Nikon Df – Heart vs Head Rebuttal

When Bob Vishneski wrote his “In the Nikon Df Crossfire – Heart vs Head” humorous article a couple of days ago, I had a hard time with hitting the publish button, because I knew it would create some controversy (especially from those that like their Nikon Df cameras). In addition, I did not necessarily agree with all of Bob’s points, since I look at the Df differently. But that’s the beautiful thing about our team here at PL – we can differ in opinion, share our thoughts / feelings and we do not have to agree! In this case, the below article is sort of a rebuttal to Bob’s article.

Nikon Df

I have been shooting with the Nikon Df for over a month now and I do not see the Df as a huge mistake. In fact, I actually like a lot of things about it and see its place for some photographers. I am not trying to say that I love the Df, since there are some things I strongly dislike about it, like the single SD card slot on the bottom of the camera, some ergonomic issues and other limitations. I think the Df is a very controversial camera and Nikon knew very well that it would be before the release. In fact, I heard something very interesting – Nikon apparently told re-sellers that they expected the sales for the Df to be very low. At the moment, re-sellers are barely catching up with the demand and the number of units sold far exceeded their expectations! I was rather surprised by this, considering how vocal some people got on our site and others regarding the Df.

I think the Df is an interesting release, because it clearly identified two different groups of users in today’s world of Nikon. The first group consists of very technical people that understand technology quite well and invest where it makes sense. This group is huge and it is the same group that happily bought the D800s and the D600s of the world. They obviously hate the Df and find it idiotic that Nikon released it when there are other better choices available at lower price points.

There is also a second group, which is very different from the first one. It might not have the technical knowledge of cameras, sensors and features, but it is the group that often shoots professionally. Portrait, street, wedding photographers and the like. They want a camera that is smaller and lighter than their bulky DSLRs and they want images that look very clean and need less work during post-processing. 16 MP is more than enough for their needs, because most of them still shoot with their D700s. Now for this group, the Df represents something they have been waiting for. A camera with a moderate resolution sensor, lightweight and if there is a style that comes with it, they will take it. My wife is one of them. When she shot with the Df, she did not want her Nikon D3s anymore. It is smaller, lighter and makes beautiful 16 MP images – that’s all she cares about. She does not care for video, super advanced AF or other bells and whistles. Even on her D3s she often resorts to the center focus point if the light conditions are poor using the focus and recompose technique, so the inferior AF turned out to be an non-issue. She will take the Df over anything else Nikon makes any time, as long as she has her primes.

Within this second group, there is also a sub-group of people that make choices that might not make sense for others. Wedding photographers that shoot with film (there are many), shoot with overpriced and under-performing gear that provides a distinct look they are after. Ever seen a person shooting with a Holga? Or old, expired films just to get a different look? For this group, the Df is something new and refreshing, something that connects with them. A lot of people do not get these guys. Just like many could never understand why one would buy a Leica with a $10K lens to shoot portraits using manual focus. And yet, if you look at this group, they will defend their choices to death. The Nikon Df has a huge appeal for this group. Just like it makes no sense to buy a high end Ferrari over a Nissan GT-R and pay 2-3x more for potentially less horse power, for most people, it makes no sense to buy a Nikon Df or a Leica over something like the Nikon D600. But they still do it. And will continue doing so in the future.

That’s why you see these arguments going back and forth between these groups now, who are arguing over things they will not understand. Tell a Ferrari owner that he should have bought a Nissan GT-R and have a look at his face :) Price often has nothing to do with features of a product. What justifies the Nikon D3X $7K price tag, one might ask? And yet many purchased the D3X and some surprisingly continue to do so until the D4X comes out. With the D800 and D600/D610 out, you would think that no one would still spend that kind of money on the D3X! Another good example is the new Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4, which is currently sold for $4K. I received a number of comments from our readers regarding this lens and one of the readers asked me “who in their right state of mind would even consider buying this overpriced manual focus lens?”. Well, I know a few people who own this lens and they love it. It is the sharpest 55mm lens in the world and it makes beautiful images, even if it is manual focus only. That’s not to say that there are no ridiculous releases out there. The Hasselblad Lunar would be my #1 candidate for the worst camera of 2013, because it is just a NEX with a different face. But releases like Nikon Df and Zeiss Otus 55mm f/1.4 are a whole different ballgame – these products have their place in the market.

The Nikon Df is not necessarily just about the heart – for my wife, the Df does not appeal her because of the retro look. She likes it, because it makes beautiful 16 MP images that look very similar to the images from the D3s and the D700. She does not have to spend a ton of time editing images, since 16 MP files open instantly in Lightroom (and I have a high-end PC with Intel i7, SSD drives and 32 GB of RAM) and take much less time to re-size and export. Even half a second of extra waiting time makes a difference when going through thousands of images. She likes that the Df is so lightweight, especially with her favorite 50mm f/1.8G prime. After 18 hour wedding shoots, she knows what it feels like to lug a D3s around her neck, so cutting that weight by half sounds like a good deal to her. Battery life is amazing, which is also a big deal when she comes back with 1-2K images from a full day of shooting. Looking at her decision to swap the D3s for the Df and listening to her arguments, I understand that others might think similarly. And she made that choice with her head, not her heart!

So there is more to the Df than it might seem. And it is not always just about features. The new Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G is similar to the Df in this regard – its sharpness is far worse than one would expect for a $1700 lens. Its field curvature is horrid at close distances. And yet it makes images that have a distinct look to them. For any normal user and for the first group above, the 58mm is a bad release just like the Df. Why would you buy it if you have the 50mm f/1.4G and the f/1.8G that cost a lot less? Same questions, same answers…

Meanwhile, I will continue to use my trusty D800E and D600 to take pictures :)

Any Nikon Df owners out there? Could you share your story and tell us why you bought it?


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Avatar of Nasim Mansurov About Nasim Mansurov

is a professional photographer based out of Denver, Colorado. He is the author and founder of Photography Life, along with a number of other online resources. Read more about Nasim here.

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Frank Jr.

    While I am not a huge fan of this camera by any means, one thing that does strike me as an advantage with this style camera is the reading and adjustment of some exposure setting in bright harsh sunlight. Quite often I use old school manual lenses that require some settings through an lcd display that I cannot read in bright glaring sunlight.

    • 61
      ) Tonio

      This is probably offset somewhat by the fact that the shutter speed dial setting may bear no resemblance to the current shutter speed if you are in A or P modes, unlike fuji and leica who use A settings on the shutter speed and aperture (!) dials. If Nikon had made the weird front dial an aperture dial for gelded lenses, complete with an A setting, and put exposure compensation where the mode dial is…

      Anyway, how well a camera sells initially is one thing (the Df was unusually well-hyped, and there’s no doubt that there was pent up demand for a retro DSLR) but I suspect time will not be kind to the Df.

  2. 2
    ) Carlo

    Nikon Df is priced 3100 euro with chinese 50mm f/1.8 lens. And you cannot buy the body only.
    Nikon D800 costs 2500 euro (body only).
    I’m sorry but I already have 50mm lens and for 500 euro lens I can buy the amazing D800 with great AF capability and excellent exposure system.
    I would buy the Df only if the weight is 500grams and price close to 2200 euro (I mean less than D800). I don’t really mind the AF points, megapixel and video, but since Nikon claim that Df is a retro look and so on….. my FM2 that I still use is much more light and small.
    Just a funny question…. the 50mm lens kit has a metal ring like Ai lenses and gives a retro look. Why this lens comes with a plastic and standard lens cap Made in China? It doesn’t look really retro at all!
    I’m still waiting for a FF DSLR with 1 AF point, with 12 MP, weight of 500gr and price of 1000 euro.
    That’s it.

    • 67
      ) Jorge Balarin

      That last model would be fair priced : )

  3. 3
    ) Ertan

    I see nothing that this camera can and d610 cannot, except from trying to impress others in 3 meters curcle around you. Oh, and pictures above iso6400 are a tiny bit clearer.

    • 19
      ) autofocusross

      Ertan, I agree fully, unless you need the low light improvement, and it is worth thousands of dollars to you, then the 610 makes much more sense

  4. 4
    ) Kees Schothorst

    Thanks for the nice summary about the much discussed DF. I never considered a FF DSLR because of the looks , size and weight. Until now i targeted Leica and M 4/3 camera’s. The Nikon DF attracted my attention because of the retro looks, relatively small size and the manual controls. Have the camera now 10 days and very impressed with the output, velvety like files and wonderful ISO performance. The ergonomics are fine for me except for the locking button of the ISO dial. It is a much easier camera to operate then my Leica M 9P. I will use the DF with prime lenses only and consider the smallest version such as some D lenses ( 24 D 2.8, 50 1.4 D etc) I am still not sure about that. Assume that the latest G version are optically better.

  5. 5
    ) grant torres

    I dont care what the Visniki guy wrote about the Df. My wife cooks well, has a good paying job, fulfills my needs, and is BEAUTIFUL!!! Why would I choose anyone lesser? To each his own, whats important is YOU are contented and happy with your choice.

  6. See comment I left on Bob’s post.
    I didn’t even have time to consider before the jackboot of oppression crushed my dream into the fresh Ukrainian mud.

    :-/

    • 78
      ) Shawn Young

      Does the jackboot read this blog?

  7. 7
    ) autofocusross

    I must say, shooting weddings with this when a D800 is available seems wrong to me. There are two main styles of wedding shot, the social shot, and the formal one.

    OK I can understand using a 16mp for formal posed shots, where control of people and background is in place, to a large extent.

    BUT, using it for the social shots, where the hubbub and chaos and confusion of people talking, moving around, children running about, the higher res of the D800 not only provides beautiful quality, but has that capability of being able to quite savagely crop the images, yet still end up with a fairly high res image for the client – having removed aunty Glenda dancing on the table in the background of the shot!

    Maybe your wife concentrates mostly on formal shots and doesnt encounter disruptive or disturbing backgrounds. You can use primes wide open to throw backgrounds off, but then, at weddings, people of a female persuasion tend to wear bright colours, so even out of focus, they do distract. Then, there’s the issue of subject focus. With the prime lens wide open, the eye nearest the camera may be sharp, but by the time you get to the furthest eye, you could already be in trouble.

