The following conversation is entirely fictitious. Any similarities to opinions expressed on this forum or elsewhere are purely coincidental.
Head: So you are pretty excited about the Nikon Df, huh?
Head: Just what is it about this new DSLR that has you so enthused?
Heart: Well, the Df brings us back to what some of us call “Pure Photography.” Sadly, it has been missing for quite some time. Then again, given your analytical mindset, which is utterly devoid of human emotion, I would not expect you to understand such a concept.
Head: Perhaps thinking is a bit over-rated at times, but it does come in handy, particularly when evaluating marketing slogans and attempting to discern the value of various camera models and lens choices. So help me out here – just what have those of us using digital cameras over the past 13 years or so been engaged in – “Impure Photography?”
Heart: You just don’t get it, do you?
Head: I suppose not. Then again, that is why we are having this conversation.
Heart: Just look at the state of the DSLR market until the introduction of the Df. It was one bland, bloated-looking black DSLR body after another, virtually indistinguishable from one another. A never ending stream of gadgets and gizmos clamoring for our attention and our pocketbook. And people spending more time in front of their computer than in front of their camera. The Df is one of the first cameras that hearkens us back to the golden age of photography. It represents the spirit of photography personified. Just look at metallic finish, knobs, and controls. It’s got style, class, elegance, and grace!
Head: Are you describing a camera or a Bolshoi ballerina? I grant you that most DSLR bodies are difficult to tell apart. But how does the style of the camera affect the quality of our photos?
Heart: Well, if you were capable of feeling and expressing some real emotion, you would understand! Photography is about creating art and the Df allows you to do so in droves.
Head: Interesting… So having a camera with some retro-styled knobs allows me to be more artistic and create more interesting photos than a traditional looking DSLR? And as a result of how my camera looks, I will somehow become much more enthused about taking photos?
Heart: In a matter of speaking – yes! You see, photography has become polluted by the tremendous influx of modern mass-marketed camera products. The Nikon Df breaks new ground by making a bold fashion statement which appeals to both photographers and their subjects.
Head: You will forgive me if I am struggling a bit with the concept. I have seen some stunning photographs produced with the so-called “bland boring DSLRs” over the years. Even the humblest of DSLRs and low cost lenses have won highly competitive photography contests, such as the one sponsored by UK’s Digital Camera World Magazine. In fact, the sense I often have from examining the cameras and lenses that win or place in such contests is that one’s camera is not nearly as important as one’s vision, perspective, and creativity. Those seem to be traits that I would expect a Heart to appreciate.
Heart: Hmmm… that indeed sounds more like an argument I might make! I should have realized when we sat down to talk that it was going to take a while for you to understand the concept of the Df. I am not saying that you can’t create “art” with a modern DSLR, but rather that you are much more likely to realize pure enjoyment and create a photographic masterpieces with a Df.
Head: Just what makes you think that I would feel differently with a Nikon Df in my hands as opposed to a Canon 5D MKIII?
Heart: They will be different because you will feel different about photography.
Head: How so?
Heart: The Df will inspire you to be more creative, have more fun, and be consumed by the joy of photography once again. Trust me – you will feel it once the Df is in your hands again.
Head: I would love to trust you on this one, but I seem to be weighed down by this nagging “value” concept.
Heart: Don’t I know it! You remind me during every conversation. Don’t you ever get tired of thinking all the time and needing to make sense of everything before believing in something? You must be a complete bore at parties…
Head: Well, I would like to be a bit more carefree, but there is this notion of limited funds and concern about the value of a given product relative to its cost and competitive offerings.
Heart: Here we go again… concerns about money and value. You really are pretty tedious!
Head: Perhaps, but it seems to me that there are quite a few competitors to the Df that offer photographers more value for the money. The Nikon D800 and D610 seem to have better sensor ratings, video, and higher megapixels. And the D610 can save you $750. And the Nikon D7100 or Canon 70D in the DX arena, with their smaller lighter lenses, represent attractive options if camera size and weight are a serious concern. Granted, more megapixels alone are not an indication of quality, but they do come in handy for pure resolution and cropping abilities. The Df does not even have a flash or video capabilities!
