Last week, I had the chance to try a Silver Df for one full week.
Since I had my D700 few years ago, I didn’t have the chance to carry my Nikon DSLRs (D800E and D3s) but rarely: the D800E is too demanding with its 36MP, and the D3s is very heavy. I always wanted a direct upgrade of my D700 … And here where the Df exactly fits. The D4 16MP sensor, 100-12800 ISO with Hi-4 (up to 204,800 ISO) is a perfect sensor for every day use… and with a lightweight body, the Df (710 grams) is great for a walk around cam.
When it was first launched , I didn’t see (from what I’ve read) but the negative sides until I tried it. 1/4000s shutter in a 2,750$ body sounded to be illogical for me. But with a native 100 ISO and Low 1 (equivalent to 50 ISO), I was able to shoot with my Nikkor 50/1.4G wide open in bright light. The dial layout is not perfectly designed. I found lots of duality between the mechanical dial and the traditional command dials. Something u can get used to very quickly. I wished that Nikon had an Auto setup on the ISO dial and on the Speed dial. I really don’t know why Nikon missed that. But , with many customizable Function buttons, I was able to set up the Auto ISO on one of them. This way, it was easy to toggle between Auto ISO and mechanical dial ISO. As for the Speed dial, U should set the PASM dial on S or M to use it…
I have heard lots of users complaining about the slow AF in low light… so I tried it, and it was very fine, much better than I expected. I can’t complain about this. The Manual focus is the traditional MF u find in other Nikon DSLRs : So no problem with this issue either. The AF speed is correct, faster than any mirrorless system i have tried. and very similar to my D800E and D3s, nevertheless; a more sophisticated MF aid is highly recommended, especially that u can mount your old non Ai Manual Focus lenses on the Df.
The High ISO capabilities of the Df are Outstanding … U can check the high ISO samples below and judge by yourself. No Wonder it was called the “Lord of Darkness” by DxOMark!
As for the Image Quality, and if u are a Nikon user, u know how good it can be.
5.5 frames per second maximum burst looked very sufficient for me for fast moving subjects, and the AF tracking works as it should be.
What I like :
- Compact and lightweight body. Size is similar to Fuji XPro 1 + prism , more heavy though. FF lenses are larger though.
- Very well built.
- Feels great in hands. Better than standard bulky DSLRs.
- Nothing to say about the D4 sensor : it’s one of the best , although it’s somehow “old” in today’s standards.
- 16 MP is just right for a do it all photography.
- Outstanding high ISO performance.
What I don’t like :
- The grip. I would have preferred without. It’s small to my hands. A grip-less design would have been more “pure”. An add on grip for large zooms would have been better. No grip is needed for primes …
- Only 1/4000s shutter
- 5 exposure bracketing instead of 9 on D800 / D3s / D4
- The mechanical dials feel great. But could be designed in a more simple straight forward way. All the dials have a secure lock which is not necessary, especially on the exposure compensation dial.
HIGH ISO SAMPLES, Shot in jpg, Handheld
In Conclusion : I was very satisfied with the Df overall. My two only complaints are the small grip (I have big hands) and the PASM dial. And for 2750$ for body only, I find it very fair knowing that u have the excellent D4 sensor in a very nice looking and well built lightweight DSLR.
This is a giant step from Nikon to fight against the invasion of mirrorless systems. A Df mark II would be a killer if they make some amelioration mainly on the dials layout.