I bought a Nikon Df DSLR.
I’ve wanted one since they were introduced in 2013, but the price tag chased me away. But when I started my new job, my wife encouraged me to buy myself something very nice to mark the transition. Not only is my new job exactly the position I’ve wanted for years — being selected felt like a serious validation of what I bring to the table as a leader of software engineers — but it came with a healthy pay increase. I’m not normally given over to extravagant purchases for myself, but I went ahead this time. I could have bought myself any number of other things. For example, for years I’ve wanted a fine Swiss watch. But it appears that Nikon might have recently discontinued the Df. Stock was low everywhere, especially in silver over black. If I wanted a new Df, this was probably my last chance.
This purchase was far more emotional than rational, but here are all of the allegedly rational reasons for owning this Df. It looks and operates very much like one of Nikon’s film SLRs from the late ’70s and early ’80s. It also takes all of my manual-focus Nikkor lenses with very little fuss. If I still had any pre-AI lenses, I could mount them on the Df no problem. When you mount a non-AF lens you have to use aperture-priority or manual-exposure modes, but the meter works perfectly. The Df is a smashing fit for the way I like to make photographs.
Even though the Df was first manufactured eight years ago, an eternity in digital-camera history, it’s still modern enough for me. Its full-frame sensor grabs gobs of detail. Newer full-frame sensors have more than this one’s 16 megapixels, but the 4920×3280-pixel images this camera delivers are more than large enough for my purposes. Really, I bought this camera primarily because of how it functions in my hands.
My Df came with a 50mm f/1.8G AF-S Nikkor Special Edition lens. It has aspherical elements to eliminate lens aberrations, not that my eye is sophisticated enough to see it. Here are a couple shots I made with it.
I mounted my 35mm f/2.8 AI Nikkor for a few photographs. I had to input the focal length and maximum aperture into the Df, but not only was it not hard, but I was also able to assign it to a preset for the next time I use this lens. The viewfinder doesn’t offer a split prism, my favorite way to focus. But the LCD offers a > O < display to show when you’ve locked focus. You keep adjusting focus until the > and < fall away and only the O is lit. It worked smoothly enough.
Our granddaughter came over to visit. I mounted my 28-80mm f/3.3-4.5G AF Nikkor, an inexpensive kit lens that came with the N65 I used to own. I’ve always had excellent luck with that kit zoom. I shot 150 photos that morning. This camera is super fast! Hit the button and it’s immediately ready to go again. I was easily able to keep up with our speedy little granddaughter.
This purchase relegates my beloved Canon PowerShot S95 to backup camera status. It served well for more than ten years. I hope to get twenty years or more from the Df.
I’m excited to be able to use my manual-focus Nikkor lenses on this camera so easily. But at age 53 my eyes aren’t as good as they were just a few years ago. I feel a slight struggle to focus on fine details, a struggle that didn’t used to be there. I’m sure that at some point, hopefully many years in the future, I’ll find myself unable to see the focus aids in my film SLRs’ viewfinders. At that point I may need to say goodbye to my manual-focus cameras. Thanks to the Df, I won’t have to also say goodbye to the usability I’ve come to be used to with them, or to my small collection of good manual-focus Nikkor lenses.
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