Heart: No video or flash – a bold stroke, don’t you think?
Head: Bold stroke? Don’t you think that in this day and age, with the use of video exploding, it might make sense to include it? Maybe, just maybe, a Nikon Df user might wish to take a video? Once in a while? Since when does leaving out mainstream features spell I-N-N-O-V-A-T-I-O-N?
Heart: Since it comes in such an attractive package! Video-schmideo… Have you seen the retro knobs and dials?
Head: Well, they certainly do look nice. But I understand that in practical terms (and perhaps cold weather), these dials may not be quite as usable as Nikon would have us believe.
Heart: Nonsense – Form over function! Aesthetics at all costs!
Head: I will grant you the point that style has its place. But I can’t help but notice that everyone keeps hyping the silver version of the Df. You may be aware that camera companies used to charge a premium for the black version of an SLR. Could it be that Nikon believes the black Df looks a bit too much like other DSLRS?
Heart: Don’t be ridiculous. Anyone seeing you take photos with either version of the Df will immediately react favorably to it. Their smiles will be brighter, they will stand a bit taller, they will enjoy the photographic experience more, they will become more attractive, and your photos of them will simply stand out above the rest!
Head: Wow! Not bad. You only left out parting the Red Sea, finding a cure for cancer, and achieving world peace. How about a little test?
Heart: Sure. What is it?
Head: I will hold up 2 DSLRs from a distance of 15 feet and you can tell me which models they are.
Heart: Ok – let’s do it!
Head: [Walks 15 feet away and holds up a silver and black camera]. Which one is this?
Heart: Obviously it is a silver and black Nikon Df!
Head: Sorry – it is a Nikon FM2. Let’s try DLSR 2. [Walks 15 away again and holds up another DSLR].
Heart: That is obviously the black version of the Nikon Df!
Head: Nope – that one was a Nikon D610. Call me crazy, but it seems that at 15 feet, most people could not tell which camera you had in your hand. So why do you still believe people are going to “respond more positively” to the Nikon Df when they can’t tell one camera model from the next at a reasonable distance?
Heart: There are times that I really can’t stand you…
Head: Forgive me for being “logical” again. I know rational thought seems like a vice to you…
Heart: You have seen the Df’s retro-styled knobs and controls, haven’t you?
Head: I think you mentioned them…
Heart: Look, there are things I don’t expect a head like you to understand, such as feelings, art, creativity, style, grace, and beauty. You live in a world of product spec sheets, model comparisons, budgets, and that dreadful thing – money!
Head: Don’t you find it rather odd that Nikon is charging nearly the same price as the D800 for the Df and $750 more than the D610? For a DSLR that, all things considered, offers less features than these other models?
Heart: Good looks costs money!
Head: It would seem that Nikon wants us to believe that! I have nothing against good styling, but limiting features, adding stylish knobs and controls, and then charging a premium price hardly seems like it offers Nikon’s customers anything new. It merely seems to have taken a page out of the book used by some household product companies, whereby they simply change the product label and then call it “New & Improved!”
Heart: You are so cynical! On some forums, you would be labeled a “Df Hater!” The Nikon Df is much more compact and lighter than other DSLRs, making it much more inconspicuous and pleasurable to carry around all day. That is rather revolutionary, don’t you think?
Head: Whoa! Df Hater? I thought we were just having a good-natured conversation regarding a new DSLR? And forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but a DSLR body that is roughly the same size as the Nikon D600 or D7100 hardly seems like a revolutionary breakthrough.
Heart: But the Df is lighter.
Head: Technically, you are correct – the Df is lighter than the D610. But who believes shaving approximately 3.3 ounces or 90 grams off the weight of a DSLR is going to make a difference in someone’s day? Anyone?
Heart: Do you ever take a holiday from rational thinking? Ever?
Head: Sorry to be rain on your parade, but not everyone makes decisions using their heart alone. You might be surprised at the number of people that invoke a bit of rational thought when making a decision to purchase a new DSLR.
Heart: Perhaps, but such people lack soul.
Head: That might be a bit harsh. Some people may have to attribute more weight to the totality of the features they can purchase for their hard-earned dollars instead of being seduced by vague marketing appeals to their sense of nostalgia or glittering knobs and controls.
