Nikon Df vs D800

There is no doubt that the new Nikon Df camera is very similar to the D600/D610 duo, as we’ve already seen from the comparison. From a price stand-point, however, Df is dangerously close to the popular and extremely capable Nikon D800 model (see our very detailed review). Can the Nikon Df back up its price premium when compared to its bigger brother? Analyzing on-paper specifications of both cameras should give a pretty good idea, although you might find the ISO performance comparisons in this article quite useful to make your own conclusions.

Nikon Df vs D800

Keep in mind, please, that this comparison is based strictly on specifications and image quality. A camera is often more than a sum of its parts, and that stands true for both Nikon Df and D800.

First, let’s go over the key specifications:

Nikon Df vs D800 Specification Comparison

Camera FeatureNikon DfNikon D800
Sensor Resolution16.2 Million36.3 Million
Sensor Size36×23.9mm35.9x24mm
Sensor Pixel Size7.30µ4.88µ
Low Pass FilterYesYes
Sensor Dust ReductionYesYes
Image Size4.928 × 3,2807,360 x 4,912
Image ProcessorEXPEED 3EXPEED 3
Viewfinder TypePentaprismPentaprism
Viewfinder Coverage and Size100%, 0.70x100%, 0.70x
Built-in FlashNoYes, with flash commander mode
Flash Sync Speed1/2501/250
Storage Media1x SD1x CF, 1x SD
Continuous Shooting Speed5.5 FPS4 FPS, 6 FPS in DX mode with MB-D12 battery grip
Max Shutter Speed1/4000 to 30 sec1/8000 to 30 sec
Shutter Durability150,000 cycles200,000 cycles
Exposure Metering Sensor2,016-pixel RGB sensor 3D Color Matrix Metering II91,000-pixel RGB sensor 3D Color Matrix Metering III
Base ISOISO 100ISO 100
Native ISO SensitivityISO 100-12,800ISO 100-6,400
Boosted ISO SensitivityDown to ISO 50, up to ISO 204,800Down to ISO 50, up to ISO 25,600
Autofocus SystemMulti-CAM 4800FXAdvanced Multi-CAM 3500FX
Focus Points39, 9 cross-type51, 11 cross-type
AF DetectionUp to f/8Up to f/8
Pre-AI Lens CompatibilityYesNo
Video CapabilityNoYes
Video OutputN/AMOV, Compressed and Uncompressed
Video Maximum ResolutionN/A1920×1080 (1080p) @ 24p, 30p
Audio RecordingN/ABuilt-in microphone
External stereo microphone (optional)
LCD Size3.2″ diagonal TFT-LCD3.2″ diagonal TFT-LCD
LCD Resolution921,000 dots921,000 dots
HDR SupportYesYes
Exposure Bracketing2 to 5 frames2 to 9 frames
Built-in GPSNoNo
Wi-Fi FunctionalityEye-Fi Compatible, WU-1bEye-Fi Compatible, WT-4a
BatteryEN-EL14a Lithium-ion BatteryEN-EL15 Lithium-ion Battery
Battery Life1400 shots (CIPA)850 shots (CIPA)
Battery ChargerMH-24 Quick ChargerMH-25 Quick Charger
Weather Sealed BodyYesYes
BuildTop and Rear Magnesium AlloyFull Magnesium Alloy
USB Version2.03.0
Weight (Body Only)710g900g
Dimensions143.5 × 110 × 66.5mm144.78 × 121.92 × 81.28mm
MSRP Price$2,749 (as introduced)$2,999 (as introduced)

In every technical way except for a few key features, the D800 beats the Nikon Df on paper, especially when the price / performance ratio is taken into account. Hardly surprising, as Nikon Df, based on a very rational comparison, already struggled against the much-cheaper, but arguably more flexible and just as capable Nikon D610. Firstly, there is the sensor. Which one is better is for each individual to decide on their own, but the D800 offers a massive resolution of 36 megapixels versus 16 megapixels on the Nikon Df. That 36 megapixel sensor unit is no slouch when it comes to high ISO performance either (at comparable output size), but has a lower native ISO range of 100-6400 (vs ISO 100-12,800 of the Nikon Df). Hardly a deal-breaker for most users – between these two sensors, you are likely to make your choice based on preferred resolution.

There are, however, a couple of things to keep in mind when choosing between a 36 MP and a 16 MP camera. First of all, the Nikon D800 will create massive JPEG and RAW files. Those that photograph with the D800 professionally know very well how big of a burden it can be when it comes to dealing with mega-large files and post-processing RAW images. Lightroom, Aperture or any other post-processing tool slow down dramatically and require a lot more computer resources to keep up with the speed. The D800 should not be considered if you are not ready to deal with larger memory cards, more storage space and faster processing power. In addition, the D800 is a very demanding camera in terms of technique. A lot of people are finding that the traditional “shutter speed equals focal length value” for hand-holding technique is simply too slow, requiring often doubling and even tripling the shutter speed value. Sharpness can suffer greatly at pixel level, if good technique or tripod use are not employed. So the D800 can be considered a highly specialized tool as well and it is certainly not for everyone. Portrait photographers tend to stay away from the D800 for the above-mentioned reasons. In this regard, the Nikon Df is a much more attractive and forgiving camera. It creates small files with enough resolution for most needs, it does not put stress on your hand-holding technique or your old lenses that might not be able to resolve a lot of details on a high resolution sensor. It works with pretty much every Nikkor lens – from the modern AF-S versions to pre-AI classic manual focus lenses. It works beautifully in low light situations without adding much noise (see below). In essence, the 16 MP sensor is not a disadvantage for many of us. As a full time wedding photographer, I find 12 MP on my D700 to be more than adequate for my paying customers.

