Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df

Although the Fujifilm X-T1 and Nikon Df might be quite different models in terms of their specification, they represent a very similar proposition in terms of their target market and ideology.

In the X-T1 and Df, Nikon and Fujifilm have created cameras to meet the demand for a digital camera that handles like a film camera. Both of these models is a different answer to the same question, with each a pastiche of a 1970s film SLR.

On the one side is a retro-looking DSLR with a full-frame sensor and a large optical viewfinder, and on the other is a smaller and lighter CSC with an APS-C-sized sensor and an EVF, with each offers an array of buttons and dials.

But despite these differences, the two will be competing for the same purchaser when it comes to the shop floor, and if you’re looking for a premium retro camera which is best suited to your needs?

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df paired

Camera size

When the Nikon Df was launched, it was the hope of many that the size of the camera would be more in keeping with the that of the company’s FM or FE film range. Better still, many hoped that the camera would match the 53mm depth of the smallest Nikon F-mount camera, the FG.

Yet to produce something of this size with current technology is difficult. There is around a millimetre difference between the focal plane and the rear of the Nikon Df and Fuji X-T1 digital cameras.

What makes these two cameras so different in size is due to what is happening in front of the sensor.

In the case of the X-T1, there is no mirror mechanism. The back flange distance from the lens mount to the sensor is 17.7mm on the Fujifilm X mount. Compare this to the 46.5mm distance between the mount and focal plane on Nikon F-mount cameras.

It is clear to see the difference that the SLR mechanism makes to the size of the camera. In fact, the flange back distance of the Nikon F is almost the same as the entire 47mm thickness of the X-T1 body. Take the handgrip out of the equation and the X-T1 is around 37mm thick, and it includes an articulated screen.

There was some speculation that the Nikon Df would be a mirrorless F-mount camera. But, as we saw with the mirrorless Pentax K-01 K-mount CSC, the lack of a mirror makes little difference in size. The K-01 just felt like a DSLR, except without the optical viewfinder, leaving some to cruelly describe it as being rather like a brick.

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Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df – Build and Handling

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df – Build and Handling

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df - X-T1 angled

With no SLR mechanism in the X-T1, Fujifilm has been able to create a camera that is smaller than a classic SLR. It even looks like a SLR, but when you think about the design of the X-T1 there is no reason for it to have a central viewfinder position.

The Fujifilm camera could have had an off-centre finder in the same way as its X-Pro1 stablemate. In fact, the viewfinder doesn’t even have to be in a prism-style box above the body of the camera – there is no physical need for it. The reason it is centrally located is to offer an experience akin to shooting on a SLR, with a design to match.

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df - Df angled

With all the modern conveniences of digital imaging, the Nikon Df is larger than the manual-focus film SLRs that it aims to mimic. It is around the same size as the nearest full-frame DSLR in Nikon’s line-up, the D610.

However, unlike a regular Nikon DSLR, the Df has many more dials. On its top-plate are sensitivity, exposure compensation and shutter speed dials. Meanwhile, the standard control dials on the front and rear of the camera adjust the lens aperture.

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df - X-T1 top down

The Fujifilm X-T1 has a similar array of dials, except only the sensitivity dial and the shutter speed dial have locks. The exposure compensation dial isn’t lockable, which makes it easy to shift when needed.

A few photographers will bemoan the lack of lock on this dial. On some cameras these dials shift when they get knocked or brushed past something, resulting in a change in exposure setting. I have to say that I found no such issue with the dial of the X-T1. The exposure compensation dial has enough torque that it requires quite a deliberate turn to shift it out of its position.

On the Nikon Df, all the dials have locks, which can be a little frustrating when changing the exposure compensation.

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df - Df top down

The position of the exposure compensation dial is also in an awkward place. Whereas Fujifilm placed it on the right-hand side of the X-T1’s top-plate, making it simple to adjust with your thumb while still holding the camera to your eye, on the Nikon Df the dial is on the left-hand side.

This requires you to remove your hand from the lens, which can be awkward when using some heavy glass. Not only this, but the lock button means that it is necessary to use both the thumb and forefinger to adjust the dial. The result is that the Df is slower and more awkward to make what should be quick adjustments.

