The Philosophy of Nikon Df

Started 9 months ago | Discussions
Richard Murdey
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The Philosophy of Nikon Df
9 months ago

In Japan, the Asahi Camera magazine come out last month with a special issue dedicated to the Df, called "The Philosophy of Nikon Df " (Nikon Df の哲学).

It's 132 pages of very glossy propaganda, presumably bankrolled by Nikon Corp. Photo spreads with all kinds of classic vintage lenses, interviews, and long sections delineating how all the control dials and style details trace back to classic Nikon film cameras. It was in that section that I noticed something that brought the reality home: in a two page essay talking about the design of the battery flap - I kid you not - there were about 6 comparison shots of the underside of various Nikon cameras showing the development over time. While shown to scale, the photo of the Df had been carefully cropped to remove the lens mount and rear LCD sections from the frame ... to avoid calling attention to the painfully obvious fact that the Df was almost comically fat in comparison to any of the film cameras it aped.

...facepalm moment...

The marketing for this camera is so pretentious, its borderline sickening.

I guess most people have seen Kai's take on the Df by now over a digitalrevTV. It's wicked, all the more so because it so accurately skewers Nikon's ridiculous hype machine. We've covered the size problem, but Kai does a great job of taking the control layout to task: pointing out that the shutter speed dial that becomes nonfunctional when in A or P modes. That's "fail" writ large, right there...

Step back a second, bear with me here:

The SLR camera control layout started with no meter, so you had aperture and shutter speed. Add a meter, you need to set the film speed. Then, it made sense to add an "A" setting to the shutter speed dial, and that, in turn led to the necessity of an exposure compensation dial. Finally the "A" setting was also added to the lens, for shutter priority and program auto. That's the control set of a modern, minimalist "retro" camera: ISO, EV, shutter speed+A, aperture+A. It works well. Exhibit A being the Fuji X100.

A modern, professional Nikon dSLR moves away from this entirely: two control wheels, mode dial, LCD and viewfinder display of shooting info, and "button press + dial rotation" for setting changes. The "classic" controls were dropped for good reason: the number of camera functions grew too large for it.

There is nothing inherently wrong with the two-dial setup. It is nice, though, to go back to "simpler times" and have just the physical aperture ring and shutter speed dial to set. Just not on the same camera! In a nutshell, that's the problem with the Df - it's built into its DNA, it's fundamental design brief to support four generations of Nikkor lenses : auto, Ai, AF, and G, straddling two different control paradigms. It is not possible to do that and at the same time have a clean, concise, straightforward, and intuitive control layout.

If the D4 sensor is so great, Nikon should put it in all the FX bodies. It's not like it costs any more than the one in the D800 of D600. (A D800x could be 36MP.) Then the D600 could be the "modern" small FX body, and the Df could have been the "retro" small FX body: no support for "G" lenses, no AF, split prism focus screen... I'm pretty tight-fisted when it comes to buying cameras, but I would have lined up for that.

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Cliff Fujii
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Re: The Philosophy of Nikon Df
In reply to Richard Murdey, 9 months ago

The D600 and the D800 use sensors designed and manufactured by Sony. The Df and D4 use a sensor designed by Nikon but manufactured by a 3rd party. I have read that the sensor is made by Renesas but I wouldn't swear to it.

The D600 and D800 sensor is probably cheaper because of the economies of scale which would explain why a Df/D4 sensor is more expensive

http://chipworks.force.com/catalog/ProductDetails?sku=NIK-22803_00738&viewState=DetailView

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Kent J
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Re: The Philosophy of Nikon Df
In reply to Richard Murdey, 9 months ago

Richard Murdey wrote:

In Japan, the Asahi Camera magazine come out last month with a special issue dedicated to the Df, called "The Philosophy of Nikon Df " (Nikon Df の哲学).

It's 132 pages of very glossy propaganda, presumably bankrolled by Nikon Corp. Photo spreads with all kinds of classic vintage lenses, interviews, and long sections delineating how all the control dials and style details trace back to classic Nikon film cameras. It was in that section that I noticed something that brought the reality home: in a two page essay talking about the design of the battery flap - I kid you not - there were about 6 comparison shots of the underside of various Nikon cameras showing the development over time. While shown to scale, the photo of the Df had been carefully cropped to remove the lens mount and rear LCD sections from the frame ... to avoid calling attention to the painfully obvious fact that the Df was almost comically fat in comparison to any of the film cameras it aped.