    Maybe you could get your wife to give us a run down on how she shoots to avoid these problems – I am talking mostly about the social photography NOT the formal posed, static shots.

    Most wedding photographers now have two taking the images, one doing the social shots, the other doing the formals. Does Mrs Mansurov work in this way too or does she ‘fly solo?’

    Either way, the D800 being available to her, I am surprised she elects to use a Df… very interesting.

    • There are two main styles of wedding shooters : the ones that know how to compose, and the ones that need 100GB worth of RAW files for every wedding.

      PS: Even for “social photography” at weddings, you can ask people to move one step left or right. As you said, you can shoot wide open. You can light the subject with a strobe and let the background go darker. You can move one step left or right. You can shoot up or down. You can use a longer focal length. It also helps to shoot more expensive weddings, where everything is bigger and details are better taken care of.

      • 15
        ) autofocusross

        Eric, a little harsh don’t you think? composition of formal wedding shots is orchestrated and therefore done with a preconceived goal, often photographer led, just as often it is client led, eg, I want a shot with my mum, dad, and uncle Robert.

        On the social photography side, as opposed to formal shots, it is true that the photographer, if anything, needs equal if not better skills to the formal photographer, as, it is a game of capturing fleeting moments, and as such, your suggestion about asking people to ‘move one step left or right’ or ‘shooting with a strobe’ (in the UK we call them flashguns) inherently draws everyones attention to the photographer’s prescence, which is at complete odds to the purpose of the social photographer being there at all – it is to capture moments away from the main action – the bridesmaids having a drink, or a chat, the page boy rolling on the floor, the brides mum smiling at a speech etc etc. These shots need to be taken subtley, and the photographer needs to appear, and fade away quickly in capturing them.

        In such circumstances, it is inevitable that someone moves into the shot, in the background, or even, between you and the subject, as the exposure is being made. It is also ‘murphy’s law’ as we say in the UK, that the very shot which would have been the best one of the day, reveals that Auntie Joan, or Uncle William meandered into shot and potentially ruined it. This is why the ability to crop them out is so important, and to infer that a photographer deliberately takes poor shots with a view to cropping is totally wrong. The thing is, if the images are not being enlarged beyond 10×8 then a D800 is clearly overkill – yet, in situations where a great image can be saved by having the ability to crop out the distractions, is a priceless thing.

        I have shot many weddings as ‘official’ photographer, and while it is a pressure role, the actual image capture is easier than when shooting the social shots ad hoc.

        Hope you are not offended, but I cannot agree that photographers who ‘know how to compose’ don’t get similar problems with unexpected heads popping up in the background etc right at the last second – it happens! get over it! :-)

      • 68
        ) Jorge Balarin

        Also you could be hanging from an helicopter to get the proper angle, or ask your subject to freeze his smile for you casual shot : )

    • 16
      ) nestor

      Hi autofocusross. There are two kind of photographers.
      A) the good ones who knows how to compose to get excelent results with few megapixels.
      B) the ones who bought a camera and after reading the instruction manual (few did so) started to take so called professional photography.

      Savagely croping on a regular basis means wrong technique, small croping in a non-regular basis means you know how to compose

      • 18
        ) autofocusross

        Hi Nestor, I think maybe this obscession with getting composition correct is distracting us from the point (with regard to social wedding photography).

        If some idiot walks into the shot at the moment of exposure, even Ansel Adams can’t do much about it.

        No one is suggesting savage cropping – that would degrade the image qualtiy anyway.

        As you say, being able to crop out a quarter to a third of the pixels so that you end up with a 12-16Mp image, is great.

        Social photographers cannot control people movement, they can only compose the perfect shot of the subject and hope no one intervenes in forground or background, or even distracts your subject so that they turn their heads another way etc.

        It’s a bit like shooting wildlife, only with people instead of animals :-)

      • 20
        ) autofocusross

        Hi Nestor,

        In some areas of photography I would fully agree with you – but social photography is murder – people do things in real time, they stand up to get a drink, go to the cloakroom, talk to other guests, and generally are moving around. In addition, your subject is interactive with the other guests too, so can be distracted, and the moment is gone forever. A turn of the head, and the shot is lost.

        If a third party (uncle, aunty etc) gets in the shot, the ability to modify the composition is priceless. Light to medium cropping can rescue a masterpiece from what was otherwise, a ruined image. Heavy cropping of course, degrades the image anyway and no one would advise doing that.

        This is a fact of life in social photography, it is like wildlife photography, only, with people instead!

      • 34
        ) unclemikey

        Hello Nestor, I would have to disagree with you. I work with several high end wedding photographers; as second shooter, who are great portrait photographers and I learn a great deal from them, however my style is more journalistic or as autofocusross puts it social photography. When walking around to get the shots that make the portfolio one cannot always ask someone to move out of the way as that might be assumed as rude. I started working with the D7100 and then moved to a pair of D800e and with much better results with having to crop out Aunt Matilda doing something not worthy of her status. Back in the day when I was first shooter working with medium format film cameras we did the same thing. Crop out what you didn’t need and save the book for the wedding couple. One can argue this point back and forth all day but at the end of the day it is the total result of the event that matters.

      • 69
        ) Jorge Balarin

        Nobody said that you must cropp savagely. I understood that sometimes the ability to crop is welcome, and with the D800 you could do it savagely if necessary. By other side I must say that a 16 megapixels camera is more forgiving than a 36 megapixels one. With the D800 it is not easy to get sharp photos at pixel level, if all the stars are not properly aligned.

  8. 8
    ) Dominic

    I sold my d700 and got the df. People thought I’m out of my mind, but that’s what I usually do XD, just like when I sold my Nikkor 24-70 and bought the Nikkor 35mm 1.4G. The thing is, you know what’s best for you, and I never want to follow what the majority thinks. I bought the df with my heart by the way, it connects with me :)

    • I’d take the 35 1.4 over the 24-70 anytime.

    • 12
      ) Carlo

      Would have you bought the Df for 4200 USD (This is the actual currency USD vs Eur)? Personally not! I see that in US shops Df costs something like 2700 USD (the same D800 price). This is in my opinion the real value and it is crazy that in Europe the Df is so overrated!
      I’m seriously considering to sell all my Nikon gear and buy fuji X-E2 (cheaper, lighter, smaller, better build, good lenses, and stay in one hand).

      • 37
        ) jmj

        The difference between US and Europe might not be so big as it first appears. First of all,Df currently costs 2850 eur (yes there is body only option, it just might be temporally sold out in some places), which is 3850 USD. But keep in mind that US prices are usually tax free and Euro prices are not. For example, DF tax free price is around 2300 eur which is 3150 USD.

        • 56
          ) Manuel

          I couldn’t find the Df to date in Germany without the redundant 50mm/1.8. As an official import at reputable dealers in Germany it’s available today at EUR 2900 including all taxes (= EUR 2440 tax free). Converted into USD, the tax free price is about USD 3300.

          Quite expensive in Germany – Adorama offers the Df without lens today for USD 2750.

          For comparison,the D800 is available from the same dealers in Germany for EUR 2100 including all taxes (= EUR 1770 tax free). Converted into USD, the tax free price is about USD 2400.

          Adorama has the D800 today for USD 2800, which is about 17% more expensive.

          Within the EU, the displayed (online) shop prices are always including all taxes by law. Only shipping comes on top, which is usually somewhere between free of charge and EUR 8 at maximum.

        • 57
          ) nestor

          Hi jmj in USA you can buy tax free by mail, it is not so in Europe. In addition taxes are 2.5 times higher tan in the states.

  9. It took me a month to decide whether or not I should trade in my D3s for a Df. In the end I did it. I already have a D800, but for my work I need both a high resolution camera, and a low noise camera. And no, I cannot sub sample the D800 images – photogrammetry requires full size images. The fact that I can get the same or better ISO performance with 16 mp over 12 makes the difference. Especially in a package half the price of the D4. I shoot manual 95% of the time anyways, so having the dials on top just makes life easier in rough conditions.

  10. 13
    ) David Ziff

    I’m an event photographer. Most of my work is done in low light conditions. I haven’t touched a Df yet but I’m interested. I could care less about a camera’s retro look. I wish Nikon had said, “We’re giving you a D4′s sensor at half the price and half the weight. We’ve added analogue controls to give you a camera with faster handling. We’ve dropped the video feature because by survey we know that many photographers don’t need or want it. Ditto with a built-in flash.” If Nikon had made this their mantra we wouldn’t be sidetracked by the idea that sentimentality has anything to do with a camera purchase.

    • 17
      ) autofocusross

      David, I agree with you completely – a camera is a tool in your hands, as a professional photographer, and has nothing to do with sentimentality. The feature set you need, and the final image quality you require, are the pre-requisites of any camera, whatever kind of photographer you are. This is why we have everything from a 5Mp Fuji compact up to a 40,000 dollar Hasselblad availabe on the market today.

      We all have different needs and cannot impose particular cameras upon particular customers, as, the need is the more important factor behind the purchase.

      I would like to see Nikon filter down this philosophy to their lower priced models, especially the DX range, since I am sure that for every ten DX type DSLR’s sold, three never come out of the box (too complicated for a basic user) three come out for Christmas and Holidays and Weddings, and of the other four, only one (if that) is used regularly for video.

      A simpler interface with a more basic approach, no video, and a better sensor – it all makes sense. But, if you are a leisure photographer, and not a pro, then a 3000 dollar price tag makes no sense at all… it is not a deductable business expense for private buyers. I wonder what the used price will be in a year’s time?

      Ouch!

      • 50
        ) Ernesto Quintero

        “I would like to see Nikon filter down this philosophy to their lower priced models, especially the DX range,….”

        DX range IS the lower priced models and NO Nikon will not be following whatever your philosophy is. Why do you bother making such demands that have zero chance of happening ? BTW read the article again and you will find the answer as to WHY she choose the Df, if it bothers you, let it go move on, she did.