The front control dial on the Nikon Df also seems to be an exercise in design rather than ergonomics. The dial is positioned vertically rather than horizontally, which, due to its position on the front of the body, makes it slightly awkward to use. Most manufacturers, including Nikon, place this control dial horizontally in a more accessible position on the front of the camera.

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df - X-T1 rear angled

A further annoyance with the Df is its power switch, which is in the perfect position to be switched with the forefinger while holding the camera. However, it has ridged sides for purchase, rather than being a simple knob, which makes it more difficult to switch on in one-handed operation compared to the X-T1.

It is only a very simple ergonomic difference, but it is so simple that you wonder why Nikon didn’t use a slight variant of its standard power switch.

Each camera also has its own quirks when it comes to their respective menu systems. While Fujifilm’s menu has got a lot better in the last few years, it is still detailed and extensive and can take some time to find the feature or function that you need. Plus, it is frustrating that the extended ISO settings are only available for JPEGs and not raw format.

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df - Df rear angled

The Df, on the other hand, has by default turned off the option to review an image on the rear screen. So after you have taken an image with the Df, you have to hit the play button to view it. This goes against the way ever other digital camera operates, and everyone I know who has used the Df has immediately gone in to the menu system and changed this setting.

The fact is that the popularity of digital imaging is because of the immediacy of being able to see what you have just taken. As much as Nikon wants the Df to behave more like a film SLR, having the instant preview turned off by default goes against what photographers want from a digital camera. Luckily, it is something easily changed in the custom menu.

The Df does have some nice touches, such as the tiny LCD on the top-plate that looks like a frame counter on a film SLR, and the cable-release screw thread on the shutter button. The Fuji X-T1 lacks both these features, but overall I prefer the way that the X-T1 handles.

The size and weight of the X-T1 make it a much better option for those that want a high-quality travel camera, and like the Nikon Df, its body is weather-sealed. The X-T1 also has an articulated screen, making it easy to shoot at awkward angles.

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df – Optical vs Electronic viewfinder

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df – Optical vs Electronic viewfinder

One of the key differences between the Nikon Df and the Fujifilm X-T1 are their respective optical and electronic viewfinders. Both viewfinders offer 100% coverage, with the Df having a 0.7x magnification and the X-T1 a 0.77x magnification.

In use, both viewfinders feel like they are about the same size. At 2.36 million dots, the OLED electronic viewfinder of the X-T1 matches the resolution of other high-end EVFs. However, the larger magnification makes a real difference, making the view appear as large as it does in the optical viewfinder of the Df.

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df - DF rear viewfinder

There are obviously times when using an optical viewfinder is preferential. For example, when photographing fast-moving subjects, the refresh rate and fractional lag of an EVF can make a difference compared to using an optical unit.

That said, the 56fps refresh rate of the EVF and 0.005secs shutter lag are impressive in the X-T1, and although the image presented still doesn’t quite look like an optical image, it does have its advantages.

The most obvious advantage is being able to preview how your image will look even before taking it. The EVF of the X-T1 even has a better dynamic range that the rear screen, so colour and contrast are better.

This means you can adjust exposure and colour settings and see something close to what the final image will look like.

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df - X-T1 rear viewfinder

The size of the EVF in the X-T1 also offers some interesting new features. The best of these is the dual view mode. This shows the scene on the left-hand side of the EVF, and on the right is a 100% enlargement to make it easy to manually focus. The enlarged section can also be used in combination with focus peaking or Fuji’s unique split-image focusing.

Of the two cameras, the Df is quicker to manually focus. It was easy to get the lens roughly in focus, and then tweak the focus using the AF indicator at the bottom of the viewfinder as a guide.

Although the X-T1 is slightly slower when manually focusing, the split image focusing, focus peaking and the 100% magnification mean it is possible to focus more accurately.

In summary however, it’s ultimately how photographers use their cameras that’s biggest factor in deciding whether they should opt for an electronic or optical viewfinder.

