It has been a while since Nikon last caused so much controversy. Even before Df was announced, and, naturally, as soon as all of its specifications were leaked, crowds gathered and the battle was on. Not even D600 or D800 issues caused so much racket. This sort of comparison – Nikon Df versus D610 – is likely to be the most popular among the fans and those who just can’t justify the new camera. We, too, will take a closer look at how these two full-frame DSLRs stack-up against each other. Before you jump to conclusions though, make sure to read the summary – you will find that there is nothing to be so perplexed by. And be sure to pay attention to ISO comparisons between the Nikon Df and the D610 that are posted below.
Along with the highly anticipated Nikon Df camera, Nikon has also introduced the restyled Nikkor AF-S 50mm f/1.8G Special Edition lens. Such a move might be slightly confusing at first, because Nikon already has a new AF-S 50mm f/1.8G lens in its line-up. So, are there any improvements with this new lens? In short – no. At least not from the optical performance stand-point.
Many Nikon D700 owners are probably wondering how the Nikon Df differs from their beloved cameras in terms of features and image quality. As we have said several times in different posts, the Nikon Df could be considered the D700 replacement, depending on one’s needs. While sports and wildlife photographers (or anyone else that relies on fast fps and high-end AF) will certainly disagree, portrait photographers have been longing for a camera with the D4 sensor for a while now. In this article, I will compare the new Nikon Df to the D700 not only in terms of specifications, but also in terms of image quality / ISO performance. Of most interest, our readers might find high ISO comparisons between the two, especially above ISO 800.
I am working on a couple of articles related to the new Nikon Df camera (see the announcement / overview and pre-order options) and I decided to post a size comparison between Nikon’s most current line of full-frame DSLR cameras. Starting from the left, we have the flagship Nikon D4, then the Nikon D800, followed by the Nikon D610 and finally, the new Nikon Df (click on the image for a much larger version):
As you can see, the Nikon Df has a similar size as the Nikon D600 / D610 in terms of height. When looked at the top, it is thinner due to a smaller grip and less protruding pentaprism / flash area. Weight-wise, it is about 50 grams lighter.
With the release of the Nikon Df, 7 sample images from the camera by Takeshi Fukazawa and Jeremy Walker have been posted at Nikon Imaging. The below images are all copyright of Nikon and all EXIF data is retained in photographs. Our quick notes on the image quality are posted below. Please keep in mind that the images are taken in RAW and simply converted to JPEG via Capture NX 2. No other editing has been done, including sharpening.
Click here to download a full high-resolution JPEG version of the above image. Exposure Info: 1/400, f/8, ISO 3200.
During the last few years, the interchangeable lens camera industry has seen massive changes. If only a few years ago, a DSLR was considered to be the only serious photographic tool (not counting film cameras), we now have mirrorless cameras that are no less impressive. They’ve already stolen quite a few APS-C sensor DSLR sales. The full-frame market, on the other hand, has seen a huge increase in offerings. It would seem only yesterday when Nikon had three distinctly different full-frame cameras in its lineup – the D700, D3 and D3x. Now, if you count D800 and D800E as separate models, it has five. The newest sibling has been announced, one surrounded with so much hype and hope, you can only ask – what took Nikon so long? But let’s not dwell on the past, because the digital FM2 – or something as close to it as you might have hoped – is finally here. And just look at it. It has dials, and lots of them!
1) Nikon Df Key Specifications
Before we get all excited, let’s take a quick look at Nikon Df key specifications:
- Solid, magnesium-alloy construction with weather-sealing
- 16.2 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor (same as the one in Nikon D4)
- ISO sensitivity range of 100-12,800 (boost down to ISO 50 and up to ISO 204,800)
- Shutter speed range of 30-1/4000s, flash sync-speed 1/200s
- 39-point AF system (same as the one in Nikon D610), 9 cross-type sensors, focuses down to f/8
- 2016-pixel RGB image sensor, full non-AI-S lens metering
- EXPEED 3 processor
- Large 3.2″ LCD screen with 921,000 dot resolution
- Pentaprism optical viewfinder with 100% coverage and approximately 0.7x magnification
- SD card slot
- Maximum continuous shooting speed up to 5.5 frames per second
- Measures in at 143.5 x 110 x 66.5mm
- Weighs 760g with battery and memory card
- $2749 body-only, $2999 with the new Special Edition AF-S 50mm f/1.8G lens
The soon to be introduced Nikon Df has raised a heated debate among our readers. That is understandable, of course. Because Nikon is bold enough to charge $2750 for a camera that is basically a retro D610 with a D4 sensor, with some of the functionality removed on purpose. But let’s put the price question aside for a moment and focus on the design part of any camera, modern or otherwise. Remember the old Nikon FM2, a true classic. Remember the success of the Olympus PEN and the Fujifilm X series. And at this point, let me raise a provocative question. Does a camera have a soul?