        • 51
          ) autofocusross

          Ernesto, did you even read all of my post to which your somewhat vitreolic reply was a response?

          I got that she chose the Df due to the image size etc etc. I was not making demands of Nikon but it seems a back to basics approach may lead to more of the cameras being sold today actually being used, instead of mothballed only to be taken out for special occassions.

          Everything moves on, it wasn’t long ago that a 5Mpx DSLR was the world leader, so let’s get some perspective on this. We have reached the stage where camera features are now so vast that those new to them are put off by the plethora of features, or, rather, the lack of experience in knowing what features to use.

          The Df doesn’t bother me, but, the price does. I was simply stating that if Nikon are choosing to introduce a basic feature set on a camera in this price range, then maybe they will look at doing the same throughout the entire product range, and provide a camera at each price point, which offers all the basics, with a good sensor, and stripped of all the gimmicks.

          Why you took umbridge at my original reply to David, I have no idea, and I am sorry to see you so riled up.

        • 70
          ) Jorge Balarin

          Why are you so agressive ?

  11. 14
    ) Khor

    I have been using the df for couple of weeks. Absolutely love the weight as compared with d700 which I used for a couple of years. As a travel camera it’s really ideal, low weight, great high ISO performance, ability to take multiple shots automatically from timer are all great travel camera characteristics. I spend the day walking with the df (mind you lugging rest of the stuff for my kids and wife) and the weight is a huge benefit over d700.

    • 22
      ) carlo

      have you ever considered Fuji X-E2? Same megapixel, probably same AF performance and shutter speed, very close low light performance and lighter to carry all day long. I’m sorry but I’m really disappointed with Nikon during last two years!

      • 29
        ) chuck

        carlo, you should just switch and quit trying to convince others to make yourself feel better. You can’t convince me my Nikons are a bad decision. Just do it and quit talking about it.

      • 30
        ) Mike Fergusson

        I have both the X-E2 and the Df. I love them both, and am still undecided as to which I like better. The X-e2 is smaller, but with the 35mm, it’s really not much lighter than the Df with the 50. The X-E2 focus points cover the entire frame which is amazing, but I have trouble locking focus sometimes, and switching to manual focus on the fuji takes a bit longer than just grabbing the barrel of the lens. The start-up time and glitchy eye sensor bug me a lot. The Df just works. I haven’t had any problems with it yet. And batter life is incredible with that small thing. The X-E2 just eats batteries.

        As for low light performance, the Df, I think, is still far superior, but that’s just going off what I’ve noticed so far. I’ve not really done a detailed comparison.

        • 62
          ) Carlo

          Thanks Mike, this is the answer that I was expecting from someone that use both Nikon and Fuji and in particular the Df and X-E2.
          I’m D800 owner. Previously I had Nikon D50 that i still miss, then a D300 that was absolutely perfect, but one day I decided to switch for a FF camera, Now I am a D800 owner and previously I had D600 (that I sold because was two times for service ’cause of oil spots and the problem was ne et solved). I have D800 just because I bought it second hand and was a great deal (I’ve paid half price). Unfirtunately I’m not in love with it like I was with D300 because I’ve spent all my time to test the left AF sensor.
          I noticed also that now I must shot faster than 1/focal otherwise I have blurred images.
          Now for me the Df would be a good solution because it has the D4 sensor and 16MP are enought to avoid to see micro movement of my hand. But…. but here it costs so much for the features that offers. I don’t need 51 AF points, video capabilities, but for 3000 euro an integrated Wi-Fi and GPS, a shutter speed of 1/8000 would be just fine. In never used such 1/8000 sec but I don’t like that Nikon used in this expencive camera the same Mechanical components, AF System and metering System of the D600 (the entry FF model). Nikon used also the same LCD screen and they forgot that the D7100 has a better LCD.
          Probably the Df can deliver gorgeous images but in my opinion the Df is just a “style exercise” and they followed the fashion of other brand with retro look.
          Only Fuji and probably Sony ( and now Canon with D70) introduced new Technologies. Nikon is still using the same CMOS sensor with just more MP (D4x is coming).
          I hope to see soon a comparison X-E2 vs Df.
          Thanks.

          • 80
            ) JJ

            Wow Carlos, you listed each of the standard Nikon troll lines so well. Grab a Fuji and go take some pictures.

      • 58
        ) Khor

        Hi, I have the xe1 as well . In terms of which fits better it really depend on your photography. The xe1 AF is far inferior (not tried the xe2) esp if you are tracking running kids or moving objects. But it is even smaller and lighter so it is easy to bring around everywhere.

        Having said that, one of the treasures of Nikon is the cls system, the flash system is an absolute gem, so if you are invested there, then Nikon is a no brainer. I do wish that df came with commander mode with flash, but it’s not to be.

    • 32
      ) David Ziff

      I’ve read that there are locks on the analog controls on top of the camera. Is this the case? If so why are they there? Do you have to take the extra action of unlocking a control before you can use it? I’m an event photographer and speed is everything for me. I would appreciate your amplification of the handling (ergonomics) of the Df o this particular point. Thanks.

      • 33
        ) David Ziff

        Typo: o in the last sentence should read “on.”

  12. 21
    ) OC Mike

    There are multiple reasons why the Df was not well received, regardless of the ever-present, small group of photographers who did or will buy it. The huge reservoir of photographers who would like to upgrade or mordernize their camera that have these qualities: a.) refuse to drop DOWN from 51 to 39 focus points, b.) do not urgently NEED 36 Mp, c.) would be satisfied with 24Mp, d.) dislike the poor performance of 36Mp in night or low light conditions because the smaller sized pixels simply do not have enough area to gather light without added noise, e.) video capability is the new normal regardless of the above group mentioned in the first sentance, f.) in an electronic world, why cannot there be one memory, two memories, three memories, four memories, five memories, six memories…i.e. why can’t there be many, many memory settings?, g.) a comparatively cheap Sony RX100 Mark 2 has features that needn’t be used at every wedding or vacation but i.) an auto function that stiches multiple shots to see into shadows, ii.) panorama of even a wedding party with no effort., iii.) a 3-5-7-9 HDR, h.) a price of $2,300, not $3,300. There is no technical hurdle that would prevent this camera from being sold. It would sell off the shelves for the next two years, thus killing off competition while selling more lens than Nikon could ever hope to make. This is why the Df was a bad idea, not because the Df is a bad camera at all. I suggest that you miss the point as it is not whether you can find a small number of people who can use this Df but rather what is the camera that would make it a world beating product without needing uninvented-yet-technology. It is only because there is a monstrous demand for a different camera that would make Nikon’s competition cry for months. That’s why the public is complaining and questioning Nikon’s marketing wisdom in the Df.

  13. 23
    ) Phil Harris

    I have had my Df for 3 weeks now and I have had nothing but pleasure using it.
    My personal history with Nikon goes back to an F2 in 1973 which I still own, and many inbetween.

    Thing is, I own a D800 and a D7100 but right now the one I actually pick up for most things is the Df. I have a small Kata bag, very small with two pockets on each side which happen to take my 20mm f/3.5 and my 105mm f/2.5. The Df fits in the middle with a 50mm f/1.4 which I have owned for 40 years and that’s it. I love walking around with just this setup, it has genuinely got me started on a different tack which right now I am really enjoying.

    What I find quite laughable is that many people who have not tried a Df like to accuse the buyers of being posers, or gullible in some way.

    Actually if I wanted to pose or appear as a professional to the uninitiated, I would get my D800, put a grip on it and my 24-70 f/2.8 with the lens hood on and wander about with that.

    A lot of my pleasure from the Df comes from that fact that it is simple photography, light and easy to carry, considerably more discreet than a big black jelly mold DSLR and just a joy to use.

    If anything, I would suggest that the Df, especially the silver one, is the exact opposite of a posers camera, fit a nice compact prime on it and no one takes any notice whatsoever.

    Best of all, it makes the most of my meager talent and produces great images.

    • 71
      ) Jorge Balarin

      Sounds nice, but the price is not fair.

  14. 24
    ) Randall

    Nasim,

    I think the bigger problem here is Nikon purposely handicapping products and the mass acceptance of this practice. I mean if they put 16mp sensor into a d800 body everyone would be going ape shit. I cant continue to support a company that is purposely trying to pigeon hole its customers into handicapped products and making them think they are getting something special. They need to get back into focusing on making the best products possible. I think if you were to start slamming them like you did with the limiting of the d600/d7000 it would help make a difference. Dont be fooled into thinking they don’t read this website. Its people like you who can actually make a difference.

    • 31
      ) chuck

      Randall, can you define “handicap”. I don’t consider any of my Nikons handicapped anymore than a canon, fuji, or even Leica. Every model/brand has good and bad points. Maybe you could save me a lot of money and trouble by pointing out which brand/model is perfect. I’ll buy it. Oh, wait, you would have to know what I like in a camera to do so. Maybe that’s where you went wrong with your comment.

      • 36
        ) Randall

        Ummm lets see. The d700 perfect, D3s perfect, D300s perfect, D90 perfect, even the d800 is cutting edge. The new offerings are limited by shutter speed, antiquated auto focus, less memory card slots, and no video. Less is more right? Glad they still have people like you to keep them in business. Oh and the Cannon 5d mark III is pretty damn good also.

        • 48
          ) chuck

          I guess if any of the cameras you mentioned were perfect, there would be no other cameras. I own a D4, D800, and D700. Each of those cameras serve a different purpose. Not that they all can’t do the same thing, each just does some tasks better than the others. So you see, none of them are perfect overall, just perfect the purpose in which I employ them. The perfect camera would do everything they do, in the same package, but, and this is a big one, to my standards. You see, it’s called personal preference. Guess what, your preference isn’t the standard. Sorry to break that to you but somebody had to tell you.

