Nikon Df vs Nikon D4 ISO Performance

In my previous articles comparing the Nikon Df to other cameras like D800, D700 and D610, I posted images from the D4 as if they were from the Df in the articles (note that I clearly pointed out that the images were from the D4), because I was pretty sure that the Df had the same sensor. Some of our readers criticized me for doing that, arguing that Nikon’s sensor technology and the imaging pipeline might have changed since the introduction of the D4. I received the Nikon Df last week, so one of the first things I did was compare its performance against the D4 to see if I could spot any differences. Below is a detailed comparison between the two, which shows that both cameras utilize the same or similar sensor technology. So my previous comparisons are still valid and can be referred to for comparing between the different Nikon DSLRs.

Nikon Df Nikon D4

I received an email earlier today from one of our readers, who provided a link to DxOMark’s article titled “Nikon Df review: New low light champion?“, which shows the Nikon Df having superior low-light ISO when compared to the D4. DxOMark ranked the Df at 3279, while the D4 scored 2965 before – a close to 10% delta in numbers. Does it mean that the Df is 10% better than the D4? No, those numbers represent ISO, similar to your camera ISO. So a score of 3279 is actually only around 1/10 of a stop better – a very insignificant difference. But why are DxOMarks’s numbers different across cameras, even if their sensors are the same? In this case, one might argue that the Df should have the same score as the D4, just like the D610 that should have the same score as the D600 (DxOMark ranked the D610 worse than the D600). Well, there are a number of factors involved in computing these scores. First of all, DxOMark down-samples / resizes images from cameras to around 8 Megapixels of resolution, as explained in this article. This alone creates a problem, because noise levels look different when software resizing algorithms are involved. Second, there might be differences in lighting, focus, white balance and other camera settings that might make one camera appear better or worse. Third, there are manufacturing / sample variances that also can potentially impact the results. DxOMark cannot account for those differences, so it just reports a different score. In my opinion, DxOMark’s scoring system is quite confusing and sometimes even misleading. Ideally, the Df and the D4 should get very similar scores, just like the D600 and the D610 should. Instead of crowning the Df as the “new low light champion”, DxOMark editors should have stated that the differences are simply lab / sample variances and other errors in calculations. To DxOMark’s credit, the review does state that “the sensor is the same unit in both models”, however, it should be clearly noted that the low ISO scoring system has a rather large error delta. Technically, if the Df scores higher than the D3s, then the D3s should not score higher than the D4. This is contradicting data that confuses a lot of people, including myself. If we take into account error variances and interpret DxOMark’s current sensor ranking based on low-light ISO, then all last generation Nikon DSLRs (with the exception of the D3s) have a very similar ISO performance. So Nikon Df, D3s, D600, D800E, D4, D610 and D800 should not be crowned by numbers from 1 to 7, but should all have the same “1” standing as a group. That would make a lot more sense, since that’s pretty much the conclusion that I came to while testing all these cameras.

Nikon Df vs Nikon D4 ISO Performance

Let’s take a look if we can find any differences in performance between the Df and the D4. The below images were shot in RAW, rendered by Lightroom 5.3 RC. Since Lightroom cannot yet read Df files, I had to cheat it into thinking that it was looking at D4 files. I won’t bother with my notes on each ISO comparison – see if you can spot any differences yourself. All EXIF data is attached. Let’s start out from low ISOs 50-1600:

Nikon Df ISO 50 Nikon D4 ISO 50

Nikon Df ISO 100 Nikon D4 ISO 100

Nikon Df ISO 200 Nikon D4 ISO 200

Nikon Df ISO 400 Nikon D4 ISO 400

Nikon Df ISO 800 Nikon D4 ISO 800

Nikon Df ISO 1600 Nikon D4 ISO 1600

And here is high ISO performance from ISO 3200 and up:

Nikon Df ISO 3200 Nikon D4 ISO 3200

Nikon Df ISO 6400 Nikon D4 ISO 6400

Nikon Df ISO 12800 Nikon D4 ISO 12800

All four boosted ISO levels (H1, H2, H3 and H4):

Nikon Df ISO 25600 Nikon D4 ISO 25600

Nikon Df ISO 51200 Nikon D4 ISO 51200

Nikon Df ISO 102400 Nikon D4 ISO 102400

Nikon Df ISO 204800 Nikon D4 ISO 204800

Perhaps this needs a better eye than mine, but I spent some time looking at images back and forth and got tired of trying to find differences – I cannot see any!


As I have pointed out a number of times before, take everything you see on the Internet with a grain of salt (including what you see at PL). While I really like what folks at DxOMark do, their scoring system is confusing and can potentially lead to erroneous assumptions. The Df is not better than the D4. The D600 is not better than the D610. They are all pretty much the same in ISO performance.

Don’t get me wrong – I am not here to criticize DxOMark. They do a great job with giving us data that nobody else is willing to provide. The same can be said about us at PL and many other folks that assess and review gear. Too many variables are involved in these measurements and a lot can change depending on what tools are used in what conditions, and how one interprets the data. Canon and Sony folks are never happy with DxOMark’s assessments, because they typically score worse in comparison (and I came to a similar conclusion after looking at data from Imatest). In real life, such differences are very minor, especially on the same generation sensors. The grass might look better or worse on the other side, but in reality, it all depends on how you look at it and through which glasses…


  1. 1) Steve Sanders
    December 10, 2013 at 8:32 am

    Please tell us how to fool LR into thinking the DF is a D4 I
    d rather not load Nikon software onto my computer but Im anxious to see my RAW DF files.
    Thanks for all you do.

    • 1.1) Troy
      December 10, 2013 at 4:52 pm

      Use a exif editor and change the df to d4 in the nef file.

  2. December 10, 2013 at 8:33 am

    Dear Nasim,

    Lightroom processing D4 and Df the same way is hardly an indicator of the differences between the cameras.


    • December 10, 2013 at 8:37 am

      This post is not about differences between the cameras. It focuses on the differences in image quality only (or actually, the lack of differences).

      • 2.1.1) Iliah Borg
        December 10, 2013 at 8:54 am

        Dear Csaba,

        I do not see how disguising one camera as another can help see difference between the cameras; especially in Lightroom, and not a final version of it on top.

        • December 10, 2013 at 9:11 am


          in this case, Lightroom has no effect. It knows how to read the files and the restriction is purely camera-model related, not that imposed by RAW algorithms. If it were the other way around, I’d try and trick it into thinking my D700 files were actually those of D800. I’d get 36 megapixel images for free.

          • Iliah Borg
            December 10, 2013 at 9:15 am

            Dear Romanas,

            Saying a raw converter is processing raw files from different cameras in the same manner is saying it is a poor converter.

            • Profile photo of Romanas Naryškin Romanas Naryškin
              December 10, 2013 at 9:19 am


              again, in this case, it does not matter which camera the photograph came from as long as it is using the exact same sensor and “pipeline”. That is what matters, the sensor and in-camera processes, which, almost surely, is shared between the two cameras, and not the camera itself. And since in this regard Df and D4 seem to be identical, the processing is also identical.

              We will test the RAW files from both cameras again as soon as Df is officially supported by Lightroom. I would be extremely surprised to see any difference to this comparison.

            • Iliah Borg
              December 10, 2013 at 9:24 am

              Dear Romanas,

              It is a proven fact that the service data of the sensors in the raw files is different between D4 and Df. You can check it with RawDigger or dcraw if you wish, just look at the frames around the image area. So it is not “exact same”. Also, analysis of the optical black portion demonstrates that Df has a different noise behavior.

            • Profile photo of Romanas Naryškin Romanas Naryškin
              December 10, 2013 at 3:15 pm

              You might be right, Iliah, I can not say I am an expert at this sort of thing. But, as I said, we will test the RAW files from both cameras again as soon as Df is officially supported by Lightroom. I would be extremely surprised to see any difference to this comparison.

