Nikon Df review: New low light champion?

By Kevin Carter - Monday December 09 2013

Camera Review
Introduction | Nikon Df sensor performance: Best Low-Light ISO score | Nikon Df Versus Nikon D4: Competitive Edge? | Nikon Df Versus Nikon D800: Complementary performance | Nikon Df Versus Canon EOS 5D Mark III | Conclusion
Nikon Df review: New low light champion?

Nikon’s retro styled Df harks back to the days film externally, but the metal shell with its plethora of dials and buttons conceals a state-of-the-art 16-Mpix CMOS sensor intended for the worst imaginable lighting conditions. Read on to find out how this new addition to the range performs.

Following a series of TV teaser spots filmed in the Scottish Highlands, the somewhat controversially styled ‘retro’ Nikon Df was finally launched in October. Although the Df is a fully-fledged digital AF camera on the inside, the exterior is reminiscent of the firm’s earlier film-era models of the 70s and 80s.

Despite the retro-appearance with the top plate bristling with metal dials and levers, the Df has a 39-point AF system using the Multi-Cam 4800 AF module from the D610 and the 16-Mpix CMOS sensor and image pipeline from the flagship D4.

Like that model sensitivity runs from ISO 50 up to 204,800 (extended), but it lacks a pro-oriented high-speed shutter with a maximum speed of 1/4000th sec and 1/200th sec flash sync.

Unsurprisingly the Df can’t match the D4’s maximum burst rate either at 5.5 fps but it adopts the same glass pentaprism as that and D800 with a 100-percent coverage and large (0.7x magnification) viewfinder image. It also has a large 3.2-inch high-resolution LCD panel to the rear.

Although the Df is a autofocus camera and was launched with a special edition AF-S Nikkor 50mm f1.8 lens, it’s first camera from the firm since the film era F4 to include a folding AI post allowing mounting of the majority of manual focus pre-AI Nikkor lenses from the 60s and 70s.

The Df is also the first DSLR in recent times to omit any video features, a bold move from the firm and one that seems at odds with the not inconsequential $2749 asking price for the body.  Like those earlier film era cameras  the Df is available in black and chrome finishes, and measuring 143.5 x 110 x 66.5 mm and weighing 710g (1.56 lb) it’s the smallest and lightest full-frame model in the firm’s line up.

Key specifications:

  • 16-Mpix Full frame (36x24mm) CMOS sensor
  • 100% viewfinder coverage, 0.7x magnification
  • 39-point AF system (Multi-Cam 4800 AF sensor, from D610)
  • 3.2-inch (921k dot) rear LCD
  • Still recording only (no video)
  • 1/4,000th second max shutter speed, 1/200th sec maximum flash sync
  • 5.5 fps maximum continuous shooting
  • ISO 100 up to 12,800 (ISO 50 – 204,800 extended)
  • Single SD memory slot

Nikon Df sensor performance: Best Low-Light ISO score

Nikon Df Versus Nikon D4: Competitive Edge?

Nikon Df Versus Nikon D800: Complementary performance

Nikon Df Versus Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Conclusion