          • 52
            ) Tony luu

            Hi Chuck,
            What Radall meaned the “perfect ” is that at the time of the camera released, not to compared to the succesor. At the time of relead, all of mentioned camera has no complaint from buyer, as their at best technology of their time,worth the value for the money at time, but DF. D3s, d800, d700 all have pro body, lAstest sensor, latest AF system, while df has inferior aF but charged for premium price. If df were with lAtest af, a little more fs, then even as high as 2700$, no one can blame the price tag.
            Premium price camera with inferior feature at time of release is just unacceptable. Not to mentioned even the current 51 points af system is due to upgrade.

            • 53
              ) Randall

              Tony,

              Yes you understand my points exactly. Glad to see you agree. Chuck is just trying to feel better about spending $2700 that will be obsolete and worthless in a year or two. Dont worry chuck someone will probably at least pay a few hundred for it on ebay.

            • 54
              ) chuck

              Tony, he’s complaining to just complain. Most likely he can’t afford it so he trashes it. The Df is a great camera for those that want it and buy it. If you remember, when the D800 was leaked everyone criticized it for a number of reasons. Most notably the large files. You’ll still find those that don’t want to buy it complaining about the same things. Point is, just because you don’t like the price or features doesn’t mean a camera is no good.

          • 73
            ) Jorge Balarin

            Perfection is not to be found in this world, but fairness it is. A fair price, a fair buffer capacity, a fair autofocus system, etc.

          • 77
            ) Randall

            Chuck, good rebuttal. I own a d600 which is a superior camera. It would make no sense for me to downgrade to a DF. It’s ok to attack me though if it makes you feel better it’s not like most other comments on here are not saying the same thing that I am.

            • 88
              ) chuck

              Folks, my rebuttal is actually business related. I may not like a particular price for a certain product but it’s the manufacturer’s prerogative to decide. We buy things everyday that are overpriced and don’t blink an eye while others complain. The decision to buy is left with each person. If the argument was purely based on price it would carry more weight. However, in this case the bashing covers all aspects of this camera. I see it in all the blogs. Everybody wants something for nothing. Shoot, I would love to see cameras priced at $200 for pro bodies but lets face facts here. They can’t be produced for that. So lets turn the table here. For all the professional photographers out there, why don’t you lower your prices for the service you provide? I hear about how ridiculous wedding photog prices are from people all the time. The wedding photogs response is, “then go to someone else.” From a business stand point they may be right. If they are, why can’t a camera manufacturer do the same? The moral of this story is, if you don’t like the price, don’t buy the camera. And don’t bash the camera because you don’t like the price. I don’t own a Df. I think it would be a great camera to have but can’t justify buying one just for the fun of having it. My current equipment will take care of every task I have. The Df would just be a nice camera to carry on my own time and give me the luxury of shooting even in low light when needed. I can do the same with my D4 but it’s not something I want to carry with me all the time. So bash away and continue to dream of that perfect camera that will do everything you want and sell for peanuts. I don’t see it happening anytime soon. I’ll just be happy that I have what I need and can dream of what I want.

          • 90
            ) Jorge Balarin

            Chuck, if you are a photographer and your prices are fair you must not reduce them; but if you are higly overpriced – as the DF is – of course you must reduce them.

      • 72
        ) Jorge Balarin

        Well, the buffer of the D7100 is clearly handicapped.

        • 83
          ) Mike Banks

          71) Jorge Balarin

          January 5, 2014 at 3:56 am

          Well, the buffer of the D7100 is clearly handicapped

          Read more: http://photographylife.com/nikon-df-heart-vs-head-rebuttal#ixzz2pXi6iVpp

          Only when trying to capture sports or BIF in full RAW. With a class 10 95R/W SD card, and D7100 in jpeg. basic dropped down to 1/3 crop I can get 20+ captures with no problem. Just have to be more careful with my original exposure settings.

          • 89
            ) Jorge Balarin

            Mike, I’m only shooting in raw, and I’m doing that with my D700 without problems. If you use the D7000 as reference, then the D7100 buffer could be considered crippled on purpose to favour a future update, or an hipotetical D400. At least that is what I think.

            • 93
              ) Mike Banks

              Jorge, I get that. I too shoot 95% of the time in RAW with both the D7100 and D800e which doesn’t have the greatest buffer either. Since my pro work doesn’t demand that type of shooting it really doesn’t matter to me. What I am indicating is that one can make adjustments for the equipment and make it work should it be necessary. I know most Nikon shooters have been waiting, with bated breath, for a D400. From everything I’ve read, I think it is more likely we will get a D7200 or D7100x with a better buffer. I wouldn’t mind that but for me it isn’t a deal maker or breaker.

              Since I shoot second shooter for several other photographers here in Richmond, I can borrow a D4 if I need it but the only sports I shoot is for a friend’s grandsons Little League organization and I usually shoot that in jpeg to make it easier for me to produce the free pictures for the parents; as I stated previously, I just need to pay more attention to the original exposure and white balance when I do that.

              I’m not disagreeing with anything you write here I’m just adding that one can make adjustments with the equipment one has and still produce paying results.

  15. 25
    ) Alis Dobler

    I would LOVE to own Nikon Df… but I got a D7100 for budget reason and for the good continuous autofocus (I mainly take pictures of working dogs). I am considering Nikkor 70-200 f4 instead of f2.8 for budget reason. I take pictures as a hobby and I simply can’t spend USD 3000.- for a FF cam just because I like it…

    I LOVE the style of the Nikon, but I got my retro kick by buying a Fuji X100S. With this one, I need to be creative because of fixed focal length, IQ is stunning and it’s great for walking around.

    I truely understand that Df has its place on the market, but I really wished it’d be a little bit cheaper… but then I guess a lot of people would get it because it looks nice and like the Ferrari, maybe Nikon just wants it to be exclusive for exclusive people…

  16. I will wait for the DFs
    I just need the movie feature the double sd card and a better lowlight AF

    I would gladly trade my d800 for it…

  17. You quoted resellers saying “Nikon expected the Df sales to be very low.” Here is an old quote: “I don’t care what they say about me, as long as they spell my name right.” How much free press, and internet conversation, has Nikon generated by releasing the Df? Even if people DON’T buy the Df, they looked at cameras, compared products (especially different Nikon models), and perhaps therefore purchased a Nikon model camera (and therefore lenses, etc). If that ain’t smart marketing, I don’t know what is.

    On the Df, some of the reviews mention that it was problems with low-light focus. A question, how low-light are we talking about? For example, in a restaurant, high-school sports (gym, football field, etc), concert, etc?

    WEJ

  18. 28
    ) Ryan

    Hello Nasim. Thank you for your article and wonderful site. Similar to your wife, I have been considering leaving my full frame gear at home and just using my e-m1 (x2) for portrait and wedding work. I seem to get a higher yield of great photos with the latter as a result of its smaller profile, larger dof in relation to aperture and hence shutter speed and iso, more consistant AF, etc. My one reservation for doing so is the single SD card slot (like the DF). I have never had an entire card fail, but having one do so could be bad for client work with only one slot and no backup. How does your wife feel about the single SD slot in that regard with respect to the DF vs the D3s?

    Thank you,
    Ryan

  19. 35
    ) Carlos

    This rebuttal was written from the Heart. :-)
    Now, seriously, I see the Df as targeted to enthusiasts or professionals and artists working on personal projects. I’d be very wary to use a Df for paid jobs. The single SD card slot would simply make me very nervous.

  20. 38
    ) David Ziff

    Bob, Comfort level is essential. But I hope you don’t mind my asking as I’m curious. Have you been burned by a card failure or card failures in the past? For myself I’ve shot hundreds of gigs over the years and never lost a photo due to card failure.

    • 74
      ) Jorge Balarin

      Wait a bit,it is a matter of time : )

    • 76
      ) Richard

      I had a card failure during a shoot. It was a real drag…

  21. 39
    ) xpanded

    Although I do understand 1 or 10 things about digital photography as per Nasim’s post Nikon were not radical enough with the Df. We (my dog and I) wanted a DM3a (since Epson seems determined not to make a full frame R-D2).

    -Lighter and smaller – max 500 g with battery
    -Built-in flash (yes, we do like catch lights and triggering other flashes)
    -Much better viewfinder with better screen for manual focusing
    -One AF sensor (yes, only one) but on D4 level
    -Same price as now, which is almost 50% more than D800 in Europe

    This would still leave ample reasons for pros going D4: much more advanced AF-system with an additional 50 AF-sensors, faster frame rate, better build, video, buttons with lights (I wish all DSLRs had that) etc.

    The sensor is an inspired choice, but how many will buy the Df when Canon comes with a dAE1 (Day One) or F-1d at Photokina? Plus Canon has primes with IS.

    That the Df seems to be a much bigger hit for Nikon than expected is wonderful. Anything that adds positively to their bottom line is good news. And for all those satisfied users out there enjoy!

    But, please, Nikon. A real DM3a or a digital rangefinder. You can wait until Photokina.

  22. Interesting piece, but I don’t think it’s about “two different groups of users in today’s world of Nikon”, I think there’s a third.
    I think the third group is people who were asking for a stripped down digital version of an FM2, they were looking forward to what they thought would be a camera with less buttons, less functions, more feel and more quality of materials.
    As far as I’m concerned Nikon got lost in their 4 years of working on the Df, they may have started off with the idea of “pure photography” but what they ended up with is a Frankenstein’s monster of a camera. Bits of this camera and bits of that crudely put together, ending up in a mish mash of ideas and concepts that even those who like the Df conceed it doesn’t look quite right.
    I don’t go along with those criticising the Df because of it’s price, or because a D whatever is better, I don’t see the Df as part of Nikon’s dslr line up, I see it as a completely different range.
    My criticism of the Df is based on it’s design concept. I feel it’s a halfhearted attempt by Nikon and a missed opportunity…for me Nikon should have looked at what Leica did with their S2 as far as simplicity of design and concept goes…maybe if they had gone that way “pure photography” would have meant something more than just a marketing slogan.

    • 65
      ) Carlo

      I quote your comment at 100%.
      In my opinion, with this Df, Nikon just tried to run faster to recover the last time and trying to make a retro look camera like other competitors. And then Nikon made this Frankenstein camera with low light sensor capability with pure AF performer in low light.
      Waiting for mirrorless Nikon camera! I really miss it because this would be a real portable camera and we will rediscover the Nikon’s origin!!