        • Vitaliy
          December 10, 2013 at 10:23 am

          are you saying that RAW converter does not simply read the amount of light received at each sensor pixel, but does some amount of interpretation that may reduce our amplify noise levels?
          P.S. I don’t really know what the converter does to RAW.

          • Iliah Borg
            December 10, 2013 at 10:35 am

            > are you saying that RAW converter does not simply read the amount of light received at each sensor pixel, but does some amount of interpretation that may reduce our amplify noise levels?

            Of course. For example, the area around the sensor, often called Optical Black (OB) and some metadata in the raw files are for characterizing the noise and when used properly helps to get rid of pattern noise.

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          December 10, 2013 at 4:15 pm

          Iliah, RAW files do NOT contain any noise removal instructions. RAW processing software like Lightroom and Photoshop simply use bayer demosaicing to construct an image out of a RAW file.
          RAW files contain information like white balance, lens corrections, Active D-Lighting, color profile, etc, but there is nothing that tells Lightroom or Photoshop on how to handle noise. So the above tests are a 100% accurate representation of the Df’s sensor performance. All Adobe is going to do when the new version of Lightroom rolls out, is replace the number “4” with “f” and the rest stays exactly the same.

          If you believe I am wrong, please provide trustworthy sources that I (and I am sure other PL readers) could look at. Otherwise, you are just giving a blanket statement with no proof behind it…

          • Iliah Borg
            December 10, 2013 at 5:15 pm

            Dear Nasim,

            > RAW files do NOT contain any noise removal instructions

            Well, they contain information for noise reduction. Not many third-party converters use them, as raw formats are kept secret. Looking at the sensor documentation you can find something like (Kodak KAF8300)
            “Surrounding the periphery of the device is a border of light shielded pixels creating a dark region. Within this dark region, exist light shielded pixels that include 39 trailing dark pixels on every line. There are also 12 full dark lines at the start of every frame. Under normal circumstances, these pixels do not respond to light and may be used as a dark reference.” The area is a source of data to compensate for dark signal non-uniformity.
            If a sensor is using several readouts (which never match exactly) such area is used in careful raw processing to equalize the channels and thus to suppress pattern noise.

            > RAW processing software like Lightroom and Photoshop simply use bayer demosaicing to construct an image out of a RAW file

            “Simply” might be a serious understatement.

            I do not know where this “trustworthy” thing comes from. I’m participating in raw processing software development since 2003, and the software works. But here is from another person, Dave Coffin, who maintains dcraw (used as one of the references by Adobe for their conversion code): “Look for statistical patterns in the masked pixels, shoot a few dark frames, and decide which noise model fits them best.”

            But the point I made is that to say “the Df had exactly the same sensor” one needs to explain why than the optical black demonstrates different noise model, and why the pattern on the service area is different. Sensors do look similar, but “exact” is something more than just similar.

            • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
              December 11, 2013 at 12:28 am

              Iliah, didn’t realize that I was talking to a RAW software developer (it is good to know that we have such readers!), so please excuse my over-simplified response that might have sounded negative towards your earlier comment. I should have clicked the link to your site before responding.

              So judging from the reference text you provided, the dark region is used to equalize channels to reduce pattern noise and this happens during RAW image conversion. I looked at some of the DCRaw code and you are right (provided on a different site that references the quote from Dave Coffin), the software does indeed use black pixels for some noise reduction (which apparently vary from model to model). You learn something new everyday, thanks for clarifying that. Now the real question is, how different are the sensors in reality? Can you actually see a different number of black pixels on the Df and D4 sensors? Or are there any other physical differences between the two? Also, did you look at the most recent version of the D4? Is it possible that Nikon simply moved to a slightly different variation of the sensor on the newer D4 cameras? Could the differences you see simply be environment variables that affect the data?

              I think it is also important that the RAW files you are looking at are shot properly, especially if you are doing in-depth analysis that can distinguish between two sensors in less than 1/4th of a stop. I found that studio samples shot with autofocus lenses can lead to potentially incorrect conclusions, since the diaphragm of the lens might not close to exactly the same diameter, which will result in very slight exposure differences. The above was a quick test using the new 50mm f/1.8G LE lens, which did show very slight exposure differences from shot to shot (which is probably why there is a slight difference in noise at very high ISOs). Knowing this, I have been trying to use old MF lenses that would give me consistent exposure and not skew results. But at the end of the day, even those slight exposure differences are often too minor to make conclusions. If I see less than 1/4 difference in noise performance, I typically just say that the performance is about the same.

              Now going back to the black reference pixels. If those did not change between the D4 and Df, why would it be bad to force the software to interpret files as if they were from the D4? Do we need to use some proprietary code from Nikon to digest that information? Also, if not all third party RAW processors actually utilize this data as you’ve stated in your comment, how much different will images look with and without the applied noise reduction?

              Спасибо Илья :) Would love to host a guest blog from you regarding what you do and your software. Some of our “geeky” readers would love it I am sure. Please let me know if you are interested. Thanks once again.

            • Tom C.
              December 11, 2013 at 7:21 am

              Thanks Iliah, much I did not know there.

              “Exact is something more than just similar” sums it up.

              Beating a dead horse one last time… This is why if one purports to do a review of a certain camera model or sensor performance, one must use that camera or sensor. To assume it uses the same sensor/pipeline because they seem so similar undermines credibility, regardless of the original intention, and regardless of whether they are so close that any difference is very small.

              It also shows that regardless of who we are, assuming we know more than someone on any given subject is also risky.

            • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
              December 11, 2013 at 1:33 pm

              Tom, I am sorry if it was not clear that I actually used the D4 to compare sensors in my “vs” articles – I believe I specifically pointed that out in each article and left all the EXIF data intact. I agree, ideally you want to only show the true comparisons between actual camera models. However, since I did not have the Df at the time, I thought it would be a good idea to show how sensors would approximately compare. You obviously disagree, but I don’t see how what I did can be considered unethical or undermines credibility, if I actually clearly stated that the images were from the D4. Now if I took D4 images, replaced EXIF info and lied that the samples were from the Df, then that would certainly be a different picture, don’t you agree?

              Judging from what I see so far, the differences are extremely small (and visually one could not distinguish between the two all the way to boosted ISO 51200) and as Iliah pointed out, those differences could simply be from “engineering differences”.

              In regards to using the word “same”, it is not like I came up with that myself. Please take a look at this article from Nikon Imaging that reads “This is Nikon’s smallest, lightest FX-format body, yet it delivers the same exceptional image quality as the D4 – from low to extremely high ISO” and “On top of that, the Df incorporates the same FX-format CMOS sensor and EXPEED 3 image-processing engine as the D4”. So if the manufacturer itself says that the sensors are the same and I say the same thing in my articles, am I still completely wrong?

              Lastly, your comment “regardless of who we are, assuming we know more than someone on any given subject is also risky” – where did I assume that I know more than someone else? I expressed my opinion and showed evidence from the lab that backs up my point. For real world use, there is NO difference in ISO performance between the two. And if someone finds that there is a 1/10th of a stop discrepancy, my argument is that it could simply be sample variation or lab errors that could impact the end result.

              What I did wrong in the above article is assume that Lightroom processes RAW files the same way from two supposedly same sensors. Iliah proved me wrong and I admitted my fault in my earlier comment. For that, I take full responsibility and it is not something I am going to try to defend. Also, please keep in mind that I am a human and I am prone to making mistakes and sometimes incorrect assumptions. I learned something new and will be more careful in the future. As soon as the new version of Lightroom with Df support comes out, I will re-run the above images and see if I can find any differences.

