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  #1  
Old April 9th, 2015, 10:15 AM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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Default The Nikon Df and some other thoughts.

I do not know how to do camera reviews. Either technically or as a document writer.
There are thousands more knowledgeable and better camera reviewers out there.

I have been a Nikon user for over 30 years, a Leica user for over 25 years, a mirrorless camera user for just over two years. I have used Canon Dslrs. A compact user almost since they were available.

I have a collection of legacy lenses in both Nikon and Leica mount.

What follows is my opinion, not a generalization. What I like , why I like it ( if I can put it into words ) and why I would never go near certain brands of photo gear.

The mirrorless cam ( Fuji XT-1 that I have ) is a lovely travel camera for me. I have a decent set of Fuji lenses for it ( Fuji make excellent lenses..bar none. And a complete set, now, not tomorrow ).

I tried the Sony A7xx system. I would not invest in it because the customer support here is lacking.

I have and am investigating mFT..the Olympus OMD EM-5 Mark II, with the 12-40/2.8 and the 75/1.8 lens. Lovely system. Super lenses. But, for me, mFT is a small sensor. I crop a lot. Whatever others might say, a small sensor is limited for a few things that I like to do. But I admire this system.

I do not do video. If I did, I would not buy the Panasonic or the Sony. A Nikon D750 would be good enough for me.

I am used to Nikon. I have a significant variety of lenses for the F-mount. I am not a Formula One sports shooter, nor a birder. I am happy with certain focal lengths...as I found out after considerable expenditure of monies and time.

But I need the best possible sensor, I can afford. ( MF and LF cameras..I have never used ).

The Nikon Df has the best sensor currently available, for my needs, bar none. 16 Megapixels is sufficient for me. More megapixels needs a very good and sound camera technique ( and lenses ) or a tripod. I do not like tripods. I am old and getting older. IBIS and such are fine, upto a point. But they are not for fast moving subjects.


But a camera, for me, does not exist only because of its sensor. Ergonomics are very important to me.
The Df has a silly grip, which I find a very big oversight on part of the designers. I am investigating a grip for it.
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  #2  
Old April 9th, 2015, 11:32 AM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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I have gradually become unable to lug around heavy photo gear. I travel a lot. Long distances. Often in inhospitable climates and environment. I do not take hundreds of photographs, but spend time more to get to know what I should be photographing. Often, I have to react fast to a changing scenario.

A two kilo bag is a non-starter for me. While I decide what to photograph.

35mm FF in a small volume are restricted to very cameras. I know all the pros and cons of how good small sensors have become etc. I want at a minimum an APC-S sensor with at least 16 megapixels.
My money, my requirement. I need fast AF, and continuous tracking. I need minimum shutter lag. I need and interchangeable lens system. I need gear which will take a beating and keep going.

I did not need a system that provides me with a small volume initially, but as I increase the fl, it begins to approach the weight and size of Caninkon.

I do not want compatibility with lenses from other systems. I prefer and use only lenses made specifically for a particular mount.

Leica is small in volume, but deceptively heavy in weight. Some of the mirror less, including my Fuji XT-1 look ridiculous with a 70-200 equivalent lens mounted. If I need to carry the heavies, why invest in a small size camera which quickly looses the size and weight advantage.

The Nikon Df is the smallest and lightest 35mm full frame body made by Nikon.
I did not need to think twice.

Besides, it is gorgeous to look at. I like to have something which turns heads to tag along with me.
Just me and my preferences.

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  #3  
Old April 9th, 2015, 11:56 AM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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I do not need complicated menu systems. Quick change of SS, aperture, ISO is really sufficient for me.
With digital, choosing raw+jpg, format.

I like quick changing of exposure compensation. And here I find the Df lacking, for me. One needs to pull up ( or is push down ) to rotated the required dial to effect exposure compensation. I have to learn to live with that. Pity!

I do not need ' art ' filters built into the camera. I make a few images and enjoy the process of digital
post processing.

I am 80% of the time a 50mm to 85mm photographer. Sometimes I venture above and below theses fl,
But with extreme prejudice.

I like to get in close, and I want to throw the bg out of focus when I choose. Shallow depth of field is important to me.

