Mixed Feelings About the New Nikon Df

I’m a Nikon shooter and it’s a given that when Nikon announces a new full frame DSLR I’ll be following the news closely. I have to admit that I felt a bit disappointed when I first read the details on Nikon’s new Df camera.

At any rate, for those who haven’t seen the info elsewhere, here’s the details:

Nikon-Df-silver-front

 

(images all grabbed from here)

Essentially, the Nikon Df is Nikon taking the sensor from the D4 and putting it into a body that resembles their classic F series film SLR cameras. Here are some of the key specs:

  • Solid, magnesium-alloy construction with weather-sealing
  • 16.2 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor (same as the one in Nikon D4)
  • ISO sensitivity range of 100-12,800 (boost down to ISO 50 and up to ISO 204,800)
  • Shutter speed range of 30-1/4000s, flash sync-speed 1/200s
  • 39-point AF system (same as the one in Nikon D610), 9 cross-type sensors, focuses down to f/8
  • 2016-pixel RGB image sensor, full non-AI-S lens metering
  • EXPEED 3 processor
  • Large 3.2″ LCD screen with 921,000 dot resolution
  • Pentaprism optical viewfinder with 100% coverage and approximately 0.7x magnification
  • SD card slot
  • Maximum continuous shooting speed up to 5.5 frames per second
  • Measures in at 143.5 x 110 x 66.5mm
  • Weighs 760g with battery and memory card
  • $2749 body-only, $2999 with the new Special Edition AF-S 50mm f/1.8G lens

(specs from here)

Nikon-Df-top

 

I think that in the wake of some of the major mirrorless camera announcements recently (I’m thinking especially of Sony’s AR7 and Olympus’s OM-D E-M1) people were expecting that this might also be a mirrorless camera with an electronic viewfinder.  So when the official announcement came out revealing it was a “traditional” DSLR with no EVF and no video capabilities, some people were outraged.

You think “outrage” is too strong a word for a reaction to a press release? Don’t forget how passionate some people get about gear. Like this guy:

Time to get off the fence I think. I absolutely hate it and wouldn’t be seen dead carrying one …

Well, fortunately, there are no Gear Police forcing you to buy and use gear you don’t want.

Nikon-Df-back

 

I think a lot of people have forgotten about Nikon’s D700. It’s only out of production a couple of years, but when it was first released, people went nuts for it. Why? Because they took the sensor and guts out of the expensive D3 camera and essentially shoved them into a D300 body and sold it for not quite half the price of the D3.

When the D4 came out, everyone thought Nikon would do something to follow up on the D700, but that never happened. The D800 and D600 (and now D610) were clearly not that camera. So one might say that the Df is.  Because it’s got the same sensor as the D4 at not quite half the price in a body that may not be small or light but is definitely smaller and lighter than the D4.

Here’s the other thing for me. The reason I loved shooting with the Fuji X-series cameras was the beauty of the control layout. I like dials. I don’t like digging through menus. It made me feel very connected to the camera and the whole shooting process. The Nikon Df will shoot G series lenses, which have no aperture ring, but every other key function has a dedicated dial (and presumably aperture is adjusted via the unlabelled wheel top right rear).

An EVF, perhaps a hybrid viewfinder such as one finds on some of the Fuji X cameras, would have been exceptionally nice, especially given that Nikon’s LiveView is problematic. Video? Not an issue for me; I think in the year and a half that I’ve owned my d800, I’ve shot under 5 minutes of video.  Not pocket-sized? Not meant to be.

Reports are that initial pre-orders are low. I have no way of knowing how many Df’s Nikon was expecting to sell.  I have no way of knowing if Nikon is expecting this to be a best-seller or a niche product, which is really what it is.

Will I buy one? No. But that’s because US$3,000 for a second camera is totally beyond my budget.  Would I like to own this camera? I think the answer is yes. I think that if they didn’t goof up the insides, then the D4 sensor, smaller body, extensive controls and smaller price should add up to a device capable of creating some great images.

 

 

 

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3 Comments

  1. gregorylent November 11, 2013 at 3:23 pm #

    fashionista photogs rejoice .. the rest keep working with what they havem awaiting the next generation of sensors and better dslr video

  2. Nikon Man November 23, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    I like the retro looks, like the manual features. I don’t care much if the camera has video feature or not. The price is a turn off. It i don’t already have a DSLR I would think about it because of the price factor. I would only consider this camera if it had the same pix as the D800 as i looking into a full frame camera later, which the D800 will likely be even cheaper. For now the Df will be just eye candy for me.

  3. cas December 21, 2013 at 12:45 am #

    i find this camera is quite handsome compared to the D800’s “molten” ugly proportions , a distinct feature of all Nikon DSLR cameras of late with the exception of the D4 .

    i really like its quoted battery life of 1400 shots per charge .

    recent reports of it’s sluggish AF performance at less than ideal lighting conditions should not deter photographers into making good use of it’s D4 image sensor .
    the way around this handicap is through the use of Zeiss ZF.2 lenses which is equipped with focus confirmation indicator .
    after all , the concept driving the design of the Nikon Df is to give photographers the old , pre-digital photographic shooting experience and so an excellent manual focus lens such as the Zeiss ZF.2 series gives the user exactly that .

    i think that what the Nikon Df missed was the inclusion of a built-in multi-axis stabilizer to better steady the camera during handheld low-light photography for which it’s sensor was meant for .

    also , a photosite increase to about 24megapixels would have added more to its purchasing appeal relative to it’s rather expensive initial retail price .

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