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Nikon DF - how big is too big?

Discussion in 'Nikon DSLR Forum' started by Briar, Oct 4, 2014.

  1. Briar

    Briar SC All-Pro

    Oct 27, 2010
    Scotland
    Karen
    A question about the Nikon DF and zoom lenses:

    I have 24mm, 35mm , 50mm and 85mm lenses which, for a lot of the time, are great. However, I tend to stick to one lens for each outing as I don't like, and it's not always convenient, to change the lenses when I am out shooting. I've just came back from the Swiss Alps and so wish I had had a zoom lens with me. I used the 24mm all the time I was there, relying on my OMD E-M5 with the 28-150 for closer shots.

    However, I have read a few times that zoom lenses aren't so great to work with on the Nikon DF due to the ergonomics of the camera. I just wanted to ask if anyone does use zoom lenses with their Nikon DF and, if so, which ones would they recommend? Or are zooms just too much of a handful?
     
  2. serhan

    serhan SC All-Pro

    May 7, 2011
    NYC
    I don't know what range/speed you are looking, but I loved Sigma 24-60mm 2.8 lens on 5D due to its size/price, but it is not very good with high MP A7R and still has limited range... Similarly I tried older Tamron 28-300mm VC on A7R looking for sth similar to Oly 14-150mm. Tamron is good on the wide side upto 100mm but pretty weak on the tele end. It has 1/3 macro which is perfect, but I returned it. Even at its good range it was not comparable to what I got from small Contax g primes. After pp, it was better though but still 300mm was bad esp I was mf due to slow af. The newer PZD version has better reviews, but at 3x times of the older used version. The Tamron lens sizes should be a good match for DF. It was smaller then the Canon 70-300mm. You can check PZD version review:

    http://www.ephotozine.com/article/tamron-28-300mm-f-3-5-6-3-di-vc-pzd-lens-review-26263
     
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  3. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Karen,

    I have a 24-120 f4. I agree that it was MORE comfortable to shoot that lens with the D610 because of the grip, but it's not a problem shooting with the Df. I tend to use my left hand to support the lens anyway, so my right hand doesn't have any problems with the relatively small grip on the Df. That said, it's a larger lens than I like to use most of the time. But I don't like shooting zooms much and when I do, I love the range of that lens. If you want a small but good zoom for travel, check out the 24-85 f3.5-4.5 that's been sold as a kit lens with the D600/610. Its on par with the 24-120 optically and is barely larger or heavier than the 85mm f1.8. I have the 85 f1.8D and the 24-85 is about the same length, about 50-60 grams heavier, and just a bit fatter. If you're shooting with the 85 f1.4, the difference is less - the zoom may even be a bit smaller and lighter... It's not ultra fast, but f3.5-4.5 goes pretty far with full frame. And because it was a kit lens, you can find them used for a little over half the price of a new one. If you don't care about adding to your range of focal lengths, it's a great solution. Worth checking out at least...

    -Ray
     
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  4. RT Panther

    RT Panther SC All-Pro

    Dec 25, 2012
    The AI and AI-s manual focus zooms are pretty neat & tidy if you don't mind manual focus. :smile:
     
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  5. Briar

    Briar SC All-Pro

    Oct 27, 2010
    Scotland
    Karen
    I don't think my hubby would have the patience for me to use manual focus when we are out hiking. I'm slow at the best of times. Manual focus would just make me a whole lot slower! Thanks for the suggestion though.
     
  6. Briar

    Briar SC All-Pro

    Oct 27, 2010
    Scotland
    Karen
    I hadn't given any thought to the 24-85 because it covers the range I already have. The price and size is tempting though, and I could always crop in post. In urban areas I wouldn't feel such a spoon with the big whopping lens attached to my camera. That said, I do like the option of the longer reach. I'm in no real hurry to choose. No more travel plans until December. But you know how it is when you get the thought in your head that you need something!
     
  7. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Yeah, if you want the reach in a zoom, you have to get a bigger lens. The 24-120 isn't huge by any means but it's a couple hundred grams heavier than the 24-85.