The shallow dof afforded me with the Df and a very small and light 50/1.8 is very welcome.

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  #4  
Old April 9th, 2015, 01:21 PM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fahim mohammed View Post
....
But I need the best possible sensor, I can afford.
.....
But a camera, for me, does not exist only because of its sensor. Ergonomics are very important to me.
.....
35mm FF in a small volume are restricted to very cameras. I know all the pros and cons of how good small sensors have become etc. I want at a minimum an APC-S sensor with at least 16 megapixels.
.....
I need fast AF, and continuous tracking. I need minimum shutter lag. I need and interchangeable lens system. I need gear which will take a beating and keep going.
......
I did not need a system that provides me with a small volume initially, but as I increase the fl, it begins to approach the weight and size of Caninkon.
...
I do not need complicated menu systems. Quick change of SS, aperture, ISO is really sufficient for me.
....
I like quick changing of exposure compensation.
....
Hi Fahim,

I fully agree with everything you have said above, word for word. So we have the same requirements. However, my search has led me to Sony A7 at the end of 2013. I understand that you stay away from it due to support issues at your location. FWIW, I would have been equally happy with a Nikon Df, had I known that I would eventually settle on 4 Nikkor primes (20mm, 35mm, 85mm, 180mm).

Of all our joint requirements, the ones the Sony did not fulfil for me are:
- Fast AF. Since I used other brand prime lenses than those made by Sony, I was obliged to focus manually. The Sony Zeiss ones were far above my budget.
- Shutter lag or better said, the EVF lag! Which caused me me to miss some critical moments quite a few times.
- Volume/weight: although still compact and light compared to a dslr solution, the A7 with the 3 essential lenses to me (20/35/85) weighed more than what I was willing to lug around. So I have compromised to taking only one lens on the camera and another one in my pocket.
- an additional requirement on my part is a quiet shutter. The A7 wasn't very quiet which made candid street photography difficult.

The weight/volume problem of lenses is applicable to all interchangeable lens cameras, be it a dslr of a mirrorless. Only way to avoid that is to go with a quality zoom as the only lens. That I have done for a year; I have used the respectable Nikkor 24-70mm 2.8 on my D800 a couple of years back. But that lens never gave me the same level of satisfaction I get from using prime lenses. Also the size/weight of the D800 was considerable. That's why I ended up selling them to migrate to Sony A7. Using only one lens is too limiting for me, I know that I would not survive that. Perhaps I could compromise to working with just two primes, one 24mm and one 50mm/85mm. But all this is pointless right now since I have sold the A7 and the lenses recently. I have only my smart phone camera at my disposal, which lacks all the attributes that make me enjoy taking photos. :(
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  #5  
Old April 10th, 2015, 10:58 AM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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Cem, if I did not have Nikon lenses nor been used to Nikon, I doubt a new Dslr would have been even under consideration.

I still have my D700. And even today, it could run rings around any mirrorless, or a Dslr. But it is heavy. Limited only by 12 megapixels...if that is seen as a limitation. An AF demon. But start putting, say, your lovely 24-70mm and it is a burden to carry it around.

Then there was this talk of the Sony A7S, being able to shoot in the dark...and all that ' we can do it and we did ' as an example of a cam with high ISO capabilities. I was not swayed by that talk.

The D700 could hold its own against the Sony, and come out on top in most respects except maybe a one to 1.5 stops of high ISO performance.

I shall have more to say about high ISO later.

But having just a smartphone can be liberating. Think about all the creative art filters, you have it made. Add the instant connectivity, the music, the video, the films one could watch. A wonderful world lies in front of those that are masters of this technology.

Me? I use my iPhone for calls. Just a few numbers. To receive some pics sent by family. Even my old Nokia is enough for me.

Thanks for the response and stay well.
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  #6  
Old April 10th, 2015, 12:06 PM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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Let me tell you a small story that happened with me and my Df.

To set the scene, here is a snap.


The place is a fancy hotel restaurant. You know one of those places…where the cutlery can be used for surgery or shaving.
Where the tea cups are so thin, one is afraid to take a sip, lest ones bites the rim off.
Yes, the colonial governor’s favorite eatery.