The Nikon D800 has a more sophisticated autofocus system with 51 focus points, 11 of which are cross-type. That is not to say the 39-point AF system used in Nikon Df is bad, but the frame coverage is definitely worse. The Nikon D800 enjoys shutter speeds up to 1/8000s, while the Df has to make do with a 1/4000s maximum. Other advantages of the D800 include faster flash sync speed (1/250s versus 1/200s), video recording, more sophisticated metering, better build quality (D800 is fully made out of magnesium alloy, Nikon Df mixes that with plastic) and durable shutter mechanism (rated for 200k versus 150k of the Nikon Df).

On the other hand, Nikon Df also has some aspects to boast about. Firstly, it is 190g lighter (body-only), yet manages an impressive 1400 shots per battery charge versus 850 shots of the D800. Also, it is noticeably smaller and has slightly faster continuous shooting at 5.5 frames per second versus 4 fps of the D800. Having said that, for an extra $250, D800 potentially offers a lot more bang for your buck. For the majority of photographers, it is no doubt a better camera and a very likable one.

Let’s now take a look at how the two cameras compare in terms of ISO performance.

Nikon Df vs D800 Low ISO Performance

Please note that the images below are comparisons between the Nikon D4 and the D800E. Since the Nikon Df has the same (or similar) sensor as the D4, and the D800E is the same as the D800 minus the AA filter, these ISO comparisons between the two cameras are valid. Also, the below are 100% crops, without any down-sampling applied. If the Nikon D800 images are down-sampled to 16 MP resolution, the files will look much cleaner. When comparing sensor performance, I will be providing pixel-level comparisons to illustrate differences between the Nikon Df and other cameras, without changing the angle of view or perspective. If you would like to compare these images at equal print size level, you can easily down-sample images to the same size in Photoshop / Lightroom and look at the differences (I have already done that for the most part in my reviews of Nikon DSLR cameras).

Warning: Simply clicking the images below does not show 100% crop performance (crops are large, so your browser will automatically show them in smaller size). If you would like to compare images head to head, please download the below crops to your computer and then view them!

Nikon Df ISO 100 Nikon D800E ISO 100

As expected, both cameras handle base ISO extremely well.

Nikon Df ISO 200 Nikon D800E ISO 200

The same is with ISO 200.

Nikon Df ISO 400 Nikon D800E ISO 400

At ISO 400 the Nikon D800 has a tad more noise in some parts of the image. However, keep in mind that you are looking at pixel-level performance. As I have mentioned above, down-sampling to equal size will diminish these differences.

Nikon Df ISO 800 Nikon D800E ISO 800

At ISO 800, the Nikon D800 shows more noise, especially in the shadows.

Nikon Df vs D800 High ISO Performance

What about high ISO performance at ISO 1600 and higher? Let’s take a look:

Nikon Df ISO 1600 Nikon D800E ISO 1600

At ISO 1600, the differences in pixel level noise are pretty clear – the Nikon D4/Df is cleaner in comparison.

Nikon Df ISO 3200 Nikon D800E ISO 3200

The same thing can be observed at ISO 3200. The grain definitely appears larger on the D800.

Nikon Df ISO 6400 Nikon D800E ISO 6400

At ISO 6400, the Nikon D800 is already losing some shadow details and adding artifacts throughout the image.

Nikon Df ISO 12800 Nikon D800E ISO 12800

And at ISO 12800, the Df/D4 still retains plenty of shadow information, while the D800 lost a lot of it. More noise and artifacts appear at pixel level on the D800. Most importantly, there is a noticeable loss of color on the D800.

Nikon Df ISO 25600 Nikon D800E ISO 25600

ISO 25600 looks like garbage on the D800 – something I would not want to use at all. And yet the D4/Df still manages to retain colors and details better even at such high ISO values.

The Nikon Df offers three more “boosted” ISO levels: ISO 51,200, ISO 102,400 and ISO 204,800. While ISO 204,800 is extremely noisy and unacceptable for most people, ISO 51,200 and 102,400 could be somewhat usable when down-sampled:

Nikon Df ISO 51200 Nikon Df ISO 102400

If you compare ISO 51200 to ISO 25600 on the D800, the noise patterns are pretty close, so there is about a stop of difference between the two at boosted ISO levels.

Now keep in mind once again that we are purely looking at pixel level performance here. Once 36 MP images from the D800 are resized to 16 MP, the performance differences shrink quite a bit. Once “normalized” there is not much of a difference from ISO 100 to ISO 6400. Only at ISO 12800 and above the Nikon D4/Df seems to offer an advantage when down-sampled. And obviously it can go even beyond that all the way to ISO 204,800, while the D800 stops at ISO 25600.


Choosing between the two full-frame DSLRs will hardly be all that difficult because of how different the Df is in its core approach to photography. Where D800 incorporates a thoroughly modern choice of ergonomics, Nikon Df builds upon the heritage of classic film cameras. It has analog dials for most of its exposure-related settings, such as ISO, shutter-speed and exposure compensation. It also puts a lot of stakes on style and involvement. If these are priorities for you in a camera, you will not feel troubled about the $2750 price tag. But don’t ever worry if you find it hard to justify – not everyone is supposed to. As I’ve said in the Nikon Df vs D610 comparison, you buy the Df with your heart, not your head.


  1. 1) Mick Rhodes
    November 5, 2013 at 7:29 am

    I Have a D800. It was never what i wanted, 36.3 MP is just ridiculous for what I do, but I bought it anyway.
    Will I Swap it for DF? doubtful.