A silly question, isn’t it? How can a camera have a soul? It’s just a piece of plastic, glass and metal, copied again and again. It is a tool. But that, that is the real pickle. As I wrote in my Mamiya RZ67 Pro review, the best part of film photography – and something digital has severely lacked in comparison – was the involvement in the process of it all. Film – at least with manual film cameras – makes you slow down, makes you think about every single step you take. Makes you take every single step on your own, consciously, carefully. Want a setting changed? Rotate a dial. Turn a knob. Feel the physical feedback you camera gives you, hear it click in a sort of satisfying manner. Forget to do so and there is no LCD screen at the back to check the result prematurely, no way to know beforehand if you screwed something up. And at first, running away from such complexity is a relief. After-all, digital cameras offer so much room for mistakes and complexity of film photography is certainly not for everyone! It is like eating out at a restaurant after a long home-made sandwich diet. But as the time passes, some (not all) start to miss the sandwiches and the perfectly served, neat restaurant food becomes tedious. You want the involvement back. “Make an ordinary, daily, routine activity that bit more special, personal, intimate and meaningful, simply by making it slower”. Slower and less rational.
Without a doubt, Nikon has created a lot of hype around the upcoming Nikon Df camera. With five teaser videos that talk about “pure photography”, Nikon has spiked interest among the photography community, including our team at Photography Life. Many of us, especially those that shoot event, wedding and portrait photography have been desperately waiting for a true Nikon D700 replacement. Something with a good number of pixels, but not too many (yes, those D800 files are huge!). Something that can produce very low noise images at high ISOs. Something that is fast with a solid build, but does not come with a huge price tag and a heavy body. Nikon finally answered those calls with the Nikon Df. Read on to find out what we think about this remarkable camera.
What makes the Nikon Df remarkable? I have used this word a few times already, because I think the Nikon Df will be even a bigger hit than the Nikon D800. If you remember from February of 2012, we covered the Nikon D800 release extensively. From what we saw, being world’s first 36 MP full-frame camera, the Nikon D800 created a lot of interest – mostly from landscape, architecture and studio photographers that needed more than the 12 or 16 MP that Nikon was traditionally using on its DSLRs. However, many portrait photographers, especially pros that come back from events with thousands of images felt that the D800 was too much of a camera for them (yes, the D800 files are huge!). From Nikon’s new product positioning, it was pretty clear that the D700 was a mistake never to be repeated again – Nikon did not want to compromise the sales of its high-end line in the future (and the D700 did lower D3 sales significantly). But Nikon knew very well that it left a gap in its high-end DSLR line. Instead of coming up with yet another DSLR, Nikon decided to take a very different route. Why not take the much wanted Nikon D4 sensor, put it in a retro body to appeal portrait photographers (especially the group that loves shooting film), strip it down to a bare minimum without bells and whistles like video that are of no interest to most photographers, and market it as a fusion of DSLR and early SLR/rangefinder Nikon cameras? That’s how the Nikon Df was born.
This is an review of the classic Nikon NIKKOR 50mm f/1.2 Ai-S by one of our readers, Christian Duguay from Montreal, Canada. A quick note from Nasim: while I was going through testing some of the older manual focus lenses (including the 50mm f/1.2 Ai-S), Christian contacted me via email and sent some of his thoughts on the lens. After a couple of emails back and forth, I requested him to write a review of the lens, so that we could share it with our readers. Christian accepted the challenge and we both agreed that it could be a good idea if we both worked on it – I would provide all optical test results, while he would write the text and provide sample images. So in a way, this is a collaborative effort between the two of us. Enjoy!
1) Overview and Specifications
When I read a few weeks ago at Photography Life that Nasim wanted to review some of the Nikkor Ai-S manual focus lenses, I was really pleased by the idea. In fact, I was longing for that since the summer of 2012. At that time, I was looking for a 28mm prime and although Nikon had launched a new 28mm f/1.8G in April of that year, I opted for an all-manual f/2.8 Ai-S lens. The reviews I read about it were interesting and convincing, so I decided to order one new from the US, because it was not available in Canada. When I received the lens, I was totally amazed by its high quality, intrinsic beauty and special craftsmanship. This was my first contact with these old Nikkor Ai-S lenses.
Earlier this week, when I wrote about my experience at the 2013 Photo Plus Show, I pointed out that I found a product that I have been searching for the past 4 years. It was something that I found on the last day at the conference, while going through the smaller, less popular booths towards the end of the exhibit hall. I first hesitated about what I saw, but as soon as I realized that it was exactly what I had been looking for, I got very excited and bought one for myself immediately (and pretty much forced Tom to buy one as well). You might be wondering what it was – well, as weird as it may sound, it was a Sensor Gel Stick!
Don’t mind the name – I came up with that, because it describes the function of this tool pretty well in my opinion. The actual product name is “Eyelead” :)