This was interesting for a while, but you're starting to lose me.

...facepalm moment...

The marketing for this camera is so pretentious, its borderline sickening.

Take a pill and relax.

I guess most people have seen Kai's take on the Df by now over a digitalrevTV. It's wicked, all the more so because it so accurately skewers Nikon's ridiculous hype machine. We've covered the size problem, but Kai does a great job of taking the control layout to task: pointing out that the shutter speed dial that becomes nonfunctional when in A or P modes. That's "fail" writ large, right there...

The Nikon F4 worked exactly the same way. I don't seem to recall it being classified as a failure.

Step back a second, bear with me here:

The SLR camera control layout started with no meter, so you had aperture and shutter speed. Add a meter, you need to set the film speed. Then, it made sense to add an "A" setting to the shutter speed dial, and that, in turn led to the necessity of an exposure compensation dial. Finally the "A" setting was also added to the lens, for shutter priority and program auto. That's the control set of a modern, minimalist "retro" camera: ISO, EV, shutter speed+A, aperture+A. It works well. Exhibit A being the Fuji X100.

Sure, when you design a camera and lens system from scratch, you can do that.

A modern, professional Nikon dSLR moves away from this entirely: two control wheels, mode dial, LCD and viewfinder display of shooting info, and "button press + dial rotation" for setting changes. The "classic" controls were dropped for good reason: the number of camera functions grew too large for it.

No, it was the fact that Nikon felt they had an obligation to maintain compatibility with their past lenses, so there wasn't a way to put an "A” function on the lens as you pointed out earlier. The control wheel/LCD paradigm was a way of disabling the shutter dial or aperture if that was appropriate for the exposure mode, thus getting away from the comatose SS dial.

There is nothing inherently wrong with the two-dial setup. It is nice, though, to go back to "simpler times" and have just the physical aperture ring and shutter speed dial to set. Just not on the same camera! In a nutshell, that's the problem with the Df - it's built into its DNA, it's fundamental design brief to support four generations of Nikkor lenses : auto, Ai, AF, and G, straddling two different control paradigms. It is not possible to do that and at the same time have a clean, concise, straightforward, and intuitive control layout.

If the D4 sensor is so great, Nikon should put it in all the FX bodies. It's not like it costs any more than the one in the D800 of D600. (A D800x could be 36MP.) Then the D600 could be the "modern" small FX body, and the Df could have been the "retro" small FX body: no support for "G" lenses, no AF, split prism focus screen... I'm pretty tight-fisted when it comes to buying cameras, but I would have lined up for that.

I don't necessarily agree on how you got here, but where you ended up might be an interesting camera. I just think it would be unmarketable without Leica-level prices due to minuscule demand. I also do not think Nikon would ever develop a DSLR which could not use ANY of their current lenses. They would have to restart production of AI-S lenses.

A halfway step would have been to eliminate a few, perhaps little used features that would result in simplifications. If P and S Modes was eliminated, the mode dial could be eliminated and no lens FEE errors. G lenses could be accommodated with a single control wheel.

Anyway, a hundred different people would come up with a hundred different "perfect" Df designs.

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InTheMist
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In reply to Kent J, 9 months ago

Kent J wrote:

Richard Murdey wrote:

...facepalm moment...

The marketing for this camera is so pretentious, its borderline sickening.

Take a pill and relax.

Yep. I own a Df and they almost nailed it. Almost. But as Kai pointed out, it could have been better. So I dutifully filled out my Nikon Df survey and hope that they make a Dƒ2 some day.

Meanwhile I'm enthusiastically shooting my Df, just went over 3000 snaps.

I'd like a copy of that special edition if anyone would like to send me one? Perhaps in exchange for a delicious selection of Swiss chocolates sent to Japan

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khaledgawdat
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Re: The Philosophy of Nikon Df
In reply to Richard Murdey, 9 months ago

I love and enjoy my df camera and i am using my old nikon lenses again with it. I do not need some techno freak with a biased opinion to help me make a choice. If you like it buy it, if you don't forget it.
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sgoldswo
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The Philosophy of Nikon Df: Great isn't it?
In reply to Richard Murdey, 9 months ago

Richard Murdey wrote:

In Japan, the Asahi Camera magazine come out last month with a special issue dedicated to the Df, called "The Philosophy of Nikon Df " (Nikon Df の哲学).