    • 1.1) Sylvester
      November 5, 2013 at 8:01 am

      Why you find it ridiculous Mr: Rhodes ? I’m curious !

      • 1.1.1) Mick Rhodes
        November 5, 2013 at 8:52 am

        I take photos on holiday, of my kids and the cat. I never print them, but like cameras because they have lots of buttons and dials and i can swap lenses and generally play.

        I cant see why anyone who takes photos for Flickr and Facebook needs more than 8MP.
        8MP that can see in the dark. To the point you could take a photo of the lens cap while it still on the lens. Perfect.

        • Patrick Downs
          November 5, 2013 at 10:10 am

          I will guess that for you, a D610 would be perfect, or D7100 on DX format. Even the 5300 might work, for DX. I agree that for you the 800 is overkill. If you never print your work, the consumer grade SLRs or even something like the Canon G16 would work fine. Lighten your load!

          • Global
            November 21, 2013 at 1:11 pm

            Negligible differences when downsampled, which browsers do by default to fit the browser viewing area. I don’t see the Df as worth one cent over the D610, and should probably be cheaper because of its worse specs.

            The D800 is clearly superior and in class with the D4.

            The Df is a pretender.

            • Patrick Downs
              November 21, 2013 at 1:24 pm

              I love the idea of the D4 sensor in a small body, and the retro styling is ok if it’s functional. But for the price of a D800? No way. I’d get the 610 first, or another 800. If this Df was $2000 or $1800, maybe.

        • Sylvester
          November 5, 2013 at 11:44 pm

          Going back to DX from FX (only because the file size is big) ? not sure how good that Idea is. :)
          If you can get a good D700, get one & sell your D800; (With that difference in amount, you can get yourself a good lens)

          • Mick Rhodes
            November 6, 2013 at 12:14 am

            Nikon where about to upgrade the D700 after the D3s came out to the D700s putting the D3s sensor and processor in it. But did not for fear of losing sales of the D3s.
            That was the camera I wanted, and I suspect thousands like me.

            Now they will have to watch Sony take away new customers who have not got Nikon Glass.

            • OC Mike
              November 9, 2013 at 8:11 am

              Mick Rhodes, you are so, so, so correct. The point that Nikon is missing is not what they think they can market but rather what is going on in the minds of loyal, dedicated photographers like YOU. Thanks for your comments. And if I may add my opinion. In taking typical scenes a 39 point autofocus is excellent BUT when I am shooting a close head shot or head-shoulder shot whilst practicing my beloved Rule-of-Thirds composition style (hey, this is my camera and I can use any style that I like, right?) I find that when I focus on the near eye the 51 points WORKS GREAT but the 39 point DOES NOT WORK? Yes, I could focus and move but this is MY CAMERA and I choose to NOT WANT THE INFERIOR 39 point crippled system. Why didn’t Nikon include 51 points for nearly $3,000 after cards, filters and taxes? You never see this point written up in any review…not a single one…really, go check. Oh, forgot to mention that I prefer to put some empty space in front of my subject’s face, so when using the Rule-of-Thirds (again my preference) then the near eye is way off of the 39 point and right on the edge (beautiful) of my 51 point image. Mick Rhodes, thanks again!

    • 1.2) james
      November 14, 2013 at 12:36 pm

      i have the D800 and will swap it for the Df.
      its the camera i’ve wanted all along.

    • 1.3) alain
      December 1, 2013 at 11:27 pm

      Hello yes l agree D800 is useless unless you are Thom Hogan even so.I got D700 and D300s l do anything out of these 2 cameras.and all those test comparing high iso is again useless for 90% of normal photographers including pros.who care above 1600 iso.back to the film 1000 iso we could do most of and sildes 400 iso was the max.again marketing went pass there.and media have to say like we need high iso.when u see what u get out of D700 D3 or D4 at low light at 800 iso.
      In my case Nikon can release D900 D whatever will stay on the shelf.

  2. 2) Sören
    November 5, 2013 at 7:34 am

    Very impressive and quick results. Does this really mean resampled to 16MP both cameras deliver the same ISO performance? That is a very interesting result Romanas! It basically means that there is no need for the Df from the image quality/sensor point of view.
    Kind regards, Sören

    • November 5, 2013 at 7:48 am

      It is really all about what sort of native resolution you prefer to have.

    • 2.2) David
      November 5, 2013 at 8:52 am

      Once you start manipulating the files, there’s a huge difference between the cameras. We have both (D4 and D800) and the D4 is always the go to camera unless we’re at base ISO. That said, in harsh light at base ISO, the D800/D600/D610 wins out, as well as low ISO where you’ll want to crop into the image.

  3. 3) Benjamin Schindler
    November 5, 2013 at 8:05 am

    I don’t get at all why people compare noise at pixel level. Especially with these modern FX sensors, where the noise is dominated by photon noise. Of course, zooming onto an image will result in more noise – well, what a surprise!
    In terms of sensor, I see two differences: The Df offers a native Iso 12800 where without surprise the Df wins over the d800. On the other hand the D800 has 36mp in case you should ever need them.

    • November 5, 2013 at 12:49 pm

      I don’t get at all why people buy a 36MP camera, along with a new computer, cards and backups, in order to watch the files on a 2MP display and say “look how good the files look when resized to 12MP!”.

      • 3.1.1) Sebastian
        November 6, 2013 at 1:08 am

        Well, who knows on what kind of displays we are all watching our images in 5, 10, 20 years? My kids will probably say “thank you” to me as a D800 owner for the very detailed images of their childhood.

