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Monday, 06 January 2014


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The D600's sensor is fantastic and has better DR in good light, and it already comes in a small, inexpensive body. That would make more sense, to me, if I was a Nikon shooter.

Mike, you seem to be describing the feeling that kept you away from the Olympus E-M5. Listen to the little devil whispering in your left ear and go for it this time. However pastiche the Df may look, it's much more handsome than those molten tar blocks they call 'DSLRs'. And I have no doubt it is a hell of a great camera - a smaller and lighter D4, no less!

I don`t understand the hype over the new oldschool Nikon.I had to work with the horrible Nikon F4 Frankenstein camera after the truly wonderful F3 with HP-prism in the film era.
Thats was then on now we have EVFs and realtime histograms. Awesome,no polaroid-backs to check exposure etc. old fart stuff.
Nikon is riding with the nostalgia card when walking to the bank...

Mike - I hear you. I also hear that the Df has a terrible problem -- at times it can show one shutter speed on the dial when it is actually in some auto mode at a different shutter speed. Sounds awful. Bet it would take me half an hour on the first day of shooting to get used to that. All that just for the sensor I've always wanted in a smaller, less expensive package. No way! Plus, all those internet experts would laugh at me if I said I was using a Df.

This seems an oddly impractical craving, given your previously expressed distaste for watching a newly purchased, expensive camera depreciate month-by-month. How would you feel if, six months from now, the Df was selling for hundreds less than what you paid for it? If you're the sort of guy who doesn't shoot very often it would be hard to chalk that money up as "opportunity cost."

OTOH, if this is a purely emotional craving ("I deserve it," etc.) then go for it. It's your money. Spend it on what makes you happy (or less angst-ridden). Practically anything you get will do a fine job these days.

The cold has got to your head!

Don't do it.

The primary appeal of the D4 sensor is...what exactly? High ISO performance? Thom Hogan generally prefers the D800 sensor to the D4 sensor up to somewhere around ISO 6400. And the D800 sensor generally has greater dynamic range.

Given the above and that you already have a D800, you should take care not to over-romanticize the large sensor, limited pixel count paradigm...

Lucky for you then that Nikon just announced a new 35mm, f/1.8 lens, FX lens.

Oh well, the joys of knobs and dials. I can understand it - despite the current digital foundations, photography is overwhelmingly in the analogous realm (as the human body's interface elements are).

Of course we all have learnt to deal with figures and menus, have learnt to ignore unnecessary options (movie? what for would I need a dedicated movie button?), but hardware elements with a visual and tactile feedback are better. Those so-called smart phones at least offer sliders for some settings, but not because the engineers wanted to do us some good, but because it's simpler to understand and cheap to implement on those largish screens.

(Did I read Curmudgeon-in-Training in the recent posts list? I have to head over there...)

You know in a movie when a guy says something and every other person's head snaps around to look at them, ....pause.... and the guy says 'Wait, did I just say that out loud?"
Like that.
You might want to read Thom Hogan, your D800 is far superior to a Df. The D800 works beautifully at ISO 1600 or 3200 if you need such things, the Df gives you another stop (for your surveillance work or indoor highschool gymnastics) with inferior focusing and viewing.

This is a real head scratcher if pictures are the goal ??
Maybe you just didn't mean to say it out loud ; -))
OR, maybe you did and it's an antidote to a slow news day ; -)
I'm sure that will work.

So much this! The sensor has me drooling ever since Thom Hogan stated that it still did the D3s sensor one better while getting the pixel count up by a quarter. But the D4 is not attainable.. So what if the D800e is the best camera ever.

Really, I dutifully put in five years on my D80 (remember that one?) before buying a D7000. I know restraint. I can exercise it, too. But SO MUCH WANT!


"Digital cameras are to photographers as catnip is to cats"

I just knew it, I'm not a photographer, at least by this criteria.

It's odd that camera makers are having a difficult time.


Step away from the credit card!

Don't do it. Just say no.

You know its a drug (of sorts).


When I bought my D800 the first minute they were released, I uncharacteristically did not sell my D700. I thought it would be handy as a backup in case of D800 repair downtime, and I've always thought I'd use a second body to avoid lens swapping. (I haven't really used the D700 for either, but it's too beat up to get me much cash for resale anyway.)

But I'm constantly annoyed that the D700 isn't a smaller and lighter body than the much higher resolution D800, nor is it better in low light. In fact there doesn't seem to be any advantage to picking up the old D700 at all if the D800 is available. So the old, trusty D700 mostly gathers dust.

Have you had the df in your hands yet? I simply held one for a minute or two and my first impression was that it felt cheap. You have an em-1 as do I. It feels solid and well built. The df didn't (at least to me).

