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Nikon DF Images and Experiences...
Old 11-28-2013   #1
P. Lynn Miller
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Nikon DF Images and Experiences...

I decided to start a new thread for Nikon Df owners and admirers. If you think the Nikon Df is over-priced, under-spec'ed, fashion accessory, failure, that is fine, there are several other threads where you can vent your frustration and disappointment in humanity. This thread is for those souls that have been disillusioned by a clever marketing plan to appeal to our retro, hipster urges to over pay for a fashion accessory made from leftover camera parts and pieces that promises to provide a purer and higher experience of photography.

It was a wet day on the farm, and Df was soaked by the time I got back to the shed. The Df shrugged off the rain and moisture and passed my first torture test.

The Nikon Df more than exceeds my expectations... which may be lower than many... I admit. The Df allows me to use my Nikkor lens collection as it was intended on a digital media with a user interface that is familiar and instinctive to me.

I like my Nikon Df.
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Old 11-28-2013   #2
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i like the colours...
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Old 11-29-2013   #3
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Looks good, how's the focusing screen?
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Old 11-29-2013   #4
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Note to moderator - I am cross-posting to help reduce the clutter and mess of various threads. I will only be posting in this going forward

Just for the record... this what I wrote in an E-mail to a fellow photographer and friend after a few hours of owning and using the Nikon Df...

It is near enough to my Nikon F that I set the ISO at 400, the camera on manual and forgot about it. Focuses manual lenses right on the money, big bright viewfinder, can see the whole finder including the display below even with my spectacles on, lightweight, but solid, quiet, not much louder than my M5 and quieter than any of my Bessa cameras. Far too many buttons on the back and confusing menus, but thankfully did not even have to touch them.

Everything is where it should be on the top deck. As near perfect I will get till they build a Nikon F with a sensor. Cost far too much money, but I am tired of not taking photos and having zero inspiration to do so.

So a very happy Nikon Df owner... broke, but happy.


My criteria for the Nikon Df was that it had to be able to focus as well as my Nikon F and allow me to shoot just as if I were using the F. It did. If the Df had not passed this test by 100%, I would have not bought it, just like I have not bought a D3, D700, D4, D600, or D800, all very good cameras, but not for me and my way of being a photographer.

The Df has one of the best viewfinders I have seen on any new camera in a very long time.

Sitting on my desk is the Df, FM2n, Nikon F... all with the equivalent of an 'E-type' screen. Here is how my 3 cameras stack up... viewfinder wise... with a Nikkor 50mm f1.2 lenses mounted...

Nikon Df - best viewfinder for using spectacles... I can easily see the entire screen and the display around without putting any pressure on my spectacles. Is equally bright as the Nikon F and while the focus seems to snap just abit less than the F, my ability to focus accurately is not impaired, I am able to focus any where on the screen with equal accuracy to the F or FM2n. The Df viewfinder is the smallest of the three, only slightly small than the F, while noticeably smaller than the FM2. The Df has the brightest viewfinder of the 3.

Nikon FM2n - while the viewfinder is only slightly darker than the Df, it is much bigger, but even pushing my spectacles hard against the eyepiece I cannot see the whole screen and I subconsciously move the camera around so I can see the corners of the screen. I cannot see any of the display without moving the camera around. The focus snaps more sharply due to increased viewfinder magnification, but in practice does not produce better accuracy. I find the FM2 finder the least user friendly for me and would be my last choice of the 3.

Nikon F - what can I say... I am completely biased... so no objectivity here... the F viewfinder is probably the darkest of the 3, not by much , but you can see it if you look close. I can see the entire screen with my spectacles on and no pressure on the eyepiece, just but it is all there. As for the display... what display... there is nothing to see except the view... I like that... interesting the F viewfinder is more or less the same size as the Df, maybe just a touch bigger, hardly noticeable. The focus on the F is less snappy than the FM2, and slightly more snappy than the Df. If I must be honest, the F viewfinder comes in at a tie or maybe even a runner up to the Df... did I just write that?

