The Nikon Df has been the hottest topic in the photography world in the past week. Thanks to Nikon’s excellent marketing strategy, the 6 official teasers slowly unveiling the retro looking stylish camera has caused much attention from photographers and enthusiasts. With the specs of the Df now available, one of the most talked about topic that I have noticed is the comparison between the Nikon Df with the Nikon D610. The Fino Photography team have taken a closer look at how these two cameras are stacking up against each other. This may also be helpful for those who are looking at getting a new FF DSLR and trying to figure out which camera is for you. Take a look at the following technical specs:
As you can see, the specification of the two cameras are very similar. However, the two cameras are indeed targeting two very different markets.
Sensor Resolution & ISO performance:
The Nikon Df features the Nikon flagship D4 sensor while the sensor inside the Nikon D610 is made by Sony. These two sensors are both terrific in their own unique way. With the D610, you gain a total of 8 megapixels which will result in images with better details. However, the Df lower resolution sensor will result in better high ISO performance. I am sure a lot of you will know how phenomenal the noise level at high ISO is for the D4 sensor. The native ISO on the D4 is 1 stop better than the D610 with the option of boosting it to ISO 204,800. The lower megapixel count of the Nikon Df will also produce a slightly smaller file which is great if you are dealing with a large amount of files.
Maximum Shutter Speed:
Both cameras have a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 which is one stop less than the Nikon D4 and D800 (1/8000). But let’s be real here, how often do you actually need 1/8000 sec shutter speed. I usually use a ND filter when it comes to using a fast prime at maximum aperture (f/1.4) anyway. Both cameras will perform just fine in the real world.
AF Focus point:
I think Nikon is trying to differentiate the market for the Df/ D610 and the D4. Having only 39 AF points with 9 cross-type that all concentrate at the centre of the frame, the Df and D610 are pretty much useless for a Wedding Photographer like me. We have tried using a D600 as a back up body and it isn’t the best when it comes to hunting focus and continuos focus when the bride walks down the aisle. The only good thing is that both cameras does continuos AF detection up to f/8.
Both cameras feature a reasonable shutter shooting speed at 5.5 FPS for the Df vs 6 FPS for the D610. Again, I don’t think many people will notice the difference in the real world. However, for sports or wildlife photographers, this might not be enough.
Maximum Flash Sync Speed:
The Nikon Df offers 1/250 while the Nikon 610 offers 1/200. The difference again is minimal.
Exposure bracketing & Exposure Compensation:
The Nikon Df does bracketing of +- 2 to 5 EV while the Nikon D610 does bracketing of +- 2 to 3 EV. However, the exposure compensation on the D610 is up to +-5 EV while the Nikon Df only goes up to +- 3EV. I guess you cannot have the best of two worlds.
Size, Weight, LCD Screen:
The two cameras are about the same in this aspect.
This is a very interesting point to discuss. The Nikon Df uses the EN-EL14a battery which is what Nikon is using on their entry level DSLR. On the other hand, the Nikon D610 uses the EN-EL15 battery which is a standard Pro DSLR body battery (Same as the Nikon D800). So if you already own a D800, the D610 will win here as it takes the same battery as your other camera.
Even though the Df is using the DN-EL14a battery, the battery life for a DF is capable of taking 1400 shots. This is amazing considering the D600 can only take 900 shots with a bigger capacity battery.
The Nikon Df does not have video function because Nikon is promoting it as the “Pure Photography” camera. I am sure the video feature is the matter of a firmware update as the two cameras feature the same processor. Funny thing is that a “Pure Photography” camera existed 5 years ago – known as the Nikon D700. (haha) We still use it for our wedding shoots.
The Df is made in Japan while the D610 is made in Thailand. This might mean you are getting better Quality Assurance with the Df. The Df even has the “Made in Japan” engraved at the top of the camera next to the ISO dial. Sometimes I wonder how much of the camera is made in Japan, surely a lot of the parts will be made in China. Oh well, at least you can show your friends the “MIJ” tag.
From photos, you can see the D610 has magnesium alloy covering the top and bottom of the camera while the Df is 3/4 magnesium alloy. This means the Df is slightly more robust than the D610. You can also see the Df has better weather sealing with O-rings on all dials. Therefore, better weather proof on the Df.
Handling and Control:
This topic is very subjective, it all depends on your photography style.
Personally, I think the dedicated AF-on button on the Df is good to have. However, as I am a manual shooter, I can easily program the AE-L button on the D610 to an “AF on” button. To someone who is an Aperture Priority user, the AE-L button is very important when it comes to recomposing a shot.
I really like the shutter speed dial, it enables you to change the shutter speed without turning on the camera. To a photographer who used film cameras, the layout of the dials and the buttons may be more convenient. To me, Wedding Photography is about speed and we need to get the shot in a matter of seconds, therefore, I prefer having the front and back dial on the D610. My finger memory for using the front and back dials will allow me to quickly adjust the aperture for different creative shots while adjusting the shutter speed quickly to get the right exposure.
One really intuitive feature on the Df is the ISO and exposure compensation dials. It enables you to change ISO quickly and I would really like to see it on the next generation Nikon Pro DSLR cameras.
Who is the Df for?
In summary, I think the Df is a true street photography camera. The camera has very good high ISO performance and reasonably smaller compared to the D4. The 16.2 Megapixel sensor also means it requires less demand on the optical quality of lenses. Hence, your old AIS lens will perform well with it. Not to mention the Df will also meter with your old AIS lenses (great feature). Guess it’s time to dust off those old lenses
Who is the D610 for?
The D610 from my point is a better camera for Wedding photography despite the High ISO performance is not as good as the Df. The control on the D610 slightly is better due to the front and back dials. The optional vertical grip will also provide better balance when it comes to using big tele-photo lens.
The D610 will also be a better all around camera with more feathers such as video. The D610 is also 25% cheaper than the Df.