So far, the Nikon Df has been a whole lot of fun in many ways. In my two previous blogs, I’ve taken it out to meet people with, and I’ve wandered around Singapore in the dark with it on the hunt for intriguing urban nightscapes.
The final test for the Df is to bring it out on the streets and see how it fares with street photography.
Street photography has changed in so many ways since the advent of the 35mm camera, but in the last 10 years, we’ve seen it move from traditional 35mm film cameras, to DSLRs, to compacts, phones and mirrorless cameras. What this means is that there are a myriad of devices out there that can do pretty much the same thing, so why lug around a (comparatively) large camera when you have many smaller choices?
One of the main reasons is the quality of the photos and the variety of available lenses. The fact that a wide range of NIKKOR lenses, from its classic to the latest models, are compatible with the Df means that you’re always going to be able to use some of the best and most versatile glass out there. Throw in the full-frame sensor and the impressive low-light performance and you are talking about toting about a camera that can do it all, and yet not look as imposing as a traditional all black DSLR.
These days, if you take out a pro body DSLR out on the streets, you’re definitely going to turn heads, which is often the last thing you want in street photography. The Df definitely allows one to “blend-in”, to have all the tools of a professional photographer without looking like you are going into a war zone.
As is best with street photography, I tend to bring out a couple of prime lenses with me, most notably a 24mm, a 35mm and a 50mm. The 24mm f2.8 and 35mm f2 lenses are so small and unobtrusive but the f1.4 versions give you a whole different look to play around with, even if they are substantially bigger (oh the decisions!!).
Walking the streets tends to make me more aware of the basics of photography. I adjust my exposures manually, and always change them when passing through different areas with different light sources, a throwback to the days of shooting manual film cameras. The large dials on the top of the Df makes this especially easy for me, as all the information I need (shutter speed, ISO etc.) is all marked out clearly. As for my aperture, I’m generally shooting at f5.6 or 8 depending on the light and I don’t bother to fiddle around with that too much unless I am going for something specific.
So, how was it? In a word, “Great!”
Carrying the Df around didn’t make me stick out like a sore thumb and its shutter on normal mode is already pretty silent and isn’t as sharp sounding as the other Nikon full frame cameras.
I usually use hyperfocal distance when it comes to focusing during street photography, but often times, the Df’s AF was fast enough for me to just shoot with the AF alone. AF was good in low light and I barely noticed any focus hunting in dark situations.
I’ve already gone over how good the low light is, but I can’t help feeling excited having such a versatile body in my hands.
Back in the days of film, you could put a roll of film into almost any decent camera, and if you got an image you were happy with, you could always make a decent print with it. In layman’s terms, the resolution was always the same! But in the last 15 years, you might have a great camera with great low light, but it was too big to be unobtrusive. Or you might have a really nifty small camera that was easily pocketable, but when it came down to it, the images it developed weren’t quite good enough for you to blow up for your wall.
The Df has pretty much met back on common ground. It is small enough to be unobtrusive, and yet, if you took a picture and are happy with, you would definitely be able to make a nice print. That is enough to keep me happy.
All in all, the Df is a great everyday camera to tote around. It may not be the smallest, but it’s definitely a great all-rounder for still images. It has the quality of a professional DSLR with all the bells and whistles that come along with it, and yet the ability to keep things simple and to allow the photographer to concentrate on what is important, what he/she sees through the viewfinder.