It's 132 pages of very glossy propaganda, presumably bankrolled by Nikon Corp. Photo spreads with all kinds of classic vintage lenses, interviews, and long sections delineating how all the control dials and style details trace back to classic Nikon film cameras. It was in that section that I noticed something that brought the reality home: in a two page essay talking about the design of the battery flap - I kid you not - there were about 6 comparison shots of the underside of various Nikon cameras showing the development over time. While shown to scale, the photo of the Df had been carefully cropped to remove the lens mount and rear LCD sections from the frame ... to avoid calling attention to the painfully obvious fact that the Df was almost comically fat in comparison to any of the film cameras it aped.

...facepalm moment...

The marketing for this camera is so pretentious, its borderline sickening.

And that's different from other camera marketing campaigns how?

I guess most people have seen Kai's take on the Df by now over a digitalrevTV. It's wicked, all the more so because it so accurately skewers Nikon's ridiculous hype machine. We've covered the size problem, but Kai does a great job of taking the control layout to task: pointing out that the shutter speed dial that becomes nonfunctional when in A or P modes. That's "fail" writ large, right there...

No it doesn't, if you were an owner you would know it can be used to set the minimum shutter speed in such modes

Step back a second, bear with me here:

The SLR camera control layout started with no meter, so you had aperture and shutter speed. Add a meter, you need to set the film speed. Then, it made sense to add an "A" setting to the shutter speed dial, and that, in turn led to the necessity of an exposure compensation dial. Finally the "A" setting was also added to the lens, for shutter priority and program auto. That's the control set of a modern, minimalist "retro" camera: ISO, EV, shutter speed+A, aperture+A. It works well. Exhibit A being the Fuji X100.

Speaking as the owner of an X100, X100S and several other Fuji X cameras, the Df control layout is actually better and quicker to use in regular use. In particular, the addition of an ISO dial and the lock on the exposure compensation dial are great "improvements" that Fuji should consider.

A modern, professional Nikon dSLR moves away from this entirely: two control wheels, mode dial, LCD and viewfinder display of shooting info, and "button press + dial rotation" for setting changes. The "classic" controls were dropped for good reason: the number of camera functions grew too large for it.

There is nothing inherently wrong with the two-dial setup. It is nice, though, to go back to "simpler times" and have just the physical aperture ring and shutter speed dial to set. Just not on the same camera! In a nutshell, that's the problem with the Df - it's built into its DNA, it's fundamental design brief to support four generations of Nikkor lenses : auto, Ai, AF, and G, straddling two different control paradigms. It is not possible to do that and at the same time have a clean, concise, straightforward, and intuitive control layout.

You must have seen a different camera to me... 

If the D4 sensor is so great, Nikon should put it in all the FX bodies. It's not like it costs any more than the one in the D800 of D600. (A D800x could be 36MP.) Then the D600 could be the "modern" small FX body, and the Df could have been the "retro" small FX body: no support for "G" lenses, no AF, split prism focus screen... I'm pretty tight-fisted when it comes to buying cameras, but I would have lined up for that.

Yes it does, it's a custom made sensor, not an off the peg model made by sony.

Thanks for your insights. 

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Liviu Namolovan
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Re: The Philosophy of Nikon Df
In reply to Richard Murdey, 9 months ago

+1. And did I mention another +1 for your taking on Df's price? Of course the D4 sensor does not cost more than the D800 sensor or a D600/610 sensor. I'm still amazed that there are people thinking "look: D4 sensor at half the price of a D4!".

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Simon Garrett
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You must have known...
In reply to Richard Murdey, 9 months ago

You must have known that you'll get mightily flamed for saying this.

You're allowed to make minor criticisms of the Df, provided you say that on balance it's a great camera, and the world has been waiting for Nikon to bring us such a great camera and take us back to "Real Photography" as it should be.  But to make fundamental criticisms of the UI is unacceptable.

You have to remember the Good Old Days factor.  The Good Old Days, when Men were Men, and things were, well, just better.  Always around 25-30 years ago.  TV was great, the sun always shone, beer tasted better, and cameras were designed as God meant them to be designed.

Now, let's have no criticism of the Df from an obviously techno-freak point of view!

PS - my gear list tells you what camera I use, and I'm not about to change.

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sgoldswo
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Re: You must have known...
In reply to Simon Garrett, 9 months ago

Simon Garrett wrote:

You must have known that you'll get mightily flamed for saying this.

You're allowed to make minor criticisms of the Df, provided you say that on balance it's a great camera, and the world has been waiting for Nikon to bring us such a great camera and take us back to "Real Photography" as it should be. But to make fundamental criticisms of the UI is unacceptable.