  23. 41
    ) Franco

    I think some people just wanna hate! Why does this camera HAVE to make sense? To me, it is a beautifully retro-styled piece that has its appeal mostly in appearance & obviously in performance as well. This thing is toting Nikon’s flagship camera’s sensor which is something in itself. The arguments that Lola made to Nasim are additional benefits to SOME people. If that isn’t you than why would you care?

    I myself (if I could afford it) would love to have a smaller full frame camera that looks as beautiful as the Df & carry it around with me to take shots for travel or everyday family or street photography just for the simple facts it is so portable & produces incredible images. I know you can make an argument that there are now many full frame point & shoot styled cameras that may be even more portable & cheaper to boot but I don’t have to buy new lenses if I’m already in the Nikon camp. These smaller offerings are a great addition for any pro or enthusiast because we may not always lug our big camera bag around but it is certainly much easier to have a Df sized camera at your side at all times. It gives us another opportunity to take a photo we may not otherwise take simply because we didn’t have our gear with us.

    Nikon has paved the way before with other releases & I think this is another one that will have other manufacturers wondering if they should follow suit. I bet if Canon released something similar it would be a huge hit!! If they were smart they would, because as Nasim mentioned… there ARE people who will buy it!

  24. 42
    ) David Ziff

    Your first paragraph is eloquently written and something that needed to be said IMHO. Thank you.

  25. 43
    ) Earle

    Nasim:

    I’ve seen the head and heart argument up close when I handed my DF over to a 64-year-old friend who promptly replied that “this is what a camera should feel like.” His regular rig is a D700. He quite effortlessly focused my 105 2.5 on it, despite needing cataract surgery in the next few weeks.

    I’ve played with mine mostly in knock-around fashion and did one quick studio light shoot with it last weekend. Gorgeous files and a little easier to touch up than the files on my D3S or my since departed D700. If Nikon had released this camera last year, I wouldn’t own the D3S by the way. When I was looking for a second camera body to my D700 I rented a D600 but just didn’t fall in love with it, decided a used D3S was the way to go.

    Once Nikon announced the DF I bought strictly for the sensor. Yeah, the throwback style is nice but if Nikon had concurrently released a D616 with the 16mp chip in that body, I’d have opted for that because of the ability to go vertical.

    Do I wish it had 51 points (one of the reasons I opted against a D600) sure. But the 51 point unit isn’t full frame either. The ability to go to 100 ISO and even 50 ISO more than offsets the drop of 1/8000 to 1/4000 of a second for a top shutter speed (I often wonder why Leica in the middle of its M8 production run switched to a 1/4000 shutter and offered it as a retrofit, if 1/8000 is so necessary — oh wait, marketing is a wonderful thing).

    My only qualm with the camera is the lack of a vertical shutter button. Prior to cameras with vertical buttons, I’d opt for an underhanded grip, it’s just too awkward with a non-prime lens so the next time I shoot a zoom vertical it’ll likely be attached to a monopod. I also suspect that Nikon designed the camera to feel best while nestled in the bottom half of a case (after all, weren’t all those old F-body cameras sold in kits with a 50mm and the case). I’m not about to drop $300 on the Nikon case but I do have a third-party ebay half case on the way (in Chicago now, I suspect its delivery will be delayed by snows). I’m hoping that gives me a little firmer hold point for verticals. If not, I’d consider an eventual third-party battery grip — as long as it has a vertical shutter button.

    The only other quirk I’ve noticed involves color balance. I shoot primarily at a set balance of 5880K. On the D3S this comes up in Adobe Camera Raw as 5880K. On the DF it comes up as 5500K in Adobe Camera Raw — on my D700 it came up as 5600K. I haven’t had a chance to check with a friend’s D4 to see whether it’s a sensor quirk or a processor quirk.

    The DF is a camera with specific characteristics. Love ‘em and you call them positive attributes. Hate ‘em and you call them flaws. Though the biggest outcry from detractors I read involves the fact that it’s not the camera THEY wanted (even a poster farther up on this response chain makes that argument). Well, that’s life. It’s a unique product aimed more at infill than expansion. I suspect most DF buyers aren’t first-time Nikon buyers. Some, like me, bought it for a sensor but have had other Nikon DSLRs before. Others, like my 62-year-old friend, will buy more for the nostalgia — but aren’t first-time buyers either.

  26. 44
    ) David Ziff

    This is not a direct reply to any of your posts. I haven’t seen a Df up close. I’d appreciate it if you would consider answering one of my earlier posts:

    “I’ve read that there are locks on the analog controls on top of the camera. Is this the case? If so why are they there? Do you have to take the extra action of unlocking a control before you can use it? I’m an event photographer and speed is everything for me or I may miss the shot. I would appreciate your experience with the ergonomics of the Df on this particular point. Thanks.”

    • 46
      ) Earle

      Well, there’s a “lock” for the ISO dial and the exposure compensation dial. The Shutter speed dial spins freely through the classic shutter speeds and you can “lock” in into 1/3 mode, in which case you use the back wheel to change shutter speeds (just like My D3S and I believe the D700).

      In contrast, on my D3S, to change the ISO I have to push a button on the back then use a rotating wheel to change the ISO and for exposure compensation press a button and use a rotating wheel to adjust (so those too are basically “locked”). So it’s no more encumbered by “locks” than my D3S.

      For the exposure compensation, in both cases, it’s possible to push a button and adjust it without removing it from one’s eye but with the D3S it could be done with the right hand only while with the DF one would have to use their left hand.

      So essentially the those controls aren’t any more “locked” but use can give one to pause a touch longer.

      If you think that extra couple seconds on the exposure compensation will cause you to miss a shot (you can operate both shutter and aperture with dials after all) then the DF may not be the camera for you, especially since a missed shot can be equated to missed revenue.

      • “If you think that extra couple seconds on the exposure compensation will cause you to miss a shot (you can operate both shutter and aperture with dials after all) then the DF may not be the camera for you, especially since a missed shot can be equated to missed revenue.”

        Funny as it may sound, that is my primary reason for not buying into the DF. Ironically, that is why the DF is such a huge disappointment – it’s the small, brain dead things that Nikon did with it – or didn’t do. As I wrote elsewhere, they could have finally got rid of the useless shooting banks and implemented proper memory banks like the U1 & U2 shooting modes on the d7000. This points to a bigger problem I have with Nikon – they just don’t listen to their users, and in the case of the EC button, they don’t get photography. Fuji gets it, even Sony gets it – not Nikon.

        And the solution is so damn simple – change positions of the EC and PASM dieals (and put those U1, U2 modes on the rather empty PASM dial). That would have made this a hell of a camera, without ruining the magnificent look (and it’s “heart” appeal). More worryingly, Nikon is not the kind of company that listens to its users, so I don’t hold my breath for future DF iterations. When my d800 craps out (hopefully, years from now) I’m not sure I’m going to get another Nikon body. Especially since I’m going to replace my aging backup camera (d7000) with a Fuji, especially if rumours are true (16-55 F/2.8 and 50-140 F/2.8 weather sealed lenses coming up).

        • 79
          ) Earle

          Well, sadly the camera doesn’t work for you — and apparently the D600 or D7100 won’t work for you either (just taking a wild guess here, you bought the D7000 first, then the D800).

          I just did a quick Google search for the Nikon FA (the camera that the DF really does mimic most from the film world). It’s exposure compensation dial is co-located with the ISO dial in the same fashion as the FM-based cameras that it’s related to. Except like those cameras one has to lift up a dial to move it. Of course back then the really big item on the left side was the rewind crank. On the right side, there’s a toggle switch under the shutter speed dial for PSAM (the exact opposite order of the MASP switch on the DF), where essentially the S Cl Ch Q switch resides) and of course the current MASP switch is roughly where the top of the rewind crank went.

          The location of the EC button (like the choice to use buttons at all) was likely based more on history/style than anything else. And yes, the location of the EC button on the Fuji is nice and intuitive (I bought a used X100 both for high sync shutter capabilities and walk around use). In fact, because of it I actually find myself using the automatic mode on the X100 about as much as I do the manual mode (for my Nikon cameras that had auto mode it’s been 80 percent manual, 20 percent automatic — though might be actually skewed higher to manual).

          Does that make Nikon’s choice “brain dead?” Well, you’re entitled to your opinion.

          I actually had to look up U modes. I jumped out of DX after the D200 and apparently the D600 had them (I only rented one for a week prior to buying my D3S) but I never used them. Unless I’m mistaken they don’t exist on the D800 or D4 either.

          Nikon, however, does listen to its users — the DF is proof of that — but its attempt to answer as many desires as possible clearly missed the mark with some people.

          As for your plan to go with Fuji, it appears to be a wonderful system. A friend of mine who finds his own pro business gearing more to corporate work than action/sports is contemplating a switch from Canon to Fuji. And Fuji is wonderfully responsive. It’s continued update of the X100 firmware is proof of that. I give them full credit for that — and had they not fixed the initial bugs in the X100, I wouldn’t have bought one.

          I truly hope Nikon produces a camera that will fit your needs the next time out.

          • Thank you for your answer Earle. Yes, I know that the original FM had the EC button there, but every single Nikon in the past 18 years had it on the right (this number comes from Thom Hogan’s DF review), next to the shutter button.

            The U banks are incredibly useful. I don’t know anyone who prefers the shooting banks as currently implemented in Nikon’s pro line to the simple and clean implementation on the d7000/d600 bodies. Here is a very specific example:

            When doing events, I often switch between stage shots and small group shots. For the former, I don’t use flash (I’m usually between -1 and -3 exposure compensation). For the latter, I often have to use flash. To switch from one to the other requires 5 steps on the d800. From “stage” mode for “group portrait” mode: switch from A to M, swicth off Auto-ISO, set it to ISO 400, set EC to 0, change shutter speed to 20 (my starting point for party shots.) With the U banks, this is a single toggle.