              Thank you for your feedback, I really appreciate it.

          • Iliah Borg
            December 11, 2013 at 9:06 am

            Dear Nasim,

            > the dark region is used to equalize channels to reduce pattern noise and this happens during RAW image conversion.

            It can be used, depending on the target speed of the raw convertor. Fast converters cut some corners usually.

            > how different are the sensors in reality

            Or, “for practical purposes”. One of the things is that we tend to think in EVs while shooting and in “data numbers” while processing. My Sekonic has the accuracy of 1/12 EV, that is 6% in raw data numbers. I can force some of my cameras to go by 1/6 EV, which is about 12% in raw data numbers. Others allow only 1/3 EV, or 25%. The scale tends to trick us into splitting hairs. I really do not see how less than 5% difference on linear scale matters in practice, and most manufactures of lab grade “flat field” light sources picked 5% for a reason.

            I do not approve of DxO practice to compare sensor quality based on 1 sample. One can see engineering differences from comparing 1 sample of each, but image quality depends on sample variation same ±5%. So, 10% (1/6EV roughly) DxO measured between D4 and Df for low light may be that their D4 body is within -5% while Df is within +5%. Comparing 2 bodies in different shooting sessions easily allow for 7% to 10% error.

            So, I can’t speak of photographic quality comparison at least until my second Df body arrives.
            I have 2 D4 bodies, a very early one and a rather late one, they use the same sensor service area arrangement and have the same noise model. As expected, they have a little difference in absolute noise numbers, around 3% at high ISO settings. They have the same EXPEED version, while Df has a higher EXPEED subversion number.

            > going back to the black reference pixels

            Black (shielded, optical black) pixels – there is a difference in the number, Df is one pixel wider on the left side of the sensor (right side of the “raw image”), and the structure is different – D4 on the top, Df on the bottom

            > if not all third party RAW processors actually utilize this data

            For high ISO should be the difference more or less within the sample variation +2%. Negligible. For lower ISO the noise model is different and we may actually see it comparing perfectly matched exposure pairs. But again, the accuracy of our exposure settings are limited both by the field practice and by the step allowed by the camera. Only something like a 1/2 EV difference starts to matter.

            > Please let me know if you are interested.

            My e-mail is iliah.i.borg собачка The article which is not overly geeky, fun, and useful may be on the topic of Photon Transfer Curve and how to use it to control exposure settings and image quality.

            • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
              December 11, 2013 at 2:09 pm

              Iliah, thanks for your detailed response (will be sending an email to you shortly). I recognize that light conditions could change, so I do my best to re-test cameras every time when I need to test a new camera. For the Df, I already have studio results that compare it to the D600, D700, D800E and D4, so I will be updating the “vs” articles shortly. One thing that I do know for sure, is that even good, reliable light can give slightly different results when tested in different time intervals. I realized this when I started measuring dynamic range via Imatest myself, although I was using the highest quality lights on the market. Even a slight adjustment of camera to subject distance would invalidate the results and after I weighed in all these issues, I decided that it was best to not test dynamic range for now. Until I can build a very reliable lab with close to perfect light transmission (which will probably need to be periodically checked for consistency), I will try not to test dynamic range for now.

              Thanks for the sample image that shows pixel differences between the two. Seems like the differences are still very small based on what you see, definitely less than 1/2 EV as you’ve indicated.

              So can we conclude that the Df and the D4 have very similar sensors and their performance is close to being the same? I re-tested everything using a MF lens last night (the images in this article have been updated) and now the differences between the two are even smaller. I also took a couple of RAW files at low ISOs between ISO 100 and 800, boosted their exposure +3 EV and I still cannot see any differences between the two. Perhaps your RAWDigger software could be effectively used to see differences, but I just cannot visually distinguish between these…

    • 2.2) Art
      December 10, 2013 at 9:53 am

      I am not a professional camera equipment reviewer and not sure if I missed anything but I did my own little comparison test using a friend’s D4 and a rented Df. I compared the two using Capture NX2 to review the images which does read the Df RAW files and really could not see any differences between the two cameras in image quality or high ISO performance. Both cameras were setup the same (i.e. noise reduction off, distortion control off, raw 14 bit uncompressed etc.). Hopefully this helps.

      • 2.2.1) Iliah Borg
        December 10, 2013 at 10:07 am

        Dear Art,

        Hard to say anything without looking at your raw files.

  3. December 10, 2013 at 8:35 am

    Hi Nasim, thanks for the thorough review. One thing that bothers me with low-light comparisons and measurements is that almost all tests compare noise levels (specifically, quantity of luminance and chroma noise).

    Buried somewhere among the details on DXO are the dynamic range and colour depth charts. These are far more important for low-light shooters than noise levels. Especially since when it comes to noise, all the new Nikon FX bodies are within 1/3 stop of each other.

    Where the the d4/DF sensor really shines is dynamic range and colour depth above ISO 1600. Above ISO 1600, it maintains about 2/3 stops of more dynamic range and colour depth. Why does this matter more? Because when shooting low light events at high ISOs, you often get blown highlights or colour channels, especially with those colourful led lights you see at many venues these days. Noise can be dealt with, but you can’t deal with loss of dynamic range/colour depth effectively in post-production. That 2/3 stop difference as measured by DXO is actually noticeable enough in practice (and it also translates into more white balance leeway, which is another problem at low light events).

    • December 10, 2013 at 8:39 am

      Forgot to add – the d4/DF sensor maintains a 2/3 stop advantage above ISO 1600 in colour depth and dynamic range compared to the d800.

    • December 10, 2013 at 4:33 pm

      Csaba, I agree with everything you’ve said. I pointed out before that the D4 is remarkable and I immediately got some nasty feedback from those that told me the D600 and the D800 have the same noise performance. I agree, when down-sampled at low ISO levels, all three are indeed very similar. However, take the D4 above ISO 1600 and you will quickly realize that it does better, especially in dynamic range and color reproduction. In addition, 16 MP is a lot of resolution – most people do not need to deal with huge 36 MP files from the D800.

  4. 4) Raghul Nandagopal
    December 10, 2013 at 8:35 am

    This is a nice Article Nasim… Waiting for your full review of DF to see what you think of the camera.
    I bought the DF as a upgrade to by D700 last week and i am already in love with the camera.
    Only thing is – the zooms does not balance well… the primes – feel as if it’s extension of the body…

    I am loving mine :)


    • December 10, 2013 at 4:35 pm

      Raghul, please don’t use the Df with zooms like 70-200mm :) It is not meant for that! I love mine so far. A couple of small annoyances here and there (like the strap ears on the front), but other than that, a very comfortable, lightweight and beautiful camera with excellent image quality and overall performance.

      • 4.1.1) Raghul Nandagopal
        December 10, 2013 at 5:15 pm

        Sure Nasim – yes…
        I felt it as soon as i tried my 70-200mm (the only zoom i have). Once i load my primes – the camera feels soo comfortable – it sure has met it’s purpose – it rekindled the creative side in me – I am loving every moment with the camera… with the 50mm – so light weight – i am carrying it everywhere – unlike my D700… Best of all though is the Sigma 35mm f1.4 – The camera balances very well as well as the image quality is outstanding!
        The strap ears is ok for me as i have a habit of coiling the edge of the strap to my index finger :) – all in all- it works for me!
        Only thing is – changing the ISO – have not mastered it yet – bit hard – guess it will become a second habit once i get used to it….
        Awaiting your full assessment :)

      • 4.1.2) Csaba Molnar
        December 11, 2013 at 8:26 am

        Hi Nasim,

        My main gripe with the DF when I saw the images was the placement of the EC dial. This is something I use a lot (stage shots during events, for example) – I’m not a big fan of switching metering modes. In fact, the paint is started to fade on it already ;)

        So, is the DF’s EC dial as fiddly to use as it looks, or is it actually easier? And does the Auto-ISO setting work the same way as it does on the d800?