The violin and the piano is playing. Couples..very few locals. Mostly from distant lands here to remember the good old days of private local butlers at their beck and call. The porters carrying their leather baggage all the way from the rail station on their heads to the sahib’s residence.

Me, I am sitting alone. The couples were older than me. The women bedecked in cheap artificial jewelry. There were no singles. The expats looked at me, I looked at them. The governor, turned in his grave in disgust. The plebes, I heard him say.
He was dead. So were the old couples..well in spirit anyway.
So I got busy eating.

' would sir prefer the local or French wine list ‘ ?
‘ Water..I said. Non-sparkling, still bottled water ‘. I said.
‘ Before or after the wine, sir ‘?

Anyway, the food had to be eaten with the cutlery provided by the place. Shinning, sterilised , spotless.
I prefer to rip a steak apart with my old teeth and hands, than to cut it with a knife and use a fork to throw it in my mouth.

But that’s just me. That’s why I travel alone.

Anyway, dinner was done. I got up. No. I was helped up. One pulled my chair. The other offered me a hand.

I got up, my Df to my eye..and walked right into the small artificial fish pond that you see in the image above. Through the small opening..between the pillar and the plant pot.
The staff rushed to pull me out. A floating jacket was thrown in, just in case of litigation. The Df, and me, soaking wet.
I must have looked like a fool. Embarrassed. Small ( I am small anyway ), but you know what I mean.

‘ Too much to drink ‘, I heard a pompous baritone voice say in English. Or was it Dutch?
' I hope he does not puke in the pond. The poor dear fish! '

Next day, I found they had rearranged the place and closed up the gap with some plants.

The image you see above is with my Df after I was helped out of the fish pond.
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  #7  
Old April 10th, 2015, 02:35 PM
Cem_Usakligil Cem_Usakligil is offline
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Quite a story Fahim. I am glad that you weren't hurt. The Dutch and the English can one up each other when it comes to being pompous and self-righteous. So the moral of the story is that the Df is watertight indeed? ;)
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Old April 11th, 2015, 12:29 AM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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Thanks Cem. I was more caring of the Df than myself. So it never went underwater.
Me, just a few bruises on the elbow and a patched up knee!

Take care.
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  #9  
Old April 11th, 2015, 12:33 AM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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I usually like to keep cams on raw+mono. Just to see how a mono might look like.
Then I have some F mount legacy lenses.

Here is one with the cheap, but excellent, nikon 85/2.

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  #10  
Old April 12th, 2015, 01:57 PM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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ISO. High ISO, to be precise. High ISO and low noise ( or should I say acceptable noise ). To whom and for what purpose?

This or that cam can see in the dark! I personally cannot see in the dark. And I like to see what I am shooting.

ISO 12800, 256000...honestly, though, I have no use for such camera ' facilities '.

I rarely shoot above 1600; 3200 if I am stretched. Wonder how many shoot at ISO 12800 and above.

In any case, on holiday, I was about to go to bed. Checked a photo forum I belong to. There was this discussion about a certain camera that has hit the ball out of the park as far as usable high ISO goes.

I logged on the forum. posted that we should do a test there and then. I stepped out of my room onto the balcony, and took a shot. Just a shot at what was before me.

Here it is:


I really do not go about shooting much in dark alleys at the darkest part of night. Or black cats in a coal mine.

Then I have read about various ranges..dynamic, color spectrum etc.. on and on.

Here is another image. Made just for fun..


Made with a very low priced 50mm Nikon lens and my Df.
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  #11  
Old April 16th, 2015, 02:00 AM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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So, what are my impressions of the Df; after having used it and travelled with it?

In a sentence; a camera that could have been the one for me, but isn't.

For a contemplative style of shooting, it is excellent. But for prolonged and travel use, my search continues.

The Df sensor is superb..I mean superb. Prints from it just sing. But so do prints from other cameras that I own; albeit not with such a melody.

Not having used, and neither having any intentions of trying the mFT nor the Sony A7 series, I contemplate purchasing one or two Fuji lenses to go with my X-T1. The 16-55/2.8 or the 14mm/2.8. And a 56/1.2. That should suffice for my travel needs..till the X-Pro2 comes along.