        • OC Mike
          November 9, 2013 at 8:23 am

          Eric Duminil, you ask a very good question that I almost never ever seen explained in any of the reviews. Yes, really, go back and reread the reviews. Eric, there is a difference that YOU can actually see on you lap top or any other screen that doesn’t show 36Mp (like all of the rest ).Ok so this is going to be different. The D800/800E have the capability to capture sparkle, effervescence, twinkle and gleam. Say what??? The highlights are captured while they are averaged by lesser numbered pixels. Result: a photo on your computer screen that has this hard to explain brilliance to the reflections! :-)

      • 3.1.2) OC Mike
        November 9, 2013 at 8:25 am

        Eric Duminil, you ask a very good question that I almost never ever seen explained in any of the reviews. Yes, really, go back and reread the reviews. Eric, there is a difference that YOU can actually see on you lap top or any other screen that doesn’t show 36Mp (like all of the rest ).Ok so this is going to be different. The D800/800E have the capability to capture sparkle, effervescence, twinkle and gleam. Say what??? The highlights are captured while they are averaged by lesser numbered pixels. Result: a photo on your computer screen that has this hard to explain brilliance to the reflections! :-)

      • 3.1.3) Will
        November 10, 2013 at 5:16 am

        Some people doing large prints…

  4. 4) Ted Erikson
    November 5, 2013 at 9:45 am

    Not sure that comparisons with either the D800 or D600 reveal much more than to say the differences between quality examples of 16mp, a 24mp and a 48mp cameras from the same manufacturer, are mostly characteristics of the number of pixels on the same size sensor. I choose the D600 for the particular balance of resolution vs low light capability that sensor provides. If all were the same price, I would make the same choice, to achieve that particular compromise for my style of photography.

    I think the lack of a built in flash is a mistake. Although I don’t remember ever having used it indoors, it is sure nice to be able to fill shadows and back lit faces without carrying any more stuff on casual shoots.

  5. November 5, 2013 at 9:53 am

    I’m using two Nikon D3s and two D700 for wedding and portrait photography (studio and on location)
    Because of the ‘to’ great files the Nikon D800 gives, I was waiting for new toys.
    Now, when the Nikon Df is born I’m thinking of changing the two D700’s.
    But two things make my decision difficult.
    1. Why did Nikon choose for 1 SD -card and not for two CF-cards
    2. Why is the build-in flash missing. I use this small build-in flash for activating the bigger Nikon 910’ers and when I’m travelling, the build-in flash is a fantastic fill-in flash.
    Nikon engeneerings,… there will be always photographers with other wishes and preferences but this one is still waiting for a good and fantastisc replacement for the D 700’ers.

    • 5.1) Alvis
      November 5, 2013 at 10:24 am

      I really dont get it..what exactly people want for D700 replacement? SO many says..there is no replacement, but there is now 3 different cameras. What a hek you all want? 3 awesome cameras. Damn all 3 are good. I ‘m really happy, that i dont need anymore to choose new camera, it would be damn hard!

      I changed from D70s to D800 and love it. Love big files, i always will love way to get more information. Now days HDD costs “nothing”. Every moment i take, i have have max possible information.

      • 5.1.1) Arne List
        November 5, 2013 at 10:51 am

        I have a D3 and a D800, using both of them equally, the D3 more often for events, the D800 more often for art. Love both and am satisfied. But for weddings and events I earn some money with, I wish I would have a less bulky camera than the D3 and less huge files than with the D800.

        The D700 would be perfect, but an updated version could have a D4 sensor and two card slots. Vertical grip, 8 fps, and built-in flash I won’t like to miss, and whether it has retro controls or not, is just a matter of taste. They could offer two versions of an identical camera, one with classic controls, the other one with modern controls. Both could support shutter priority with AiS lenses and advanced focus assist for manual lenses.

        • OC Mike
          November 9, 2013 at 8:27 am

          Arnie List, you speak wisdom!

  6. November 5, 2013 at 10:08 am

    RE: “A lot of people are finding that the traditional “shutter speed equals focal length value” for hand-holding technique (with D800) is simply too slow, requiring often doubling and even tripling the shutter speed value. Sharpness can suffer greatly at pixel level, if good technique or tripod use are not employed.”

    Absolutely true in my experience, and it came as a shock. I was used to shooting with the D700 and 24mm at 1/30th or even 1/15th hand-held … I’ve done if for decades with film too. Not with the D800! So in essence I must shoot with at least one shutter speed higher using D800, making it less low-light friendly. Now that I know this, I’ve adjusted, and use a tripod more. When I do my part the results are stunning with the D800.

    • November 5, 2013 at 1:51 pm

      I agree Patrick, what it boiled down to was just a little extra care and the D800 just runs along just fine. But, it was a PITA to nail down the technique at first.

      New DF? Nah…I just got a D800e and use the D800 as the back-up. Still don’t use the video though.

      • 6.1.1) Patrick Downs
        November 5, 2013 at 4:40 pm

        I was thinking that is a good idea too… adding an 800e to my 800. Maybe a 610 though.

        • John Richardson
          November 6, 2013 at 1:04 am

          I did think of the D600/610 but just opted for the the D800e, I was used to the controls, menus etc. Of course I had not handled a 600 series (in my hands), and may have been just as happy. And to be honest did not pay real close attention to reviews. Needless to say two D800’s will out live me. I still have my F2 and F3 I suppose they will outlive me also.

