Nikon Df: Performance

February 11, 2014 by Theano Nikitas Reads (11,375)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 9
    • Features
    • 8
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 6
    • Performance
    • 8
    • Expandability
    • 8
    • Total Score:
    • 7.80
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Shooting Performance
While the Df is built around the same sensor as the D4, the smaller camera isn’t the speed demon like its higher end sibling. Continuous shooting maxes out at about 5.5 frames per second, which is fine but is about half the fps of the D4. Again, I keep reminding myself that the Df is a whole different type of camera and that I (and you) need to keep that in mind when looking at the specs and working with the camera.

Overall, the camera is very responsive with a quick start-up time and good shot-to-shot times; the latter is generally limited by the time it takes for the AF to lock focus. And, speaking of AF. In bright light, the Df focuses quickly and accurately. Get into low light situations, however, and the Df’s AF isn’t quite as responsive.

The Df, while capable of stopping action, I think it’s best for slower movement (e.g., street photography) or static shots such as landscapes, still life and portraits, to name just a few. Shutter speed is capped at 1/4000th second vs. the D4’s 1/8000th of a second, which limits the camera in certain situations. And, the Df is also better suited to these types of shots because of how long it sometimes takes to change settings such as ISO.

One of the really bright spots of its performance is battery life. Based on CIPA standards, the Df’s battery lasts for 1400 shots. I never got to that point during testing but the battery indicator showed very little movement even after a full couple of days of shooting.

Image Quality
In short, the Df’s image quality is outstanding. Let’s just say that it’s pretty much on par with the image quality you can get out of the D4. Color renditions are accurate and pleasing with above average dynamic range (with and without the camera’s Active D-Lighting enabled). Metering is generally accurate and, with only a few exceptions, even automatic white balance is usually spot on.

Given its 16 megapixel D4 sensor, the Df handles high ISO exceptionally well. The Df’s native ISO ranges from 100 to 12,800 and is expandable to a low of 50 and a high of 204,800. While I always recommend shooting in RAW at higher ISOs so you have the most control over the compromise between detail and image noise, the Df did a good job of containing image noise and maintaining detail even with JPEGs. I would, however, try not to go above ISO 6400 unless necessary. And while the Df can output good images at ISO 6400, my target high ISOs were 3200 or under.

Image sharpness is, of course, highly dependent on the lens used. The fast 50mm kit lens often delivered nice details and crisp images, there was a big difference between the sub-$300 lens’ sharpness and my 85mm f/1.4G  lens. That’s not to say that the 50mm lens isn’t good; it is (and is part of Nikon’s effort to deliver quality, fast prime lenses at affordable prices). But I found myself defaulting to the 85mm lens whenever possible but since most of us started out on 35mm cameras with a 50mm or 55mm lens, there’s something about the kit lens’ 50mm focal length that’s very comfortable to work with.

Sample Images


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