Get the Df if you value a superb sensor, some nostalgia, suits you ergonomically and your style of shooting. Else, the D750 is a much better general purpose machine.

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  #12  
Old April 16th, 2015, 06:51 AM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is online now
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Hi, Fahim,

Thanks for letting us see into your evolving thought processes on this matter.

I am interested that you have zeroed on on a currently owned (and seemingly as well a future) Fuji camera.

Rather early in my digital camera life, I had wonderful success in many ways with a Fuji (to be more precise, Fujifilm) camera, an S602.

It was only its slow effective shutter release time (in part from EVF lag) that caused me to go to a dSLR, in particular Canon's breakthrough low cost model, the 300D (in the US, the Digital Rebel).

I am sort of thinking of as new high-performance camera, and I need to be sure I do not overlook the Fuji line.

Again, thanks for letting us view your train of thought in this matter. Among other things, it illuminates the interplay between right-brain and left-brain considerations, perhaps our species' most powerful tool!

Best regards,

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Old April 16th, 2015, 03:38 PM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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Hi there Doug.

Thanks for your comments.

You must know Doug that most cams made today far exceed my photographic abilities. Any cam of today
is a technical marvel..some have so many functions that I would spend better part of my remaining life working through them.

My criteria, nowadays, is less weight, small volume, decent sensor resolution, good performance to ISO 3200. a simple and straightforward menu structure that puts the most important things for me on function keys or dedicated dials.

Ergonomically something I can carry and use for extended periods of time. I have, on rare occasions, felt the need for a bit of basic video.

Reasonably fast AF. Lesser lag time.

A selection of lenses in my choice of focal lengths. Zooms, if their are of decent quality, light weight, stabilized ( the Fuji 16-55/2.8 is not image stabilized and a bit on the big size ). The Fuji 56/1.2 is a beast on a mirrorless; but much less so than my Nikon 85/1.4 or Leica cron 90/2 asph.

I am a boring mid range fl photog. 28-85mm makes my day. Three small light primes from amongst 28,35,50,85mm is good enough. Even two. 28/50; 28/85; 35/85; 50/85.

Camera choice shall always be a compromise..I realize that. I search for the best (with respect to factors mentioned above and financial outlay ).

Hope you get your ' best compromise ' Doug. And enjoy it for a long time.

Kindest regards.
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Old April 16th, 2015, 09:27 PM
Asher Kelman Asher Kelman is offline
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I agree with your position, Fahim! To me the Nikon, Sony and Canon DSLR,s are beasts of burden! For most photography at 85 mm and below a small camera makes more sense at it can achieve 99% of one's needs.

Even if I need 70-200, I put the lens on the Sony A7R Mirrorless body, as it's lighter, the manual focus is far better and the pixel count is a winner.

If I am going to really extend myself, I can rent a specialty carry for that short period. I want to own less!

Actually, most of my work is done with the 55mm 1.8 Zeiss. It's impeccable. For fun I use a variety of vintage lenses with adapters.

Now if we made our living as paparazzi or sports photographers, then the DSLR is still justified!

If I didn't need large prints, I would be now using an Olympus or Panasonic micro 4/3 as Robert Watcher's work shows it has all the capability we'd need for most work and is so lightweight and low light capable. Just what you yourself ask for!

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Old April 17th, 2015, 08:27 AM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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Since yesterday I have been in a cam test mode. Problem is I want to save money by not having to buy any lenses. Make do with what I have.

Lightweight, very good, light weight and stabilized kit lens. Add the existing Fuji 35/1.4 that I have too.

What I really lack is being able to a bit long..

While I prefer to use original mount lenses, I put my Leica elmarit-m 90/2.8 on the Fuji XT-1.
Flied of view around 145mm. Less dog as compared to 35mm FF is approximately 1 stop.

So what was the result? With some fun with Fuji colors, here is one..


Another one with the same combo as above. My little cactus plant..