          The more I look at the DF it does “look pretty cool”, and I suppose in the long run, photos from the D800 or the DF, at least in my hands will look pretty much the same. I mean, I would still be taking the same lame photos with the DF as I would with the 800s. I just got a kitten!!!!

          @Romanas I like strawberry kool-aid!!! —-Kool-aid, not available in Ukraine :-(


  7. 7) Patrick Downs
    November 5, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Can someone post a link to sensor tests in LOW light, of the D800 vs. D610? I know the D4/Df are great at high ISOs, but I lean towards the D610 (to replace the D700 … maybe!) as a 2nd body with my D800. Thanks.

    • 7.1) Patrick Downs
      November 5, 2013 at 10:21 am

      “Now keep in mind once again that we are purely looking at pixel level performance here. Once 36 MP images from the D800 are resized to 16 MP, the performance differences shrink quite a bit. Once “normalized” there is not much of a difference from ISO 100 to ISO 6400″

      Maybe that’s my answer?

  8. 8) Frank Jr.
    November 5, 2013 at 10:35 am

    While I like the concept of old meets new with the style/theme of the Df, the price screams foul in my opinion. Especially when I consider no built in flash, 39 – 9 cross-type focus points, no CF card slot, consumer grade MC-DC2 port, no video, etc…..

    With that said, Nikon may have brought to market a camera that may produce a cult like following not unlike Apple fans. (No disrespect to Apple enthusiasts intended. ;- )

  9. 9) Abe Hsieh
    November 5, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Thank you for your excellent review/comparison between the new Df and the D800. I am not a professional, but amateur landscape photographer. I love what my D800E can do for me. It is all a matter of choosing the right tool for the task! Keep up the great work!

  10. 10) Wally Kilburg
    November 5, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Are you people nuts? Thank you for the Df comparison to the D800 and the review? This guy is sitting around with a gallon of Kool-aid drinking it and saying well this camera has to be the same because they have the same sensor, blah, blah, blah. It seriously reduces the credibility of this site. In the world of design and manufacturing, especially in the field of embedded technology the same parts are often used in a wide range of components and the results are different all the time! A slight voltage change here and there….there are so many factors.

    Fact, this person writing this drivel knows nothing about the Df. Unless you are McNally or one the other testers, no one does. Can we wait until the product is available before we all pass judgment?

    Lab tests show the D4, the D800/E and D600 sensors to all be very close. I doubt anyone could tell them apart based on the lab differences. The Canon 5D MkIII shows up as a less contender but i’ll tell you what, I’ve use it seen the results and the lab test aren’t all that and a bag of nuts. What is nuts is this review and the people that blindly read and go with whats written – about something no one has largely seen!

    • November 5, 2013 at 12:08 pm

      Wally, thank you for your rant, we appreciate it. Thank you also for your expertise in how sensors work. What we did here was compare on-paper specs – and we warned our readers at the beginning of the article that this is just a spec-based comparison. Let me quote it for you:

      “Keep in mind, please, that this comparison is based strictly on specifications and image quality. A camera is often more than a sum of its parts, and that stands true for both Nikon Df and D800.”

      Forgive me, too, if we do not agree with your claim that the same sensor will somehow perform differently when put in a different camera body. That is just silly. Df and D4 are identical in terms of technical image quality. And this is not a review – no one claimed it to be. If that happens to be untrue, we will know as soon as we get a chance to properly test the camera.

      If you think this article reduced the credibility of our website somehow, it says more about you than it does about our work, unfortunately. As does the fact that you just called part of our readers nuts, because they also think a sensor performs the same in both camera bodies.

      Please, do everyone a favor and refrain from leaving such offensive and aggressive comments in the future. Have a great day.

    • November 5, 2013 at 9:04 pm

      Why so angry and offensive? No one claimed this is a review, it’s just a simple comparison with some commentary, and you call it a drivel? One of the reasons I come here is the discussion, which most of the time is civil and reasonable, without resorting to name calling. This is not dpreview.

    • 10.3) Sylvester
      November 5, 2013 at 11:59 pm

      Wally Kilburg; Agree with you – 100%

      The customers (most of them) do not know what they want. I thought its only in US, however its the case with most of the countries; People just see, the so called “Image quality” reviews in all popular websites & get the stuffs. Once they get it, they have the following problems,

      A) its bulky
      B) file size is huge
      C) Complicated settings; he/she cant get the best out of the camera.

      within few months, they understand – its not what they wanted. In no time, Nikon will release something which they call “quite similar/ same sensor”.

    • 10.4) Patrick Downs
      November 6, 2013 at 8:21 am

      Wally, I think you’re being harsh, re “Fact, this person writing this drivel knows nothing about the Df. Unless you are McNally or one the other testers, no one does.” I’ve watched the McNally and the other official Df videos, and they didn’t go into great detail. In fact none of them had much time with the camera and only tested in by shooting in the field. Photography Life is doing what nearly every other good site is doing, and taking the specs to interpolate what we’re getting with the Df.

      I seems a fair assumption that if the Df has the D4’s sensor, they will try to match that performance. It’s a huge selling point, given that sensor’s #1 test rating. The rest is subjective, as to whether it’s worth the price, but as we’ve seen with Leicas and the Sony FF rangefinder, price isn’t everyone’s #1 rational criteria, nor is sensor performance or file size. Time will tell how Nikon’s gamble pays off. I lean towards another D800 or 610 (good value) myself, but once I try one that may change.