        Thanks in advance – looking forward to your full review ;)

  5. 5) David B
    December 10, 2013 at 8:35 am

    What do u think latest Fuji X sensors would habe scored in low light scores had dxo been able to test xtrans? I think at least 1500. Of course we will never know. Also Sony rumors is reporting that Sony would move to nonbayer sensors in two years. If that is true dxo would be officially screwed as Sony sensors appear in a lot of cameras

    • December 10, 2013 at 4:37 pm

      David, it depends on what DxO uses (can’t remember if JPEG or RAW). If they use JPEG only, then the X-Trans will be in line with full-frame, if not better. If they use RAW, then it will depend on what engine is used. Adobe applies corrections to images and can skew results. Not sure about DxO software, but if it reads header data, then the results will be all wrong anyway. Plus, demosaicing the X-Trans sensor can be a challenge, which is why DxO avoids Fuji I think.

      • 5.1.1) David B
        December 10, 2013 at 4:50 pm

        DXO uses RAW then downsamples to 8MP everything.

        What surprises me is DXO seem to be avoiding testing Fuji X-A1 which has Bayer sensor, and is probably a version of Sony’s venerable 16MP sensor in some rendition. I bought Fuji XA1 but then had to return it because I just could not deal with no viewfinder in sunny California where I live.

        Sony and Nikon cameras DXO seem to have the results the next day after cameras come out.

  6. 6) wornish
    December 10, 2013 at 8:39 am

    Great article. The DxO conclusion simply confuses everyone. Other sites have lots of comments about DxO claiming that the DF is the new champion. DxO are doing no one a service by producing misleading conclusions and their editor needs to heed your recommendation.

  7. 7) Tom C
    December 10, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Interesting and enlightening.

    But, and I say this kindly, making the earlier assumption that the Df and D4 had the same sensor and imaging pipeline (even if they did) (I imagine the pipeline can be tweaked per camera model), and presenting the D4 results as if it was the Df, was not best practice or even true.

    If Nikon advertised that such and such an image was taken with a Df and it was discovered it was really taken with a D4, that’s an untruth.

    In a review or comparison of cameras one MUST actually use and present data from THE camera model being reviewed or compared. If not, then the conclusions fall apart and are not credible.

    I understand your intent, but surely patience should have prevailed until a Df was in hand.


    • December 10, 2013 at 9:08 am


      there is truth in what you say. However, Nasim’s earlier assumptions were based on a very simple fact. Could you name two Nikon cameras of the same generation that used the exact same sensor, but somehow performed differently in low-light, high ISO situations? I dare say, no, simply because there weren’t any.

      It was a very logical, safe assumption that Df performed as good as D4 at high ISO settings. One many photographers instantly realized and would have been extremely surprised if it were not the case. This sort of performance is what was expected of Df and there’s no wrong in assuming it beforehand.

      • 7.1.1) Tom C
        December 10, 2013 at 9:44 am

        Hi Romanas,

        I see the problem in being that many (including myself) have little or no way of verifying that a given camera model shares the same sensor or exact imaging pipeline as another model. Isn’t that the point of doing a comparison between models, to see the difference? We rely on tests of the exact model being portrayed, not one like it.

        Comparing a D4 image results to other models, while saying it was a Df is fundamentally flawed, even if using the same sensor and pipeline.

        I’ll agree that one should expect the same results if that’s the case (D4 = Df).

        If dPreview or DxOMark substituted D4 image results and scores for a Df, yet called it a Df, it would greatly diminish their credibility.

        My concern is not that the conclusions were incorrect, but that the comparison was not what it claimed to be. The purpose of a test is to have empirical results to compare. An assumption a test.

        I’m not criticizing the conclusion.



        • Tom C
          December 10, 2013 at 9:46 am

          That should have been ‘An assumption is not the same thing as a test”.


          • Profile photo of Romanas Naryškin Romanas Naryškin
            December 10, 2013 at 3:18 pm


            I fully understand your concern, however it is important to note we did not replace our tests with assumptions. What we did was make logical, weighted assumptions, and then tried to verify them with proper testing. And, as I’ve already mentioned, we will do more tests as soon as Lightroom officially supports Df RAW files (those tests will be included in the full review of the camera).

          • AP
            December 11, 2013 at 10:21 pm

            Yes, the Df/D4 comparison wasn’t ideal. However, it was the best one could ‘compare’ at that point in time.

            But the article had stated D4 images were used. Also, the underlying assumptions by which the hypotheses were tested were clearly stated. Anyone who read the article would have realised this.

            Not perfect but definitely no malicious intent. The reader had sufficient information to make a judgement.

    • 7.2) Vitaliy
      December 10, 2013 at 10:06 am

      I think you misunderstood what Nasim did. He used images from Df (!) and D4. He then told Lightroom that images from Df (!) were taken on D4. This was only done, so Lightroom could read them. So, Nasim actually used a physical copy of Df!
      At least that is my understanding of what he did.
      But I do wonder if there are any differences in the pipeline (past the sensor) that could lead to an appreciable difference in noise.

      • 7.2.1) Tom C
        December 10, 2013 at 10:55 am

        I think two different things occurred. First was a comparison of D4 images as if they were from the Df based on the assumption of exact same sensor and pipeline.

        After that, a Df was received and Lightroom was tricked into processing it’s images as if from a D4, leading to today’s blog post and comparison images.


    • December 10, 2013 at 4:43 pm

      Tom, I agree with what you’ve said. It is best to provide real data from cameras, even if they share exactly the same sensor technology. The earlier comparisons were not meant to mislead our readers – I clearly pointed out the fact that images were taken from the Nikon D4. Since the sensors are the same (that’s what Nikon said in their press-releases), I provided data from the D4 as a reference only, so that our readers could do a preliminary comparison and approximation of sensor performance when compared to other Nikon DSLRs. So this particular test is to prove that the sensors are indeed the same, with very little difference in performance between the two.

  8. 8) Randall
    December 10, 2013 at 9:00 am

    Actually they should of said “Nikon D3s is still the king in low light”.

    • December 10, 2013 at 4:43 pm

      Nikon D3s is still the king at pixel level. Nothing else on the market is close in comparison.

  9. 9) Jeff
    December 10, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Funny DXomark said the Dƒ had a slightly better ISO performance then the D4 – still wondering how if they share the exact same sensor?

    • December 10, 2013 at 4:45 pm

      Jeff, and I am puzzled to understand how the D3s is supposed to be better than D4, while the Df is better than the D4…makes no sense!

    • 9.2) AP
      December 11, 2013 at 10:28 pm

      Same car model, with some souped up parts.

      Testing variances is possible and a valid question but too many people appear to be fixated that same sensor from different models introduced 18 months apart must perform exactly the same. Why?

  10. 10) Art
    December 10, 2013 at 9:31 am

    Thanks for the great info, I rented the Df as soon as it was available and borrowed a friend’s D4 then did some comparison shooting this weekend. I used Capture NX2, which does read the RAW files from the Df, instead of Lightroom but came up with same results as you did; no noticeable difference in image quality or high ISO performance between the two. I tend not to take DxO reviews and conclusions too seriously and always use real world results to evaluate equipment. The one I will give DxO is they stir up debate and keep the Photography forums lively.
    Cannot wait to read your review of the Df and compare it to what I thought of the camera. But the one thing I cannot complain about the Df is its Image quality and high ISO performance.

    Art Utting

    • December 10, 2013 at 4:46 pm

      Art, real word comparisons are the best! Thank you for your feedback. And yes, the Df image quality is simply amazing. I love mine so far.

