Nikon Df alongside Olympus OM-D

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by dhazeghi, Feb 27, 2015.

  1. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    I know it's a bit of an apples and potatoes comparison, but I'm curious if anybody uses these two regularly (or moved to one after the other), and has any thoughts as to how they compare in terms of image quality and handling. The main thing I remember when I switched fully from the Nikon D700 to the E-M5 was that the base ISO performance actually improved (better highlight recovery, better per-pixel sharpness). I'm wondering if that's still the case.

    The main reason I'm eying the Df is that I miss the immediacy of the SLR's OVF - the EVF is in many respects more useful but it doesn't give me quite the same feeling of seeing the world as it is (plus I look at a screen all day at work!). I'm also thinking of giving manual focus another try - I have some older Nikon AI-S and K lenses - and I dislike the 2x focal length multiplier that turns my nice wide and normal lenses into other things on the OM-D.

    I'd still keep the OM-D (it's got a big size advantage, and given the current market, not worth selling), but as a secondary camera for when the Df was too big and awkward. I'm doubtful I can find a good standard zoom to replace my 12-40/2.8 as a walk-around lens, but I figure the 24-85/3.5-4.5VR might be at least adequate, if I stop it down enough.

    Of course this is all moot if the Df's image quality doesn't match the good parts of the OM-D (per-pixel sharpness, highlight recovery) and improve significantly on the bad (ISO 1600+ noise).

  2. Dave in Wales

    Dave in Wales Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 5, 2011
    West Wales
  3. VinVin

    VinVin Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 7, 2010
    GTA, Canada
    Do it! haha the DF is sexy!
  4. silver92b

    silver92b Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 7, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    There are a lot of haters of the DF, but I was attracted to it right away. I would think that renting one for a few days might be a good way to go. The faster AF and wider availability of good lenses would give the edge to the DF, not to mention the FF... IDK, I'd have to try it before I'd buy it. But I do like the DF.
  5. ean10775

    ean10775 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 31, 2011
    Cleveland, Ohio
    Is the AF of the Df really faster that the E-M5? While its sensor comes from the D4, I believe its AF system is more rudimentary. To the OPs point about high ISO performance however, with its sensor, the Df will blow the E-M5 out of the water.
  6. silver92b

    silver92b Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 7, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    I believe that the light gathering capacity of the FF sensors make the AF much easier to acquire. I don't know about the actual speed of the mechanism but from my observation, in general the FF Canikons will capture images much, much better than the M43 cameras. Particularly in low light situations, the E-M5 and the E-M1 as all the other M43 cameras I had could not acquire the image in focus quickly or at all because of hunting and missing the intended target. It's one of the fatal flaws of small sensors, I think.

    Another thing to remember is that the aperture in the MFT lenses is also multiplied by the crop factor... A f1.4 lens in MFT is equivalent to f2.4 in FF. The Pro lenses at f2.8 are equal to f5.6 in FF. That is a huge disadvantage. It is a testament to the brilliant design and execution of the Olympus and Pany cameras and lenses that they perform as well as they do.
  7. sprocket87

    sprocket87 Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 29, 2011
    Keep in mind the flip side, however: m43 bodies which rely on contrast detect AF are pinpoint accurate with any lens no matter how wide the aperture. Traditional DSLRs with phase detect AF split off the sensor have real trouble with AF accuracy on large aperture primes shot wide open.

    This is true enough, but only for purposes of DOF, not light-gathering. An f/1.4 lens is on m43 is just as "fast" as an f/1.4 lens of FF -- it just has more DOF.
  8. yorik

    yorik Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Dec 23, 2013
    Scotts Valley, CA
    Why not D750? I have read that some consider it the natural heir to the D700.
  9. ean10775

    ean10775 Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 31, 2011
    Cleveland, Ohio
    That certainly wasn't my experience with the Canon 5D Mark II - even with fast (f1.4, f1.8) lenses, the AF struggled indoors in lower light levels. I've had much better luck with the G5, G6 and now GX7. That said, I'm sure the newer DSLRs are better
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  10. ManofKent

    ManofKent Hopefully still learning

    Dec 26, 2014
    Faversham, Kent, UK
    I've still got my D700 but yes at 200 ISO my GM1's out perform it. At 800 I find the situation starts to shift the other way.

