Nikon Df Fan-Boy Day

Here’s a lighthearted short and sweet post for the weekend. Hooray, The weekend! I’ve been happily shooting the Nikon Df for quite a while now. Of all the people I’ve run across that gave this camera a chance — as in more than snapping off a few frames and declaring it stupid — every single one feels similarly to the way I do. This camera does have a bit of magic to it. It’s combination of size, controls, imaging characteristics, and some sort of X-factor (note the provocation here) this is it. It’s inspired me to go out and shoot, and shoot and shoot. I’ve even got a few projects I’m working on that are outdoors — who wouda thunk? More on that some other day.

I thought I would give a few of you a laugh with a few of the differing kits I’ve been constructing as go-to gear combos. None of those particularly heavy or cumbersome. The kit at the top is my “standard” do anything with no plan. I know, it’s laughable but just wait a second and I’ll give a brief somewhat coherent explanation of them.

Let’s see what we have here… A hybrid kit of AF and manual focus AIs Nikon glass. My garden variety 50mm 1.4G AF that nobody but me actually thinks is worth a damn. Works for me. Sharp, predictable, reasonable rendering, cheap. I’ll back-button focus this for the most part. My long lens to end all long lenses — the venerable but crazy awesome soon to be classic collectors item getum while you can Nikkor 105DC AF-D. Note to self: Grab a 135mm DC soon just because I know these are not going to be around forever at dirt cheap prices they are now. That covers the Tight shots. No need for anything else. If something is so far away I need a telescope I’m not interested. To cover the wide we have the strangest two-fer ever. An genuine original Nikkor 18mm f/3.5 AI not a popular lens ever I bought mine instead of a 20mm. I also bought a 20mm AF-D later which then spontaneously broke in the middle of a commercial shoot. Never bothered replacing it. Liked my 18mm better anyway. To cover all the rest of the ground my brand new (to me and condition wise) 28mm f/2 AIs. Phenomenal lens absolutely every bit as “good” as the 28mm 2.8 AIs
(also have one of those) with maybe a hair more barrel distortion but a stop faster and about the same price.

So there you have it. My do anything/everything kit. That doesn’t mean I haul that everywhere every time I walk out the door. I could, I just don’t. Sometimes when I want a bit lighter I skip the 18mm and substitute an 85mm 1.8 AF-D for the 105mm. Shaves off more than a pound and takes up a lot less space. I also have a skip the tele kit that looks like this.

Same deal just loose the 105mm or 85mm. I rarely use those unless I have a specific intent anyway. Never miss them. I sometimes go all manual focus and swap out the 50mm 1.4G to my trusty 50mm f/1.2 AIs. Looks like this…

Just as often I’ll loose the 18mm and go 28mm and 50mm of either the manual or autofocus variety. All of these kits are manageable and don’t bog me down in the least. The manual focus kit is a joy to shoot with sumptuous and when used with any care really gives up nothing to modern glass. The 18mm is a lens you really need to get to know due to a few quirks and inconsistencies depending on how it’s used but I swear the thing seamed like an impossible hunk of glass back when it was a current item. Small, light, super great resolution close up (CRC), minimal distortion for something that wide, and even good corner performance at f/8. I know that sounds bad but trust me, if you are familiar with super-wides there’s still not much out there that bests it in the corners. Corner sharpness is tricky with super-wides. I would say that it is not silly to compare it to the 14-24 at 18mm where most wides are a joke compared to that monstrosity. Oh and it has magical looking flare and ghosts that are very manageable. They almost look fake which is hard to do with modern glass. Like this…

Here’s a couple of people I ran across over the last month that also feel a little of that X-factor Df magic I talk of. First up is a fine are abstract-y guy that switched over from his “beloved” Fuji X-series to the Df when his gallerist told him he had to up his game. He was surprised… Well no crap, the Df produces files that are meaty and thick as far as you want to push it… forget noise — the the point it’s the color and tonality. Add on top of that it shoots at least a stop faster at higher ISO’s than the Fuji’s lies about effective ISO vs the numbers it shows you and you’ll definitely be in for a surprise. No matter what he shoots I found his work interesting even though I’m usually not a fan of this type of thing.

Andy Feltham purges himself of the Kool-Aid.

The next guy is a street-shooter. Nice work too. He considers the Df a game changer for his low light portraits on the street work.

Danny Santos’ mesmerizing street portraits.

Nikon Df fan-boy or not check out their work. Extremely interesting. Either way here’s something to consider no matter what device you gravitate towards using to make your photographs; Take your standard kit out of your go-to bag and put it away every time you come back from a shoot. Next time pick your gear selectively. I will assure you you’ll take less. Get a smaller bag and choose the bag you want to carry (or none) then choose what your essential gear is. We all get caught in the must cover all bases for all occasions non-sense. In many cases you’ll never miss that macro unless you set out to do macro shots. Same goes for the huge zooms or the other lenses that are there “just in case”.

Have a great weekend.


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