I think Nikon has out-maneuvered the competition and silenced the critics with the Df and done what no other camera company has been brave enough to do... design and manufacture a camera that the majority of modern camera users think is a bad idea, over-priced, under-spec'ed, and the death-knell of the company, but provides a real bridge for us old, grumpy MF lenses owners, with a full-frame sensor and a great optical finder, that let's the old MF lenses be used to their potential instead an EVF/crop sensor wannabe concoction.

With the Df, Nikon has released a camera that supports and pays homage to the legion of loyal Nikon and Nikkor owners that still swear by and use or want to use their old Nikkor lenses from past 5 decades. But the Df also allows us manual-focusing, manual-exposure grouches to be able to 'grow' into digital and the new tech by having them 'dially-things' that work with the latest generation of Nikkor lenses if we ever decide to get with the system.

The Df is obviously not the camera for everyone, but I am very glad that Nikon finally made a DSLR for me.
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Old 11-29-2013   #5
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Oh crap... i didn't want a Df, but now I do. Great review and comparison to best work horse camera ever made - the Nikon F.
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Old 11-29-2013   #6
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Note - Moderator and readers... I am cross-posting in order to compile information in one place...

On the size of the Nikon Df...

The Df is smaller and less bulky than my FM2n with a MD12, and is no where near the weight and heft of a F3 with a MD4, smaller than a F4 or F5 by a country mile.

Of course, it is thicker than a plain-jane FM2 or FE2, but in the hand there is not practical difference. Feels and operates just like any of the 3rd generation Nikons, FM2, FE2, F3. I own and have used all of these cameras in the past 30 years. My workhorse camera has been the plain prism Nikon F. For all practical intents and purposes, I cannot tell the difference in use between my Nikon F and the Df, with exception of the flashing lights in the viewfinder and the obvious difference of not needing film.

If you enjoyed using an F3, FM2, FE2, you will find the Df very easy to use. Different, but equally easy and comfortable to use.
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Old 11-29-2013   #7
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Nikon Df might just be my first dSLR
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Old 11-29-2013   #8
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Thanks for this Lynn. As a current or past owner of FM, FE, FE2, F2 Photomic, F80, Nikkormat FTN and a bunch of MF AI primes, your opinion is useful. Looks like I would bond with the Df as well. My go-to Nikons are the FE2 and F80. I have small hands and the F2 is just outside my comfort zone. As is the price of the Df, unfortunately.

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Old 11-29-2013   #9
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Lucky sod ... I'd love to own one but I just can't justify it with a D700 sitting in the cupboard.

Nice photos as always mate.
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Old 11-29-2013   #10
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I must stress that while the Nikon Df seems to be specially made for me... do your due diligence and test drive the Nikon Df first. It is very expensive and probably over-priced, but I have been waiting for a long time. I did not buy a Epson RD-1, Leica M8 or M9, D700, D600, etc and etc. not because they were not very capable cameras, but they were not the camera I was looking for. So in the end when the Nikon Df passed the test, cost became a minor issue. Let me say it still really, really hurt to lay-out 62 $50 bills on the counter in exchange for the Nikon Df. Is it a $1000 too expensive, I do not know, but over 5 years that will cost me about $4 a week... the price of a good cup of coffee... and I would not have all these photos. As it is, I fell off the edge of the photography world about 3 years ago, completely and totally gone. If you look at my archives, nothing has been added since mid-2010... 3 jobs, full-time study, and on-going family medical issues simply dictated that I did not have the time or money to shoot film or make a frivolous digital purchase.

The Nikon Df arrived at the right time and space and passed muster, so I bought it. No regrets.

I have no complaints
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Old 11-29-2013   #11
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I am not here to vent my "frustration and disappointment in humanity" I want one. Yes UK price of touching £3,000 is a bummer but what is a bigger bummer is they will only sell me the kit. I need, really need, anther Nikon 50mm lens
The camera is aimed, one presumes, at legacy shooters how likely are they to want another 50?

If a buy the kit who is going to want that lens S/H ?
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Old 11-29-2013   #12
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It's odd. All these years of digital SLRs, I have always wondered... "why don't they simply have the ISO, aperture and shutter speed dials as physical 'knobs' on the camera, instead of hiding them in fiddly little buttons and thumbwheels, or within on-screen menus"? The DPReview review was baffling to me, when it talked about how these 'retro' controls were redundant, when the features could be accessed via the menus or by using scroll wheels.

