When I tried the Nikon Df

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.

Candle light shot with Df, Nikkor 50mm 1.4G at ISO 12800

Candle light shot with Df, Nikkor 50mm 1.4G at ISO 12800

 Df, Nikkor 80mm 1.8G 

 Df, Nikkor 80mm 1.8G

 Df, Nikkor 80mm 1.8G

HIGH ISO SAMPLES, Shot in jpg, Handheld_DSC1420 - Version 2

ISO 25600

_DSC1421 - Version 2

ISO 51200

ISO 102400

ISO 204800

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.

15 thoughts on “When I tried the Nikon Df

  1. I have Df too, and although I agree with some cons, some I will disagree. First dials should be with locks, this is the tight way for me. I am a RAW, manual shooter so don’t use exposure compensation at all. 1/4000 no problem Leica M240 is more than twice the money and also have same speed. Just use ND filter. One thing that could be better done is to put A mode on speed dial (Leica style or Fuji). And make this way one dial less. I don’t like duplicated shutter speed dial for 1/3 and rear thumb dial. Grip is small but too small. I am big man with big hands but i can carry it in my hand all day with prime lens. One strange thing is when you put a modern zoom lens on this body e.g 24-70 f2.8. Lens are heavier than the body and there is obvious disbalance, but it is not too uncomfortable. Autofocus is better than I expected. My previous body was D300s and focusing is similar, as for Df little bit better. Kit lens (50 1.8G) are very sharp and good couple with the compact body. Body is light and well build. Dials are rock solid. Some reviewers have written about wobbling shutter, I don’t have same opinion. The battery door can be made better. It is water sealed but when opened it can fall. Overall I am happy with it. Best buy for my money.


  2. It’s a good way to start a blog that gives your own feelings and not too scientific approach. we need smth like these reviews here.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the review very much. It’s very well structured and mostly the speech is very personal which gives it a non commercial aspect.
    This is a kind of review that is missing in many sites and blogs and makes it so different from DPreview and others technical sites. This review answers most of the questions asked by readers on those tech sites without really getting any answers there.
    Thumbs UP HMeye.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Good overview Husam, reduced to the main facts, Just one point I disagree 🙂 As I have much smaller hands its just perfect to me, So i can reduce your cons just to some dials, mainly the Iso dial button and am sure your next review will have lots of more pictures when you have the Df in the House 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Actually after getting used to the Df today , I can say that the grip handles very well. I prefer the small grip of the DF than that of D800e or D750 !


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