            As to EC, Nikon is ignoring decades of evolution in terms of ergonomics. They had EC compensation right where it should be in the last two decades. In fact, I hated shooting the 5d Mark II, because EC goes from -2 to +2 only, and you have to half press the shutter and rotate the wheel on the back – more fiddly than with Nikon bodies.

            I think most people who handled the d7000 loved the proper memory banks implementation. This is a very useful feature, especially for pros or serious amateurs, and it kinda sucks that Nikon has had it on consumer bodies for years, while their PRO line has the close to useless shooting banks that nobody I know actually uses.

            So “brain dead” might have been a strong word here, but the DF could have been so much more, with tweaks that would not have increased manufacturing costs a bit.

            • 86
              ) Earle

              Hi Csaba:

              I’ve never played with the shooting menu banks on any of my camera (perhaps I will since I do frequently go from a studio strobe setup to available light these days) I’d think those alone would allow you to just go into the menu and pick one vs. another.

              But it’s obviously simpler to toggle between U1 and U2 vs, going through the menus, and I’m sure you have a reason to skip the shooting menu and set the values individually (as I said, I’ve never used them at all — so I guess I fit into the category of no one you know who used them). We still have six working photographers at the newspaper where I work (I’m not one of those) who regularly shoot with the D4 regularly in a variety of conditions, I’ll ask them about shooting banks. Though I suspect they don’t bother with them either.

              But with the EC we just have to agree to disagree. Nikon didn’t ignore the decades of ergonomic advances, it decided that the controls of a retro camera should mimic its retro offering as much as possible.

              Interestingly enough in Thom Hogan’s most recent commentary, a few lines above him mentioning how the left-handed placement of the EC dial slows him down, he chides Nikon for not going “all in” on the retro design.

              And there are people (I forget if it’s here or elsewere on DP Review) who are still waiting for a full manual retro camera with one AF point — and I believe a split image and micro collar focusing aide. If Nikon had released that camera, who knows what the internet buzz would be like. Then again, if the earthquake hadn’t happened and Nikon had released this circa 2011 or early 2012 (before it cousin, the D600 set the price floor where it did), who knows how it would be received.

  27. 45
    ) jd7000

    I mainly shoot for fun and enjoyment. For about 45 years now, photography has been a creative passion for me, not a profession. I have been shooting digital with Dx format. I have hesitated in upgrading to the full size digital format mainly because of the size and bulk of the camera bodies. The Df is exactly what I was hoping for, a smaller body with a full size sensor. I would buy the Df right now, if it were not for the single card slot. The single card slot seems like a step backward, like a car with no spare tire. I will wait and see if the Df becomes available with two card slots.

  28. 47
    ) Richard

    If you use and regularly shoot with the Nikon F6 like I do, then the Nikon Df makes perfect sense.

    • 59
      ) Matt

      Actually, if you use an F6, then the D800 makes perfect sense, since the form factor and design is essentially the same! The Df is much closer to the FA/FM/FE series of cameras than the flagship F line.

      • 75
        ) Richard

        Hi, actually I’ve just sold my D800 to get the Df. I found the D800 too big, more than I needed in a camera. I should probably just get a point-n-shoot :) Well, I am also getting the Fuji X100s. I had the 100 for awhile and really loved it. Perfect to take around and do casual street photography. I do like bright and shiny new things.

        • 84
          ) Matt

          If you really loved the X100, you will REALLY love the X100s. I sold mine because I didn’t care for the mangled 16 MP RAW files, the inability to track focus (especially in low-light), and the wonky control wheel on the back which made it a PITA to select the proper focus point. But it is a pleasurable camera to use if you don’t mind those problems! The gestalt of the images is quite good (great color) and the high-speed flash-sync due to the leaf shutter is awesome.

  29. 49
    ) Paul

    I think the Heart vs Head debate has summed up my thought proses since the Df announcement pretty well.

    I definitely think the Df has it’s place. I have a friend of mine that is probably going to get a Df and it is probably the perfect camera for him. He want’s something that is small, light weight and is really good at high ISO.

    Personally I don’t think I could replace my D800e with a Df. I could see getting a Df to uses along side my D800e though once the prices drop. I just wish Nikon enabled video in the Df. It would be a big win if Nikon had Video and a Manuel Focus aide, even if it was only in LV. I do much more photography then video but it’s a nice feature to have. A few weeks ago I was in the city and there was an animation on a building I wanted to film, put my D800e in video mode and I was able to capture it.

    I think there is also a question of resolution now that 4k displays are starting to become the new HD standard. But that is a whole different set of questions.

  30. 55
    ) Rob

    It occurred to me that there might be camera enthusiasts and photographers that will grab a Df in case it becomes a collectible in the future.

  31. 60
    ) Red

    1/4000s shutter and a joke of AF system lifted directly from lowly D5300 adapted for FX and all that on 2700$ camera?? . Cmon, Nasim just admit it. It is crippled camera designed to appeal to those that focus on looks and never use it in low llight enviroments.
    Putting an amazing sensor and D4 image path in it could have make it into a low light king. But then you have this joke of AF?
    Somebody at Nikon should really get their head xrayed.

  32. Hi Nasim,

    I have no problems with the specs or the price and I definitely love the look. It’s the ergonomics that is a bit of a letdown. The DF is actually a bit scary because it shows that Nikon doesn’t understand how we shoot. It is possible to satisfy the heart as well as the head – Fuji has shown us the way in this respect (and both Nikon and Canon are bleeding APS-C users to Fuji for this reason).

    What bothers me is what this camera could have been with just a few different design choices. For example, just changing the position of the EC and PASM dials would have made this camera vastly more usable. The EC button is the most used button on my d800 – I’m constantly changing it at events as I move from stage shots to candid portraits or group shots. Fuji gets it, even SONY gets it – they placed it right where we need it.

    And then there is the missed opportunity to finally get rid of the useless shooting banks and implement what we’ve been asked for ever since the d7000 – usable memory banks like the U1 & U2 banks on the d7k. That huge empty space on the PASM dial just screams for it. And this latter problem points to a bigger one: Nikon just not listening to it’s users.

    Nikon’s reputation has been eroding for some time – especially among its most loyal users (the PROs). I really love my d800 and NIkkor lenses. But when was the last time Nikon did something nice? No added functionality post-sale (Fuji does it, Sony does it, hell, even Canon does it). Nikon? Well, their after-sales support is to screw around 3rd party support (lenses, batteries). And then there is off-camera flash – they used to be ahead of the back, now they are falling behind. Canon has radio built in in their latest flashes. Nikon? They still only have the su-800 optical trigger released over 8 years ago. And that was already crippled, since you can only adjust power levels in manual mode in full stops. And now there are more cheap Canon bodies supporting wireless flash than Nikons.

    My d800 will be my workhorse camera for the foreseeable future (3-4 years at least, hope it doesn’t break down earlier). But I’m not buying another Nikon to replace my aging d7000. I’m gonna buy Fuji. And 3-4 years from now? There is no sign that Nikon gets what I want. The DF could have been that sign. As I said, it could have satisfied both the heart and the head with a few simple and logical changes that would have cost Nikon nothing. Like putting the EC button where we need or implementing U1, U2 banks. This is why the DF is so controversial – it shows what is wrong with Nikon all too clearly while showing what it could have been if they actually listened to their users.

  33. 66
    ) Jorge Balarin

    I’m still shooting with my D700 and I would love a sensor like the one of the DF, but I thing the DF is overpriced, and I don’t like to pay more for less. By other side my bread and butter choice for reportage is my 24-70 f/2.8. How is going to balance that big and heavy zoom attached to the DF ? Also I don’t like to have so much dials and small numbers over the camera. That confuses me.

  34. 81
    ) Dan

    If the “head” won out on every argument Leica would be in trouble. Leica enthusiasts are more than happy to shell out $7K for a new camera even if it has “less” features than a $2K camera. Why doesn’t the internet make more of a stink about how much less you get when you buy Leica? Not knocking Leica, beside Nikon and Canon they are the only one’s actually making money from selling cameras.

    I’m actually for the Leica and Df users. Believe it or not there are people out there who feel their camera is more than “just a tool”. I believe you can actually bond with your gear and it’s not always just about business and how to make money.

    People like to compare it to the features you get with the Nikon D6x0 to the Df. If those features benefit you more then you should have no trouble in picking a camera to use BUT believe it or not, not everyone shares YOUR opinion, not everybody shares YOUR requirements from a camera. Better IQ above 6400 may actually be more important to people than the higher resolution. Video may not matter to the Df buyer. The look, feel and handling of the Df will be preferred by some users. Just because your “head” says the D6x0 is a better value it doesn’t mean everybody’s “head” has the same definition of what is good value.

    If there wasn’t a market for the Df, Nikon wouldn’t have produced it to begin with. They might not have known the level of demand but the Df will help them decide if this is a route they want to explore further. Personally, I hope they release a DX version with a hybrid viewfinder that can shoot 10 FPS.

  35. 85
    ) jason

    Nikon missed it by *that* much! 2nd card slot + weather sealing + top notch AF = Grand Slam. Until then, X-Pro2, where are you?

    • 87
      ) Earle

      Last I checked, the camera has fairly good weather sealing. I wouldn’t have minded a second card slot or the extra AF points, but they weren’t a deal breaker for me. Meanwhile, I hope you get that X-Pro2 soon, I have friends who are looking forward to one as well.

  36. 91
    ) Alex

    The problem is some people can’t stand the world without absolute authority. They want to feel better than other people because they made the only right choice.
    For them the had to be only one! How can you have more than one truth. Absolutism is more frequent than one might think and that is why every once in a while someone decides to anihilate many other worng doers.
    In their mind they think “after this years of hard work i have enough disposable income to buy the best avaiable camera the d800 and with the DF i’m not sure if i can brag anymore!
    how can a newer more expensive camera be less than the d800? It has to be better so should i dump the d800 and get the Df. I need to brag what should i do, i don’t have only one option, my brain is going to explode, i need only one answer! There has to be only one answer!
    This stupid people that buy the Df are going to convince nikon to sell expensive cameras that do less and i might not be able to buy the best camera with my income. We must kill them before they grow!!!!