  11. 11) nestor
    December 10, 2013 at 10:20 am

    Only digital values can be reproduced without error, but when you enter the analog world you have “errors” from components, ADCs, DACs, light source, photometer and in the calculation it is necessary to propagate these errors, it is possible to calculate the “error” of the error, at least from am engineer point of view. To manufacture components with less tolerance means higher cost. What I was trying to tell is that comparing a population of 1 to another population of 1 is worthless, if you do so you can only tell wich unit was better, not what family. Perhaps comparing 50 or 100 units and calculating average and dispersion in the population has more sense.

    It is the same as shutter tested to 200000 actuations (D800), may I ask how many shutters were tested?, in which conditions?, how many failed?, how many survived?, may I see the plot? how do Nikon performed the test. 200000 actuations means nothing if you don’t have the test conditions, just only a number bigger than 150000, common sense tell us D800 would last more than a D600, but is this always true?

    But we are talking about high ISO, not shutter actuations and DXOmark states
    An SNR value of 30dB means excellent image quality. Thus low-light ISO is the highest ISO setting for a camera that allows it to achieve an SNR of 30dB while keeping a good dynamic range of 9 EVs and a color depth of 18bits.

    A difference in low-light ISO of 25% represents 1/3 EV and is only slightly noticeable.
    And Nasim results were approx 10%. I think we don’t need to discuss over so little.

    • December 10, 2013 at 4:54 pm

      Thank you for your feedback – I agree with everything you’ve said about sampling. Unfortunately, it is often not practical or impossible to test a large enough sample to get to correct statistical conclusions. That’s why I always say that reviews and tests should be taken with a grain of salt…

  12. 12) Curious George
    December 10, 2013 at 11:57 am

    The Df and D4 are clearly very, very close… but even as a D4 owner I have to admit that by looking at your high Iso samples it is clear that the Df has slightly better high ISO performance, especially in very dark regions. This is easiest seen in your 51000 ISO samples in the black background.

    • December 10, 2013 at 3:21 pm

      George, I did not see any meaningful difference. Would you say that you would pick one camera over the other if based only on high ISO performance? Correct me if you think I am wrong, but I believe that in the real world the two would be as close as makes no difference identical.

    • December 10, 2013 at 5:34 pm

      George, I am not exactly sure about why there is a very slight difference at boosted values, but please do keep in mind two things: 1) the Nikon D4 that I used is from the initial batch, so it does have some signs of use compared to the Df. Not sure if sensor age has any effect on image quality, but that could potentially be a variable. 2) I can only see some very slight differences in ISO performance at H2, H3 and H4. These are not real ISOs. H1 and up represent native ISO 12,800, boosted in software. And judging from what the images look above ISO 12,800, it is not something many of us would be comfortable using in first place :)

  13. 13) Steve
    December 10, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    The opinion of a beginner based SOLELY on the presented images:

    Within the normal ISO range, both cameras seem fairly equal. Nothing to choose one over the other.
    Once up into the boosted ranges, the DF has a CLEAR advantage over the D4. The D4 seems to brighten the noise whereas the Df downplays it, resulting in a darker yet less adulterated image.
    If indeed the cameras use the same sensor, I would suggest the cameras are using different methods to handle and output the noise.

    Rather than view side-by-side, I clicked back and forth between them (Nasim, you did a great job on framing the images!) making it easier to see the differences. Unless boosting the ISO to ridiculous numbers, nothing to see here, folks. Df wins by a noise, er, nose.

    • December 10, 2013 at 5:37 pm

      Steve, please see my comment above. There is a very slight difference in noise pattern at ISO 51,200 and above – the rest looks exactly the same to me. Looking at the details, I cannot say that one is better than the other.

  14. 14) Tom
    December 10, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    Thanks for the Df update. Any chance you could inform me as to how loud the shutter sound is on the Df compared to a D700 or D7000? For my purposes of primarily shooting acoustic concerts where I have to go “ninja”, that’s the most important consideration for me after low-light performance. Thanks!

    • December 10, 2013 at 5:38 pm

      Tom, the Df has the same dampened shutter sound as the D600/D610. It is certainly less noisy than the D700 or D800. Will post a video comparison pretty soon.

  15. 15) dominic
    December 10, 2013 at 4:31 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    I’ve a plan to sell off my d700 and either get a d800 or Df. Which one do you think i should get considering the prices for both are so close. I don’t shoot much events or weddings nowadays. It’s more for my own shooting “pleasure” :). I own only one lens, that’s the Nikkor 35 1.4G.

    p/s I only have one camera too, so if i were to go with either the Df or d800, it will be my only camera. Thanks!

    • 15.1) Raghul Nandagopal
      December 10, 2013 at 5:22 pm

      Apologies for the cross talk :)
      I had D700 (my only camera) and traded it to DF instead of the D800 – So far i am loving every minute of it – i have the Sigma 35mil – the camera balances so well with the prime and i carry it all over the place…
      The files are small and manageable and the image quality is simply outstanding even at ISo 3200…

      But that’s just me :)

      • 15.1.1) dominic
        December 10, 2013 at 8:33 pm

        Hi Raghul,

        Thanks for sharing your experience of using Df :)

    • December 10, 2013 at 5:40 pm

      Dominic, since you have only one prime (and a very good one), I would steer you towards the Df. Image quality is amazing at pixel level. If you shoot landscapes more than everyday and portraits, the D800 is the obvious choice…

      • 15.2.1) dominic
        December 10, 2013 at 8:31 pm

        Hi Nasim, thanks for your reply. I shoot portraits almost 99% of the time. :)

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          December 11, 2013 at 12:37 am

          In that case, the Df is the better route for you in my opinion.

    • 15.3) Randall
      December 10, 2013 at 7:36 pm

      Unless you need the megapixels the d700 is a better camera then the df. Sorry to say but hate to see you downgrade.

      • 15.3.1) nestor
        December 11, 2013 at 5:35 am

        Hi Randall, it is not completely true. You are downgrading from a full alloy semi pro body to a partially alloy (top and back plates) consumer body. The heavier metal camera is useful if you need to defend yourself (heavy blunt object) or if you are uning a heavy lens (although commom sense tell us to handle heavy lens supporting them from its tripod mount). From this point of view Df is a downgrade, but from sensor tech and capabilities it is a real upgrade, 5 years is quite a lot for technology. Anyway I don’t like Df, mainly because of price, my only reason to take it into consideration would be high ISO, but I don’t need it anyway, then it is out of my consideration. But this is my personal point of view, and everyone have different needs and I don’t have a doubt that this cheaper D4 or expensive D600 (Df) will be very useful for them.

        • Randall
          December 11, 2013 at 8:05 am

          High ISO is the only upgrade but I have seen used d3s for near the price of the DF. D3s has way better ISO. My problem is this camera should of had the same autofocus as the d700 and also 1/8000 shutter speed. People can drink the Nikon cool aid all they want but the DF is a downgrade because essentially your buying a d600 with lower resolution yet higher ISO and your giving up video. In Nikon needs to put out cutting edge world class cameras instead of pigeon holing its current user base into purposely handicapped products. Lets get back to the d700 days. A camera which like the 5d mark II is STILL relevant and easily one of the best camera made in the last decade. I would NEVER trade a D700 or D3s which superior autofocus for a DF so I can shoot at iso 12 million. I am stuck with a d600 which if I had to get stuck with one of the current offerings is not the end of the world. I still dont like my autofocus performence in low light but its not the end of the world….

