 'look' I have been searching for (unsuccessfully) with both my Pentax and Fuji aps-c cameras.

I have now sold off two more K mount lenses (a Zeiss 35 f2 ZK, and a Zeiss 100mm f2 ZK), and I'm not looking back. I have purchased for my Df a 135 f2 DC, a 50mm f1.2 ais, and an 85mm f1.8 D. (All have aperture rings!). I am very pleased with the fast focusing of the 135mm and the 85mm; and the 50mm has shown itself to be the 'master of the night' on the Df. Focusing this lens (the 50mm) accurately does, however, require that I rely on the focus confirmation light; but this is much less of an issue than I thought it would be. With the purchase of a 35mm (I'm probably going for the f2 D), my Df kit will be complete. (For now anyway.)

I have kept a small stable of K mount lenses to use on my Pentax film cameras (and my Fuji Xpro 1). However, I have forgotten my (long standing) dream of a full frame Pentax. I don't believe that Pentax could--for my taste--do it any better than the Df. Even if Pentax came up with a a beautifully designed body there would be the question of the sensor. I doubt that a Pentax ff would have a sensor that could better meet my needs than the D4/Df sensor. The Nikon Df is, I must say, close to being my 'dream camera'.

I'm also thinking about selling off some of my Fuji kit. The difference in size between the Xpro 1 and the Df isn't all that great. And I could see myself having as a travel camera just an X100s while using my Df for 'serious work'. I'll wait a bit to see just how much action the Fuji gets now that I have the Df.

I have a long standing (thirty years) relationship with Pentax cameras (and I still shoot with my MXs), but the Nikon Df has 'swept me off my photographic feet'

Last edited by Byrd-2020; 03-06-2014 at 11:14 PM.
03-07-2014, 01:19 AM   #9
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I am seriously blown away by how good the camera looks! (and your photos too! lol) I am lusting after one now but they are fairly costly for an enthusiast camera, even if Pentax released the same thing at the same price I'd struggle to justify it unfortunately.

Please keep the images coming!
03-07-2014, 11:18 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Louicio Quote

Please keep the images coming!
Here are a few first shots with the new 35/1.8G lens. Checking out its bokeh.










And a night shot I've posted before if you haven't seen it already with the Sigma 35/1.4 lens. I like the Sigma but it is not a comfortable fit on the Df due to its size/weight. Bear that in mind if you are considering this camera. Perhaps if you wait a little longer either the price might come down or you can find a used one by then.







Last edited by tuco; 03-07-2014 at 09:23 PM. Reason: Update
03-07-2014, 11:51 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Byrd-2020 Quote
I too am now the proud owner of a Nikon Df. I had the opportunity to test both a black and silver model with the 50mm kit lens, and an 85mm f1.8G some weeks back. I thought the camera handled beautifully, and I simply could not understand what all the fuss was about. (I was surprised too that I found the silver camera to be the more attractive--I usually prefer black models.) What did it for me, though, was when I took my SD card home and opened up the files. I was simply blown away. This , I thought, was the 'look' I have been searching for (unsuccessfully) with both my Pentax and Fuji aps-c cameras.

I have now sold off two more K mount lenses (a Zeiss 35 f2 ZK, and a Zeiss 100mm f2 ZK), and I'm not looking back. I have purchased for my Df a 135 f2 DC, a 50mm f1.2 ais, and an 85mm f1.8 D. (All have aperture rings!). I am very pleased with the fast focusing of the 135mm and the 85mm; and the 50mm has shown itself to be the 'master of the night' on the Df. Focusing this lens (the 50mm) accurately does, however, require that I rely on the focus confirmation light; but this is much less of an issue than I thought it would be. With the purchase of a 35mm (I'm probably going for the f2 D), my Df kit will be complete. (For now anyway.)