For me, photography is still basically defined by those three functions, yet on my Canon dSLR, the controls always seem to be in unintuitive places, or mixed in with features which I rarely use, which require me to take my eye off the viewfinder and faff about with the camera controls. That's one reason that I bought the Nex-7.

I hope this is a trend which other camera makers take up. Although, not at this price please
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Old 11-29-2013   #13
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Looks like it is a fantastic camera. Still won't be buying one in the UK at the moment though. :-(

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Old 11-29-2013   #14
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thanks for starting the thread and my compliments about the photos
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Old 11-29-2013   #15
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The available darkness capability of the Nikon Df is quite astounding. I am used to pushing Tri-X to ASA 3200, but having ISO 6400 and 12,800 at your fingertips is something to get used to. I have a lot to learn about digital files and B&W output, but for the moment I am having letting the Df do all the post processing.
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Old 11-29-2013   #16
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At first I thought it was just another DSLR in a new wrapper and overpriced then I thought about my M9. My M9 is a nice camera but it's had its problems. I use Nikons in my work and any problems have been minor, PC connector lose. My M9 problems have been major, sensor and mother board replacement. I've owned many Nikons and shot thousands of rolls through them on assignments with virtually no issues. My early Leica has been equally dependable but leica equipment since the early 80's has failed the reliability test including my a la carte MP I ordered new ( shutter failure after a short time and lenses coming apart or focusing mounts binding).

Leica catered to the pro when I started using them in the 80's but now they cater to the enthusiast and quality control and service are lacking. On the other hand Nikon maintains reliability and the same pro service (NPS) that they've had for many decades. Nikon never forgot their pro base and has maintained the same high standard of quality in their upper end gear.

I love my M9 now that it works ( how long ) but without question my D800 system produces better files. At the time I bought my M9 I could buy 2 D800's and a lens for the same money. The images from the D800 are amazing as well with 14.4 stops of dynamic range in every pixel of its 36mp sensor. Focusing, speed and low high ISO noise are just a few advantages.

This is why I rethought the DF and figured it's really not that over priced.

Looking forward to getting mine.
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Old 11-29-2013   #17
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Looks like a wonderfully fun camera, the photos are splendid, and the produce looks yummy! How can you miss????

With best regards,

Pfreddee(Stephen)
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Old 11-29-2013   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Highway 61 View Post
This is something you should be cautious with. Either it's night - so, there is no light but for some rare light spots/rays here and there (moon, lamps, spots, city lighting, candles...) thus you take night photos, with all the charm they have (shadows, deep blacks, contrast, mystery, night atmosphere).

Or it's day (or it's in a lit indoors location) and then you perform some available light photography.

If it's night without any light source somewhere, what you are doing by pushing the ISO sensitivity of your sensor is displaying what we would see in a tunnel wearing some Soviet surplus military light-amplifier glasses. What's the point ?

Just my 2c.
To which I say, look at the results. This picture doesn't look artificial to me at all.
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Old 11-29-2013   #19
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To which I say, look at the results.
This is what I did. Yet I looked at the photograph - not at "the results" [of how the sensor and image processor can make a visible noise-free picture where there is almost no light hitting what is being photographed].
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Old 11-29-2013   #20
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Quote:
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If it's night without any light source somewhere, what you are doing by pushing the ISO sensitivity of your sensor is displaying what we would see in a tunnel wearing some Soviet surplus military light-amplifier glasses. What's the point ?
Have you experimented with this enough to feel it has no worth whatsoever?
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Old 11-29-2013   #21
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This is what I did. Yet I looked at the photograph - not at "the results" [of how the sensor and image processor can make a visible noise-free picture where there is almost no light hitting what is being photographed].
You've lost me -- what is the difference? You don't think your own vision, in a dark room at night, would give your brain a similar image? Since neither of us was actually there taking the picture, who's to say whether it's artificial or not?
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Old 11-29-2013   #22
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You don't think your own vision, in a dark room at night, would give your brain a similar image?
Very possibly - especially because the human vision in a dark room at night is in black and white because of the human eye's micro-anatomy - but I don't use to take photos in a dark room at night, in general.