    • 95
      ) Jorge Balarin

      With comments of this type you are giving Bob all the reason. You are a talking heart : )

  37. 92
    ) Tor

    Good thing you published this rebuttal. Bad thing is that the damage is already done. The unfortunate thing with “head-vs-heart” was that it was not funny. It was just an alternative way of saying that those who like the Df are not making a rational decision, not applying reason or logic. That is of course complete bullsh*t and I don’t think you should have published it (I suppose it gave you lots of clicks though).

    The Df is for photographers who work best with manual dials and manual focus. Since Nikon unfortunately (or fortunately) made a “fusion” it is also for photographers like your wife who just wants a small camera with a great sensor.

    Few models are as meaningful as the Df as it is the only dslr on the market with an F3/F4 control layout. Many photographers need this (in my case control wheel HMI is what kept me off digital cameras until now, finally an option!)

    • 94
      ) Ertan

      Tor, can you list 3 things that only DF can do with its dials and manual focus (that’s what you said) and D610 cannot? Or a d800? (Similar price range). Those dials are probably designed by Nikon’s junipr design team, otherwise who would put locking buttons on ever dial?

      • 97
        ) Tor

        I’m not sure I understand your question? The Df has a manual ISO dial, the 610 does not. The Df has an exposure compensation dial, the 610 does not. The Df has a shutter dial, the 610 does not. Conveniently, the Df takes the same shutter release as my FM2 and Hasselblad, the 610 does not. Nor does any other dslr in the world do these things. The Df is unfortunately unique.

        It’s about working methodology. I work with an external light meter, camera on tripod. It can take me 15 minutes or longer to make one exposure (and I make only one), so picture me walking around, taking readings or constructing the scene, returning to the camera, I use the dials as aid when calculating exposure. Just as most people prefer an analogue watch face to a digital one because the analogue face also acts as a diagram helping you “see” the day in front of you. Manual dials on a camera work the same way (another example are the analogue displays of speed and RPM on most cars). So, I have just returned to the tripod, I can see the settings at a glance. Had it been a conventional dslr I might be looking at a blank display, press buttons, turn it on, “oh! Just lost my concentration because the 610 got in my way, what was that thing I was just thinking about that glistening highlight?”. By the way, it’s winter in Sweden so I’m having gloves on – oops need to take gloves off to manipulate tiny control wheels, unlike big lens aperture ring and big dials which are easy to operate with gloves. And you don’t even look at the camera, you count clicks. Of course I can mount a manual lens on a 610, and I have on a d600 I borrowed for a while, but you still need the other dials for this way of working to be intuitive. I am very grateful for the locks. They work exactly like the locks on earlier Nikons – very similar to F3. The Df control scheme almost mirrors that of the F4 which is praised as having one of the best UI’s of all time. The F5 was the first that sadly omitted the dials us deliberate slow-goers need to work well. So there you have it, for a photographer like me, a camera with the manual, physical dials of the Df is a bliss. Of course I can make a picture with anything, but I can make best use of my inspiration and stay with the vibe as long as the camera stays out of my way and is perfectly honest about its intentions. I hope my answer could give you some insight into how this photographer works.
        I am very happy that there is finally an option for us manual guys. It’s incredible how little choice the digital world has to offer compared to the film days. Then there were cameras for everyone’s tastes. Now they all work and look exactly the same. But as image quality seems “good enough” for most people I think manufacturers will diversify their lines further. Which is great for us consumers – more choice.

  38. 96
    ) Matias Bravo

    To get it out of the way, the Df is not for me, I find infuriating to use any camera that forces me to slow down, and that alone makes any of the other Nikons the natural choice. That and the ergonomics probably won’t go with me (I have my D600 with the vertical grip permanently attached, without it there is no enough space to place my fingers comfortably).

    Having said that, I greatly value that Nikon went for those that appreciate the slower approach or what the camera has to offer, but I have a feeling that Nikon didn’t get it 100% right, specially in the more critical part, the integration of the physical controls on a DSLR to the retro concept. Which is sad, this could have been a great success like the D800 (whit those horrendously long waiting times) if done right. Only time will tell.

    PS: Please Nikon take in count all the criticism when you make the Df2, then you will have a real winner.

    • 98
      ) Tor

      What controls do you think need improving? I am a “slow photographer” and to me the dials are perfect. If would design my perfect camera (which we all seem to demand like children) there would be no PASM and no autofocus. More magnification but no split image, I hate split image viewfinders. There was a good reason pro cameras, like all medium and large formats, came without them. Split screens are for consumer cameras. My dream Df would not be compatible with G lenses so I could get rid of those pesky wheels. But, the Df is here, it has good dials and I’m happy.

      • 99
        ) Earle

        Apologies fir jumping in here. You may want to look into the 17M eyepiece. It’s a touch of magnification. Though I lost total frame coverage with my eyeglasses.

      • 100
        ) Matias Bravo

        In my opinion the EC and drive mode dials should swap sides (that would be consistent with the other Nikons and put the EC dial in an easier position to use), and the ISO and shutter dials should have auto settings. If Nikon could find a way to give easy acces to an auto-aperture setting that could mean that you no longer need a dedicated PASM dial.

        I’m sure some Df users could add more suggestions, I will have to wait and see if Nikon Chile brings the camera to have it in my hands and have a better impression of it.

        • 101
          ) Tor

          Fair enough. I strongly disagree about placement of EC though. On classic Nikon cameras the EC is always on the left. It’s much more clear to only have shutter time dial on the right side of the camera. The shutter dial is together with aperture ring the most important controls and they should be given space accordingly. Sticking another dial with lots of numbers right next to the shutter dial would make the camera much harder to read and use.

          If you want automation – get a conventional dslr as these are optimized for automation. I’m very happy there is no auto on the ISO dial.

          I agree on the PASM dial. The F4 had the same layout. I, like you, prefer the layout of the F3 and FE2. Unfortunately the PASM dial is there as a consequence of the G lenses. No PASM would mean zero G lens compatibility and frankly I think that idea would be hard to sell to the guys in charge of economy at Nikon (a shame). Fujifilm got their aperture and shutter controls nailed perfectly but they had the privilege of starting from a clean slate. Sure, if Nikon made an entire new lens line they could do the same. I’m very happy they didn’t.

          Perhaps it it is of some comfort to know that the PASM dial on the Df is actually very discrete when you hold the camera and use it. It has a solid lock so you don’t have to worry about checking it. It dissapears.

          I always use cameras in “M” but if you prefer to use it in “A” I would reccommend setting the shutter to dial to “1/3 step” which is there instead of “auto”. This way the dial won’t lie to you.

          Best regards/ Tor

          @Earle Thanks for the tip! Will investigate.

          • 103
            ) Matias Bravo

            Look my answer below, I screwed up and posted not as a reply to your last comment.

          • 105
            ) Earle

            Educate me please, what does the PASM dial (located where the top of the rewind crank was in manual bodies) have to do with G mount compatibility? If I mount a G lens on my camera I use the front dial with my index finger to change the aperture. If they wanted to ditch the PASM dial, they could just make it a menu option. If memory serves, PASM first appeared with the FA (maybe on the FG though) and that predates any AF lens, let alone the G mount.

            • 108
              ) Tor

              Hi Earle, Sorry I expressed myself poorly. I mean that without PASM and the control wheels the Df wouldn’t work well with G lenses. You are right that PASM existed on the FA but to me its a dial that is closely linked with the contemporary control layout which is PASM + control wheels. A lot of confusion around the Df stems from that Nikon choose to include both control methods. Basically you have a set of redundant controls.

              In my opinion the control layout should have mimicked that of the FM3A. That would mean poor compatibility with G lenses as they do not have an aperture ring.

            • 109
              ) Earle

              Hi Tor: I see now. Though from my point of view — a mostly manual exposure photographer (FM2n, F3 on manual) who really only bough an AF film camera near the end of the era (an old stock N90S in 2002 because I couldn’t afford an F100), the layout of the controls on the Df make perfect sense. I did notice on that old N90S just now, that while the mode selector and virtually every other meaningful control was on the left side of the camera, the exposure compensation was on the right.

              Nikon had to put redundant controls in though. Without the dials, it’s not a true homage to the manual focus camera days. Without the control wheel for aperture it locks out G lenses except on shutter priority and program. Without the control wheel for 1/3 stops, it would lock out that segment of the market that’s looking for that touch of fine tuning.

  39. 102
    ) Matias Bravo

    You have a fair point about the EC dial, but I think that to be consistent with modern Nikons may be more valuable rather than with the classic. Also (I believe) would be more friendly to those attracted to the Df not by its ethos, but to what it offers in results (as is the case of Lola, Nasim’s wife), who may want to have easy access to an semi-auto mode (which would ideally need auto settings on the corresponding dials and easy access to EC). Though as our argument leaves clear, it may not be easy to strike a balance between those who want the dials and those who want the sensor in a small body.

    About the aperture, it is clear that Fuji had the chance to got it right from the start, and that a new Nikkor family isn’t the correct solution, but I’ve been thinking that a simple (physical) auto aperture on-off switch may be the solution. Set it to On and you have on-camera control of G and D lenses (through the front dial), and set to Off you have in-lens control on all other lenses through the lens ring. The only gotcha is to remember to lock your D lenses to its minimun aperture for in-camera control. With that plus my other sugested changes and there should not be a need for the PASM dial.

    • 104
      ) Tor

      Hi Matias,
      I think your idea for how to get rid of the PASM dial is a good one. Perhaps we can hope for that into the future. I have been thinking about the F4. It was a long time since I held one so I remembered incorrectly. The exposure compensation was actually on the right side. But the F4 also had a modern grip so the shutter release and advance modes could be moved forward, making room for the EC dial. I still much prefer the EC on the left. Thank god they did not include a fat grip. I really dislike holding cameras with big grips. The same feeling in my stomach as when you eat something that you really don’t like.

