With the Df, Nikon should have gone for street photography

Started 10 months ago | Discussions thread
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perhort
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With the Df, Nikon should have gone for street photography
10 months ago

After much anticipation the Df arrived, but the majority opinion seems to be that the camera is falling short of expectations. What went wrong? In my view, the core of the problem is that the Df does not seem to fulfill any contemporary photographic need. What need may a retro camera fulfill? One need might be nostalgia. There are those who remember the good old days, with cameras like the FM2 and the joy of manual focusing. Would it not be great to have a a digital FM? Bareboned and simple, a Leica for Nikon users, with which one may experience the pleasures of old. Sure, this is a photographic need. But it is somewhat marginal. How many photographers of this kind are there? How sustainable is the demand? With the Df, Nikon went with the philosophy - but they did not trust the demand to be sufficient. So they threw in autofocus, LCD screen and almost all the utilities of modern digital cameras. Making the camera bulkier. And they did it with crippled features. After all, the camera is for slow photography, so who really needs state of the art features? And this is why this camera does not seem to satisfy anyone.

So were there any other contemporary photographic need that a retro camera might fulfill? In my opinion, yes. Urban photography rather than slow photography. A camera for street photography! Professional photography may be divided into three main branches. There is sports/action photography. There is studio/landscape photography. And then there is street photography. Street photography is very much like action/PJ photography. There is the need for speed. A high iso/low megapixel sensor comes in handy. High fps is of value. Above all, street photography requires a state of the art AF-system. But distinct from action/PJ there is also a social dimension to street photography. Street photography is very much the noble art of shooting strangers in the face. And this is why the retro style is actually functional for street photography. The retro styled camera’s more sympathetic look makes it easier and more comfortable for the photographer to interact with his fellow men in the street while shooting them. This is why retro cameras are popular for street photography: they are functional contemporary tools and not merely nostalgic products.

So this what Nikon should have aimed for. With the D4 they thought: let’s make the greatest sports camera! With the D800 they thought: Let’s make the greatest studio camera! Let us challenge medium format! And so they did, in the process making their own flagship camera the D3x obsolete. If Nikon had been as bold with the Df and thought in terms of street photography, they would have gotten the camera right. It would have meant the D700 successor in a classic body; with the 51p and the 91k. Priced at USD 3000, we would have bought it in droves.

 perhort's gear list:perhort's gear list
Nikon D700 Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR Nikon AF Nikkor 24mm f/2.8D Nikon AF Nikkor 35mm f/2D Nikon AF Nikkor 85mm f/1.8D
Nikon D3X Nikon D4 Nikon D700 Nikon D800 Nikon Df
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