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df – Sensor and Dynamic Range

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df – Sensor and Dynamic Range

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df - X-T1 sensor

The sensors from each camera have similar resolutions: 16.2 million pixels in the Nikon Df, and 16.3 million pixels in the Fujifilm X-T1. However, the two sensors are very different in their design.

The Nikon Df uses the same sensor as the company’s professional-level D4. This 16.2-million-pixel, full-frame CMOS sensor is designed by Nikon and manufactured by a third-party.

In contrast, the Fujifilm X-T1 has a smaller 16.3-million-pixel, APS-C-sized sensor, which is the same as that used in Fuji’s X-E2 and is believed to be the same Sony 16.3-million-pixel unit that is used in to a number of other cameras. Fujifilm then supplies the X-Trans filter array, which is fabricated onto the sensor.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Fujifilm X-Trans filter array, it uses a 6×6 pattern array. In comparison, most other digital cameras, including the Nikon Df, use a standard 2×2 Bayer pattern filter.

The result is that the X-Trans array appears more random in appearance – the more random pattern helps to reduce false colour and moiré patterning. As a result of this, the X-Trans sensor doesn’t need an anti-aliasing filter, which makes the X-T1 capable of resolving more detail compared to the Nikon Df.

Where the Df hits around 28 on our resolution chart, the X-T1 is able to reach almost 32. This makes a real difference when you examine the fine detail in images. There is very little sharpening needed in Fujifilm X-T1 raw files compared to those of the Nikon Df.

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df - Df sensor

Dynamic range

At low sensitivities the dynamic range of the two cameras is remarkably similar. However, as the ISO sensitivity increases, the smaller sensor of the Fujifilm X-T1 shows as much as a 1EV advantage.

When editing an image that has been deliberately underexposed to preserve all of the detail in a sky, both cameras show that an impressive amount of detail can be recovered from the dark shadow areas.

With standard images shot at ISO 200 and both cameras having had their exposure increased by +5EV in Adobe Camera Raw 8.4, the detail that becomes visible is quite astounding and there is little to choose between each model.

At a push the Df just edges the X-T1 in showing slightly more fine detail, but at this level both cameras seem to be a match for each other.

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df – ISO Comparison

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df – ISO Comparison

These are just a selection of the ISO comparison shots from the Nikon Df and Fujifilm X-T1. For a wider range, head on over to the Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df sample image gallery.

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df - X-T1 ISO 400

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df - Df ISO 400

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df - X-T1 ISO 1600

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df - Df ISO 1600

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df - X-T1 6400

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df - Df 6400

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df – Verdict

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df – Verdict

Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df

Once again, both the Nikon Df and Fujifilm X-T1 are great cameras and I’m sure each will prove to be very popular with enthusiast photographers. But for those looking for a retro shooting experience akin to that of film SLR of yore, the preference would be the X-T1.

The size and shape of the Fuji camera are closer than the Nikon Df to those of a film SLR, and anyone who likes to manually focus will love the split-image focusing. Plus, the fact that the X-T1’s colour modes are based on classic Fuji films, such as Provia and Velvia, will also resonate with photographers.

As for the larger question about producing a digital camera that behaves like a film SLR, I think the problem may resolve itself when screen technology improves to an extent that the panels can be thinner. Shaving a couple of millimetres off of the camera body can make a big difference.

Alternatively, by removing the rear LCD screen completely, a digital camera DSLR could be a lot smaller in height and in depth.

Obviously this would make it much harder to change settings or review images, but perhaps if there was a hybrid optical/digital viewfinder, like in the Fujifilm X-Pro1, then this could become a possibility.