  11. 11) Bearsden
    November 5, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Can anyone please say which of these pro cameras offers the quietest shutter. Does the ‘silent’ mode of the smaller 3100, 5100 or 7000 etc. offer an adequate response to make one of these cameras safe to use in a theatre / concert environment? Is any of these pro models even as good as these?
    Sony’s new A7R is said to be noisy, the A7 not much less so. The RX100 at least is silent, but scarcely the tool for the job. Is there a silent NEX?

    • 11.1) osynlig fog
      June 24, 2015 at 2:12 pm

      The Df is has a much more subtle shutter compared to the D800.

  12. 12) Wally Kilburg
    November 5, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    I work in the field unlike you. You can spout all the new wave BS you want but it is totally meaningless. As much so as your comparison.
    Fact, I very much like the Df as an exercise. I like the concept of a DSLR with a 16 to 18 MP sensor. I’m not put off by 39 AF points or any of that. But this camera has some serious shortcomings – namely price. Its filled with mid level parts from other cameras, has nothing new except a wrapper and they want premium bucks for it. The D4 sensor on your paper is a lesser performer so it’s inclusion as a draw is not valid – if we just work off paper. This Df is designed around manual AiS lenses, yet there is no focusing aid to facilitate that. I could go on and on. Sure its great camera for you but you don’t need to try and tell people its so much better than a D600 or D800 when its not. Buy it with your heart…..LOL dude. At you.

    • November 5, 2013 at 12:26 pm

      Wally, I let my work speak for me and don’t go about shouting that “I work in the field, unlike you.” If you have the guts to say I do not work in the field, I suggest you back that up. If you can’t, stop embarrassing yourself. As for the rest of your comment, you clearly haven’t even read the article, but are very quick to draw conclusions and go about offending anyone. And that is just sad. Let me leave yet another quote for you:

      “Having said that, for an extra $250, D800 potentially offers a lot more bang for your buck. For the majority of photographers, it is no doubt a better camera and a very likable one.”

      There is not a single line where I said the Df is better than either one of its full-frame siblings, quite the contrary. If you will persist on leaving these offensive and completely useless and baseless comments here further on, I will have to start filtering them out. You are very much welcome not to ever read our articles again if you find them meaningless. From what I see, you are just another online expert with a big mouth. For the last time, have a good day.

      • 12.1.1) Steve
        November 5, 2013 at 2:21 pm

        Personally, I like to see a photo of Wally’s jaw dropping after reading this – taken with ANY camera!

        • November 5, 2013 at 2:23 pm


          thankfully, he promised to stop visiting. :)

          • mark allen
            November 6, 2013 at 2:46 pm

            Hi Romanas, It’s sad to see abusive and aggressive comments arrive on your site. Thankfully so far photography life seems to have avoided most of the nonsense that comes with online comment sections. Virtual space gives people the confidence to be rude knowing they wont get punched afterwards.

            Your work does speak for its self, ignore them.

            • Profile photo of Romanas Naryškin Romanas Naryškin
              November 6, 2013 at 2:50 pm


              thank you for being so supportive. Luckily, kinds words expressed by people such as yourself easily outweigh all the negativity and aggression, so it is not that difficult to deal with what you must have just read – you just forget about it in like ten seconds. However, it is hard to ignore overall tendency for some people to, as you said, be rude all of a sudden when there is no reason whatsoever. That is partly why we haven’t yet launched a forum section, but it is definitely coming.

    • November 5, 2013 at 9:06 pm

      Wally, could we see your portfolio?

      • 12.2.1) jmey
        November 6, 2013 at 11:58 am

        I think this is his work. I will let it speak for itself

        • November 6, 2013 at 2:16 pm

          Best we leave it at that, thank you!

          • Frank Jr.
            November 7, 2013 at 8:44 pm

            I enjoy how open PL is to all that wish to learn from experienced photographers, and the ability share information, experiences, concerns and opinions regarding photography. I dislike like the idea of a membership/forum style, but dislike something of interest being derailed by a poster with abusive comments even more. No matter what direction PL takes in the future I will continue to visit, learn, and enjoy the site as long as the great staff photographers remain.

            I give thanks to you all.

            • Frank Jr.
              November 7, 2013 at 8:50 pm

              PS, I would however like an edit button to correct my writing. LOL

            • Profile photo of Romanas Naryškin Romanas Naryškin
              November 7, 2013 at 10:47 pm


              thank you for your kind words, from all of our team. :)

              The forum would be in addition to the comments section under each article. We often receive a lot of questions from our readers and, after a while, it becomes very difficult to try and track them down, answer. A forum would provide a place where anyone can ask a question and expect someone to help them out, even if we ourselves can’t at the time. But no one will be forced to join the forum to be able to leave comments under these articles, I hope.

  13. 13) Wally Kilburg
    November 5, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    I’m not embarrassing myself. I didn’t write that drivel. You did. With your heart I guess because brains certainly weren’t used.
    I have over 30 years in the design and development and sales of software solutions for embedded systems, centering the last several years in operating systems and processors for specific devices such as cameras, audio LSI’s and smartphones. I’ve also worked extensively developing applications at the enterprise level working for companies such as IBM, Oracle, Sybase and other systems providers.

    I know first hand that product supplied by a manufacturer (name any chip maker, its the same) is subject to many variances all of which can contribute to noise and other gremlins that affect performance of a chip, optical or otherwise.

    I’m not interested in a tit for tat here and have now relegated your email to junk so respond if you wish but it won’t be seen. I’ll be dropping this site off any normally read list as it just can’t measure up. It’s heavily dependent on speculation rather than fact and to be honest, its typical of most junk written on the internet. Have a good day.

    • 13.1) Colleen
      November 7, 2013 at 7:49 pm

      Thanks for leaving, Wally. :)

      I’ve really enjoyed reading the information about the Df here, and the comparisons with other cameras. is my new favorite photography site.