You have to remember the Good Old Days factor. The Good Old Days, when Men were Men, and things were, well, just better. Always around 25-30 years ago. TV was great, the sun always shone, beer tasted better, and cameras were designed as God meant them to be designed.

Now, let's have no criticism of the Df from an obviously techno-freak point of view!

PS - my gear list tells you what camera I use, and I'm not about to change.

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Simon

Simon,

I came to older film cameras after using "regular DSLRs". I'm in my 30s. I prefer the older control paradigm and ergonomics of such cameras to modern DSLRs. When the Df was announced I was down on it because it wasn't small or retro enough! I wanted something the size of a FM3a. However, I was won over looking at the abilities of the sensor. Now, having bought it, I do prefer the controls and ergonomics of the Df to my D800E.

I don't think anyone sensible is claiming people aren't allowed to be critical, but some of the criticism borders on the ludicrous. Ming Thein was particularly guilty of this, it sounded like if he used the Df for a minute longer his hands would have to be amputated or they would spontaneously combust.

To paint everyone who likes the Df as being the same as a particular member who posts frequently is just ridiculous. We Df owners are all different and some of us genuinely think the camera is great.

Best

Simon

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Simon Garrett
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Re: You must have known...
In reply to sgoldswo, 9 months ago

sgoldswo wrote:

Simon Garrett wrote:

You must have known that you'll get mightily flamed for saying this.

You're allowed to make minor criticisms of the Df, provided you say that on balance it's a great camera, and the world has been waiting for Nikon to bring us such a great camera and take us back to "Real Photography" as it should be. But to make fundamental criticisms of the UI is unacceptable.

You have to remember the Good Old Days factor. The Good Old Days, when Men were Men, and things were, well, just better. Always around 25-30 years ago. TV was great, the sun always shone, beer tasted better, and cameras were designed as God meant them to be designed.

Now, let's have no criticism of the Df from an obviously techno-freak point of view!

PS - my gear list tells you what camera I use, and I'm not about to change.

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Simon

Simon,

I came to older film cameras after using "regular DSLRs". I'm in my 30s. I prefer the older control paradigm and ergonomics of such cameras to modern DSLRs. When the Df was announced I was down on it because it wasn't small or retro enough! I wanted something the size of a FM3a. However, I was won over looking at the abilities of the sensor. Now, having bought it, I do prefer the controls and ergonomics of the Df to my D800E.

I've been using SLRs since the Pentax S1a, and no, I don't miss the old mechanical controls. They were designed that way not because it was ergonomic but because of the limitations of designing mechanical controls. Designers of digital controls have much greater flexibility, and can build on years more experience. They often don't get it right, but I certainly feel no nostalgia for older technology-limited control design.

I don't think anyone sensible is claiming people aren't allowed to be critical, but some of the criticism borders on the ludicrous. Ming Thein was particularly guilty of this, it sounded like if he used the Df for a minute longer his hands would have to be amputated or they would spontaneously combust.

I'm not criticising anyone's choice of camera, but I'm with Thom Hogan on this: I think the Df is overpriced and over-hyped. However, there has been terrific resentment (by some) of any criticism of the Df. People are perfectly entitled to like retro styling, but "retro" doesn't necessarily equate to "good" in any objective sense. Bubonic plague and slavery are "retro" but not good. In the case of the Df, it's a matter of preference.

People are equally entitled to be critical of my choice: the D800 (many are).

To paint everyone who likes the Df as being the same as a particular member who posts frequently is just ridiculous.

I don't.

We Df owners are all different and some of us genuinely think the camera is great.

And the very best of luck with the Df! It's undoubtedly a good camera, no matter whether I (or anyone else) consider it expensive for what it is, and don't like the control arrangement.

I just wish (some) people wouldn't get so defensive about it.

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VBLondon
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Re: You must have known...
In reply to Simon Garrett, 9 months ago

Simon Garrett wrote:

You must have known that you'll get mightily flamed for saying this.

You're allowed to make minor criticisms of the Df, provided you say that on balance it's a great camera, and the world has been waiting for Nikon to bring us such a great camera and take us back to "Real Photography" as it should be. But to make fundamental criticisms of the UI is unacceptable.

You have to remember the Good Old Days factor. The Good Old Days, when Men were Men, and things were, well, just better. Always around 25-30 years ago. TV was great, the sun always shone, beer tasted better, and cameras were designed as God meant them to be designed.

