Beginning with the new year, I decided to take a new Nikon Dƒ after an excursion into the Fuji X world.
I have to admit too, that I was upset with the huge Nikons D3 or D2 – to heavy, to complex in the settings and even an unpractical handling for my kind of photography.
Mainly I wanted to switch back to the roots of manual photography too. I hate programs wich telling me what I have to do while taking a picture. Sadly but true, a Leica is to expensive for me.
There was another reason too; I own several manual Nikkor Ai lenses. Many of those are older than 30 years and I love the retro design of the camera.
I appreciate the manageability and haptic, even if some photo blogs are dissent. In their view the Dƒ is to small and a bit unpractical. I have to admit though that I bought a fine Gariz leather half case, so the camera get a bit higher and the grip a bit thicker. That’s very useful. After half a year taking my Nikon Dƒ with my manual lenses I’m happy to have one of these fine cameras. It’s a great day by day cam.
The best thing coming with the Dƒ is the compatibility with the awesome manual Nikkor Ai lenses – I love this so much! I have a feeling, that those old lenses have a finer, smoother exposition of images. The bokeh is unruffled and sleek, compared to new Nikkor AF-S lenses.
But let us start from the beginning.
With my first impression of the Dƒ is this strange button in front of the camera. This button is unpractical and useless for me – so I changed the switches in the menu settings immediately. That’s quite comfortable when using an aperture change with newer auto focus D, G or AF-S Nikkor lenses.
I bought the Dƒ due for one reason – I love manual photography. I love the have control over aperture, time and ISO settings. I don’t want to rely on programs and any automatic settings. I don’t want to have a through and through sharp image. I love bokeh and blurries and conscious manipulations in my pictures. If I see objects which I’d like to shoot, I can imagine how to catch this pic – that’s my big hit.
Anyway, naturally all my manual lenses contribute for taking nice pictures. My favorites Nikkor Ai lenses are the light intensive 50mm ƒ1:1.2, a 85mm ƒ1:2 and my 135mm ƒ1:2.8. I’m bound to say, that I don’t like any zoom lenses, perhaps I can’t handle them. I’m a real standart lens guy. Ok – these 3 lenses are the best which Nikon ever produced. Mainly the very cool 50mm is the hit! It comes with an amazing bokeh and a razor sharp focus. This is my day by day lens, it’s small, but big enough to hold it with a perfect grip.
Enough with all compliment by now – the Dƒ got her own difficulties. The most tricky thing is focusing objects. The normal inbuilt screen is the worst thing I ever have seen. Just a dim plate, nothing more. That’s so unpractical for manual Nikkor lenses. No split-screen or a focus ring, like we used to have it in analog Nikons, such as the F5, F6 or even a FM2. This is not really well revised from the Nikon company. The only thing in the viewfinder which you can see, is a small, tiny dot or focusing arrows – spooky! Taking a picture with the Nikon Dƒ and Ai lenses means having time, patience and holding your breath. But if the focus is sharp you get a perfect image.
With my upcoming article I’ll describe the replacement of the Dƒ in-built screen to a Canon split-screen for better focusing experience. Anyway – let’s get back.
Naturally all the manual Nikkor Ai lenses coming with an aperture ring on the lens. I love to have this feature. It make me fast to correct the aperture for a great and better bokeh. About 95% of my pictures are captured with a wide open aperture. Due to the luminosity of my lenses I prefer to take some ND filters with me. For me the best are the 2 or 3 times ND filters. With those filters I can shoot even on brightest sunshine with ƒ1:1.2. The next fine detail coming with a ND filter is a fine vignette – that’s rocking cool too!
The high ISO rate is the best feature in this cam. ISO 6400 is perfect, the grain marginal. The Dƒ is the best camera for “available light“ situations. A great thing for day or night shoots.
The biggest challenge between my friend Leopold is the comparison about significance of our pictures. Leopold and me, we may take quite nice, but unusual images. Pictures with an own point of view. In this theme, we don’t want to say that we’re great photographers or if the camera may be better, it’s the only thing about the lens and what’s the effect on the picture. Your daily comparison is the plasticity and exposition of details in our taken pictures. Naturally we can’t compare a Leica Summicron 50mm ƒ1:1.4 and a Nikkor Ai 50mm ƒ 1:1.2 lens. On the other hand side, we both think, that both great lenses deliver remarkable and fine details with a clear-cut plasticity.
Mainly the Dƒ is a perfect companion, the camera is solid and in normal use even shock resistant. I recommend this camera, but only with the fine manual Nikkor Ai lenses. Everybody who wants to shoot sport, action, children and holiday pictures with a quick reaction time, should buy every other Nikon camera.
After all thoughts, I have to admit, that the Dƒ is a great camera, a camera for a good old photography with a lots of time – and I have time, time to make pictures, so the Nikon Dƒ is perfect for me.