A photograph doesn't summarize itself to how well a sensor and processor are capable of managing electronic noise and an EV close to nil to instantly produce an acceptable image of something the human eye would only begin to perceive after twenty minutes in the dark.

If it was, light amplifiers would have been sold for film cameras already. Well, they used to, afterall.
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Old 11-29-2013   #23
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Quote:
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If it's night without any light source somewhere, what you are doing by pushing the ISO sensitivity of your sensor is displaying what we would see in a tunnel wearing some Soviet surplus military light-amplifier glasses. What's the point ?
What are we gonna do? Photography is heading in the direction of prosthetic enhancement. Some future version of Google glasses are going to make that Soviet contraption seem ancient. Inevitably technology influences the way we see. Technological applications of optical inventions started with eyeglasses. That trajectory hasn't abated.

All's I'm saying is that it is possible to imagine a wide variety of different aesthetics within the field of vision. Not knocking your 'mystery-of-the-night' vision, so why knock others' desire to amplify light?
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Old 11-29-2013   #24
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Quote:
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Very possibly - especially because the human vision in a dark room at night is in black and white because of the human eye's micro-anatomy - but I don't use to take photos in a dark room at night, in general.

A photograph doesn't summarize itself to how well a sensor and processor are capable of managing electronic noise and an EV close to nil to instantly produce an acceptable image of something the human eye would only begin to perceive after twenty minutes in the dark.

If it was, light amplifiers would have been sold for film cameras already. Well, they used to, afterall.
Certainly, one thing digital does, by cranking up the ISO, is enable available light photography much more than film can -- and thus bring photography a lot closer to what the human eye can perceive in "available darkness." For me (and I have not yet jumped to digital at all) this is one of its main attractions. It sounds like you don't care for this feature of digital at all. But how many pictures have we seen taken on film, by moonlight, with a very long exposure, that look as if they were taken at midday? People have been doing this for a long time; digital just makes it much more feasible.
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Old 11-29-2013   #25
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The very first thing I thought when I viewed Lynn's photos was, "The old Nikkor glass renders OOF areas so much better than the new AF-S/G4 Nikkors." There is practically no chromatic aberration or edge fringing on the boarders of bright OOF objects. I've owned and used several pre-AI, AI and AIS Nikkors. Many of them are uninteresting and inferior compared to modern lenses. Some of them are wonderful. I suspect the Zeiss F-mount lenses may pair well with the DF if manual focusing turns out to be a better than I thought it could be.

At this point my pessimism regarding the DF's in manual focus mode is lessened by these early reports. I guess I will have to wait until I can wander into my local camera shop and play with one in person with my few remaining Nikkor MF lenses.

As far as extremely low light goes I think flat uninteresting light will always be flat and uninteresting. I find ISO 1600 (regardless of brand) is the limit in terms of the aesthetic utility for all but a few exceptions. For instance when a very fast shutter speed is required in normal light, extremely high ISO can save the day. However the analog signal to noise ratio and dynamic range is a degraded compared to lower ISO values. Fast shutter speeds, narrow apertures and scenes with extreme dynamic range are fundamentally problematic. Being able to use ISO 1600 or 3200 without hesitation delivers versatility we could only dream of in the past. But this doesn't mean we don't need to think about ISO anymore. In my view gratuitous use of auto ISO is a common and ironic error these days,
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Old 11-29-2013   #26
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Not knocking your 'mystery-of-the-night' vision, so why knock others' desire to amplify light?
I'm not "knocking"... just writing what I am thinking.

My point was to say that the recent cameras ability to produce images where the human eye can't see nuffin' shouldn't be taken as something interesting for itself. I can shoot a bricks wall at overcast night, handheld, without any tripod, and okay you can count the grains in the bricks structure, and okay there is no electronic noise on the image because my camera doesn't exhibit noise at ISO 204,800.

