1. Reminder: Please user our affiliate links to get to your favorite stores for holiday shopping!

Nikon Df

Discussion in 'Nikon DSLR Forum' started by asiafish, Sep 21, 2014.

  1. asiafish

    asiafish SC Rookie

    18
    Sep 13, 2013
    Bakersfield, CA
    Andrew
    Hello all. I live mostly on the sister forum Leicaplace and call the Leica M Monochrom my primary camera. Well, like some here (and there) I recognize an occasional need for a DSLR, and of course my wife actually expects color pictures when we travel and for me to be in some of those pictures. Whats a poor guy to do?

    I though about a Leica M, but then it would mean having to teach someone how to focus a rangefinder every time I wanted to be in the picture or setting hyper focal and hoping whoever I hand it to didn't bump the focus ring or worse yet, run off with my Leica. So an SLR or something else color and serious was in order.

    I tried to like the Sony A7 series, but found them just uncomfortable to hold and shoot. I have a Sony RX100m2 and the results are great, but its just not fun to shoot with. Finally settled last year on a Canon 6D with the 24-105L. Results were more than acceptable, but it felt more like a computer than a camera.

    Well, I think I'm there. The Canon is gone and in its place a Nikon Df (silver). I bought it used with both the 50mm f/1.8G (not so) special edition and the 24-120mm f/4 Nikon zoom, which is too heavy and bulky to be a good travel lens on the Df (on account of the Df's tiny grip). I'm not a zoom guy anyway, so the 24-120 will either be for events that don't require a lot of walking or get eBayed. Ditto the 50/1.8SE, which looks nice, but just isn't for me. Yes, its very sharp and light weight, but a 50mm lens should have some magic and the Nikon 50/1.8, good as it is, is just too sterile. The Df does look and feel great in the hand with the 50/1.8, and while the modern Nikon primes don't have that semi-vintage style, they also balance well and generally match the camera far better than a heavy zoom.

    So prime lens and bokeh fanatic that I am, I bought a set of primes to go with my new-to-me Df. The newish Nikon AF-S 58mm f/1.4G is a very expensive lens, but it has bokeh that (in my opinion) is even smooth than the Leica Summilux. Like my vintage Zeiss Sonnar on the Leica, this lens just makes people better looking when you point it at them (too bad the effect is temporary). This is a lens that has some magic, and I can see it being my primary lens on the Df.

    For travel, I like to divide an SLR outfit into lens sets, going smaller and lighter the farther I expect to walk. For most trips, I can get by with just the 58 and either a 24 or 28, with the 24 winning if I expect to shoot a lot of impressive land or cityscapes, and the 28 winning for more generic urban shooting. Nikon's 24mm f/2.8D is a very old design and a raging bargain, but it still has terrific image quality (much better than the Nikon 24-120 or Canon 24-105), and of course it is VERY small and light. It also has a real aperture ring, so I can use it on my ancient Nikon FM if I want to shoot some Tri-X. The new Nikon 28mm f/1.8G is an even better lens, scary sharp at most apertures and also quite lightweight, but it is bulky, almost as bulky as the 58mm. These are my light two lens kits (24+58 or 28+58 and so equipped I can cover about 85% if anything I'm likely to encounter.

    For even lighter travel, I go down to one lens and invariably its a 35mm. Nikon has an excellent new 35mm f/1.8G (FX format) that I just ordered. This lens is just as sharp as the 28mm and when focused on something close and opened to f/1.8 or f/2 gives a very nice and smooth bokeh. No, its not a cream machine like the 58, but its entirely pleasant in both defocused foreground and background where most semi-wides and wide angles are ugly.