    I love the looks of the Df, but I'd have been quite happy if they'd simply made a digital FM2n (or even a digital version of my beloved FE).
  11. silver92b

    silver92b Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 7, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    I defer to your experience. My opinion was only based in that I had observed that people with those cameras/lenses (Canon, Nikon) seemed to be able to get many more and better shots than I could get with the E-M5 regardless of the lens I used. This is only in low light situations, like dance clubs, parties, etc.
  12. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Face it, the 16megapickle professional Nikon sensor was never about "per-pixel sharpness",
    so shove that idea aside.
    The Df is an awesome camera with a fairly narrow customer base.
    I'd love one but never shell out thousands for camera gear.
    Stick a good prime on a Df in retro-land and use it for the sensor size and big comfy pixels.

    Keep your E-M5 because short of a D800E/A7R there's not much above it in "per-pixel sharpness" land.
  13. ManofKent

    ManofKent Hopefully still learning

    Dec 26, 2014
    Faversham, Kent, UK
    In low light the D700 definitely wins out, although I find the GM1 surprisingly decent at higher ISOs.
  14. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    I have both, so feel free to direct specific questions to anything that I don't cover in this post.

    First - when I saw the Df and knew it was coming out - I sold everything Fuji X I had to finance it. I already had a robust set of lenses for my other Nikon bodies. Day one of release I had the Df in hand at the local camera store. It took me all of 5 minutes after holding it to part with my money. IT IS MY FAVORITE CAMERA OF ALL TIME FOR ME - BAR NONE.

    I primarily use it with 3 primes: Nikon 24/2.8D, 50/1.8D, and Tamron 90/2.8 Macro. I've also used it with an old 28-85/3.5-4.5 which has some really nice rendering, and a newer 24-85/3.5-4.5 VR. It handles nicely with a Tamron 70-300/4-5.6 as well. Much bigger than that and the balance feels off. I have an 80-200/2.8 and 300/4 that just won't be on it.

    Why my favorite? (A lot of this is my opinion, based on how/what I shoot with it)

    It is the smallest FX DSLR Nikon makes. It is negligibly taller and wider than an EM1 or Fuji X-T1, noticeably thicker - which only makes sense given the flange distances for respective systems.

    I love the dials being on the camera. I shoot a lot of street with it and I can dial in the exposure I want even with the camera powered off.

    It has the D4 flagship sensor in it. Dynamic range is just phenomenal, low light performance is right up there with the best cameras. You can shoot this thing 12800 ISO and it gives you nice files. It's base low ISO is 100, but you can go to LOW and get 50 for when you want to shoot those primes wide open.

    The handling is a bit different than the modern Nikon DSLRs, but with a slight hand adjustment, everything falls into place. This is the biggest issue I hear from people that hate the Df, 2nd is the exposure and ISO dials on the top left. With practice, they can be changed one handed and without looking away from the viewfinder. And when I say practice, I mean shoot with it for a week and you'll be fine.

    Compared to other Nikon DSLRs - it is light.

    You won't be accidentally bumping dials to different positions.

    The AF system is from the D600 series camera. 39 point focus, would have preferred the 51 - BUT, I've never had a situation yet that the AF failed on me. I've shot weddings and in bars with it and while it may not be lightning fast, it was always confident with minimal hunting if any at all. AF speed for Nikon is based on either the power of the screw drive or the AF-S gearing. The prime lenses I use 24 & 50 are really fast. The Tamron is a Macro lens, so is geared a little slower - but I've been able to shoot street with it and not missed a shot. The EM5 with the Oly m43 lenses is going to smoke it in pure speed, though in S-AF.

    What you do get with the Df is the consistent and speedy C-AF.

    My biggest issue with the Nikon primes is that they are sometimes soft wide open, where as the Oly/Pany primes I'd shoot wide open all day and not even bat an eye.

