The Nikon Df Takes DxOMark’s Low-Light Crown, Outperforms the D4


It seems the Nikon engineers had some tricks up their sleeves when they put the D4 sensor inside the new Nikon Df, because while the sensor earned identical scores to the D4 in almost every category when DxOMark put it through its paces, the Df actually BEAT the D4 in the “low-light ISO” category.

But more than that, it beat EVERYBODY in that category, narrowly edging out the previous champion D3s to claim the number one low-light spot among DxOMark’s rankings.

You can see how the camera stacks up to the two aforementioned contenders below:


DxOMark was sure to point out that these ISO numbers, and in particular the extremely tiny gap between the Df and the D3s, probably won’t mean much in the real world, writing that it was, “more by luck than judgment [that] it’s ahead of the D3s; though in real world terms the low-light capabilities are the same.”

Overall, the Nikon Df took the 11th best sensor spot with a respectable score of 89 points, and looks to be a decent performer although, to be fair, the $1,600 A7 still beats it in every single category other than low-light ISO, as does the D610:


In the end, DxOMark’s conclusion reads much like the thoughts of many photographers we’ve spoken with:

Nikon certainly threw a curve ball with the Df. One the one hand it has the first-rate sensor of the D4 in a much more compact and lighter weight body, but the choice of retro controls appears to be a step backwards…

As it stands, Nikon may find the Df sidelined by both the D800, and the D600, which is a pity as the sensor is a superb performer in low light.

To read the full technical review, be sure to head over to DxOMark by clicking here. But before you do that, let us know what you think in the comments down below. Does the exceptional low-light performance make the Df more tempting? Or do you still believe Nikon overpriced the retro shooter?

Nikon Df review: New low light champion? [DxOMark via Nikon Rumors]

  • Monteraz

    The camera is superb. Sure. All cameras today are superb. So what? I mean, 0,3 EV more than the Nikon D4, which is at the same time a great machine. Mother of God, D700 is a great machine already. I know they have to sell cameras and pay people for the marketing, but nowadays you can choose your camera blindfolded and you will never surpass the machine as a photographer, so we must wonder every time?

  • star tropics

    the Df AF module is 1/2 as sensitive as the d800/d4 module according to nikon. plus all the AF points are clustered tightly in the center. but the real killer *for me* is the horrid placement of the exp. comp dial. why the EFF is it on the left side?!?!?!

    people want to say “you dont get it, its not a pro’s camera, its an enthusiast’s camera”. hogwash. the only differentiators for DSLRs are features and price. even things like size and weight differences are inconsequential amongst DSLRs, i mean the canon SL1 still needs lenses, speed light, and a camera bag.

    the Df is a very big camera with a very high price tag, combined with a lens flange mounted on PLASTIC, stupid controls, and d7000’s infamous AF. I am a hardcore nikon fanboy with a 58/1.4 on my wishlist for 2014 to match my other nikkor pro 1.4 trio.

    nikon!!! put the d4 sensor in the d800 body, charge under $4k for it. I would buy two and so would almost every nikon pro i know.

  • Jimmy Fartpants

    Yeah, but it’s a Nikon.

  • Micheala

    Interesting, now the real question is WHY is the Df better? It’s said to have a D4 sensor…

    * Is the error of the test higher than the difference? In that case we could not trust any DxOMark test score.
    * Is the sensor variance in production this high? In that case test results of just one device are worthless as well.
    * Is the production better than when the D4 came out? In that case are new produced D4s this good as well?
    * Is it not a D4 chip?

  • unumbskull

    or perhaps the image processor is slightly upgrade. you blithering idiot.

  • Leighton DaCosta

    And if Nikon did that, what would that do to their sales. This is a “first in line” camera, So I expect Df-1,2,3,…n in the future. Maybe even a Df-M(mirrorless) with the video and everything else that everyone has been asking for, but i suppose at that point, Nikon WOULD be able to charge $4k for it and still get it because it will be alternatives instead of replacements. Similar to the Former NEX, now alpha line from Sony. The NEX-7 was an alternative to buying an alpha body. similarly to the new a7r is an alternative to the a99.

  • unumbskull

    peep the internet MBA. everything in your post is idiotic conjecture strangleheld by circular logic. don’t ever compare anything sony does to nikon. sony is a spaghetti flinging hardware pusher, and nikon is a optics company.

  • Dustin Wagner

    Yet the sensor in the d800 is a Sony sensor… Did you know that?

  • Stijn Vandenbussche Nowforever

    that is why most sensors made are from sony ? that is why 83% of all surveillance cameras are with sony sensors ? (ps: i shoot nikon so my reply is not nikon bashing, just facts)

  • Stijn Vandenbussche Nowforever

    software tweaks. nothing more nothing less

  • Leighton DaCosta

    Bravo old sport. I needed a good laugh today.

  • unumbskull

    your point?

  • unumbskull

    hmmm your point?

  • unumbskull

    you make nice photos, but I GUARANTEE my clients make more for my work. just because…

  • krugorg

    Death rattle of the DSLR

  • Steven Wade

    How about a comparison to the a7R which has a much higher score almost all round than the a7, especially ISO.

  • Steven Wade

    The point is you can compare the new because Nikon uses Sony hardware. Who cares what Sony’s intentions are. Fact is, the D4 sensor is the only one Nikon actually makes.

  • harumph

    How do you figure?

  • Michaela

    How does the image processor influence the signal to noise ratio of the RAW? The JPEG sure, but the RAW?

    (And thanks calling me an idiot for asking questions, you must be a real grownup).

  • unumbskull

    that’s meaningless. we are talking about SYSTEMS. think, idiot.

  • Richard

    Low light capabilities boost its attractiveness for me as a photographer. But, still want to know how the auto focus works in low light (not very good for the D600/610). They really needed to put U1, U2 capability in the camera and did not. I like the lighter, smaller outcome, but not at the expense of those features.

  • Steven Wade

    It’s not meaningless, because we are NOT talking about systems, we are talking about sensors. You replied, “Your point?”, to the person who said Sony made Nikon’s sensors. This whole post is about sensors. Low light capability has nothing to do with a system. How about you think about your ramblings as well. I’ll grant you the whole comment about NEX and what not was pointless because it had nothing to do with the original comment or the post, but I am not talking about the post. I am talking about the fact that Sony makes Nikon’s sensors, and of course, make their own. So yes, you can compare them, because we are talking about sensors. Good try though.

    Yes, Nikon’s main expertise is optics, but where would optics be without the hardware to capture it? Each company specializes in things that others don’t. Think.

  • Bob

    low light sports = action at high ISO…and they didn’t factor in the frames per second…genius…I’ll stick with my D4

  • Jim Buckner

    Why must you resort to name calling? “What’s your point” in so doing?

  • Jim Buckner

    Speaking of technicalities: …is AN optics company.

  • Leighton DaCosta

    The Sony comment was in response to this statement.

    “nikon!!! put the d4 sensor in the d800 body, charge under $4k for it. I would buy two and so would almost every nikon pro i know.”

  • decisivemoment

    Cutting the readout speed from the sensor exactly in half from the D4 means a cleaner signal. Now we know why it’s 5.5 fps; it isn’t recycling all those now-obsolete D600 components, it’s an ingeniously simple tweak of the 11fps-capable D4 hardware. Not the first time Nikon have done this either; it’s a similar deal with the D80 relative to the D200, same basic sensor, two-line readout instead of four, less noise.

  • Leong

    Okay. This difference should be within the margin of error. And this is like 1/8 EV. No one would notice. lol. I really don’t get you guys.