Only just over a week ago I had a quick look at the Nikon Df at the Photography Show in Birmingham. I wasn't particularly serious about it, simply curious to see how it felt in the hand and its performance. For some time now, I've toyed with the idea of trying out an alternative to my Fuji cameras and lenses. I've always been quite a fan of Fuji, but there are frustrations. I find the focussing a bit hit and miss even now having used them for almost 5 years, I also really don't like the RAW files. I'm not a fan of the Fuji film simulations for JPG and I just struggle to get the RAW file processed as I want.

So, having come back from the Photography Show I was pretty excited at what I'd seen and decided there and then I wanted a Df to try.  I sat and read a few online reviews of the Df and was a little disappointed at what I read.  No one seemed to like it very much and it very much seemed like Nikons black sheep, or lost sheep.  However, speaking to a couple of people who had them they re-affirmed my thinking and that was when you shoot with one you'll understand what the fuss is about.

So I set about selling my X100T and a couple of other bits and managed to find a very good quality second hand Df along with the 50mm f/1.8 lens, perfect.  If only it was Silver, but hey, can't have everything.

My first random photo from the Nikon Df

My first random photo from the Nikon Df

I'm not going to bang on here about the specs and performance of the Df subject to say that the 16MP sensor from the D4 the Df uses is amazing and the AF is more than adequate. It's easily on a par with my X-Pro2, even if it may not be quite as quick as more high end DSLR's Nikon may offer.  So far I've shot a couple of hundred frames through the Df and each time I use it and then look at the photographs I smile. They appear to be what I want and Lightroom handles them easily.

Size wise it's bigger than the X-Pro2 I have, not much heavier but the addition of the 50mm lens soon bulks it up.  In fact, I'd say the additional bulk is useful as it helps to stabilise the camera for me at lower shutter speeds. I actually quite like the feel of it in the hand, it feels pretty solid too.

The workings of the Df, I'll admit I'm still getting to grips with, as with the Fuji cameras it's got external dials and wheels for aperture, shutter speed, ISO and exposure compensation. Where it is a little slower than the Fuji is in its operation. The ISO and shutter compensation dials for instance aren't particularly easy to operate, but no doubt this will come in time.  Auto ISO is very good and can be linked to a minimum shutter speed dependent on the lens you have attached - something I believe Fuji will be adding to the X-Pro2 soon. 

Aperture is adjusted from a dial on the front of the camera and this falls nicely to hand although I keep going to the lens to change aperture setting as per Fuji lenses!  Being a DSLR there is no EVF so what you see isn't what you get, it's more a case of keeping your eyes on the meter in the big bright viewfinder and making sure all is good. Again I'm not over bothered by this, I often found the EVF on my Fuji cameras didn't quite give me what I wanted at times anyway.

Focussing is more limited than the Fuji, but is quick and accurate.  I have to say I don't think I've missed focus on many occasions with it yet, or have had many of those occasions where the camera has decided that the background is more worthy of focus than the foreground subject I'm wanting to take a photograph of!  There is however, only 13 AF points, which is more limiting, but workable.

In truth, I'm quite surprised just how much I like the Df. It's the perfect size for a DSLR and being full frame the quality of the image is outstanding.  I have yet to try other lenses, but I'm working on getting a 35mm f/1.8 to try and I think an 85mm f/1.8 would initially round out my needs.  I've yet to use the Df under pressure and the plan is to keep the X-Pro2 and lenses until I've worked harder with the Df and I'm sure it does all I want.  

However, I'd be lying if I didn't say the temptation to sell up the Fuji kit and go all in with the Nikon is playing on my mind.  Step change is always good and this could prove to become a very interesting move for me.  YMMV of course.

 

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