Now, let's have no criticism of the Df from an obviously techno-freak point of view!

PS - my gear list tells you what camera I use, and I'm not about to change.

-- hide signature --

Simon

The irony is that no-one has "mightily flamed him".

Of course fundamental criticisms of the UI or any other fundamental criticisms are a normal and welcome part of a gear discussion on a gear forum.

What's odd about the Df, compared to any camera discussion I can think of, are three features of the fundamental criticisms some posters make

1. Inability to distinguish between the subjective and objective. The AF performance is more objective and its interesting and useful to understand how good that is. The UI is subjective to a good extent. The most vocal critics seem incapable of understanding that it's just a preference. The guy who claimed his hand would fall off is an extreme outlier....

2. Taking the subjective criticisms and escalating them to a silly level of getting angry at Nikon for daring to make such a camera and for being morons in not making it to the poster's personal spec.

3. Concluding from the subjective criticisms that anyone who has different preferences must conform to some ridiculous stereotype - boomer/hipster/latte-sipper. You've even added your own variety to the socio-segment labelling, "the Good Old Days"

It's really not that complicated. Some people prefer the UI, the D4 sensor, the lighter quieter body and the retro look to an extent that outweighs the price or any spec compromise.

However, the criticism borders on the hysterical. Just read the OP, he finds camera marketing "borderline sickening".

There's an odd psychology in people who react this way to a camera. Imagine if, when the D800 was launched, someone who didn't need a 36MP sensor had written

"I find the marketing sickening. The great majority of buyers of this camera are gear-head morons who don't understand that they will never see the "extra detail" in 99% of their output. It's just a cynical exercise on Nikon's part to send them on an ever-escalating frenzy of test chart analysis and upgrading to even more pointlessly "sharp" lenses. blah blah blah"

I don't think anyone wrote that sort of thing.

The odd thing with the Df is that it is obviously a niche camera compared to something like the D610. So it doesn't need anyone to get hysterical in their criticism to explain why they don't like it.

Any number of sensible criticisms are possible

- I don't like the style

- I don't like the UI

- I don't like the price

- I don't like the sensor

- I don't like the spec

Fair enough to any or all of those. Make massive, major, fundamental criticisms. But why does it need the emotional hysteria towards Nikon for daring to make it, and the stereotyping of those who do like it?

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nikonuserinfo
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Re: The Philosophy of Nikon Df
In reply to Richard Murdey, 9 months ago

Richard Murdey wrote:If the D4 sensor is so great, Nikon should put it in all the FX bodies.

D4 sensor isn't anything special among these great generation of Nikon (Sony) sensors. It's a perfect compromise for file size and speed of the D4. That they put that sensor in Df is partly marketing (to suggest that you buy a D4 for half of the price, which is a joke ogf course) but most of all to maximize rendability of the development cost of D4 sensor. Both D610 and D800 sensors are significantly better at low iso.

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inasir1971
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Re: The Philosophy of Nikon Df
In reply to Richard Murdey, 9 months ago

Richard Murdey wrote:

In Japan, the Asahi Camera magazine come out last month with a special issue dedicated to the Df, called "The Philosophy of Nikon Df " (Nikon Df の哲学).

It's 132 pages of very glossy propaganda, presumably bankrolled by Nikon Corp. Photo spreads with all kinds of classic vintage lenses, interviews, and long sections delineating how all the control dials and style details trace back to classic Nikon film cameras. It was in that section that I noticed something that brought the reality home: in a two page essay talking about the design of the battery flap - I kid you not - there were about 6 comparison shots of the underside of various Nikon cameras showing the development over time. While shown to scale, the photo of the Df had been carefully cropped to remove the lens mount and rear LCD sections from the frame ... to avoid calling attention to the painfully obvious fact that the Df was almost comically fat in comparison to any of the film cameras it aped.

You mean this:

It's an 'Owner's Bible' (says so right there) not some special issue, and your link shows it as a book on sale through Amazon for 2100 Yen.

...facepalm moment...

It's a book for owners of the Df.

Your OP seems ridiculous since you don't seem to know what your complaining about.

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HSway
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Re: You must have known...
In reply to VBLondon, 9 months ago

Well put.

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Jay Paul H
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Re: Almost. (P.S. Swiss chocolate anyone?)
In reply to InTheMist, 9 months ago

I agree that Nikon "almost" nailed it. A Df2 is certainly in the works, it will be interesting to see what direction Nikon will take with it.