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  #16  
Old April 17th, 2015, 11:55 AM
Michael Nagel Michael Nagel is offline
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Fahim,

this is probably not within your focus, but the upcoming Kleinbild aka full frame camera from Pentax together with the
FA 31/1.8 Limited
FA 43/1.9 Limited
FA 77/1.8 Limited
could be an interesting combination.

Usability is something up to you - the ergonomics are likely to be pretty similar to the K-3.
I think that IQ will be up to the expectations, exact size and weight is something not known yet - I am curious on the final specifications.

Best regards,
Michael
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Old April 18th, 2015, 12:47 AM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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Michael, so very nice to hear from you.

Thanks for the Pentax info. Like you correctly surmised, a new mount and a new system is not in the cards for me.

Loved the Spotmatic long ways back..but things have moved on since then.

Kindest regards.
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Old April 20th, 2015, 12:26 PM
Michael Nagel Michael Nagel is offline
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Fahim,

This was just a suggestion - the three focal lengths could be a fit for you.
The FA 43/1.9 Limited was even produced with Leica M Mount, but only 2000 pieces...

Best regards,
Michael
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Old April 26th, 2015, 02:49 PM
Dawid Loubser Dawid Loubser is offline
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Ah, Fahim, from the other thread we've been chatting in, I didn't realise that you had also first-hand discovered the virtues of the Df. I wanted to chime in to this thread, and say that this camera is the cheapest way for a mere mortal to access this extraordinary sensor!

I use many manual focus, mostly pre-AI, lenses from Nikon. Unbeaten build quality, and really cheap. Usually on film. I decided to part with the "perfection" of my Four Thirds SHG zooms, and use the proceeds to fund a nice second-hand, black, Df, for these lenses.

First of all, using an F and an F2 very regularly, this camera is nowhere near the solid build quality, viewfinder, and single-minded operating simplicity. It's like a nostalgic caricature, instead of the real thing. Still, I do find it much more appealing than it's blobby brethren - the other Nikon SLRs.

I love that fact that I can program my pre-AI, 1960s lenses, into the camera, and have full matrix metering, and even proper EXIF data. That's great legacy support! (40 years+).

After a trip to Nikon Service to have the focus screen shimmed, manual focus is perfectly accurate, even at f/2.0 as with these examples, and this sensor blows my mind. Not as pixel-sharp as an Olympus E-5, or a Mamiya ZD, but the colour gamut, dynamic range, tonal smoothness... it's mind-blowing. Best of the best. For the first time ever, I'd take weaker lenses with this sensor (MF Nikkor from the 60s-80s, Df) than great lenses on a so-so-sensor (Leica M, and a second-hand M9). No contest for me! Any missing "microcontrast" is easily added back in with post-processing, RL De-convolution etc, without stretching the data from the sensor - no artifacts. It's perfectly smooth.

Had a nice little outing to a yard with some old, inoperable aircraft yesterday:

Andries Pretorius (Lockheed Lodestar, ~1940)

(Nikon Df, ISO 100, 100mm f/2.0)

Future, uncertain

(Nikon Df, ISO 100, 100mm f/2.0)

Rest above, play below

(Nikon Df, ISO 800, 28mm f/8)

I need to stop the AI-s Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 down to f/8 to compete with the Olympus 14-35/2.0 at 14mm at f/2.8!! But at ISO800, this sensor beats the pants off the Olympus E-5 at minimum (ISO200), so the end-result, for the picture above, is better - in a smaller and cheaper package.

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Old August 3rd, 2015, 01:27 AM
fahim mohammed fahim mohammed is offline
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Hi Dawid.

Somehow missed this post of yours. I love old airplanes...specially the DC3 and the super constellations.. That was the time eh?

Lovely smooth images from the Df Dawid.

My Df was sent to Japan for about two months. Replaced the af module and the sensor.

Came back with an extended warranty for 2.5 years...free of cost.

My next outing might very well be in your part of the world..And a 50/1.8 on the Df is very manageable
For me. And that with the 85/1.8 thrown in, would be what I shall be carrying next; wherever and whenever that happens to be.

Thanks for sharing and best regards.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dawid Loubser View Post
Ah, Fahim, from the other thread we've been chatting in, I didn't realise that you had also first-hand discovered the virtues of the Df. I wanted to chime in to this thread, and say that this camera is the cheapest way for a mere mortal to access this extraordinary sensor!