          • nestor
            December 11, 2013 at 10:26 am

            What should this camera be made to fit this price? easy answer got a D800 body and put inside this D4 sensor, then you have a 3000 dollars product and few people complaining about it. Very similar to the D3/D700 cameras. Anyway I told you I don’t like this Df and in addition I am not considering buying it. And now just for kidding it seems that Nikon makes full function Dfs indeed and after leaving the production line they remove 12 AF points, change parts in the shutter to make it slower, disassy the top to remove the flash, desolder a card slot and the video pipeline, and remove whatever I forgot, of course it means time and work, it was the only explanation I found for charging 750 dollars more than for a D600.

            • Randall
              December 11, 2013 at 7:32 pm

              Per Nikon the dlsr sales are soft and there is a weak market. Well put the d4 sensor in a d800 body and charge 3k for it. Bam camera sales through the roof and problems solved. IF they are that gosh dang worried about “canibalizing the D4 sales” then IMPROVE the D4!!! make it shoot 15fps and go to iso 2000000 and have every cutting edge feature in the world but dont handicap cameras it PISSES people off!…. Rant over…

  16. 16) Matias
    December 10, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    Just thinking out loud, but according to DxO the Df and the D4 have small differences in their colour response (if I’m reading correctly, the Df seems to have slightly more pure red and blue filters in its CFA), and most interestingly it shows -again slightly) better colour spectrum in higher ISO under both CIE-D50 and CIE-A iluminants.

    This leads me to think that maybe the improvement may be real, and could be in part because of fine-tuning to the CFA.

    • December 11, 2013 at 12:55 am

      Matias, I will be retesting the two tonight to see if I can see any further differences. The CFA could be the reason for some performance discrepancies, but I doubt that Nikon would pick something very different for the Df. If the sensors or the CFA are indeed a little different, the performance differences are still less than 1/12 of a stop – too small to distinguish in real life, as demonstrated in the above images…

      • 16.1.1) Matias
        December 11, 2013 at 4:43 pm

        Don’t worry Nasim, I’m not arguing that there is a real difference rather than the difference in the measured performance by DxO could be explained also by that.

    • 16.2) Iliah Borg
      December 11, 2013 at 1:30 pm

      Dear Matias,

      I checked and Df and D4 have the same white balance settings in the firmware. DxO are either stumbled upon sample variation, or it is the accuracy of their measurements; or both.

      • December 11, 2013 at 3:57 pm

        Thanks for clarifying this Iliah, that’s good to know!

      • 16.2.2) Matias
        December 11, 2013 at 4:41 pm

        Thanks for the info, that is certainly interesting to know.

  17. 17) Nic
    December 10, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    Considering how companies are doing nowadays, all I can say is, Df is the minime of D4 as the iPhone 5C to the iPhone 5S. The performance is there but with limitations. It’s just pure business logic on Nikon side. You get what you pay for….anyway, falling in love with Df takes about a week or 2, you need to fiddle with her parts and try to find what work best for your partnership, then after that you & your Df will be inseparable. That was me, hehehe.

    • December 11, 2013 at 12:56 am

      Nic, strange that it took you over a week to fall in love with the Df – I did instantly :)

      • 17.1.1) Nic
        December 11, 2013 at 9:37 am

        I have come from using D800. The first time I handled the Df, I cannot find the right places for my fingers and I also find it very hard to use the dials which for me is it too small and too tight to roll. But after a week of tweaking, twisting and shooting, suddenly all things falls into each places. It was then that I started to feel the connection between me & the Df. I don’t think you can find that connection feeling in most of large plasticky DSLR’s. The result is less work in the computer & less cropping as I feel I’m framing it better with Df. No more machine gun shooting like in D800 & no more long post processing.

        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          December 11, 2013 at 3:56 pm

          Nic, I see what you are saying! My biggest complaint so far is the strap ear location! On other Nikon DSLRs, the ear is on the side and since the shutter is on the very front, it never interferes with taking pictures. On the Df, the two are very close to each other and the strap constantly gets on the way. I think this is the biggest ergonomic issue with the Df. In regards to the dials, I actually like them. Not very excited about the camera mode switch and I agree, the exposure compensation could have been done a little better. I think the lock on top of the exposure compensation should not have been there – just a little tension like on the Fuji X cameras would have been sufficient. Other than these issues, the camera feels really good in hands. And despite what others think, I really like the way the Df looks (I have a silver model). Image quality is outstanding, colors are superb and lenses like the new Nikon 58mm f/1.4G shine on it…

  18. 18) Tom
    December 11, 2013 at 1:56 am

    Is it only my impression, that D4 has more pronounced horizontal banding, especially visible at 2 highest isos?

    • December 11, 2013 at 4:12 am

      Tom, I have just re-uploaded the latest measurements using a Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 lens at f/5.6. There were slight exposure differences when shooting with the 50mm f/1.8G SE (that darn mechanical lever is never 100% accurate!), so I switched to MF and re-shot everything. From what I see, differences between the two are still very minor.

  19. 19) Paul Sheridan
    December 11, 2013 at 7:24 am

    “…take everything you see on the Internet with a grain of salt…”

    Good quote from Abe Lincoln… ;)

    (And thanks for all the great reviews–I was looking forward to something like the Df…now to wait for it to percolate down in price…two grand is a bit steep for me.)

  20. 20) Chris
    December 11, 2013 at 7:51 am

    Dxomark seems to rate Canon 6D lower than D600 but many are finding 6D is very very good.
    The following blog compares them head to head and finds 6D better.
    He even switched to Canon system.

    SO we have to take dxomark scores with big bucket of slat.

    • December 11, 2013 at 3:50 pm

      Chris, the same goes for the Canon 5D Mark III – I really liked the camera when I tested it. While it doesn’t have 36 MP, its image quality is superb and the camera is very responsive. There are definitely pros and cons to both and the same goes for the 6D vs D600.

  21. 21) Derek
    December 11, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Tom C said:
    “It also shows that regardless of who we are, assuming we know more than someone on any given subject is also risky”

    Bingo, Tom! You get the prize for The Post Of The Year!

    Dear Nasim,
    In your efforts to beat every other blogger to the punch, at any cost, you keep posting questionable tests and opinions. This time, you were unknowingly going toe-to-toe with a RAW software expert and pontificating on issues that you are not qualified to even speculate about.

    To post a comparison of the Df against other cameras, while not even having the Df in your own hands, is blatantly irresponsible, unethical and self-serving. In your case, self-serving equates to fattening B&H’s coffers.

    • December 11, 2013 at 3:41 pm

      Derek, to be honest, I do not understand your anger and hate towards me. Every time I post something, it seems like you look for anything in the post to attack me. Have I done any harm to you personally? Why so much hate? If I have somehow hurt your feelings, I apologize. But can we please bring down your tone to a more friendly manner?

      Beat every other blogger to the punch? I typically post everything pretty late, not sure why you think I have a race going on. Questionable tests and opinions? From what I remember, you disagreed with my prognosis on the death of DX DSLR and you were pretty pissed that I liked the Df after all the negativity towards Nikon and their QA problems on this blog. Then you beat up my comment on the Sony full-frame mirrorless, when I indicated that its pricing is a threat to Nikon’s future DSLR sales. So far, it seems like you are irritated by my opinions, which are obviously subjective in many ways (and tend to change depending on many different factors). Why can’t we just have a difference of opinion? Yes, I like the Df and I hate what Nikon has done in the last year with their terrible QA, failure to acknowledge production problems and poor customer service. Why can’t I have both positive and negative feelings towards a product or a company? The same goes for any other product that I come by and review. I like some lenses, while others not so much. I dislike superzooms. But you come to this site to read one’s perceptions and opinions right? It is OK when you disagree, but why express it with so much negativity?

      In regards to the Df, please see my communication with Tom. I clearly wrote that I used the D4 for the tests and the information was only provided as a reference point. If I replaced images and lied, that would certainly be unethical. But how is what I did unethical? Tom explained that it sounded like “bait and switch” due to the title of the article and I obviously failed to see that side of it (to which I sincerely apologize), but other than that, is it really blatantly irresponsible and self-serving as you have mentioned?