And why no video? I didn't get the need for video until I had grandchildren. The em-1 takes pedestrian video, but I'm a pedestrian videographer. What would it have cost Nikon to add it? Just about nothing. The Fuli x pro-1 has video. It feels plenty substantial by the way.

As for using the em-1 with gloves... I doubt it'll be very easy. That's why I live in California.

If Nikon put that D4 sensor in a D700 body and priced it at $1600 I would but two - tomorrow. But since they will not, I am probably giving up on Nikon. Have you held a Df yet?

[No, and haven't seen one either. --Mike]

I dont think (i haven't tested either) that there is any way the nikon Df will produce better images then the d800. D800 sharpness will always be better and if its a certain tonality or color you are looking for then have a play around with the raw files or some custom profiles and I am sure you can get there. If it is a lighter arm curl your looking for as you lift the camera to your eye then don't be a sissy (he said jokingly ) and remember the Medium format days. To sum up the D800 is a great camera and worthy of its price tag, the Df is not (worthy of the price, it might be a nice camera to some) I would sell your A900 and invest in the sony A7, half the price and you would have best of both worlds.

I can't help feeling that, not for the first time, the marketing department did this camera a grave disservice in the way they went about promoting it prior to release. All they had to do was to trumpet the presence of the D4 sensor in a compact, lightweight and (more) affordable body, and it would have been well received by one and all, without controversy or rancour.
Instead, they had to get all "creative" with a, let's be kind and call it disingenuous, teaser campaign which disappointed many.
It's as if the only important thing is to create a buzz around the product regardless of how negative some of it might be.
All publicity is not necessarily good publicity if it leaves people feeling misled.
The Nikon DF is a superb camera on it's own merits - but it is no more a digital FM2 than the Leica X-Vario is a "mini-M"

Yes to the D700II ! No to the DF. My new A7 is pretty darn good and I'm glad I bought it, contrary to your COY pick :) ( and many others choices as well). But I'm of an an age that a "camera" needs a little more heft. So bring on the D700II ! or maybe I should just weld some heavy steel plate to the A7?

Mike, you may have seen this already.
If not it's a bit of fun, not to be taken too seriously.

Good luck deciding what to do. However, having owned my D200 for 8 years I think it very unlikely that any new Nikon will satisfy any of the long-time D700 or D300 owners. Like me, they have a particular idea of what they want but have to come to terms with the fact that all cameras have compromises. I think this explains much of the anger/disappointment from both camps regarding the Df.
Me? I bought a Df and love using it. The improvements cameras have made in the last 8 years is astonishing.

Hi Mike,

Yesterday I've seen a Df for the first time in a store. I tought it would be smaller, it's not so different from a regular sized full-frame dSLR. And seemed huge compared to the Sony A7 that was on it's side.

Regarding the switch, I've recently "chase a rainbow": just sold all my Canon 5D MkII gear and bougth a Fuji X-Pro1 plus the Fujinon 35/1.4 (wich is a stellar lens by the way).

My rational side is still in shock by this switch while my irrational side is having a blast using the Fuji (something that didn't happen with the Canon).

By the way, weren't you over full-frame?

Funny - I have a D800 which works with all the calm efficiency of a supercharged Hummer, but when I want something with knobs on I have my lovely light Fuji, that does the retro gig and makes it work. If only I could afford the new 56 F1.2 (announced today).

So even though I love retro cameras, I don't want this one. It's too half-hearted. It's a bit like one of those auto-boxes that pretends to be a manual but doesn't have a clutch. Or like playing rugby with a helmet on ;-)

........Hey Mike,

I don't want to put anybody off checking out new gear, but as I have said many time on this spot: when it is tough times and I have to bring home the bacon I pick up the D4 brick and head out....shoulder drooping and all, but come home with the job done. The brains in the D4 are damn fast, spot on and all I need is ice on the the neck when I get home. Love the Lumix GX7 when there is no stress.

Don't do it mate.

I went into the shop to hold it in my hands and compared it to a d610 and to my surprise I much preferred the d610! It felt like a really good camera to hold...and much easier to like than the Df. One thing that especially annoyed me was the Df's handgrip and shutter button configuration: the button is where it should be if there is no grip a la my FE2 but the Df HAS a grip, even if it's a sorry excuse for one, which meant my first two fingers were stretched far apart and began hurting immediately. Plus I felt a little overwhelmed by all the dials and buttons and sh!t. I personally would hate ever owning and having to use the Df (and at that price I'd be obligated to use it)

Not that I telling you what to do of course..

