The 1/4,000th of a second fastest shutter speed isn’t much of a problem with the Nikon Df. You get ISO 50, so there you go. The viewfinder? In another league, we hear from reviewers. Other not highest specs? Well wouldn’t that beat the purpose of an all manual, retro Nikon Df? You don’t buy the Df based on specs. It’s about emotion, the feel. The Df is a bit Leicaesque, with minimal rational basis for purchasing such specs at this price. It’s a camera to slow down, be creative and take your time. But a real dilemma seems manual focus, the “retroest” of all features a true retro camera should have.
An important feature for the purists is the non-Ai lenses compatibility. Now that is truly retro for those who want à la Leica manual control on their creative impulses. Problem is, the Nikon Df has no split prism to focus those non-AI lenses easily — defeating the purpose of allowing those lenses?
Or are we lovers of fine gear drooling too much over nothing for no sane reason? Isn’t manual focusing with the Df a problem at all?
The Df lets you remove the visible AF points when shooting in manual focus. But honestly, with no emphasis put on improved manual focus Nikon might have missed out on a very crucial point with regard to connecting back to manual lenses and the whole feel of manual focus photography.
Would sound like a perfect combo, the Df paired with the mechanical Nikkor 50mm F1.2, a gem of a manual lens of utmost build quality. But just how well does the Df’s manual focusing work?
According to Nikon, the Df doesn’t have a user changeable focusing screen. And nah, no focus peaking, even though all the systems so far that have focus peaking available are of a smaller format, and hence a natively deeper DOF to mask the true worth of focus peaking as an answer to accurate manual focusing.
Nikon should know what they’re doing and so far everyone that tested the camera seems OK with the manual modes and says the Df doesn’t need a split prism to focus properly.
Nikon bets on electronics rather than good old split screen — and electronics always add weight and suck battery life. A split screen option would have made everyone happy. No other solution works as quickly and as accurately for manual focusing.
You’re fine with the Df as long as you’re keeping your aperture no faster than F2.8 — or if you trust the electronic rangefinder. Or live view. With such a beautiful optical viewfinder it would amount to a crime to use the LCD. But if you’re focusing visually and want to be accurate at F1.4, it’s probably getting difficult with the screen that comes with this camera.
The jury is still out on this one. It just wouldn’t make any sense for Nikon to push for retro while missing out on the essence of retro: the culture of manual focus.
Comforts us Nikongear forum admin Bjørn:
Just returned from my first encounter with the Df. It is a lovely camera and ergonomically it’s a dream come true. Everything positioned where it should be. The viewfinder is much better than the sheer numbers would indicate and I had no problem whatsoever seeing the entire frame plus info below with my spectacles on. Focusing manual lenses was a breeze, even the 58/1.2 Noct or my 35/1.4.