Photography News 04

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Camera review

NikonDf Nikon has brought the retro look to full-frame DSLRs. With stripped back controls and film-camera styling, it’s designed for a true photography experience. We see if it delivers ON TEST

Using the Df As someone who was introduced to photography in the digital age, I have to say that the idea of the retro controls didn’t excite me that much. But after some time with the Df, I came to see the advantages and was pretty much won over. I really enjoyed being able to see exactly what settings I was using just by casting my eye over the dials on the top-plate, and clicking each of the dials into place to set the exposure before lifting the camera to my eye was a much more satisfying experience than I expected. That’s not to say that the arrangement isn’t without its drawbacks though. In particular, I found it trickier to change settings with the viewfinder to my eye because I needed to move one or other hand to find the appropriate dial, and I also found the main command dial a little too far from my shutter finger to be entirely comfortable. The ISO dial can be something of a problem if you’re shooting in very low light because it’s difficult to see

what you’re doing – you have to either count clicks or turn on the back LCD. The top-plate LCD only displays shutter speed and aperture values, so you can’t use this to adjust other settings such as white-balance. Instead, pressing these buttons activates the back LCD, and on occasion there was a slight pause as the software took a moment to catch up, in particular when selecting the AF mode. The mode dial is a little fiddly for me, and the lift-and-turn mechanism left me in the wrong mode on occasion – double-checking was required after a change. The on/off button is also more comfortable to turn with finger and thumb than shutter finger alone, making it less speedy, and in using this, it’s easy to knock the drive mode switch. Having said all of that, while these niggles meant the handling didn’t feel quite as slick as it perhaps could, I must admit that they didn’t much diminish the enjoyment of using the Df – all round, it was a lovely experience.

Words by Ian Fyfe

SPECS

The photographer’s control of their camera has gradually moved away from mechanical dials, rings and levers and become increasingly indirect and channelled through circuit boards. With the Df, Nikon has tried to recapture the feel of the pre-electronic era with traditional controls. But the ‘f’ stands for fusion, summing up how this is mixed with flagship digital technology to produce a tool that’s unique among modern cameras. The top-plate of the Df features retro-styled metal dials that stir memories of the olden days just from looking at them. They feel the part too – they’re metal, knurled and give satisfying clicks as you turn them. These tactile controls are mixed with an array of altogether more modern digital buttons on the back that will be familiar to any digital Nikon user, a mix that certainly lives up to the fusion label. The bias is definitely still towards more modern control though, and you can even set things up so that it’s practically the same as any other current Nikon DSLR. For example, the shutter speed dial can be used in S or M modes to adjust the shutter speed in 1EV steps, but if you miss the modern option of smaller step changes, you can set the dial to the 1/3 step position and use the front command dial to change the shutter speed as you would on any modern Nikon. Alternatively, an easy shutter speed shift option in the menus means the shutter speed that’s been set on the top dial can be nudged by 1/3 or 2/3EV either way using the command dial. Similarly, you can use the aperture ring to set the aperture on older lenses, but if you’re using a modern lens without a ring, you just use the sub- command dial as per the digital norm. ABOVE The Nikon Df has retro styling and fuses tactile dials on the top-plate with modern digital controls on the back. RIGHT Although the Df has relatively few pixels, it still records plenty of detail and can easily produce A3 prints.

PRICE £2749 with 50mm f/1.8 CONTACT www.nikon.co.uk SENSOR 16.2 megapixels with EXPEED 3 IMAGE DIMENSIONS 4928x3280 pixels ISORANGE ISO 100-12,800 (50-204,800 expanded) AUTOFOCUSMODES Single-point, 9-, 21- or 39-point dynamic-area AF, 3D-tracking, auto- area AF EXPOSURE COMPENSATION +/-3EV in 1/3 steps, AEB 2 to 5 frames at +/-3EV in +/-3EV in 1/3, 2/3, 1, 2 or 3EV steps SHUTTER 30secs-1/4000sec SHOOTING SPEEDS Single, continuous L 1-5fps, continuous H 5.5fps, quiet shutter release, self-timer LCD SCREEN 3.2in with 921k dots STORAGEMEDIA SD, SDHC, SDXC (UHS-I compatible) DIMENSIONS (WXHXD) 143.5x110x66.5mm WEIGHT 765g (including battery and memory card) METERING PATTERNS Matrix, center- weighted, spot

Photography News | Issue 4

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