    One aspect of the Df I really enjoy is its compatibility with vintage lenses and this was probably my biggest complaint with the Canon 6D. The Df works great with even very old lenses, and will give full matrix metering and while program and shutter priority AE modes don't work, aperture priority with full-aperture metering does and that is my favorite shooting mode anyway. For my vintage lens fix I bought a 105mm f/2.5 Nikkor P (Sonnar type) from the mid to late 1960s from a gentleman on Leicaplace and that Sonnar pattern lens on the Df is every bit as beautiful in its rendering as my genuine 1937 Carl Zeiss Jena 5cm f/1.5 Sonnar (converted by Brian Sweeney to Leica Thread Mount) is on the Leica Monochrom. It pairs well with a 35mm f/2 Nikkor O of similar vintage, while the trusty Nikon FM can go in the bag with a few rolls of Tri-X and shoot with the same lenses. Those two lenses form an adequate 2-lens travel kit in themselves, only really missing the wife end as anything needed between 35 and 105mm can usually be reached by zooming with my feet.

    The only holes are really at 85mm and 135mm. I like 135mm lenses and long used them in the film days. This is a focal length I would prefer with autofocus and currently Nikon just doesn't have a compact 135mm. They have the f/2 DC model that is supposed to be a stunning portrait lens, but at 815 grams I'm sure it would never leave the house. Hell, the 24-120 zoom rarely leaves at 670 grams (the 58mm f/1.4 is only 385 grams). I guess I'll look for an old Nikkor 135mm f/3.5 (last of the Sonnars) or the series E 135mm f/2.8, which was very light weight. I'll probably skip 85mm as the vintage 105mm and modern 58mm lenses are close enough, and I just don't see myself going out without one or the other.

    I'm taking a 4 day family trip this winter to Vancouver, BC Canada and then a two week trip in the spring to Korea, and will get try this stuff out at that time.
     
    • Like Like x 6
  2. Boid

    Boid SC All-Pro

    Dec 15, 2011
    Bangalore, India
    Rajiv
    Well, post some pictures dammit.
     
  3. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Andrew, welcome. In some ways we're in similar places with our Df experience, in some ways not. I'm coming from m43 and APS mirrorless, not Leica, so probably different expectations that way. I am something of a prime lens fanatic but not really a bokeh fanatic, so different priorities there. And the "middle" focal lengths have just never worked for me, or me them, or whatever, so I have a cheap 50mm f1.8D (which I like as well as I'll ever like something in that range and paid about $75 for) and the 58 f1.4 is not on my radar.

    BUT...

    I tend to shoot a LOT of wide angle and a fair amount of short (portrait length) telephoto, so I'm in your same ballpark on some of the other stuff. I too have the 24mm f2.8D and the 28mm f1.8, both of which I like a lot. I don't have a 35 for the Nikon because I have a Sony RX1 which I sometimes take out with the Nikon as a 35mm option and often take out by itself when I want to travel light. That Zeiss 35 f2.0 is nicer than any Nikon I'll ever buy and I like having that higher-res, higher DR sensor for some shooting too, so that's my 35mm. I have a 20mm f2.8 D also that I really DON'T like and this is one of my favorite focal lengths - as wide as you can go without getting into ultra-wide angles and distortion effects, so I'm in transition at that length. I bought a used Zeiss 21mm f2.8 which was absolutely fantastic. I could handle it but it was a bit larger and heavier than I wanted as an everyday walk around lens, but I was gonna keep it. And then I was still within the return period when Nikon announced their new 20mm f1.8, which has gotten excellent early reviews and is similar to the 28mm f1.8 in size and weight. So I reluctantly returned the Zeiss 21 (which was one of the more difficult things I've done, although I'm saving a boatload of money) and ordered the Nikon 20 f1.8. I'm hoping it will be similar in quality to the Fuji 14mm, which was my favorite Fuji lens and the only real regret I had when I sold my Fuji gear and moved over to the Df...

