Best lenses for Df: Prime and Zoom lens overview

By Kevin Carter - Friday January 31 2014

Lens Recommendations
Introduction | Nikon Df vs Nikon D4: Is there any measureable difference in sharpness? | Nikon Df with AF-S Nikkor 50mm f1.8G | Nikon Df with AF-S Nikkor 58mm f1.4G vs Zeiss Otus Distagon T* 1,4/55 (55mm f1.4) | Best prime lenses for the Nikon Df | Best zoom lenses for the Nikon Df
Best lenses for Df: Prime and Zoom lens overview

Following on the from the lens recommendations for the new mid-range DX format Nikon D5300, we’ve now completed the assessment of the full-frame Nikon Df. We’ve tested the camera with more than 90 Nikkor and third-party prime lenses and zooms to assess image quality. Read onto find out which of these lenses perform best when paired with the new camera.

Introduced to a mixed reception, the Nikon Df is the company’s answer to the plethora of models on the market with mechanical controls.

The design is derived from Nikons of yesteryear – though there’s no one model it closely resembles visually, other than perhaps a mix of the company’s first multimode 35mm SLR, the FA from 1983 and the N2020 (F-501) from 1986.  Internally, the Nikon Df is a combination of the firm’s current digital models with the glass pentaprism and FX format 16-Mpix CMOS sensor borrowed from the flagship Nikon D4 and the 39-point AF system and shutter mechanism from the Nikon D610.

This both empowers and at the same time restricts the capabilities of the Df. On the one hand the sensor offers the same superb low light capabilities of the D4 with sensitivity running from ISO 50 to 204,800 (extended) but the shutter has only tops 1/4000th sec while the flash sync is just 1/200th sec.

Neither can the Df boast the same continuous burst rate of the D4 at 5.5 fps but has a viewfinder with close to 100-percent coverage and a large (0.7x magnification) image. To the rear it has a 3.2-inch (921k dot) high-resolution LCD panel for stills only. There’s no video capture option despite a fairly hefty $2749 ticket.

Like the earlier cameras from the 70s and early 80s, the Df is available in black and chrome finishes. It’s the smallest and lightest full-frame model in the firm’s line up, measuring 5.6 x 4.3 x 2.6" (143.5 x 110 x 66.5 mm) and weighing 1.56 lb (710g)

Our labs have carefully analyzed the optical quality of over 90 models on the Nikon Df, including models such the ultra-wide DX format Sigma 8-16mm (12-24mm equivalent) f4.5-5.6 DC HSM and Nikon AF-S Nikkor 14-24mm f2.8G ED through to the highly acclaimed Art series 35mm f1.4 DG HSM from Sigma and the AF-S Nikkor 85mm f1.4, and the super-telephoto models such as the AF-S Nikkor 200mm f2.0G ED VR II and 400mm f2.8G ED VR.

New models added recently to the database include the new high-speed Otus Distagon T* 1,4/55 and Apo Sonnar T* 2.135 ZF.2 from Zeiss and the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 58mm f1.4G. We’ve also added the data from the full-frame AF-S Nikkor 24-85mm f3.5-4.5G ED VR as well as the 50-500mm f4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM, and recently re-vamped 120-300mm f2.8 EX DG OS HSM from Sigma.

Nikon Df vs Nikon D4: Is there any measureable difference in sharpness?

Nikon Df with AF-S Nikkor 50mm f1.8G

Nikon Df with AF-S Nikkor 58mm f1.4G vs Zeiss Otus Distagon T* 1,4/55 (55mm f1.4)

Best prime lenses for the Nikon Df

Best zoom lenses for the Nikon Df