Nikon Df Review

February 17, 2014 | Mark Goldstein | |

Image Quality

All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 16 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 7Mb.

Noise

The base sensitivity of the Nikon Df is ISO 100. The 'native' range extends to ISO 12,800, with boosted settings of ISO 25,600 (H1.0); ISO 51,200 (H2.0); ISO 102,400 (H3.0) and ISO 204,800 (H4.0) also available. Additionally, you can choose ISO 50 (L1.0) when there's plenty of light, and you don't want to stop down your lens beyond a certain point. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

JPEG RAW

ISO 50 (100% Crop)

ISO 50 (100% Crop)

iso50.jpg iso50raw.jpg
   

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

iso100.jpg iso100raw.jpg
   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

iso200.jpg iso200raw.jpg
   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

iso400.jpg iso400raw.jpg
   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

iso800.jpg iso800raw.jpg
   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

iso1600.jpg iso1600raw.jpg
   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

iso3200.jpg iso3200raw.jpg
   

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

ISO 6400 (100% Crop)

iso6400.jpg iso6400raw.jpg
   

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

ISO 12800 (100% Crop)

iso12800.jpg iso12800raw.jpg
   

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

ISO 25600 (100% Crop)

iso25600.jpg iso25600raw.jpg
   

ISO 51200 (100% Crop)

ISO 51200 (100% Crop)

iso51200.jpg iso51200raw.jpg
   

ISO 102400 (100% Crop)

ISO 102400 (100% Crop)

iso102400.jpg iso102400raw.jpg
   

ISO 204800 (100% Crop)

ISO 204800 (100% Crop)

iso204800.jpg iso204800raw.jpg

Sharpening

The out-of-camera JPEGs appear a lot less sharp than images converted from raw, and often benefit from some sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. Alternatively you can change the in-camera sharpening level to suit your tastes. Here are two pairs of 100% crops – the right-hand images have had some extra sharpening applied.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

sharpen1.jpg sharpen1a.jpg
   
sharpen2.jpg sharpen2a.jpg

File Quality

The file quality settings available on the Nikon Df are Fine, Normal and Basic for JPEGs, plus you can also store your photos in Nikon's proprietary raw format (NEF). NEFs can be either 12- or 14-bit. Don't expect to see much of a difference between these two unless you do lots of post-capture tweaking, in which case you may see a benefit to working with 14-bit originals. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options.

16M Fine (7.24Mb) (100% Crop) 16M Normal (4.83Mb) (100% Crop)
quality_fine.jpg quality_normal.jpg
   
16M Basic (2.71Mb)(100% Crop) 16M RAW (19.1Mb) (100% Crop)
quality_basic.jpg quality_raw.jpg
   
16M TIF (48.5Mb) (100% Crop)  
quality_raw.jpg  

Active D-lighting (ADL)

D-lighting is Nikon's dynamic range optimisation tool that attempts to squeeze the full dynamic range of the sensor into JPEGs. Active D-lighting works “on the fly”, before the in-camera processing engine converts the raw image data into JPEGs. The available settings are Off, Low, Normal, High, Extra High 1 and Extra High 2.

Off

Low

adl_01.jpg adl_02.jpg
   

Normal

High

adl_03.jpg adl_04.jpg
   

Extra High 1

Extra High 2

adl_05.jpg adl_06.jpg

HDR Capture

The Nikon Df has the ability to shoot two differently exposed images in rapid succession, which are then blended in-camera to form a single, high-dynamic-range image. Although Nikon recommends that you use a tripod for this, the extremely fast continuous shooting capability of the Nikon Df means that you can often get good results even when you don't have a tripod to hand. The exposure differential can be 1, 2 or 3EV (or automatic), and you can choose from three different levels of smoothing. Note that this feature is only available when shooting JPEGs.

Off

1EV

hdr_01.jpg hdr_02.jpg
   

2EV

3EV

hdr_03.jpg hdr_04.jpg

Picture Controls

Nikon's Picture Controls are akin to Canon's Picture Styles in being preset combinations of sharpening, contrast, brightness, saturation and hue. The Nikon Df offers all six Picture Controls that were present in the D4, namely Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait and Landscape. All Picture Controls can be tweaked to your liking, then saved and transferred to other cameras.

Standard

Neutral

picture_controls_01.jpg picture_controls_02.jpg
   

Vivid

Monochrome

picture_controls_03.jpg picture_controls_04.jpg
   

Portrait

Landscape

picture_controls_05.jpg picture_controls_06.jpg

Vignette Control

Vignetting is a fact of life with FX cameras and their lenses, but it usually does not mean completely black corners. Nikon's Vignette Control feature seeks to reduce this corner shading. As in the D4, it has three levels, Low, Normal and High, and it can of course be turned off. As you can see in these examples taken with the AF-S 50mm f/1.8G lens at f/1.8, the feature really works.

Off

Low

vc_off.jpg vc_low.jpg
   

Normal

High

vc_normal.jpg vc_high.jpg

Night

The Nikon Df lets you dial in shutter speeds of up to 4 seconds and has Bulb and Time modes as well for exposure times of practically any length, which is very good news if you are seriously interested in night photography. There is an optional long-exposure noise reduction function that can be activated to filter out any hot pixels that may appear when extremely slow shutter speeds are used, though we found no need for this when taking the photograph below at a shutter speed of 30 seconds, aperture of f/16 at ISO 200. We've included a 100% crop for you to see what the quality is like.

Night

Night (100% Crop)

night1.jpg night1a.jpg