Concerning the looks... it looks to me like Lego designed it, and not only designed, but also built it from Lego blocks ;-)

Mike, I have sensed for quite some time that you never really bonded with your D800, almost as though you felt it was too good for you. That may or may not be the case, but I think that if you don't really like your camera, then you are less prone to get good photos with it. A camera has to feel good in your hands in order to get the most from it. So on that theory alone, I can understand your desire to "trade down" to the Nikon Df. The trouble is that you don't know whether that camera will be a better fit than the D800. I suggest getting one for review purposes and then deciding whether to make the switch.

Hi there, Oh hang on a sec....just need to slip my helmet and flame proof overalls on.... Ah that's better, all safe now.

Mike don't do it, this is nothing more than a cynical marketing exercise by Nikon! Lets be realistic, cameras like the F3s an FMs were designed to look and work the way they were because mechanically you could not do it any other way.

For the digital age, with the potential of EVFs, more ergonomic placement of controls, super high rez sensors etc why would we want to buy and use something like this.

Sure the sensor is clean at high ISOs, but really 16 megs....nothing to rave about, and nowhere near as croppable as 36 megs.

It won't make you a better photographer at all but this camera will quite likely limit you in ways you may not be happy with.

If we really want a piece of neck jewellery that looks like this, go to the camera cupboard and dig out an old F3 or FM2 etc and grab a roll of film from the fridge.

This camera is just so yesterday for no good reason and no real benefit other than to appeal to us Old Farts harking back to past glories or hipsters wanting instant cred.....I'm not buying it. If Nikon want to sell me a new camera they need to get innovative not introspective.

Ok off to take the suit off now.

Ah, the camera as catnip. The Sony a7 I'm looking at with an M-mount adapter and the MS-Optical 50mm Sonnetar that I removed (permanently?) from a Leica M (240) which definitely applies.

Every time I've thought about trading in my D800 for something smaller, I work on some D800 raw files and realize how the extra weight is very worth it. The Nikon 28mm f1.8 is pretty fantastic and not all that large, and I think that 35mm announced today will be perfect for much of my work.

My recommendation is to go out on the road for a couple days and bond with the D800. You will forget about the weight for the most part and realize how great of a camera it can be.

Did you ever notice that there are only a small handful of photos with distinct shadows in Pentti Sammallahti's "Here, Far Away"? The majority of the photos seem to have been taken in flat, diffuse light.

Oh. Wait a minute. We're supposed to be commenting about photo GEAR, not photoGRAPHS.

No comment on the Df. It seems like you've already come to your senses.

Mike, I had a similar temptation. Looking at the Df it kept saying, "buy me", "buy me". I really want that D4 sensor as I do a lot of low-light photography. But. But.... the Df has the wrong AF system to take full advantage of the sensor. It covers less of the screen than the AF in the D800 - or my old D300.

What gives here? A camera priced like a D800, with the low-light sensor instead of the landscape sensor, but with the lesser AF system! Why? My relatively cheap (compared to a Df) D7100 has the better AF system.

When I had a D300 and D7000 side by side to use, I realised that unless the AF is up to the best, the better sensor is useless. My D300 AF was superb; sensor merely okay. D7000 AF was, put politely, rubbish. Sensor, better than D300 - but if it won't consistently hit focus it'll be inferior to the lesser sensor that is consistently in focus. My experience with the D7100 is, AF nearly as good as D300, sensor better, so it's a keeper.

So, just as you've decided, the Df also won't be what I get. If Nikon want to put the better AF in a Df mk2, I'll buy it. Just as I thought Canon got it wrong with the Mk 1 and Mk 2 versions of the 5D - inferior AF - and got it right with the 5D mk 3 by including top AF.

I have a nice clean FM2 I would sell you instead, or just give to you for all the enjoyment and wisdom you've provided over the years. But to see a jewel like the a900 traded for this jackalope of a camera is too much!

You should read photoclubalpha's review of the Df. Kilpatrick does a compare-and-contrast with it and the beloved KM7D, and finds the latter the better.

As an F3/FM user, I admired the bold conservatism of the Df's concept. But what I missed about that classic generation was not the left-hand/top panel exp comp control. Awkward to reach, it was useless except as an overall bias for sensitivity, used like a trim tab for the ISO ring, it helped keep me working in manual while other cameras automated more effectively.

How can you beat two dials, assignable, at your thumb and forefinger, a la the a900? And look at that right strap lug. Do you miss the strap digging in between your fingers, always in the way? I don't.

Other operational errors. like the lone focusing screen, have already been harped upon.

I see that I'm late to your whim, which has already faded, but I couldn't resist my two cents. My a850 is perfect in so many ways that I've almost given up hope of finding a successor DSLR. I've bought four compacts since I got the a850, but nothing else. Of course, I'm not a camera reviewer, so I can enjoy the pleasures of sufficiency and satisfaction.