  14. 14) Art
    November 5, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    First of all thank you for your great coverage on the new Nikon Df camera. The comparison articles between the different cameras and the Df are extremely helpful in deciding if this camera will meet my needs. i also posted this on the Df vs D700 article since I own both the d700 and D800.
    The one thing everyone is going to agree to about the Df is that it will stir up a lot of heated arguments and make the Photography forums very interesting to read for a while. Some people are absolutely going to fall in love with it and others not so much. Right now I am kind of in the middle, I do not hate it but I am not going to put this purchase on my bucket list yet and here is the reason.
    The real strength of this camera is its sensor and that’s what you are paying for. If you shoot above 1600 ISO a lot (not action) then this camera is definitely worth the price you are paying for it. If you do not then things change quite considerably. Now what you are paying for is essentially a D610 in a retro body (IMHO).
    So the first thing I asked myself was “What is the retro design going to get me?” For one a different layout of controls that I am going to have to get used to every time I switch between my D700/D800 and the Df. If retro controls are so good as to pay a premium for why are all modern day Nikons not designed with retro controls? My take on this is that the retro controls were designed for an era when all we had to worry about control wise was shutter speed and aperture, dials and buttons were not even thought of on a camera yet, and ISO and white balance were fixed every time a new film canister was loaded. Digital photography is whole new ball game with the need for the controls to be laid out in a different manner, now we can change WB and ISO on the fly, we have picture controls, we can shoot raw or jpeg, etc. So why go back to controls that are antiquated and designed for an long ago era? Even when I get paid for shooting film I break out my F6 not my FA. The FA does not match my shooting style anymore. But thats not say the FA is not fun to shoot , it is relaxing to take it slow every once and awhile, its still a great camera to fool around with, but on jobs i am there to make money so I use the tools best suited to my needs.
    At this time I do not see this camera improving my photography. I rarely shoot above 1600 ISO and cannot see this camera giving me anything my D700 could not other than great noise control at high ISO. When I buy a piece of gear it gets paid for by selling my work, $2800 is lot of money to spend for just having a camera just to fool around with (that’s why I still have my FA), I would rather spend that money on a new 300mm F4 with VR (I hope Nikon reads these posts) or a new 200-400 F4.
    Even if I really wanted a great retro camera; the one thing that I really would want is the ability to change out the focus screen. Nikon made this camera compatible with about every manual focus lens it has ever made but does not give you option of using an old style focusing screen. For me the way to use a manual focus lens is with a focusing screen designed for a manual focus lenses, if I am going use a little green light I might as well stick with autofocus.
    But I am going be objective and rent this camera when it is available (already made a reservation at my local rental shop) and make my decision then. There are a lot of uncertainties like how well the autofocus works in low light, it does not do much good to have great low light sensor and the camera will not accurately focus in low light. What does the viewfinder look like, can I change ISO or WB and not take my eye from the viewfinder or do I have to look at a LCD or a dial. Are the controls so cumbersome that it would impede my photography; the first thing I noticed is that exposure compensation is now on the other side of the camera. So for now I am going to stick with my trusty D700/D800 until I get the camera in my hands.

    Again thanks for a great site and the wonderful work you are doing.


  15. 15) Nicky
    November 5, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    Interestingly enough, here in South Africa the D610 is almost the same price as the D800. I wanted to upgrade to full frame. The D610 seemed the perfect choice, until I heard the price. I just bought a demo D800 (with 1300 shots taken) for about $60 more than the price of the D610. I am almost certain that the Df will be cost much more than the D800. So, here, the question will be, will you pay more for a Df than for a D800?

    • November 6, 2013 at 1:19 am

      In Ukraine: The D800 is still running at $2650.
      The D610 at $2475.
      Not a huge difference between the 800 and 610 only $175.

      The D800e is holding at $3000. (prices converted to USD).
      Not a single quote yet of the DF, but ware a few months behind.

  16. 16) Frank Jr.
    November 6, 2013 at 12:33 am

    While I may not always agree with everything that is posted here at PL, I don’t understand why some folks have to be such a “Kill-joy”. Romanas, thank you very much for the early information and comparisons on this new camera.

    • November 6, 2013 at 2:19 pm


      thank you! We would never want you to agree with everything we publish, it would be a little boring, I think. :) Everyone’s entitled to his own (polite) opinion.

  17. 17) Bearsden
    November 7, 2013 at 8:18 am

    Well I for one am sick of Wally and the way this excellent site has been diverted. Nor do I want to receive any more emails detailing the next bit of nastiness. Shut up, W!

  18. 18) JohnLe
    November 7, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    I thought that Df has 1/200 flash sync speed. i dont mean to be …. :D picky on these numbers.

    • November 7, 2013 at 10:50 pm

      that one is difficult to track down. We ourselves received a pdf file with both 1/250 and 1/200 listed in two different places. It is just plain confusing.

  19. 19) Dave J
    November 8, 2013 at 1:48 am


    I just wanted to share my observations on the ‘paradox’ that to me is the Df. Firstly, a bit about me. I guess I’m what seems to be referred to as a ‘keen amateur’. I’ve owned a D800 for 16 months and a Fuji X100s for five months. The latter for times when I simply want to be inconspicuous or just travel light.

    So November 5th arrives and the Nikon Df. Boy do I want that camera. Its a FF Nikon in a compact body with all the retro good looks and tactile ‘feel’ of the X100s. Its perfect for me, surely? I really can’t justify a third camera, but this will allow me to replace one, perhaps both of my existing cameras. Perfect.

