If you go back some time here on nikongear.com you may remember me writing a post about how it would be awesome to get a digital Nikon FM styled body.
Today we see the announcement of the Nikon Df, apparently shortcode for Digital Fusion. Well, fusion is a good descriptor for the camera they unveiled today. It looks like the 70’s and the new age somehow got merged in a hole in the time-space continuum and out popped something resembling a Nikon F3 or FM2 on the front side and a D600 on the back. It’s certainly divisive in as much as public opinion on the design element goes. I’m reading a lot of super enthused comments as well as a lot of people who are grossed-out by the look of the Df.
Me personally, I think it looks awesome and I would love to have one. But… the asking price is about a grand heavier than I’m prepared to pay for it. At $2750 it’s just way too expensive to be taken seriously as a professional tool, so my guess is that this will appeal to the well-heeled Nikon enthusiast or coffee shop hipster who isn’t looking so much for a working camera as a conversation piece. Apart from the retro look and controls, there isn’t a whole lot there to justify the asking price. According to the initial reports its got a 16MP sensor onboard, which is the same as the one in the D4. It also has the AF system of the D610, which in my opinion is sub-standard. So what exactly are we paying $2750 for? Looks? There is a whole lot of missing stuff in this body that we have become accustomed to in recent years. HD video for one. 1/8000s shutter speed for another and 1/320s flash sync speed for yet another. Oh, what about wifi and GPS? Those features are standard fare these days, so why are they absent here in a camera that is priced at the professional level?
What I like about the body is that it has knobs and buttons to do everything you need to set exposure easily. It’s easy to change the AE mode, easy to change the exposure compensation (although bracketing might be awkward), easy to change the ISO value, easy to change the drive mode and if you’re in shutter priority it’s also easy to change the speed. Those are old design features that worked but got lost over the years of technical innovation. It’s good to have them back.
Having two colour options is indicative of Nikon’s aim with this camera - hook the retro buyer market. But is it too little too late? The first retro cameras introduced by Fuji and Olympus have been out for a couple of years already and they are way, way ahead of the technology curve when it comes to value for money in the products they’re offering. The only real advantage that Nikon has with this camera is that is has an FX sensor in it, which is great, but now so does Sony in the A7/A7r. And they have two resolution offerings vs a single resolution from Nikon. There is also the touch and tilt screen. This is something you cannot begin to appreciate until you don’t have it. My Olympus E-M5 has it and I love it. It’s made photography a lot easier for me in certain situations. Those cameras also have EVF’s which in my opinion are simply much more advantageous than the OVF option. If Nikon had these kinds of technological advantages in the Df then I could begin to understand the asking price, but hell… if they can produce an FX sensor for the D610 at its current price point, what the hell are we really paying for here?
I think it’s a big gamble on Nikon’s part. If they can hook the magpie buyers and get them to part with their money then they will have had a great success, but if they fail to hook the discerning photographers at the asking price then they’ve got a potential disaster on their hands. Only time will tell.
Again it looks like I will be sitting out this new model. In fact I’m beginning to think that if I am going to stick with Nikon I might as well capitulate and get the D800. At least then I know that my $2750 will be getting spent on the whole enchilada, not just half of it.
Of the two colours I think the black looks better.