    This page shows the 24-85 first in comparison with the 24-120 and then compared to the 28 f1.8 (not a small "D" prime, but not a large lens either, and quite light) and it's 24-85 f2.8-4 predecessor. It's nearly the same size as the 28 f1.8, although a little heavier. But notably smaller and lighter than the 24-120.

    http://photographylife.com/reviews/nikon-24-85mm-vr/2

    My normal "walk around" kit is the new 20mm, the 28 f1.8 and the 90mm f2.8 Tamron, which sort of doubles as a portrait / short telephoto and is a great macro lens too. It's sort of the Fuji 60mm of this kit. I don't have much need for the middle range, as you can see. If I want a 35 instead of a 28, I take the RX1 instead of the 28mm lens. If I were to walk around with a zoom on a regular basis, I'd probably get the 24-85, but I'd often probably still carry the 20mm in the bag for the wide end. And for the longer end, I have an old 135 f2.8 AI that I got for about $150 on eBay. It's manual focus, but it's not something I use all that much, and it offers significantly more reach and DOF control than the 24-85 and it's NOT a large lens. It's about the length of the 28 f1.8 or 24-85 but is a lot narrower. So if I'd want wider or longer I'd have those in the bag (and leave them behind pretty often too), but I'd probably use the 24-85 as the main lens. Given how little I shoot with a zoom (mostly specific events), I'd rather carry the larger 24-120 and have the reach, but if it was a "walk around" setup, I'd probably spare myself the extra weight...

    -Ray
     
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  8. donlaw

    donlaw SC All-Pro

    Sep 14, 2012
    Texas
    Don
    I use the 70-300 VR, 28-70 f2.8, and 20-35 f2.8 when I travel and need a lot of the flexible you can get from zooms. But like you I mostly use primes.
    If I could only take one zoom on a trip it would be the 70-300 Vr. It is not that heavy and while I agree with Ray that the ergonomics of the D610 (in my case the D800) is better for supporting the long lens with one hand.
    I got use to using it with the Df very quickly and if goes with me most times when I carry a camera bag.
     
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  9. RT Panther

    RT Panther SC All-Pro

    Dec 25, 2012
    LoL Okay then ...:biggrin:
    If you're willing to fore go stabilization, some of the older AF lenses can be small....
     
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  10. ray*j*gun

    ray*j*gun SC Rookie

    16
    Dec 18, 2011
    I have an old Nikon 6006 that came with the kit 24-85mm plastic body lens. I just tried it on my new D610 just to see how bad it worked and was shocked to discover that the images were excellent. Am I dreaming or are those old cheapies worthy of a new 24mp sensor? Sorry if this question is off point but I am really hoping that the older plastic Nikors had good glass.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Luke
    You've got wide to normal covered very well. I'd grab the 70-300 VR and be done with it.....unless you don't mind heavy and have some money burning a whole in your wallet. Then I would suggest the 70-200 VR.
     
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  12. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 SC Top Veteran

    537
    Feb 6, 2015
    Central Ohio, USA
    Andrew
    I've used the Nikon 24-85/3.5-4.5 VR and Tamron 70-300/4-5.6 VC on the Df with no issues in handling at all. You can check out the "show your Df photos" thread to see some of the shots I've gotten with those lenses.

    I much prefer primes, but there are times when they are not the best tool for the job. My standard prime kit for the Df: Nikon 24/2.8, 50/1.8D, Tamron 90/2.8 Macro
     
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  13. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I was just getting some stuff together for a trip to New York City in a couple of weeks, and I was reminded of this thread. My wife and I are going up for a long weekend and I'm staying the rest of the week after she heads home. I know when I'm in NYC I'm generally walking all day, or as close to that as my feet can stand. So I've gotta have a light kit. So here's my day to day walk around kit for an urban area like NYC. It's the Df with a Voigtlander 40mm f2.0 mounted, with a Voigtlander 20mm f3.5, the Nikon 24mm f2.8, and an old Nikon 135mm f2.8. So I'm covered for my normal wide (24), ultra-wide (20), neutral-ish (40), and mid-telephoto.