    The portrait length is more of a challenge. I have an 85 f1.8 D which I like well enough to cover the shorter portrait length. But I want something in the 120-150 range also (I had the amazing Olympus 75mm f1.8 with my m43 kit and LOVED shooting with that lens at that 150mm focal length) and that's a tougher nut to crack with this system. I too have the 24-120 f4 zoom which actually handles that 90-120mm range pretty well for my uses - you don't get the extremely narrow DOF or low light capability you'd get with the 105 or 135 DC lenses, but with the Df's low light capability and the VR in that lens, it actually does better for this type of use than I have any right to expect. So that'll hold me as an AF lens in that range for now. For 135, I had the same reaction to the f2.0 DC lens that you had, so I'm holding out. In addition to it's size and weight, it doesn't have VR and at this focal length, I think that can start to really matter, particularly for low light shooting. There have been persistent rumors that Sigma is getting ready to release a 135mm AF/VR (or whatever Sigma calls VR) at about f1.8 or f2.0, but still no word on that one. So to hold me over, I went on ebay and found an excellent 135 f2.8 AI lens for $150. It's actually a great old lens and I was lucky to get one in pretty much perfect condition. It's manual focus and no VR so I don't know that this'll ever be a primary lens for family get-togethers in lower light, but I'm gonna give it a try this holiday season (along with the 85 and 24-120) just to see how I'm doing with this gear. I might even rent a 135 DC to see - maybe I'll like it more than I expect I would??? The other option might honestly be to find a used Olympus m43 body and 75mm and just keep that around the house for those uses - I tend not to travel with that focal length anyway. Then again, if I rent and end up liking the 135 DC, I could treat that the same way and not worry much about the size/weight. We'll see - I don't have any idea how that one's gonna shake out... Here's a pic of the 135 f2.8 AI on the Df - there's an f2.0 version as well, but it's bigger, heavier, and a lot more expensive (although still around $400-600, so not wildly expensive), but this little gem will hold me for a while...

    14950090438_292bf08834_h. 135 tests-1 by ramboorider1, on Flickr

    I actually like the 24-120 zoom a lot more than I thought I would, given my general aversion to zooms. I could conceivably see using it as a travel lens. I don't mind carrying it as long as I'm not carrying much else. Maybe that and the 20mm and one faster prime (28 probably or the RX1) for low light... I don't like most zooms because the typical 24-70/80 doesn't give me much I use other than my typical wide 24.28, which I'm happier shooting with primes anyway. But with the range out to 120, I find that zoom actually covers almost anything I'd shoot on a day to day basis, other than the wider stuff I'd bring the 20mm along for... I'd probably be just as happy with the 20, 28, RX1, and 135 though, and that would be a lighter camera if a roughly similar weight in the bag...

    Anyway, the journey continues. Trying to keep it as small and light as possible given the quality and size of the sensor in this great little DSLR...

    Looking forward to see how you progress with this system as well, and maybe glean some ideas...

    -Ray
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. RT Panther

    RT Panther SC All-Pro

    Dec 25, 2012
    Welcome to the Dƒ club!

    I shoot primarily with the non-AI lenses. With regard to first comment about primes, I just picked up a pristine (pretty much like-new) 1962 non-AI 58mm ƒ1.4 that produces stunning results! Along the non-AI lines, I also have excellent copies of the 55mm ƒ1.2 and 50mm ƒ1.4

    Now to the135mm focal length.
    Yes it's manual focus but I absolutely LOVE my non-AI 135mm ƒ2.8. Yes, it's larger than the "E" series but I love the results. Here are a few samples from it.

    13808448113_14bb9634ba_c. Nikkor 135 ƒ2.8 Q non-AI on my Nikon Dƒ (1969-1971) by RedTail_Panther, on Flickr

    14253856963_511cdacbcf_c. Baby Armadillos by RedTail_Panther, on Flickr

    14047181567_ffb9b052f1_c. Baby Armadillos by RedTail_Panther, on Flickr

    Cheetah-like pose? by RedTail_Panther, on Flickr

    15039158448_0b1000655c_c. Natural Fence Line by RedTail_Panther, on Flickr

    14984678458_570e13b708_c. Mariachi Trumpeter Rafael Garcia by RedTail_Panther, on Flickr

    15272886032_22b472ae6e_c. Echale! by RedTail_Panther, on Flickr

    15200417931_a4e56ecd6b_c. A Wonderful Local Painter by RedTail_Panther, on Flickr
     
    • Like Like x 5
  5. asiafish

    asiafish SC Rookie

    18
    Sep 13, 2013
    Bakersfield, CA
    Andrew
    Thanks for the great responses and the insights regarding the 135mm focal length. I'll look for a 135mm f/2.8A AI or Series E. I know the Df handles non-AI, but I like the convenience of just setting the aperture on the lens and not having to duplicate with the camera control, which knowing me I will forget to do on that one image I can't afford to blow.