    Now, where the m43 stuff starts taking over even more is in size. The EM1/EM5 are smaller, and the accompanying lenses are way smaller as well. I have a Think Tank Retrospective 10 and I can have the Df with a prime attached and the 2 other primes and that pretty much takes up the main compartment of the bag. Right now, I have the OMD EM1 with 25/1.8 attached, the 17 and 45/1.8 and the 75-300/4.8-6.7 and still have room if I wanted to bring 2 more lenses.

    I shoot both systems together as a team, although more work has been going to the Oly setup. The Nikon stuff is doing more portrait and sports work, the Oly everything else. Once I get more comfortable with using my off camera light with the Olympus, portrait work will probably go there as well. I've only had a few short test portrait sessions with it, all very successful. Just not ready to pull the trigger yet.

    One other thing I'd like to add to the Df pluses - the sheer amount of customization it allows. I've not seen this level on anything outside an Olympus. While you cannot remap the dials, you certainly can setup the camera to shoot however you want from an old FM style or use modern DSLR style dials. I think an issue with people that hate the Df is because they don't get to know what it is all about.

    Some blog posts of my time with the Df:
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
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  15. silver92b

    silver92b Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 7, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    Glad to hear that you are enjoying and like the DF. I would love to have one but for the cost...I've blown all my photography gear money for now. But if it could be gotten for under $1K I'd find a way to get one today ;) . But that is my problem, I have a bad case of GAS LOL! I think that the issue with people who hate the DF (or other neat pieces of gear) is plain old sour grapes LOL! There are lots and lots of people out there who hate the Leica M as well "I'd never pay that much for any camera... It's not good, my Fuji is better... the thumb grip is no good, etc. etc. Well, I love my Leica and the Leica lenses just because I like the whole concept. Same with the DF, I think it's great!
  16. Ross the fiddler

    Ross the fiddler Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    And to many, that is a good advantage(with M4/3's), especially with macro photos.
  17. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    The sensor size has nothing to do with either light gathering capacity nor AF. Light gathering (in the sense of higher signal/noise ratio) is a function of the pixel/sensel size, not the sensor dimensions; and AF on DSLRs is handled by completely separate AF sensors mounted at the base of the mirror box.

    Sorry - but in light gathering terms f2.8 is f2.8 is f2.8 - the sensor size has nothing to do with it. DOF of course changes as the real focal length and subject distance varies. In this sense we can think of equivalence, but the excellence of the lens' designs has nothing to with trying to overcome this fact - Focal length, aperture and distance to subject are what determines DOF and it's just the laws of physics! No amount of fancy lens design will change that.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
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  18. silver92b

    silver92b Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 7, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    OK, I give up, the MFT cameras/lenses are every bit as good as the FF mirrorless cameras or DSLRs in all ways :D 
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  19. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    @dhazeghi@dhazeghi - I think you'd love the Df and at the same time have plenty of times when you'd feel like using your OMD. They complement one another well.
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  20. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    I have a DF, but I just came back from a west coast hiking and did night astrophotography with my Bower 14mm and Mitakon. Results are very good that I didn't even bring my DF. I didn't need to. As long as you can keep your m43 within 1600 or in a pinch 3200 ISO, you will have clean files. If you're using a 2 stops Nikkor lens (24-85) to keep the weight down on the zoom lens (cause 24-70 Nikkor 2.8 is quite heavy compared to my 14-54 or 12-40), then you'll be forced to shoot at 6400 or 12800 which has similar noise performance in my opinion to my E-P5. So basically unless you have a very fast 2.8 zooms you like to carry with you on your hiking trip, the extra 2 stops speed on the Nikon DF isn't going to be any help for you. Now, we are taking primes however, the DF is a sweet camera to use with it. My primes are Bower 14mm and 55 Micro-Nikkor. The Df is my work camera, but I just don't use it much unless I need the 14mm ultrawide end. The Bower on my E-P5 is 20mm (35mm).
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2015
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