Nikon DF Hands On Review

The Nikon DF combines the worlds of analog SLR design and digital technology. Horst Gottfried had opportunity to see the extraordinary combination advance even closer.
After the launch of the Nikon DF and the laboratory test of a series model resulted in the opportunity to get first realistic impressions of the retro DSLR from a previous series model. This was however only with respect to the camera itself and its operation, but not yet for the image quality. “No pictures” make and show, that was the Nikon condition for providing the early camera. Since the Nikon DF with the 16-Megapixel sensor of the Nikon D4 (Test) and EXPEED-3 processor, a similar image quality can be expected.
Undisputed – the new Nikon df is an eye-catcher, the classic silver black version more than the all black. Already the first photos and pretty then her physical appearance showed that. A powerful block in the traditional SLR design lies before, felt in his size rather a Pentax 67 reminiscent as a KB-SLR. After I have photographed a while with the cute micro-four-thirds system camera Panasonic Lumix GM1 1/2014 just for the test in next ColorFoto issue, the Nikon DF was a real culture shock. And also Sony A7 and A7R have recently proved that even a system camera with sensor in full KB format must be not necessarily so great.
By their extravagant appearance, the Nikon DF speaks above all out of conviction that make even a personal statement with the purchase. If the retro-Nikon, then certainly not least were to succeed as image-forming, demonstrierende photographic ambitions in many richer buyers. Analog times, photographing dentists, schoolmasters, and lawyers would be happy with a large Nikon before the belly are decorated.
Specialist for old lenses
A retro-themed matching feature of Nikon df is the ability to use older Nikon F lenses with open aperture metering before AI era such as AI lenses. To avoid problems when attaching the small aperture follower lever on the bayonet ring, which could otherwise be damaged by the aperture ring of non-AI lenses is foldable in the DF.
When using AI lenses, the follower handle to the bayonet of the aperture value transfer for the full aperture metering is used. He moves from a small nose on the aperture ring so the aperture value selected on the lens to be communicated to the Nikon DF. To the Offenblend exposure measurement with non-AI lenses the aperture value on the front adjustment wheel of the Nikon DF must be set and then accordingly manually on the aperture ring of the lens chosen. Focal length and aperture of the old lenses must be laid before manually in the menu of the camera. Then, shooting with full aperture metering exposure mode A (aperture priority) or M (manual time and aperture choice) is possible. So again you must enter aperture and focal length not in each lens, the DF allows the storage of the values of maximum nine non-AI lenses (see image below). In total, over 400 Nikon lenses can be – use with varying functionality – at the DF.
Aperture and focal length of up to 9 MF lenses can be saved.
Whether but really owner of older MF Nikon lenses due to this possibility in significant numbers to the Nikon DF will access, must be seen. The most important question will be in any case, which can actually visually exploit the potential of the full-frame sensor to the old MF NIKKOR lenses. The option of less common run-of-the-mill lenses as rather for older, expensive special lenses with high light intensity and/or extreme image angles or Micro-NIKKOR lenses is really interesting. Anyway, it was already time wisely by Nikon to restrict themselves to the 16-Megapixel resolution of the D4 in the DF.
As regards the practical shooting with the Nikon DF, so the digital part with its menu settings and the available variations and design options corresponds to what we know of current Nikon DSLR models such as Latitude D610, D800 and D4 to Active Lighting, HDR, and specifications for distortion – and vignetting correction.
One is looking at the Nikon DF however provide scene modes. The back of the Nikon DF looks like Nikon DSLRs normally, and the AF with his 39 points is known from the D610. These points should be here not on topic, but above all the peculiarities of the new Nikon DF.
Take the Nikon DF in the hand, striking first, how surprisingly easy it is. The powerful DF body weighs just 760 g. It has its reason. Even if Nikon has great value own words on the grab quality of the DF, not all metal appears the camera to be in, what metallic shines in the silver version. Parts of the housing at the tapping sound like plastic, and also the beautiful setting rings give not the typical metal cold.

Picture Gallery

The aperture lever on the camera body is from the follower of the lens (here a non-AI lens converted to AI) when turning the aperture ring moves…

Practical handling

Thanks to the size and shape of the handle is the Nikon DF well in hand. Nikon mystery remains for rear view cameras reviewed by Photionary, but, why there are not the same, nice grip rubber armoring for the front finger on the handle and rear for the right thumb. With the knobs, handles and levers on the top of the camera, not just “old hands” navigate quickly. The advantage of direct access to the functions that they know only from the menu quickly opens also the generation of modern touchscreen acrobats.
The operation is generally well by hand. All wheels are self explanatory and so good to use, what they look like. Only the narrow a/off switching ring around the shutter could be handy. The mechanical elements are easier to understand than the Nikon menu structure in some places. The unusual option of “1/3 STEP” on the time dial allows a time throughout the range correspondingly finer than even stepped on the shutter dial setting on the rear wheel. However, it took a while until I found the entry in the “Dynamic AF area af” with luminous display of the active AF field in the viewfinder without instructions (in the middle of the AF/MF switch and push the button on the front adjustment wheel turning).