    Anyway, I haven't had the Df out much yet as my next trip isn't until New Years, but here are a few shots from my Rotary meeting a the wine bar I like to go to afterwards.


    Df with 105mm f/2.5 Nikkor P (Sonnar) wide-open at ISO 3200, OOC JPEG

    15213143905_1a829a03ab_b. DSC_5910 by Lawman1967, on Flickr


    Df with 105mm f/2.5 Nikkor P (Sonnar) wide-open at ISO 12,800, OOC JPEG

    15212736062_2a0685b742_b. DSC_5925 by Lawman1967, on Flickr

    15213136915_b7461661ca_b. DSC_5927 by Lawman1967, on Flickr


    Nikon Df with borrowed 85mm f/1.4D, wide-open, Auto ISO, OOC JPEG

    15216565286_d3581020c6_b. DSC_5954 by Lawman1967, on Flickr

    15052896140_ae74286608_b. DSC_5988 by Lawman1967, on Flickr

    15053013978_ae8b6551d0_b. DSC_6016 by Lawman1967, on Flickr

    15239206582_170a97aef4_b. DSC_6087 by Lawman1967, on Flickr


    Nikon Df with 50mm f/1.8G, Wide Open, Auto ISO, OOC JPEG

    [​IMG]DSC_6065 by Lawman1967, on Flickr


    Nikon Df with 58mm f/1.4G, Wide Open, ISO 3200, OOC JPEG

    15092958420_5f54e155de_b. DSC_6739 by Lawman1967, on Flickr

    15256658516_26276e8220_b. DSC_6703 by Lawman1967, on Flickr

    15279683135_5e4af69a72_b. DSC_6603 by Lawman1967, on Flickr

    15093153708_608e41e5e5_b. DSC_6517 by Lawman1967, on Flickr

    15279334172_0806238ffc_b. DSC_6511 by Lawman1967, on Flickr
     
    • Like Like x 6
  6. EasyEd

    EasyEd SC Regular

    143
    Dec 22, 2010
    Hey All,

    Asiafish thank you for the images! Seein where you are from makes me think of the Blackboard, Lucky Spot, Trouts and the Crystal Palace. Think I'll go listen to some Buck or Merle...

    -Ed-
     
  7. asiafish

    asiafish SC Rookie

    18
    Sep 13, 2013
    Bakersfield, CA
    Andrew
    Ed, despite living in Bakersfield I just don't care for country music. Great heritage here though.
     
  8. RT Panther

    RT Panther SC All-Pro

    Dec 25, 2012
    Good show here! I love my 105 f2.5 also! :smile:

     
  9. drd1135

    drd1135 SC Hall of Famer

    Jul 13, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    Steve
    And welcome :flowers_2:
     
    • Like Like x 1
  10. asiafish

    asiafish SC Rookie

    18
    Sep 13, 2013
    Bakersfield, CA
    Andrew
    Done, look down.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. EasyEd

    EasyEd SC Regular

    143
    Dec 22, 2010
    Hey All,

    Asiafish - no worries on the music. I was born and raised country and Bakersfield is a holy grail. I wish more had been done to preserve that heritage. My family lived in Bakersfield for awhile - my brothers and sisters graduated from west high. I still remember how impossible it was to get a tennis court at two am in the summer! :) And of course the smell of the stockyards!

    -Ed-
     
  12. asiafish

    asiafish SC Rookie

    18
    Sep 13, 2013
    Bakersfield, CA
    Andrew
    I've been in Bakersfield for six years now, and its great for business (immigration law and criminal defense of immigrants), and actually not to bad for photography, when it isn't blistering hot outside.
     
  13. Boid

    Boid SC All-Pro

    Dec 15, 2011
    Bangalore, India
    Rajiv
    Brilliant pictures they are too :smile:

    Thanks a bunch!