    16893900811_e2dc51ef48_o. small DF kit by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    This kit fits EASILY in the small Ona Bowery bag (also in the pic), along with my Coolpix A, and small accessories. The 24mm is the only AF lens, and I used to think MF would be a deal breaker, but it turns out it's not at all except at longer focal lengths for certain uses. If I was planning to do a lot of candid portraits, I'd probably take my AF 85 f1.8 D instead of the 135, but for the type of shooting I'll be doing in the city, I can't think of a situation where I'll prefer AF. I'll probably bring a couple of larger lenses along - the Zeiss 21 and maybe Zeiss 25 for landscapes in the Park, maybe a longer telephoto for rooftop shots or maybe a trip to the top of the rock - but they'll probably stay behind in the apartment all but one or two days. This tiny kit will probably be my day to day walk around kit. And I can pretty much guarantee the 24 and 20 will get the lion's share of use, so I could probably get by a good deal smaller and lighter some days if I decide to. But this is small and light enough to carry all day easily, so no point in leaving the 40 or 135 behind...

    So, on the subject of shooting full frame DSLRs and "how big is too big", this simply isn't. The entire kit, including the bag is just a hair over 5 pounds. I don't think I ever took out a smaller or lighter kit for a day of shooting when I was using m43 or Fuji gear... If I substitute the Zeiss 21 and 25 for the Voigt 20 and Nikon 24, I'm up to about six pounds, still well within reason...

    For sure, if you like fast, pro-level, zooms and long telephotos, you'd be dealing with a good deal more size and weight. You would be with m43 or Fuji also, but not as much bigger or heavier. But I don't shoot with that stuff. So, depending on what and how you shoot, it's very possible to stay with a pretty small kit with a full frame DSLR...

    -Ray
     
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  14. Briar

    Briar SC All-Pro

    Oct 27, 2010
    Scotland
    Karen
    Thanks for bringing this thread back to life Ray. I seemed to have been pondering this decision for such a long time and decided, finally just last week, that I didn't want to go big with the nikon df. I'm sticking to the primes for now.

    I know you have drifted from micro four thirds but my boots are firmly in that camp. The size just fits for me, so much so that I am currently waiting on the delivery of the two pro lenses and the E-M1 to pack with my E-M5, a few other lenses and my waterproofs. I'm heading off to Iceland at the end of April and am expecting the weather to throw everything at me.

    I'm looking forward to your New York pictures as always.
     
  15. BillN

    BillN SC Hall of Famer

    Aug 25, 2010
    S W France
    Bill
    Agree with above the 70 300mm f4.5/f5.6 VR is good and it is light
    just be a little careful with "external" zooms and they are more susceptible to dust, (when hiking!!!)

    I find that the "compression" that a longer lens brings into images is quite appealing .... I use my 300mm for lots of different shots
     
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  16. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Karen,

    If I had any real interest in shooting with zooms regularly, I'd be using m43 for that as well. I have a couple of zooms for the Df, but they're not things I use regularly. The 24-120 I use for an occasional event, or occasionally for family stuff, but almost never as a walk around lens. And I have a 70-300 that I take out for specific types of shooting, but it's never a walk around lens. That's why the Df works for me - I'm almost exclusively a prime shooter and I'm not enticed by the really big, super-fast primes either. F 2.0 is pretty much always fast enough for me with full frame and f2.8 is no problem either. For that matter, when I've used the 24-120 f4, I've found f4 pretty decent for both low light (with the DF's sensor) and narrow enough DOF. When I want to shoot lenses with crazy good IQ, I have the trio of Zeiss wide primes, but for much of my shooting, I'm really happy with the smaller lens options shown above.

    For traveling with zooms, I'd probably make similar choices to your's. Zooms and I just don't get along well, for whatever reason - I just don't see well with that many options constantly available.

    Have a great trip to Iceland - I can't wait to see what you come back with!

    -Ray