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Nikon Df Review

After the shock that Nikon gave us a few teaser videos in the lead-up to its announcement, perhaps the most surprising thing about the Df is that Nikon has opted for a 16.2 million-pixel FX (full-frame) CMOS sensor. This comes after the shock that Nikon treated us to a few teaser videos in the lead-up to its announcement.

It’s possible that some people had their hopes set on a sensor with 24.3 megapixels, similar to the Nikon D610, or a sensor with 36.3 megapixels, similar to the Nikon D800, but Nikon has decided to employ the same sensor as in the Nikon D4.

The photosites on a 16-megapixel sensor, on the other hand, are larger, so they take in more light and produce a stronger signal, both of which require less amplification than a lower-resolution sensor would. This is one advantage of going with a 16-megapixel sensor. As a direct consequence of this, less noise is produced, which results in images that are clearer.

Nikon Df Build Quality

The Df is substantially more compact than the D4, despite the fact that it is very hefty. It has a more angular design that is claimed to be based on the FM2 and is around the same size as the D610.

It is rather unfortunate that the Df was released at the same time as the Sony A7 and A7R, both of which feature full-frame sensors but are substantially smaller than the Df’s sensor. Nevertheless, despite the fact that these cameras have a vintage appearance and control structure, they are tiny system cameras, which means that they do not have a mirror and instead use an electronic viewfinder.

Even while it is obvious that the Nikon Df is related to earlier models of Nikon SLR cameras, the camera’s use of contemporary materials and subtle design details reveal that it is a more recent model. It has a fantastically classic look while also being weather protected to the same level as the Nikon D800. However, it is necessary to point out that the faux-leather covering on the pentaprism housing gives off an unprofessional and perhaps inexpensive appearance.

Nikon wants the experience of using the Df to be as meaningful and pleasurable as the photographs it produces. The dials on the top plate let the user make adjustments to important variables such as the shutter speed, sensitivity, and exposure compensation. The shutter speed dial, on the other hand, features a 1/3 Step option that, when activated, gives users the ability to alter shutter speed by using the rear command dial that is located above the thumb rest.

Before either of the dials may be rotated, you are required to first click a locking button that is located in the middle of the exposure compensation dial. In a similar fashion, there is a lock button located on the side of the sensitivity dial, which may be found below the exposure compensation dial.

You will quickly become used to utilizing them, despite the fact that at first, they may appear to be fussy. However, the little exposure mode dial, which is labeled with the letters M, A, S, and P, can be difficult to operate since it needs to be elevated before it can be rotated, and it is difficult to grip, especially when one’s fingers are cold.

Additionally, there is a lock button located in the middle of the shutter speed dial on the right side of the top plate. However, this button is inactive unless the control is turned to either the 1/3, X, or T positions.

Even though the dial may freely revolve when it is set to one of the shutter speeds or B (Bulb), it remains in place rather well and is not easily knocked out of position. Even though it does not have a lock, we discovered that the drive mode dial, which is located below the dial that controls the shutter speed, tends to keep its position very well.

Nikon Df Performance

It was always a reasonably safe bet that Nikon’s top-of-the-line digital single-lens reflex camera, the D4, would be a solid performance, and it doesn’t fail in that regard. The Df has the same sensor and image processor as the D4. The images show a good level of detail, and the noise has been very effectively reduced.

According to the results of our tests, the JPEGs that are produced by the Df have noise levels that are comparable to those produced by the D4, whereas the raw files that are produced by the Df (after being converted to TIFF using Nikon’s Capture NX) have a lower signal to noise ratio, which indicates that there is more visible noise. However, the Df is also able to capture more detail in both file types when set to a higher sensitivity setting than it normally would.

Even when the sensitivity is pushed to ISO 12,800, noise is managed exceptionally well, and images taken at ISO 25,600 are fairly respectable, with some even looking acceptable when enlarged to A3 size.

However, we recommend exercising extreme caution when increasing the ISO above this point because doing so causes noise to become more noticeable, and certain regions of photographs shot at ISO 102,400 and 204,800 exhibits some banding and have a magenta tint.

These settings go beyond the natural sensitivity range, which suggests that Nikon isn’t totally pleased with the quality of its images. It is recommended that you only use them in extreme circumstances.

When time permits, live view offers the optimum view for manual focusing since the magnified view makes it possible to position the focus point with a high degree of accuracy. As was to be expected, the live view autofocusing technology of the Df is not the camera’s strongest suit.

When the light levels are high, it moves very quickly, but when they are low, it becomes rather sluggish and unsure of itself. However, we have a sneaking suspicion that very few users of the Df will be bothered about this because they are more likely to frame their shots using the viewfinder or to focus manually when using the live view mode.

When we tested the 39-point Multi-CAM 4800 AF module of the Df, we found that it performed exceptionally well when paired with the appropriate lens. Subjects are brought rapidly into crisp focus even in very low light when an optic such as the excellent AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II is in place, and the camera can track them across the frame.

However, if you change to a lens with a focal length of AF Nikkor 20mm f/2.8 D or a lens with a focal length that is comparable to this one, you will notice that things slow down a little bit, particularly if the peripheral linear (Non-cross-type) points are employed.