    In the last three days, my mouse pointer has hovered over the “pre-order now” link on four occasions and on each occasion I have hit Esc. I won’t be attempting a fifth. Why?

    Here is the reason for my post, truly where does the Df fit in? These are purely personal observations on my situation, but I would like to bet they apply equally to many other people reading this site. I have three Nikkor lenses a 50mm f/1.4G a 35mm f/1.4G and the 24-70mm f/2.8. It is the latter two that are inevitably attached to the front of the D800, I love both of them. But they are both heavy chunks of metal and glass (particularly the 24-70) and I have found that the extra size and all magnesium construction of the D800 fitted with the optional grip makes for a very balanced and comfortable (if admittedly heavy) combination. So, the Df is smaller, lighter, not all magnesium and doesn’t have the option of an additional grip. Pity, OK, no problem I’ll keep the D800 to use my favourite lenses and sell the X100s. Ah, but now there is another problem. Compared to the X100s the Df is big, bulky, heavy and very conspicuous. So , cant sell the X100s either.

    So their you have it, for me the Df is neither one thing or the other. I still love it, I still want one. But no, I won’t be buying.

    Oh, and the price over here in the UK. I think its fair to assume the many people considering the Df will already have a nikkor 50mm of one sort or another, but we are being forced to buy the ‘kit’ for GB£ 2,749! a D800 costs under GB£ 2,000. Something doesn’t feel right.

    I’d be interested to get any feedback on this post from you folks out there.

  20. 20) Larry L
    November 14, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    There sure is no need to be heated and critical about the review. I have been in design and engineering for over 30 years and that + $1 will buy me a small coffee at Mc D’s.

    I feel drawn to the Df since that is all I really wanted from retiring my med format and film bodys years ago. I need to wait to see my real motive for it since the “new thing” must be dry out a bit. I never use video for assignments and still wander why the semi pro and pro level cameras have it. Do you spend 3-6 grand on a DSLR for that feature? For a fun family event at the beach, use a D3200. I do like the simpler aproach, I wish lower ISO settings like 25 would come back, features that add creativity and affect the end result, the photo! It took me a while to even except auto focus. It is needed at times but I only really need it for fast sports shots and would perfer a split prism view finder for all other shots since I end up picking the point I want in focus then re positioning hoping it holds. I have used the 51 point feature at times but always seem to get a miss now and then and if it’s intimate wedding shots I am taking, I need it to work 100% of the time. We live in an age where “more” means better and things have to be “loaded” to sell. Let face it, a great photo comes from the one taking the shot, more than a camera that claims to do it all. You just cannot replace the creativity and skill of the artist with fluff features.

    I like the D800E also for what it can do but wish it had a 16meg raw setting for most of my shots. I have a 48″ wide printer and print on roll stock and unless I need to crop, at a normal viewing distance, even 12 megs is fine.

  21. 21) David Ziff
    January 3, 2014 at 7:32 pm

    I’m an event photographer. Most of my work is done in low light conditions. I haven’t touched a Df yet but I’m interested. I could care less about a camera’s retro look. I wish Nikon had said, “We’re giving you a D4’s sensor at half the price and half the weight. We’ve added analogue controls to give you a camera with faster handling. We’ve dropped the video feature because by survey we know that many photographers don’t need or want it. Ditto with a built-in flash. If this had been Nikon’s approach we wouldn’t be sidetracked by the idea that sentimentality has anything to do with a camera purchase.

  22. 22) Ricehat Ninja
    June 29, 2014 at 6:42 am

    Hello all together! :)

    I’m a young hobby photographer from Germany looking for his first DSLR-camera. In fact, many would say choose an averaged one with not too many requirements. But I do want to learn from this camera, I want to get used to it over time and so I want to learn about how to use it in the most effecient and beautiful way. I don’t want to be forced to buy the more professional and improved model, as soon as I learned about the arts of working with a DSLR-camera. That’s why I want to start with a camera which is able to fulfill my demands also in a couple of years as I’ll will always be just an “hobby”-photographer.

    I read through all these comments and advices but I couldn’t profit from it as I wished to, especially after this discussion about verbal abuse. Thus, I wanted to ask in a way the upcoming answers could help me better than they the ones before.

    So here are my preferences of what I’m taking pictures of:
    -Movement and Action
    -Animals….preferably macro photography not only with animals
    -pictures at night (stars, lightningsm snow etc.)
    …so my question would be, which of these to compared cameras Df or D800 might be the right one for me and why? And if there is one that could fit even better to me, I would be thankful for your advice.

    I’m looking forward to your answers,
    Greetings, the Ricehat Ninja

  23. 23) osynlig fog
    June 24, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    After a year with my Df I could not be more happy. Some things the reviewer misses in this comparison.
    – The Df has a much quieter and nicer sounding shutter than the D800. The D800 is a very loud “clonk” whereas the Df sounds much nicer. More silent and if its higher quality. The D810 improves a lot on the 800 series shutter sound. Its funny that the Df’s great quiet shutter was went without mention in a lot of reviews.

    -The Df finder has more contrast and is easier to focus with manual lenses than either the D800/D610/D810/D750. Its a subtle difference but its there.

    -The Df was early with the “i” button. Now on all the new cameras. I use it all the time.

    -The Df is unique with its controls. Coming from film cameras this is the reason I bought the Df. It’s a huge improvement in ergonomics vs dial + button controls of conventional DSLR’s.

    -The Df has much better auto white balance than either D600/D800.

    -IMO the Df has nicer build quality than D800.

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