  1. 1. Introduction
  2. 2. Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df - Build and Handling
  3. 3. Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df - Optical vs Electronic viewfinder
  4. 4. Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df - Sensor and Dynamic Range
  5. 5. Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df - ISO Comparison
  6. 6. Fujifilm X-T1 vs Nikon Df - Verdict
Page 1 of 6 - Show Full List
  • Chris Bradley

    I have just purchased a Nikon Df and set aside my Fujifilm XE-1. I own a Nikon F2A which I still use and have several AI and AIS lenses. Having purchased an adapter for the XE-1 the camera software seems to be flawed and I cannot get sharp images from my Nikkor’s. The XE-1 is a fine camera with great light portability and takes great pictures. The autofocus in video mode is a joke but then I am not too bothered about video. I just like things to work if they are included in something. The Df makes me smile…A lot. Install the lens sizes into its software and off you go. Nikkor AI/S lenses make modern lenses seem cheap and nasty and I don’t really mind having to turn that focus ring on my lenses. It actually makes me feel like I’m part of the process of taking the picture. If you just want point and shoot buy a Canon G10…They’r fantastic at everything and cheap now on ebay. I don’t see how anyone considering a Nikon Df would be remotely interested in a Fuji X-T1. The Nikon Df is a total stand alone. All those people who still buy older lenses for their modern Nikons…..Possibly, and those who still shoot 35mm on their prized Nikon F, They are the ones who Nikon Df’s appeal to. Plus of course others who wish to adopt the same policy that I have and enjoy photography again.

    The Nikon Df has a soul. It looks like a camera and not a carbon mis-hape. Look at the Nikon line up at six feet and they all look exactly the same. I like to be different. The Nikon Df is different. It evokes pleasure when you look at it by its appearance and even more in the process of taking a photograph.

    The dials stay where you set them unlike my XE-1 which always seemed to have some EV compensation accidentally set + or -, or the focus selector on one of the two settings you did not want. Oh and the Df has the same sensor that they fit in the Nikon D4. WOW!

    I would say that the Df is a thinking mans camera. I keep thinking of how I can draw a comparison with the Moto Guzzi Daytona Racing I once owned. Everyone else bought Fireblades and frowned at me Guzzy. Have you seen a Moto Guzzi Daytona Racing?

    In some ways I am looking forward to looking back at my Nikon Df, having given up on the pursuit of pixels and thinking that its nice to own a real classic. I just hope the the modern electronic shutters of today can give as much service as a Nikon F2. Somehow I doubt it.

  • Guest

    I have just purchased a Nikon Df and set aside my Fujifilm XE-1. I own a Nikon F2A which I still use and have several AI and AIS lenses. Having purchased an adapter for the XE-1 the camera software seems to be flawed and I cannot get sharp images from my Nikkor’s. The XE-1 is a fine camera with great light portability and takes great pictures. The autofocus in video mode is a joke but then I am not too bothered about video. I just like things to work if they are included in something. The Df makes me smile…A lot. Install the lens sizes into its software and off you go. Nikkor AI/S lenses make modern lenses seem cheap and nasty and I don’t really mind having to turn that focus ring on my lenses. It actually makes me feel like I’m part of the process of taking the picture. If you just want point and shoot buy a Canon G10…They’r fantastic at everything and cheap now on ebay. I don’t see how anyone considering a Nikon Df would be remotely interested in a Fuji X-T1. The Nikon Df is a total stand alone. All those people who still buy older lenses for their modern Nikons…..Possibly, and those who still shoot 35mm on their prized Nikon F, They are the ones who Nikon Df’s appeal to. Plus of course others who wish to adopt the same policy that I have and enjoy photography again.

    The Nikon Df has a soul. It looks like a camera and not a carbon mis-hape. Look at the Nikon line up at six feet and they all look exactly the same. I like to be different. The Nikon Df is different. It evokes pleasure when you look at it by its appearance and even more in the process of taking a photograph.

    The dials stay where you set them unlike my XE-1 which always seemed to have some EV compensation accidentally set + or -, or the focus selector on one of the two settings you did not want. Oh and the Df has the same sensor that they fit in the Nikon D4. WOW!

    I would say that the Df is a thinking mans camera. I keep thinking of how I can draw a comparison with the Moto Guzzi Daytona Racing I once owned. Everyone else bought Fireblades and frowned at me Guzzy. Have you seen a Moto Guzzi Daytona Racing?

    In some ways I am looking forward to looking back at my Nikon Df, having given up on the pursuit of pixels and thinking that its nice to own a real classic. I just hope the the modern electronic shutters of today can give as much service as a Nikon F2. Somehow I doubt it.