Nikon Df Image Quality

It combines an outstanding sensor with a well-worked-out JPEG engine, which means that it can be relied on to capture exceptionally great photographs. Image quality is the Df’s strong point. The dynamic range is excellent, particularly when it is used at low ISO, but the performance at high ISO is currently unrivaled.

The image quality of the Df is identical to that of the company’s flagship D4, which makes it one of the most versatile cameras now available. Having said that, its benefit over other modern full-frame cameras is rather slight, and some users may discover that they’d rather tolerate a small loss in high ISO performance for the extra flexibility that might be brought about by a higher pixel count.

Nikon Df Specs

Body typeMid-size SLR
Body materialMagnesium alloy
Max resolution4928 x 3280
Other resolutionsFX: 3696 x 2456, 2464 x 1640; DX crop: 3200 x 2128, 2400 x 1592, 1600 x 1064
Image ratio w:h3:2
Effective pixels16 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors17 megapixels
Sensor sizeFull frame (36 x 23.9 mm)
Sensor typeCMOS
ProcessorExpeed 3
Color spacesRGB, AdobeRGB
Color filter arrayPrimary color filter
ISOAuto, 100 – 12800
Boosted ISO (minimum)50
Boosted ISO (maximum)204800
White balance presets12
Custom white balanceYes (4 spots)
Image stabilizationNo
Uncompressed formatRAW + TIFF
JPEG quality levelsFine, normal, basic
File formatJPEG (EXIF 2.3)RAW (NEF)TIFF
Optics & Focus
AutofocusContrast Detect (sensor)Phase DetectMulti-areaCenterSelective single-pointTrackingSingleContinuousFace DetectionLive View
Autofocus assist lampNo
Number of focus points39
Lens mountNikon F
Focal length multiplier
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCDFixed
Screen size3.2″
Screen dots921,000
Touch screenNo
Screen typeTFT-LCD
Live viewYes
Viewfinder typeOptical (pentaprism)
Viewfinder coverage100%
Viewfinder magnification0.7×
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed30 sec
Maximum shutter speed1/4000 sec
Exposure modesProgram AutoShutter PriorityAperture PriorityManual
Built-in flashNo
External flashYes (via hot shoe or PC sync)
Flash modesAuto FP High-speed sync, front-curtain sync, rear-curtain sync, redeye reduction,
Flash X sync speed1/250 sec
Drive modesSingle-frameContinuous highContinuous lowMirror-upQuiet shutterSelf-timer
Continuous drive5.5 fps
Self-timerYes (2, 5, 10, or 20 secs)
Metering modesMultiCenter-weightedSpot
Exposure compensation±3 (at 1/3 EV steps)
AE Bracketing±3 (2, 3, 5 frames at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV, 2 EV steps)
WB BracketingYes (2 or 3 shots in 1/3 or 1/2-stop intervals)
Videography features
Storage typesSD/SDHC/SDXC card
USBUSB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMIYes (mini-HDMI)
Wireless notesvia WU-1a wireless mobile adapter
Remote controlYes (Cable release, wireless remote)
Environmentally sealedYes
BatteryBattery Pack
Battery descriptionEN-EL14/EN-EL14a lithium-ion battery and charger
Battery Life (CIPA)1400
Weight (inc. batteries)760 g (1.68 lb / 26.81 oz)
Dimensions144 x 110 x 67 mm (5.67 x 4.33 x 2.64″)
Other features
Orientation sensorYes
Timelapse recordingNo
GPS notesvia GP-1 or GP-1A adapter

Final Verdict

After years of rumors and speculation that Nikon will introduce a full-frame camera with a classic design, in addition to Nikon’s own teaser campaign in the lead-up to its unveiling, the Df has understandably been met with a fair amount of enthusiasm.

In spite of the fact that its sensor “only” has 16 megapixels, the Df has exceptional performance in low light, which may easily make up for this shortcoming. It might not be able to resolve as much information as the Nikon D800, which has 36 million pixels, but it can be utilized in almost completely dark settings and still produce pictures that are extremely acceptable.

Many professional photographers who use the D4 have found that a pixel count of 16 million is sufficient for their needs. In addition, this pixel count has the added benefit of producing images that require significantly less space on a hard drive and less processing power from a computer when they are being edited.

Nikon Df Pros & Cons

Good For
  • JPEG photographs of high quality and a pleasing color palette when left on their preset settings.
  • Superior intelligence both in bright and dim light
  • A satisfying combination of modern and more conventional controls
  • Compatible with the vast majority of Nikon F-mount lenses ever produced.
Need Improvements
  • AF array with a limited region of coverage
  • The fastest shutter speed possible is 1/4000 of a second.
  • The usage of materials in an inconsistent manner diminishes the overall perception of quality.
  • It is inconvenient to lock the exposure and compensation dial (especially with large lenses)

Advantages Timeless design


Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
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After the shock that Nikon gave us a few teaser videos in the lead-up to its announcement, perhaps the most surprising thing about the Df is that Nikon has opted for a 16.2 million-pixel FX (full-frame) CMOS sensor. This comes after the shock that...Nikon Df Review
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