Funny, isn't it? I wasn't interested at all in the Df until I idly picked one up. Different strokes...

It should be pointed out, to those who complain about the price of the Df as being "high", that--adjusted for inflation--the price of the Df is substantially lower than that of the D700 at it's launch.

Kai's video nailed it. That's all that needs said. And I'm a Nikon guy!

Well, I thought the Nikon DF was just a slightly cynical exercise by Nikon's marketing department to part the baby boomers from their retirement cheques.

I still use my D200, have been while awaiting (to no avail) for the FF nikon to come down lower to a price i could consider, to halt the whispers of all that prime ais glass i have.
My X100S has reminded me of the joys of dials and aperture rings...

That DigitalRev video is really funny.
He did raise an intriging point towards the end . What if they had literaaly done a digital FM or probably more appropos, a digital FE, with no redundant buttons/menus, added in the back LCD (but no live view?), and its menu, and exp. comp dial?
That would have been interesting. Would that have sold?

No comments on the D800 vs the DF, I have a view but not relevant. the view I do consider relevant is the 35mm choice. I hope you have tried the Sigma 35mm 1.4 art lens in your considerations. In my view it's one of the best, if not the, best 35mm lenses ever produced. Sigma is on a roll with it's art series and is producing some of the best lenses ever at quite reasonable cost. I'm hoping they make a 24m 1.4 sooner rather than later in 2014. I will order one as soon as possible. If only they would make a 14mm fisheye 1.4, that would be a dream for what I do right now, at least for the next year or two.

Happy new year, more gear not necessarily needed but fun on the way while the gear purchased last year and in general lightly used goes on Craig's list or eBay :)

Jay, I for one would have probably sold my D800 in a heartbeat if Nikon would have built a digital FE/FM or F3. I prefer the larger viewfinder of the F3.

The biggest problem with the Df is that it's too cluttered and it still tries to be a fully automatic camera.

I think Nikon should start with the F3's exact dimensions as a maximum. They should integrate an LCD and menu navigation buttons. They should add *ONE* rotary encoder (engineering speak for control wheel) to the front or back to control the aperture setting for G lenses. They should automatically obey the aperture ring of any non-G lens. They should have a couple of fully programmable buttons for AF-ON/AE-L/AF-L etc.

They should have a way to set indicate auto program aperture (when in shutter priority) for non-G lenses. I think when a non-G lens is connected, the aperture wheel could just set auto or manual aperture instead of controlling aperture.

It should have an optional split prism or microprism focusing screen. It should have an metering method switch. It should work with every Nikon F mount ever made (including those needing a mirror lockup).

Like an F3 it should have an ISO wheel (with an auto setting *on the wheel*), a shutter speed wheel, and maybe an additional +/- 3 EV comp wheel.

It should not have:
a flash
a mode dial
a mode button
a movie/video mode

As for which sensor? Heck, I'd take a D3S or even a D700 sensor. But I think the 24MP D600 sensor would be a nice fit.

The key is, it has to be no bigger than an F3. Ideally an FE with an F3 viewfinder would be ideal.

If they make *that* then yes, I'll buy it. I promise.

I really really hated the Df. The price way too high, the philosophy pretentious, the marketing annoying, neither truly retro nor truly modern, and all but one or two of the usual bloggers, playing to the same audience, panned it. Would stick with the D800e.

And then. I picked it up. I used it. I used it more. Where I was reaching for the wonderful GX7 instead of the D800e, I now found myself reaching for the Df.

I now use the GX7 and the D800e less and less. I hate myself for buying and becoming more enamored with the Df. I use my AIS 28/2.8 and 105/2.5 and 40p. I look for excuses to pick up and go out with the Df.

Forget whether it is retro or not, or pandering or not, or overpriced (and it is), or a cynical parts bin bid. Most of all, forget the interweb noise and the self-proclaimed bloggers (present company excepted) who seek to proclaim what is acceptable.

Approach this thing just as what it is, not what it is not. I hate it because it is now my go-to axe.

(ISO knob setting different from auto-ISO? The instructions in 5 minutes clear that up, as the knob actually becomes the lower or higher ISO limit, and it's extremely logical. And you can see the actual ISO in the finder anyway).

I'd go with you basic instincts if you find the design construct of the Df attractive, as I do. Even though it is basically just a tool, how one feels about the tool one is working with inevitably influences the results one achieves. The Df with the tweaked D4 sensor combined with a compelling choice of lenses is obviously capable of producing stellar images. All the other niggles and incredible emotion generated by this camera are ultimately irrelevant if the design works for you and the end result is the best work one is capable of.

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