      I also wish they left out the small display as the camera can hold so many exposures the display is unnecessary. The exposure settings is visible on the dials and aperture ring. If you need to look on a screen you can look at the back. But this is a minor complaint.

      Take a look at the F4. The Df is really a well balanced blend of the F3, FE2 and the F4. As you can see the F4 also has PASM. There are some who complain that the Df can be misleading when set to “A” on the pasm-dial while the Shutter dial is set to a fixed shutter speed although automatic shutter is being used. I never heard the same complaints on the F4. Rather, the F4 is a praised camera with a highly regarded user interface.

      http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/hardwares/classics/nikonf4/exposurecontrol/index.htm

      But I think all the talking of what we want for a DF2 is in vain. The Df is a niche camera like the FM3 was, and I don’t think there will be a follow up.

      All things considered, I love the Df. I tried one a couple of weeks ago and will get it next month. It’s my first DSLR – because it is the first DSLR with intuitive controls. What took them so long?

      Regards
      Tor

      • 106
        ) Matias Bravo

        I think that a fat grip (like a modern DSLR) would have balanced well on the Df, so could have been a safe bet to say that it was coming with a smaller one (just like it is). Also I agree that the small top screen seems superfluous, I think that most could live just ok with the info in both viewfinder and back display.

        As I have already commented, I haven’t used the Df, but I can’t see how could be misleading to have the shutter dial set to a certain value and the camera in A mode (isn’t the PASM clear enough to make that obvious?). But I disagree in the last, if the Df sells enough quantities (in comparison to what Nikon expects) I don’t see them not doing a Df2, but seeing how the chose to upgrade the D700 to the D800, it may well be that the Df2 could end been a completely different animal.

        Hope you enjoy your Df when it arrives.

        • 107
          ) Matias Bravo

          That should say “would have balanced NOT well on the Df”

  40. I am a big fan of this camera as it’s a special release from Nikon but above all it’s light weight and has an amazing D4 sensor, also great fun to use. The ergonomics work for me and after a couple of weeks shooting you get use to the quirky layout and quick access to the main controls. Reminds me a bit of the Fuji X100 when it first came out. It will be used alongside a D800 (now selling my D3S) and Olympus E-M1 which should allow me to cover most situations.

    Not for everyone but at the end of the day the photographs the DF produces are beautiful, rich noise free images and it re kindles times past………

    Regards, Dave

    • 111
      ) Alan Ezial

      First time posting on this site.

      I bought the D100, D200 and D300 and just purchased the Df. I could care less about the retro, however as I shoot with it, I LOVE it. I’m discovering just how beautiful this camera really is.

      Holding it is a whole different story. It required some serious adjusting to get used to it from the D300 with a vertical grip. I’m a professional photographer for studio, location and street. It is perfect for me. I love the 16mb files, the size and weight. There’s a lot more I love as well, like THE SENSOR! C’mon everyone. From the sound of the shutter, to the IQ and LOW ISO, I’m blown away. It feels so good to shoot with this camera! For some weird reason, it makes you want to hold it and go take pics with it. As much as I LOVE my older cameras when they came out, not one of them has had this kind of excitement and passion towards shooting.

      Now, I’m not completely satisfied – I wish it had a second card slot, better ergonomics and a low light emitter. I also wish it had 1/8000 shutter, but I can say something I wish it had about every single camera that I have owned, or considered to buy.

      This kind of controversy is exactly what Nikon wants. The more the better.

      It’s too bad everyone is sucked into the BS of it all. Who cares? Nikon will make the camera of your dreams sooner or later. In the meantime, enjoy what you have. I’m going out to shoot and because of the DF, I’m a little more excited about it

      : )

  41. 112
    ) Brian Gaschler

    Great synopsis, Nasim. Having read so many of your other posts, I am glad to see your rebuttal to this whole “Head vs. Heart” debate surrounding the Df. I am a working pro photographer and I considered the Df long and hard before purchasing it. Sure, its aesthetics tug at my heart strings a bit; sure, it’s “retro” design helps it stand apart in a sea of seemingly generic black-matte dSLRs out there, which are really only distinguishable by their advert neck-straps (I don’t know many pros who keep their factory straps on their camera anyway). After reading review upon review, I bought the Df based on its specs—not on its aesthetics—and I couldn’t be happier. My heart AND my head reached an accord.

    For me, it is quite simple (I just needed a little time for my head to reconcile the price): My personal photography focuses on candid, street and travel. I need a camera that is lightweight and unobtrusive. In my personal photography, I eke out a small living from print sales; I supplement that income by shooting professional portraits. The Df shines for both of these. My photography is certainly slow. I don’t care about 51 points of autofocus. I primarily use the “center-and-recompose” method that your wife employs. The center is where I spot-meter my light. It’s the bulls-eye. When I do adjust the focus point, it’s always on a “rule of thirds” location and the Df handles that fine. Maybe if I shot sports or lots of birds, I’d care more about 51-point autofocus (21-point autofocus always seems to be the best for birds in my experience, anyway). But I don’t. In my portrait and street photography, I spend lots of time considering composition, working through subtraction and moving around until things feel right. I shoot full manual all the time. I don’t anticipate ever fiddling with the PASM switch. EV compensation is useless to me in full manual: I used it on my D300 only because its meter seemed to always under-expose 2/3 of a stop, and permanently adjusting the EV essentially recalibrated my meter for me. Again, I use spot metering exclusively. If it’s a bright beach, I know how to meter off the hot sand. If it’s a cold stone wall, I know how to meter off it. I learned this back in the days of film, before a histogram could tell me whether I botched the exposure.

    Other sources of concern? At first I thought I’d miss having a faster shutter speed but after reviewing my old photo data, I never seem to need 1/8000 of a second; that is, I never seem to shoot at f/1.4 under harsh, bright lights. Having a base ISO of 100 is so nice. Having the ability to push that out to ISO 3200 without any real degradation in image quality is a dream. My high ISO images are loads better than on the D700 in real-life shooting scenarios. Sure, it would have been nice to have a second SD card slot for a backup. Sure, it’s “lighter” than my D300/D700. That’s a good thing! So there’s no metal on the front. Any damage to the front of the camera is damage to my expensive primes before damage occurs to the body. I’ve used the Df in all kinds of weather so far, and with zero problems. So the battery door can more easily come unhinged when you put the camera down with it open? Close the battery door first. It’s supposed to be closed when not in immediate use.

    More gripes? Hardly, unless I’m really being picky. Sure, the ergonomics are a bit funky at first for my large hands (the grip on the right is indeed a bit small). But then, I shoot almost exclusively with primes, aside from my 70-200 f/2.8 for portraits (and I’m using the DC 135mm more often anyway). It took me about a day to reconfigure my shooting to accommodate the smaller grip. Sure, the 70-200mm is a beast on the Df. It’s a beast on the D700, D300, and on my friends’ D610s and D800s, too. It’s never well-balanced without my left hand cradling it. The Df is made for primes, and primes are where it’s at for my photography anyway, so perfect!

    Resolving power? As a working pro, I would never want to deal with 36 megapixel files after a shoot. The Df’s 16 megapixels is more than enough to resolve detail and print at reasonable (read: realistic) sizes, and editing them is fast! And quite honestly, I’ve seen my friends’ image quality really suffer with their D800s, due to poor shooting technique. They’re all shooting with monopods now, and their point-of-view can’t help but suffer in street photography. As for resolving detail for larger prints, how many people are printing 24×36 and larger at 300dpi on a daily basis, I wonder. I sometimes use Genuine Fractals software to push my print sixes a bit further but most of my print sales (personal and professional) are 6×9 – 10×15. The Df resolves perfectly for these sizes.

    “Retro” knobs? You bet! The “retro” knobs are perfectly placed for me. Typically, in composing my shots, I choose aperture first, then make a decision on an appropriate shutter speed, and then adjust ISO as needed. Which is harder to do: adjust ISO via a small button while wearing gloves on a cold day, or turning a large dial? This is where the Df shines. It took me all of two minutes to learn how to adjust the ISO dial with the camera to my eye and my right finger ready to shoot–even with gloves. It took me even less time to master the shutter knob (and 1/3 increments via the command dial, as needed). All the “retro-ness” of the camera is fine and dandy, but people seem to not understand that the dials are actually functional–much more so for the slow, deliberate photographer.

    It’s a beauty of a camera, no doubt, but it’s truly the specs and performance that really sold me. The image quality is superb. The ISO capabilities are astounding. The camera is light and a joy to handle. And the functionality of the layout is very intelligent if you are shooting deliberately. I can say this without hesitation: if you are looking for a camera that is more than just a replacement for the D700, you have found it. The small body is unobtrusive, and the noise handling is simply amazing for low light street photos and portrait sessions where I don’t want to blast my SB800 with every shot. I’ll live without the second SD card slot just like I did with my D300. No big deal. How often has a card failed me?—once, after I dropped it in a toilet in Thailand. Whose fault was that, I wonder? Nikon’s? My images get backed up immediately after a shoot, and I regularly change half-full cards during a shoot anyway, just to be safe. The Df is a winner for me. It suites my photographic style perfectly. Oh, and I don’t shoot video. I’m a photographer, not a videographer. The Df is not a jack-of-trades camera; it is a master for all I need it to be: taking photographs in a way where I am not being limited by my equipment.

  42. 113
    ) Allan

    Well said. Your points are great and genuine. I am so tired of people harping on this camera. It is my opinion that in time this camera will be noted for being excellent. The image quality is just amazing. Thank you for your post. It was a pleasure to read.

  43. 114
    ) Richard

    Best dialog on the Df I have read, particularly for someone who has not yet decided whether to buy it or not. The 16mp is perfect for all the reasons noted above, and suits me perfectly given its performance in low light. (The price is curious, however, and it is more than legitimate to wonder why the tag is not $2275, for example.)

    Let me add to the discussion and say another reason to buy it is the ability to shoot any SLR/DSLR full-frame Nikon lens, and mine go back to the early ’70′s. I would love to haul the old glass out and fire away on digital. Is there another Nikon DSLR that will do this?

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