      Yes, I did discuss the RAW conversion issues with Ilia and once I saw that he is indeed an expert in the field, I acknowledged my ignorance on the matter and we had a very friendly discussion as a result. I learned something new and now have some more reading to do. Once again, I don’t claim anywhere on this site that I am an expert in the field of photography. I know that my knowledge and skills are very limited and I do work hard on improving them whenever possible. My journey into the world of photography is very new and short, and I have only done this for the last 3-4 years. The same goes for pretty much everyone else that contributes to this site. We all just love photography and choose to share what we have learned to date with our readers.

      Lastly, please keep in mind that I am a human and I make mistakes. When I see a mistake, I try to fix and acknowledge. I never hide it, since I do want our readers to know that it does happen and sometimes frequently. And I want them to understand that I am open to criticism and discussion, as long as it does not turn into accusations and personal attacks.

      I respect your opinion and reaction to my articles and I invite you to discuss any of the outstanding issues in person, if you are comfortable with that. How about a cup of coffee at a local Starbucks? I can come down to Springs or you can let me know when you visit Denver and we’ll find a place to have a friendly discussion :)

      Have a wonderful week and happy holidays to you and your family!

      • 21.1.1) Derek
        December 22, 2013 at 7:48 pm

        Hi Nasim,

        I want to apologize if I ever gave the impression that I am angry toward you. That’s not the case, at all. The truth is that I would say the same things I’ve typed in this forum if I were to meet you face to face. I don’t consider anything that I’ve said to be so drastic or hateful. Unfortunately, the internet is not the best place for communication since it conceals facial expression and voice tone and some things that are typed can be blown our of proportion.

        I have two issues with the way you blog(and not you, as a person, since you seem to be a very nice man) and if you permit me to point them out perhaps you can find them benefitial, or not. It’s up to you how you take what I say, but here it goes…

        (1) I believe that you have a tendency to be overly dramatic and dogmatic in your reviews and opinions, and because of that ‘style’ I tend to take your articles less seriously as time goes by. I don’t mean to be hurtful when I say this, but when I visit your site it’s mostly with the curiosity of reading the latest outrageous thing you’ve said or done(the latest being this Df -vs D4 ‘test’) rather than for trustworthy information.

        I don’t know why it is, but it seems to me that you feel a need to make absolute and earth-shattering statements with most everything you write; and frankly, that may be working against you because that same dogmatism comes back to bite you in the form of contradictions.

        Case in point: you and I, and a handful of others, disagreed about DX going away in the near future. In that article you clearly stated that DX didn’t stand a chance and would soon be swallowed up by FX. Yet, in parrallel articles you were touting mirrorless cameras as the ‘latest and greatest’ thing and some of these were using DX-sized sensors! Then, in a more recent blog you write about the future of Nikon mirrorless and how it’s obvious that the best course is for Nikon to go with their EF mount with FX and….DX sensors! Duh!

        That’s a very good example of the way you approach your review articles and opinion-based posts: shoot now, ask questions later. Your writing seems more like ‘stream of thought’ excursions than well-thought out pieces and that doens’t sit well with an educated readership that’s probably been shooting twice as long as you have.

        (2) The second issue I have with this entire site is that it RARELY gives a bad review of anything. I recall when the D600 came out and one guy(forget his name) was one of the first, if not the first, to hit the dust issue. He said so and posted links to images that clearly showed dust specs. His efforts were largerly ignored and only after he and a few others pressured you did you finally say something about the dust issue(months after the release of the camera). Meanwhile, you were writing glowing reviews of the D600 and how we should all have one.

        That’s the “pimping” I referred to when I said that your site is geared toward attracting hits at all cost. I don’t recall many negative reviews on photographylife. Yeah, you talked about the Nikon d800 and d600 focus and dust issues, but c’mon, Nasim, you didn’t have a choice. You would lose ALL credibility if you didn’t point out those Nikon failures, because EVERYONE knew about them. You weren’t informing and reviewing, you were simply reacting after the fact.

        And that’s the part that I dislike the most about this site. Namely, your penchant for overhyping gear BEFORE you’ve had a chance to put it through its paces(Df a classi example of that). Like when you touted the Nikkor 24-120mm F4 as optically equivalent, if not better, than the 24-70 f2.8. Do you realize how many times your review was quoted as gospel and reason for people either buying the 24-120mm f4, or dumping the 24-70mm for the former? Your name became nearly synonymous with the Nikkor 24-120mm f4 across the net.

        Then….later on, after you had a chance to ‘put it through its paces’ you realized that the Nikkor 24-120mm wasn’t as good as the 24-70mm in “actual field tests”. WHAT????!!!!!

        If that is not an example of impetousness and trying to be the first to publish a review, then please tell me what is? It’s actually, irresponsible, Nasim. Sorry, I don’t say that out of any spite or hate, but it’s the truth. A trustworthy site about professional and ethusiast level photo gear needs to have reviewers that are patient and slow to shoot from the hip. Othewise you’ll find yourselves backtracking to cover your blunders.


        • Profile photo of Nasim Mansurov Nasim Mansurov
          December 23, 2013 at 12:40 am

          Derek, you have your facts completely wrong my friend.