But - is it a good and interesting photograph ?
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Old 11-29-2013   #27
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For the overall impression of a sleeping cat, in very dim light, such as the human eye might see when walking into a dark room -- yes. Has a very painterly quality -- almost like a charcoal drawing.
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Old 11-29-2013   #28
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My point was to say that the recent cameras ability to produce images where the human eye can't see nuffin' shouldn't be taken as something interesting for itself.
People have been doing this with flash forever. Anything that allows someone to photograph in a way that wasn't available before is not a bad thing. It's what someone does with it that matters.
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Old 11-29-2013   #29
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The very first thing I thought when I viewed Lynn's photos was, "The old Nikkor glass renders OOF areas so much better than the new AF-S/G4 Nikkors."
Exactly.

That and "full-frame is so nice"
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Old 11-29-2013   #30
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Why Nikon put the D4 sensor in DF and not the D800?
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Just goes to show the best photos are of light/shadow, not objects.
Old 11-29-2013   #31
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Just goes to show the best photos are of light/shadow, not objects.

Quote:
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But - is it a good and interesting photograph ?
That's always a great question, and Willie's comments, as usual, are spot on.

Personnally, the photo of the cat in post #19 doesn't work for me, whereas the very first photo in the first post does. The former is taken in conditions where the light just wasn't interesting, and even if the object is interesting, the photo suffers, IMHO. But in the latter photo, the light is quite interesting, and the photo has more atmosphere. Nevertheless, I'm not very impressed with the black and white conversions here, but I assume it's too early to judge since the OP already mentions a need to spend more time learning digital PP.
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Old 11-29-2013   #32
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Great OP posts with photos to look at, thanks.
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Old 11-29-2013   #33
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Very nice Lynn, colors are really good and the bokeh of those lenses are creamy. Must resist for now.
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Old 11-29-2013   #34
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i'm actually surprised by your positive review on manual focusing with the old lens.
how's the Df VF different compared to the D610, D800E and D4?

one thing that I wished Df did was simplify all those buttons in the back.
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Old 11-29-2013   #35
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The past couple of years have taken us on a trend of comparable and even convergent image quality coming from various high end digital cameras. So, IMHO, the output of all of these high end cameras are more or less in the same zip code wrt image quality.

Again IMHO, the differentiators are in other areas. Before ordering a D800E, I looked closely at the Sony A7R, which would have allowed my to use my M lenses on a FF digital body; I briefly considered the DF for the reasons Lynn articulated (very well, I must add) in this thread; but in the end, the D800E met my needs.

So, I get what Lynn is saying about the DF meeting his particular needs wrt ergonomics and his methods.
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Old 11-29-2013   #36
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Why Nikon put the D4 sensor in DF and not the D800?
i think the answer to my own question is a simple one. DF is designed to work with legacy nikon lenses and its 16mp sensor is going to be a lot more forgiving of those lenses. the 36mp sensor in D800 is completely unforgiven to most lenses other than the very hi-res modern ones that are designed for high mp digital sensors.
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Old 11-29-2013   #37
willie_901
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowfox View Post
Exactly.

That and "full-frame is so nice"
Uh... is that because the angle of view is maintained?

The G Nikkor primes all have significant fringing wide open on my D 700 bodies and is one reason why I now own five Fujinon XF lenses and the X-Pro 1.
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Old 11-29-2013   #38
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Originally Posted by xpanded View Post
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Old 11-29-2013   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Margu View Post
Why Nikon put the D4 sensor in DF and not the D800?
My guess is that a 36 Mpx sensor would require so much processing power that is would have made the Df much larger and require too much power.
The Sony A7r can remain small because it lack a mirror - but note that its battery life is much shorter than a full frame DSLR.
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Old 11-29-2013   #40
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Lynn says : " I did not buy a Epson RD-1, Leica M8 or M9, D700, D600, etc and etc. not because they were not very capable cameras, but they were not the camera I was looking for." I say: "me too!"

Thanks Lynn for the photos and the review. An interesting camera, I'll have opportunity to see and try one in my usual shop next week. Not sure if ok for me but worthwhile to try. I'll bring a couple of my lens.

robert
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