I use many manual focus, mostly pre-AI, lenses from Nikon. Unbeaten build quality, and really cheap. Usually on film. I decided to part with the "perfection" of my Four Thirds SHG zooms, and use the proceeds to fund a nice second-hand, black, Df, for these lenses.

First of all, using an F and an F2 very regularly, this camera is nowhere near the solid build quality, viewfinder, and single-minded operating simplicity. It's like a nostalgic caricature, instead of the real thing. Still, I do find it much more appealing than it's blobby brethren - the other Nikon SLRs.

I love that fact that I can program my pre-AI, 1960s lenses, into the camera, and have full matrix metering, and even proper EXIF data. That's great legacy support! (40 years+).

After a trip to Nikon Service to have the focus screen shimmed, manual focus is perfectly accurate, even at f/2.0 as with these examples, and this sensor blows my mind. Not as pixel-sharp as an Olympus E-5, or a Mamiya ZD, but the colour gamut, dynamic range, tonal smoothness... it's mind-blowing. Best of the best. For the first time ever, I'd take weaker lenses with this sensor (MF Nikkor from the 60s-80s, Df) than great lenses on a so-so-sensor (Leica M, and a second-hand M9). No contest for me! Any missing "microcontrast" is easily added back in with post-processing, RL De-convolution etc, without stretching the data from the sensor - no artifacts. It's perfectly smooth.

Had a nice little outing to a yard with some old, inoperable aircraft yesterday:

Andries Pretorius (Lockheed Lodestar, ~1940)

(Nikon Df, ISO 100, 100mm f/2.0)

Future, uncertain

(Nikon Df, ISO 100, 100mm f/2.0)

Rest above, play below

(Nikon Df, ISO 800, 28mm f/8)

I need to stop the AI-s Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 down to f/8 to compete with the Olympus 14-35/2.0 at 14mm at f/2.8!! But at ISO800, this sensor beats the pants off the Olympus E-5 at minimum (ISO200), so the end-result, for the picture above, is better - in a smaller and cheaper package.

All images processed in the open-source darktable from RAW, on Arch Linux.
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  #21  
Old August 3rd, 2015, 01:48 AM
Dawid Loubser Dawid Loubser is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fahim mohammed View Post
Hi Dawid.

Somehow missed this post of yours. I love old airplanes...specially the DC3 and the super constellations.. That was the time eh?

Lovely smooth images from the Df Dawid.

My Df was sent to Japan for about two months. Replaced the af module and the sensor.

Came back with an extended warranty for 2.5 years...free of cost.

My next outing might very well be in your part of the world..And a 50/1.8 on the Df is very manageable
For me. And that with the 85/1.8 thrown in, would be what I shall be carrying next; wherever and whenever that happens to be.

Thanks for sharing and best regards.
Hi Fahim,

Just wanted to correct you on the aircraft :-) The first is a Lockheed Ventura (small, two-engine piston airliner, less than 1/2 the size of the super constellations etc). The second is close to a DC-3 - it's a DC-4 :-)

Thanks for your reply! It's been an interesting journey using the Df. I love the sensor, and I love the compact Ai-S primes.

What is interesting, is that I have not used a Nikkor or Zeiss lens that at any aperture is as sharp as the Olympus SGH zoom lenses. I find this fascinating! Even with this amazing sensor, and seriously nice glass like the Zeiss Makro-planar, the system as a whole is just not tuned for the same degree of imaging performance as what Olympus managed to do with their big four-thirds SLR lenses, even with an ancient and noisy sensor like on the E-5.

This past week-end, I had the opportunity to, for a couple of hours, use the best Nikkor of them all - the AF-S 200mm f/2.0. What a wonderful beast. But still, even with that combination, the images had something "missing" compared to the Olympus glass. I really find that remarkable, but there it is.

Still, the smoothness, colour depth, and compactness of the Df kit are things that I really apreciate. And the fact that I can use the same lenses with film (which I shoot a lot) and digital.

have a great week everybody :-)
Dawid
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