Heart: What about the fact that the Df allows people to make use of their pre-AI lenses? Surely that has some value?
Head: Surely you jest. Do you or Nikon seriously believe that the main challenge for photographers is finding a new DSLR that can take advantage of pre-AI lenses? Is that what is really causing DSLR sales to stall? I guess they are going to use the Df’s split screen focus aid with those pre-AI lenses, huh?
Heart: You know the Df does not have a split screen focus aid! You really don’t fight fair, do you? But as much as it pains me to say it, I had to wonder why they left this feature off as well.
Head: Even if the Df had one, do you believe that photographers over 40 who need bifocals to read their cellphone or DSLR screen would do a better job focusing manually with a split screen focus aid than relying on Nikon’s advanced autofocusing technology?
Heart: Must everything “make sense” to you? Surely you can’t argue with the quality of the high ISO capabilities of the Df?
Head: This may be one area where we agree. I will grant you that the Df seems to test pretty well on this front, besting the D800, and D610.
Head: I will acknowledge that the Df may come in handy during situations where we need ISO ranges above 6400, but how often is that? I went through our library of photos and found that less than 2% of our photos were taken at ISO 3200 or above. To hear some people on the forums drone on, you would think they earn their living taking photos by candlelight or spend most nights taking pictures in dark smoky nightclubs illuminated by a single 60 watt light bulb!
Heart: Well, perhaps the Df’s low-light capabilities will encourage more people to shoot in conditions that would not be possible with other DSLRs.
Head: Keep that up and I may accuse you of rational thinking! Ok – I will grant you that point. But I will maintain that the importance of this feature is at best exaggerated and contrary to the data presented most people’s EXIF data. And the Nikon D800, D610, and Canon 5D MKIII are no slouches in this department either. Remember, DXO gives the D800 and D610 higher overall sensor ratings than it gives the Df.
Heart: Look – The digital revolution is ruining the soul of photography. Megapixels, computers, look-alike bodies, autofocus lenses, and the most abominable creation of all time – Photoshop – are destroying everything photography was meant to be! Don’t you understand that the Df is Nikon’s attempt to save photography from being destroyed?
Head: Lovely speech, but I fail to see how the Df addresses any of the so-called problems you list. Face the facts – the Df is simply another DSLR. A bit more stylish than most, but it comes with a limited set of features compared to its Nikon and non-Nikon competitors and sports a premium price tag to boot! Apart from a bit more usable high ISO range, it offers nothing over the competition, apart from those shiny retro-looking knobs.
Heart: Have you seen the knobs and controls? They really do look great!
Head: Sigh… You seem to have forgotten that most people stopped buying Nikon FEs, FMs, and other SLRs because of the advantages offered by their digital counterparts. If you are so enamored with photography of yesteryear and think that digital technology is somehow leading the field of photography astray, why don’t you simply buy a Nikon FE and pre-AI lenses, some black and white film, and say goodbye to it all? You can get an FE SLR for less than $100 and pre-AI lenses for a song on eBay. I would bet that for a total investment of $500 (US dollars), you could buy an entire FE/pre-AI lens kit. And the $2,250 you save over the price of a new Df can provide quite a bit of spending money for film development.
Heart: And give up the ability to see my photos instantly on an LCD and take advantage of other new technologies?
Head: That’s what I thought… It seems that you are only enamored with the “feeling” of using old cameras and lenses but are as well-steeped in the digital age as much as anyone else. And perhaps that is my main concern with the Df – simply putting some retro style knobs on a high-priced DSLR that looks like something from the middle part of the last century, while giving it an uninspiring feature set and charging a premium price, is not going to help anyone take better pictures or “create art.” The more I listen to you attempt to convince me that simply using a retro style camera will improve one’s enthusiasm regarding photography or ability to create art, the less soul I think you have.
Heart: Watch it pal – you’re pushing it! Facts, facts, and more facts! You don’t buy the Df with your head, you buy it with your heart! Don’t you have a heart?
Head: That’s your department. Mine is to prevent your feelings from running away with our wallet, and get the most camera for our money!
Heart: You are insufferable…