Nikon Df / SHOOTING REPORT
With its "camera-like" appearance, the Nikon Df became a big topic for photo enthusiasts. The Df realized more direct operation by installing dials on the top cover. The body has been compactified as much as possible by reducing the power elements (such as continuous shooting speed) that may be unnecessary for general purpose. Also, while other Nikon digital bodies take post-Ai lenses, it takes pre-Ai Nikkor lenses as well. So, this is the best body to trace the history of Nikon. The "f" of Df means "fusion" and it makes sense. The Df is like a stylish small car. Unlike exciting exotic cars with a thrilling power, it's always controllable in the palm. It's handy and design conscious. It fists so well to the hand and invites users to keep shooting. This camera can be defined as a little off from the consensus from of flagship cameras. After using, I found the Df isn't just a product of nostalgia.
After all, it's their everlasting F mount that gave a birth of this model. Until Nikon released their first body with a 35mm fullsize sensor, users were impatiently saying "they can't do it because the mount diameter is too small," or "the F mount already reached its limits." The Df is a result of their constant improvements by making breakthrough one after another. For example, power-saving technology is one of the key elements because battery size is a crucial element for body size. Although there're so many other supporting elements to realize the Df, I think it simply reflects what Nikon wanted to do. And, I'd just say it's truly fun to use this camera.
( Photography & Text : K )
I kept on mounting one lens to another.
Once the body is this compact and the dials realize direct operation, I want to mount single focal lenses. I grabbed my collection of the Nikkors, and kept mounting one lens after another screaming "Sweet! It looks great!" and this resulted in the last preview. Now, the chief editor asked me to use the current AF-lenses as well. But, I'm not a fanatic of MF lenses. For example, I choose a MF lens on the Nikon D4 only when I need the special depiction. Since the D4 is optimized for AF lenses, it's easy to control exposure with the command dials. And, the desire for faster AF, more accurate AE, and sharper depiction only accumulates. However, the Df also allows the traditional and direct way of operation, and I feel I'm using my fingers more to control exposure. That's why, I also want MF lenses because they let me turn the focus ring by the fingers. Plus, the MF lenses do suit the compact body. Is it stepping down or slowing down? I can't find a good word, but I think this is a camera to be used with a walking speed rather than charging one.
The Ai Nikkor 35mm f1.4S has a watery bokeh. The first shot on this article was also shot with this lens. We can still by it brand new! I bought mine about 10 years ago. I focused on the reed screen and wanted some ghost and flare to capture the quiet evening scene, but a person walked by unexpectedly and I released the shutter. With a MF lens, my approach shifts from the usual one. It's difficult to shoot quickly, so naturally I take time to shoot.
Sorry for so many seaside shots! This one was shot with the good old 43-86 zoom lens. While resolution in the center is great, the corners tend to flow. I was framing the man only, but a cat appeared on the bank. At first I was aiming for a horizontal shot because it works better for webpages. However, I was afraid of the highlight area on the right getting blurred. With this old lens, placing the men on the bottom left would make a melancholic and unconscious mood. So, I instantly switched to a vertical position. Old lenses are full of characters. In other words, you can say they are full of weak points. But, it makes me play with them and try to find a way to get the best from them. You could also post-adjust images on the PC to get similar results, but optical traits consist of many elements such as angles and hardness of available light. So, depiction is sometimes unpredictable. We could still simulate it, but it's easier using unique lenses. Of course, it's better using newest lenses to get the best results for serious assignments, but there should be fun way of shooting, too.
The 50mm F1.2 is a lens of character. You can still buy it brand new. In fact, I didn't focus on anything on this shot. After I focused on the picture frame, I intentionally out-focused from it. There're full of aberration! The traffic signal reflected on the window was red (I even waited for it), but I couldn't capture it because they switched to LED these days.
The 15mm F3.5. I'm knocked out just by the appearance. Unfortunately, it has already been discontinued. I bought this desperately when I was using films. Was it this sharp? I had an impression that it was looser, but it's very delicate and clear. As expected, the flagship sensor is different. ISO1600 is nothing but excellent as long as I don't shoot 4 steps under and raise at post-processing.
Now, how about sharper image? It's my favorite 20mm F2.8. You can get it brand new, too. It's very sharp wide open, but tonality is rich and contrast is high. Vignetting is significant, so you want to stop down by two steps if you don't like it. Color is somewhat quiet, so it's a best lens to capture hard light in the cities. I hadn't used it for a while, but the Df made me reconfirm that it's a great lens.
The kit lens 50mm F1.8 is a special version with its classic exterior design, keeping the same optics of the normal version. Personally, I like it better than the F1.4 because of its well-behaving depiction. This is a latest lens, so it's razor sharp while bokeh is smooth. As I mentioned in the preview, the character of the Df is well explained by their choice to include this compact lens for the lens kit.
This is the AF35mm F2D. Now, we have fewer D type lenses with aperture ring, but depiction is outstanding! It's clear and crisp, yet it picks up colors very well. This lens is a good example that demonstrates the advantages of a single focal lens. I looked straight down from the top of a roller slide, and shot. It's also due to the angle of light, but the picture is so solid and realistic.
The large aperture F2 brings large bokeh. You can get the F1.4 if you like more bokeh, but a reasonable lens with a modest F number looks beautiful on the small body.
This is another shot with the 50mm F1.8. I stopped down a bit and it's extremely sharp. It's very light and compact, so it's always good to own one. The body works just fine with the latest AF lenses but compact lenses match batter than large ones like a 24-70mm/F2.8. If you want a sub body of the D4, the Df is a nice candidate because you can use the Df for location while you can user the D4 in the studios. If you're using the D800 or the D610 and want to try the flagship sensor, the Df is an attractive choice, too.
This time, I shot with several MF lenses and two AF lenses with smaller apertures. All the time, I felt light. An AF lens would occupy one section of my camera bag, but I was able to put three MF lenses in the same space and I realized how small and light they are. AF lenses are still small unless they are zoom. I never want to regret that I didn't bring enough lenses after I gave up bringing. So, I appreciate I can bring many lenses with a variety of focal length.
This is the season when the shadow gets longer. Air also becomes clear and light becomes most beautiful in the year. Shot by the 85mm F1.8. Depiction is very clear and bokeh is graceful.
The soft and warm 50mm F1.2 again. A slight stop down changes depiction drastically. Nothing is better than being sharp wide open, but normally we don't shoot with a 50mm lens wide open unless it's dark. Of course, it's also fun to keep shooting wide open and hence, and an old lens is fun to use because it delivers different renderings depending on aperture.
An optimized camera. But, for what? The answer is inside of you.
As mentioned, they already have the D4 for their flagship line, but now they added another line of the Df. It focuses on pure photography (there's no movie function). It realizes both traditional and modern operation, while it accepts old and new lenses. This is nothing but “fusion.” Now, how would you understand and apply it? The answer is inside of you. To be a multi-purpose body, it has to be reliable and controllable during missions. And, this Nikon body does just that. The body balance is perfect and the viewfinder provides a great view. Oh, don't forget the shutter speed. I love it. It's rather quiet than the powerful D4. Of course, it's not silent, but it resembles no other cameras, It's never loud or distracting, but it's sharp and comfortable. Perhaps, the character of this camera is summarized by this aspect. It's truly the latest digital SLR, but it allows smooth traditional operation. As a result, my location was prolonged by using a variety of lenses. This camera is a realization of Nikon's dream and it showed me a new value of a digital camera.