I know that I flip flop on cameras like a politician flip flops on legislation, but I always go between two different camera systems. I’m either on Nikon full frame or Fuji. My goal has always been to have both a Nikon and a Fuji so I won’t have to switch camera systems. I could just have the best of both worlds. But photography is a hobby for me and not a career, so I can only have one at a time for now.
So I recently sold my X100V because I just couldn’t get used to a 35mm field of view. I ended up going with a camera that I always wanted to get, but never dove in to. The Nikon Df.
The Nikon Df was such a controversial camera when it was released. The pitch from Nikon was that this was a camera for pure photography. They wanted you to slow down and focus on taking photos. Very similar to Fuji’s pitch with the X-Pro3. Pure photography. Most people that use DSLRs did not like it. They don’t care about slowing down when they take photos, they just want to take the photo as fast and efficiently as possible. That makes sense. But I’m totally fine with slowing down.
So here’s the reasons why I chose to go with the Df.
The body of the Df is very similar to a Fuji X-T3/4 camera, but a bit bigger. It almost looks much older too. It really looks like a film camera more so than a Fuji. I think it more has to do with the size and textures of the camera. It really reminds me of my old Nikkormat film camera that I started taking photos on.
The body is just beautiful. I love it. Yes, it’s a bit hipster-ish, but I like it. I’m a bit hipster-ish. I like when my cameras look good. This does. I have the silver version. I was able to grab a used version that came with the 50mm f1.8G Special Edition. They made this lens especially for this camera. It’s just their standard 50 1.8G, but with a special design that fits more with the design aesthetic of the camera.
The dials are not as easy to turn as a Fuji, but they still are easy to work. The ISO dial is the hardest to turn. You have to push down a button and then turn the dial. It really makes you slow down. If you want to snap off photos quickly, this is definitely not your camera.
The screen is pretty good and the viewfinder is excellent. It’s obviously not an EVF, but optical viewfinders are still quite nice. And thankfully, the shutter is not as loud as other DSLRs. That was one of the big selling points for me.
Here’s the main reason I got this camera: the sensor. This camera carries the same sensor from the D4. So it has a sensor from a $6,000 camera. It was a legendary 16 megapixel sensor that was just a low-light monster. Look at the example below at 12,800 ISO.
Insane. I’m a huge fan of 16 megapixels. I think it’s a sweet spot. The color on this sensor is amazing too. I love the way it renders colors. Here’s a few photos below that are nearly untouched outside of exposure.
So good. I love those colors. It’s really a legendary sensor. I’m very excited to play around with it. And, of course, it’s full frame. Having that extra large sensor to get the creamy background blur even from just a 1.8 lens.
One of the advantages of Canon and Nikon is that you have so many lenses to choose from since they have been around for a long time. You can buy some older lenses used for dirt cheap. One lens I loved when I had my D800 was the 24-120mm F4 VR lens on Nikon. I bought it used for $650-ish and it was around $1000 new. I can grab it for around $300 now, used. That’s insane.
That lens brings me to my second favorite thing about full frame. F4 on a full frame lens is around F2.6 on Fuji as far as equivalent background blur is concerned. So I can grab a 24-120 lens that has a constant aperture that creates a greater amount of background blur than Fuji’s $1,000 16-55 F2.8. Now, of course, background blur isn’t everything and Fuji’s lenses are absolutely top notch and have amazing sharpness and character.
If I was doing a TL;DR for why I got the Df it would be this:
I wanted to go back to full frame, but didn’t want a huge body. I love this body, the sensor, and the lenses. I like that the shutter isn’t as loud as any other Nikon DSLR and I love the low light ability.
We will see if this is a camera I keep for a while, but I think it will be. The only downsides to this camera is that it’s not great at focusing in low light at all. Focusing in general is good enough for me. But using this is really making me want to get another DSLR. It’s so weird, there’s just something I like about DSLRs. They are very, very ergonomic. They feel great to hold and use. It’s making me look at the D780 for some reason, but that’s just dreaming.
I really love the camera so far. This sensor is really something special. It’s very non-threatening to other people and it allows me to grab the photo I want. It’s a harder camera to sell too, so I may be stuck with it for a while which is a good thing. I’ll make a post of how I feel after a month or so with it. Maybe this quarantine will start to lift and we will begin going back to a normal life or a new normal life.