          Let’s go through what you have brought up, one by one:
          1) The Nikon Df vs D4 test – I was wrong when I said that the cameras have EXACTLY the same sensor. Iliah proved me wrong and I admitted that. OK, they are not exactly the same, but the performance is very similar. For 99% of people, does it matter? No, it doesn’t. If you could see huge gaps in performance, then it would be a different story. Still, if I am wrong and sometimes that does happen (we are all humans), I am ready to admit my fault and fix my mistakes.
          2) The DX thing comes back somehow, although I have numerously explained it to you. When I referred to DX going away, I meant DX DSLRs, not DX as the sensor size. If I referred to a smaller sensor size, I would have said “APS-C”, not DX. Please re-read the article one more time right here and you will quickly understand from the very first sentence that you either forgot, or did not read the article and what I actually was trying to say. And in that same article I specifically highlighted the rise of the mirrorless market and my projection that they will be replacing DX/APS-C DSLR cameras. I have said it a number of times and I will repeat it again – small format DSLR cameras have no future when you can buy something smaller, lighter and cheaper. Sorry, but you are wrong here or you are simply failing to understand exactly what I am trying to say. As for Nikon moving to mirrorless, yes, it makes perfect sense to transition DX DSLRs to mirrorless cameras, for the same reasons stated above.
          2) Rarely bad review of anything? How long have you been reading this site? I gave a bad review to the Fuji X-Pro1 originally (which I re-wrote after the firmware update), Canon EOS M, then I have a bunch of reviews of lenses that I do not like (the 18-300mm is a good example of that). I could show you many more examples like this – just browse the site and have a better look please. In fact, this review was so bad that I had Drobo owners contact me and they tried to work with their engineering department to solve the problems I had (which were never resolved, as the product indeed performed very poorly). Also, keep in mind that most products out there have their strengths and weaknesses. I cannot call a product “crap” just because something about it was bad. Sometimes one bad experience is compensated by other positives. Take Micro Four Thirds cameras like the Olympus OM-D series. Their image quality is worse than their competition, but they have excellent build quality, very fast autofocus and a boatload of lenses. If I judged just on image quality, I would have dismissed the M4/3 format a while ago. The same story with the Nikon 1 system – poor image quality, but excellent autofocus and other features. So why should I label any of these as “bad”? If I don’t like something, I write about it in the review and try to reflect that in the summary section of the review.
          3) Regarding the Nikon D600 dust issue. I think your timeline is pretty off. Please find me a review on the Internet that talks about the D600 dust issue before October 4, 2012. I am pretty sure that you won’t find any, as I believe I was among the first to bring it to attention. In fact, my review was one of the reasons why many other sites started looking at the D600 dust issue more seriously and I have a boatload of backlinks to prove that. And yes, I did write a good review of the D600, because the camera is in fact EXCELLENT (I own one and I love it). Yes, the dust issue is a real PITA for many beginners out there, but it does not bother me personally, as I am used to cleaning sensors all the time. And please, before you accuse me of “reacting after the fact” and “pimping”, do the research and give me facts. I would appreciate that a lot more.
          4) Regarding the Nikon D800 autofocus issues, again, your timeline is really off. While I cannot say that I was the first to report about the AF issue on the D800, I was certainly not the last just to keep my “credibility”. I wrote detailed articles about this and a number of different articles on how to address the issue. Compare that to DPReview, which never wrote a single word about the AF issue on their site. We covered this in great detail, much more than any other site on the Internet did. Just compare the number of articles regarding the D800 AF issue on this site to all others. Because of this, I have been accused of over-exaggerating and over-reacting to the issue by many others. Is the D800 a bad DSLR? Heck no – it is the best high-resolution DSLR on the market. But just like the D600, it had its serious issues that had to be discussed.
          5) Regarding the 24-120mm f/4 lens, again you are wrong brother! Please please please do not just make things up, I really beg you! I NEVER, EVER said that the 24-70mm was better than the 24-120mm optically! I simply couldn’t have, even after performing all the Imatest measurements. Please have a good read of this page of the 24-120mm review, specifically comments #335, 336 and 338 – that’s the exchange of comments between you and I. Looks like back then you had no problem understanding me. I don’t know what has turned you against me. I know you own a D600 and you had a boatload of problems with it, but I hope you don’t blame my review for all those problems you have experienced? Was Nikon finally able to take care of the problems for you? The Nikkor 24-120mm is an amazing lens. If it had the same build quality as the 24-70mm, I would have dumped mine a long time ago. The only reason to use the 24-70mm over the 24-120mm is for better/pro build. In all other ways it loses to the 24-120mm, especially if you factor in corner performance, less field curvature, VR and less bulk/weight. I have never changed my opinion regarding this.
          6) Trying to be the first to publish a review? Again, please take another look at your timeline. My reviews are always late – I rarely ever publish reviews faster than others for two reasons: a) I like to spend 30+ days with gear before I write a review, so that I can collect information about it and understand it fully and b) I hate publishing reviews without good image samples to showcase its abilities and it is just impossible to take good pictures in a very short period of time. I never rush with my reviews, because I want to write in-depth reviews that cover most aspects. That’s why they take forever to write. The exception is the D610 review, which I mostly re-labeled from the D600 review – but that’s because the D610 is basically the same camera as the D600!

          Derek, I think you should take it easy with me and really go back and try to understand what it is that made you dislike me so much. Perhaps at some point you confused me with someone else? I don’t know what else to say to you, because every time when I point out the facts, you keep coming back and pointing them out right at me again in a different form? That’s the only reason why I wanted to meet with you face to face – I thought perhaps I could explain some things better this way?

          Happy holidays to you and your family.


    • 21.2) iliah Borg
      December 11, 2013 at 4:41 pm

      Dear Derek,

      Doing lab work in a darkroom for 40 years, I can question every single test (my own tests in the first place), and every single opinion – and of course, every opinion is questionable by definition – if I do understand the word “opinion” correctly ;)

      It was not my intention to start a war.

      I simply suggested that there is a technical difference between sensors and in the pipelines, however I never went into suggesting meaningful photographic difference, because I have not shot enough with Df to judge, to start with. I’m slow :)

      I truly hope we had a useful discussion.

  22. 22) Tom C
    December 11, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    Thanks Derek.

    Hopefully I’m not being overly critical and accusatory, Recognizing we’re all prone to make mistakes of this nature occasionally, it’s good to reflect on the concept of intellectual honesty from time to time.

    I think the Df, D4, etc., comparison blogs and follow-up comments, violated some of these concepts, particularly #4 and #9. Not deliberately possibly, but due to enthusiasm, bias, and yes, probably a bid of pride we all possess.

    Something to consider.


    • December 11, 2013 at 3:47 pm

      Tom, not at all. These discussions help me understand what not to do going forward and try to understand the reaction of our readers to the posted content. And it helps me improve. In the case of the Df, I now know that I either should not have included the D4 samples, or should have somehow made it more clear that the comparison was between the D4 and other cameras, not the Df. Duly noted :)

      Thanks once again and have a great week!

  23. 23) Tom C
    December 11, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    Hi Nasim,

    I don’t want this to turn into quibbling.

    The titles of your blogs indicated it was a Df comparison, even though in the blogs you stated a D4 was used. I’m not accusing you of deliberately misleading because you obviously did acknowledge a D4 was used as opposed to a Df. At first blush however, one would think a Df had been used in the comparisons. Unfortunately it has the feel of a bait and switch. Readers clicked on the links EXPECTING to find information about the Df but instead it was the D4. Waiting until a Df was in hand to post a blog with that title would surely have been better. If it was titled, “What can we expect of the Df? If it’s like the D4…”, well then we probably wouldn’t be having these discussions or the ones that occurred earlier in November.

    Respectfully, you assumed you knew more than Iliah on the subject of RAW noise processing up until the point he told you he worked in the field, and gave much information probably none of us knew.

    It’s all OK. I needn’t harp anymore on the subject.


    • December 11, 2013 at 2:42 pm

      Tom, thank you for clarifying. I will surely be much more careful about how I express things on the site. I am very sorry that it sounded like bait and switch – it was certainly not my intent. I thought I provided valuable information to our readers, but I failed to see the other negative side that you have clearly expressed.

      In regards to Iliah, please understand that I get so many different comments from people with different backgrounds. And many of them often lack the knowledge or experience in the field to understand some of the technicalities. My initial reaction was based on that, until I saw that I was talking to someone who is a real expert in the field. I am no imaging sensor expert, far from it. In fact, my knowledge is pretty limited when it comes to ADC, CFA, pipeline, RAW demosaicing and other parts of camera sensor engineering and image processing. There is a lot to learn for sure and every day, I feel like I am just starting out!

  24. 24) Tom C
    December 11, 2013 at 2:52 pm

    You’re welcome Nasim.

    I understand your points as well.

    It’s true none of us know it all and hopefully we learn something every day we live. If we don’t we’re either not trying or dead. :)


    • December 11, 2013 at 3:49 pm

      Tom, hopefully not dead :)

      Have a great week and happy holidays to you and your family!

  25. 25) Nate G.
    December 17, 2013 at 3:57 pm

    How about the image fidelity of this camera? Is it on a par with a D4?

  26. 26) Dave Breyfogle
    May 8, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    I recently purchased a DF (a little over 90 days ago) I had less than 200 images shot with this camera when I had a total component failure. I was making a twighlight exposure when I got an ERR failure. After making sure that I had the camera set properly I was unable to clear this error. I made a phone call to the Nikon help desk and they were unable to talk me through any kind of fix. The real problem was a component faiure, at this time Nikon has repaired the problem but was unable to tell me what the real problem or failure was, I suppose that will come later. I really wante3d this body to be replaced with a new one, but of course that is not Nikons policy. Now it seems that I am saddeled with a body that may fail again. I will say that Nikon did expidite the repair proccess because I was a very squeaky wheel, but on the other hand this is not the Nikon reliability that I have come to know over the past 50 years. Critical failures such as this should not happen within 3 months of purchasing an almost $3000. camera body. In any case I wanted to post this for anyone considering this camera model.

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