I have kept a small stable of K mount lenses to use on my Pentax film cameras (and my Fuji Xpro 1). However, I have forgotten my (long standing) dream of a full frame Pentax. I don't believe that Pentax could--for my taste--do it any better than the Df. Even if Pentax came up with a a beautifully designed body there would be the question of the sensor. I doubt that a Pentax ff would have a sensor that could better meet my needs than the D4/Df sensor. The Nikon Df is, I must say, close to being my 'dream camera'.

I'm also thinking about selling off some of my Fuji kit. The difference in size between the Xpro 1 and the Df isn't all that great. And I could see myself having as a travel camera just an X100s while using my Df for 'serious work'. I'll wait a bit to see just how much action the Fuji gets now that I have the Df.

I have a long standing (thirty years) relationship with Pentax cameras (and I still shoot with my MXs), but the Nikon Df has 'swept me off my photographic feet'
I've been thinking about that 50 ai-s. Sounds like you digt it! Have any shots with that one?


Also, awesome looking shots tuco!
03-07-2014, 02:33 PM   #12
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Thanks, @spade111
03-07-2014, 03:24 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Byrd-2020 Quote
I too am now the proud owner of a Nikon Df. I had the opportunity to test both a black and silver model with the 50mm kit lens, and an 85mm f1.8G some weeks back. I thought the camera handled beautifully, and I simply could not understand what all the fuss was about. (I was surprised too that I found the silver camera to be the more attractive--I usually prefer black models.) What did it for me, though, was when I took my SD card home and opened up the files. I was simply blown away. This , I thought, was the 'look' I have been searching for (unsuccessfully) with both my Pentax and Fuji aps-c cameras.

I have now sold off two more K mount lenses (a Zeiss 35 f2 ZK, and a Zeiss 100mm f2 ZK), and I'm not looking back. I have purchased for my Df a 135 f2 DC, a 50mm f1.2 ais, and an 85mm f1.8 D. (All have aperture rings!). I am very pleased with the fast focusing of the 135mm and the 85mm; and the 50mm has shown itself to be the 'master of the night' on the Df. Focusing this lens (the 50mm) accurately does, however, require that I rely on the focus confirmation light; but this is much less of an issue than I thought it would be. With the purchase of a 35mm (I'm probably going for the f2 D), my Df kit will be complete. (For now anyway.)

I have kept a small stable of K mount lenses to use on my Pentax film cameras (and my Fuji Xpro 1). However, I have forgotten my (long standing) dream of a full frame Pentax. I don't believe that Pentax could--for my taste--do it any better than the Df. Even if Pentax came up with a a beautifully designed body there would be the question of the sensor. I doubt that a Pentax ff would have a sensor that could better meet my needs than the D4/Df sensor. The Nikon Df is, I must say, close to being my 'dream camera'.

I'm also thinking about selling off some of my Fuji kit. The difference in size between the Xpro 1 and the Df isn't all that great. And I could see myself having as a travel camera just an X100s while using my Df for 'serious work'. I'll wait a bit to see just how much action the Fuji gets now that I have the Df.

I have a long standing (thirty years) relationship with Pentax cameras (and I still shoot with my MXs), but the Nikon Df has 'swept me off my photographic feet'
Also Byrd, since you've had the zeiss stuff, have you considered picking up any of the zf.2 lenses? A few of them look quite attractive in terms of rendering and I'm thinking they might be fun to play with. They certainly have the build of the pentax limiteds, though I think they are a bit slower. Were the nikon lenses overall better that you chose not to go that way?

Last edited by spade111; 03-07-2014 at 06:28 PM. Reason: Spelling
03-07-2014, 03:31 PM   #14
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I have the Zeiss 21/2.8. I don't think Nikon has a prime in that approx focal length to match that.
03-07-2014, 03:45 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by tuco Quote
I have the Zeiss 21/2.8. I don't think Nikon has a prime in that approx focal length to match that.
I've got actually a nikon 20mm aF-d f2.8. Not too expensively, pretty decent, has aF, but not in league with the zeiss I'm sure.
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