For a few weeks now I’ve been wrestling with my conscience and common sense regarding a new camera. Not the Sony A7/r (which just did not interest me) but the Nikon Df. One of my favourite film cameras is the Nikon FM3a, which a joyfully simple camera. Nikon ran a teaser ad campaign about the Df with the dubious tagline “it’s in my hands again” and more sensibly “pure photography” before it was released which sent internet traffic skyrocketing.
However, the release itself was a damp squib and it’s fair to say interest cooled quickly. I decided not to preorder. The principal reasons were the lack of manual focus aids and the size and weight of the camera. I couldn’t really see what it would offer over a D600. Move forward until this Thursday and I happen to be comparing the D600’s (really very good) high ISO results with the Df, which is in another league. I decided to get one. I had planned to order a black one but I could only find silver in stock. On the logic that I rarely use my Nikons for street photography, I decided to get a silver model.
Well it arrived today and first impressions are excellent. It’s a bit lighter than your average DSLR while having a lower volume (so it’s actually denser). The D800E is quite a bit bigger and heavier.
The control wheels take a little getting used to, but once you have them up and running they become second nature. I think it took me about 45 minutes of use to warm to the camera, so don’t mistake your general confusion learning a new control method for a dislike for the camera. The viewfinder is dimmer and easier to manually focus through than the D600 and D800E. The results at high ISO are off the scale good – the camera practically can see in the dark. Lets just say it doesn’t really need IBIS…
The “special edition” 50mm F1.8G lens is the same lens as the existing model with some cosmetic changes. Still, it’s a lens with a lovely render and sharpness.
I had to try it with my Noct-Nikkor and it’s fair to say that while it’s a bit easier to focus than with my D800E and D600, it still needs green dot confirmation for wide open focus. Above about F2 though and I think it’s possible to do it visually.
In any event, more on this topic later…