I love mine. It has been a more "involving" experience than my D800 was.

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Rick_Hunter
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Re: The Philosophy of Nikon Df
In reply to Richard Murdey, 9 months ago

The Df philosophy? Quick & easy: "Oh, look, retro is the new cool now! Let's take a D600, remove video, popup flash, 2nd card slot, AF assist light, let's swap the sensor with the D4's, stick everything into a (not-so-well-built) retro body full of clicky dials, and let's ask the same money as a D800/D800E"

Nothing more than that, really. This is the marketing philosophy behind it in a nutshell.

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eastvillager
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Re: The Philosophy of Nikon Df
In reply to Richard Murdey, 9 months ago

Just watched the Kai review and couldn't stop laughing with him at the absurdity of Nikon's effort. I'm a lifetime Nikon fan having owned an FM, FE, D1, D2, D3, D4, D800 and a few others I can't remember. I was never so disappointed with a Nikon effort since the D1 which was a piece of crap but it had an excuse since it was a long time ago and Nikon first digital SLR. I work as a photographer and use a camera to take photos for a living. I need a great picture, great handling and controls that are intuitive. Yes it might have a great picture but the dials are a joke, far from intuitive and counter productive. He already pointed out the shutter dial problems but underplayed the terrible undersized mode button which you have to pull up and turn while the letters are blocked by your fingers. grrrrr. I can turn a screw with my thumbnail but that doesn't mean it works well. The LCD window is a joke. Its a quarter the size of a D4 and the numbers are impossible to read easily and I have 20/20 vision. Those two things alone make the camera a loser. Add on the terrible focusing and lack of an aperture ring on the lenses and the camera is retro junk. If you want junk go out and buy a 1999 D1. The picture might suck but at least the controls work properly. Oh and yes I did shoot with the DF. I wanted to love it. I have the money to buy it but what's the point? I need to make images so I'll shoot with my D4 and D800. Now those are amazing cameras. My advice if you're thinking of buying a DF don't waste your money. Buy a D800! In a few years it will be retro and still a great camera.

Richard Murdey wrote:

In Japan, the Asahi Camera magazine come out last month with a special issue dedicated to the Df, called "The Philosophy of Nikon Df " (Nikon Df の哲学).

It's 132 pages of very glossy propaganda, presumably bankrolled by Nikon Corp. Photo spreads with all kinds of classic vintage lenses, interviews, and long sections delineating how all the control dials and style details trace back to classic Nikon film cameras. It was in that section that I noticed something that brought the reality home: in a two page essay talking about the design of the battery flap - I kid you not - there were about 6 comparison shots of the underside of various Nikon cameras showing the development over time. While shown to scale, the photo of the Df had been carefully cropped to remove the lens mount and rear LCD sections from the frame ... to avoid calling attention to the painfully obvious fact that the Df was almost comically fat in comparison to any of the film cameras it aped.

...facepalm moment...

The marketing for this camera is so pretentious, its borderline sickening.

I guess most people have seen Kai's take on the Df by now over a digitalrevTV. It's wicked, all the more so because it so accurately skewers Nikon's ridiculous hype machine. We've covered the size problem, but Kai does a great job of taking the control layout to task: pointing out that the shutter speed dial that becomes nonfunctional when in A or P modes. That's "fail" writ large, right there...

Step back a second, bear with me here:

The SLR camera control layout started with no meter, so you had aperture and shutter speed. Add a meter, you need to set the film speed. Then, it made sense to add an "A" setting to the shutter speed dial, and that, in turn led to the necessity of an exposure compensation dial. Finally the "A" setting was also added to the lens, for shutter priority and program auto. That's the control set of a modern, minimalist "retro" camera: ISO, EV, shutter speed+A, aperture+A. It works well. Exhibit A being the Fuji X100.

A modern, professional Nikon dSLR moves away from this entirely: two control wheels, mode dial, LCD and viewfinder display of shooting info, and "button press + dial rotation" for setting changes. The "classic" controls were dropped for good reason: the number of camera functions grew too large for it.

There is nothing inherently wrong with the two-dial setup. It is nice, though, to go back to "simpler times" and have just the physical aperture ring and shutter speed dial to set. Just not on the same camera! In a nutshell, that's the problem with the Df - it's built into its DNA, it's fundamental design brief to support four generations of Nikkor lenses : auto, Ai, AF, and G, straddling two different control paradigms. It is not possible to do that and at the same time have a clean, concise, straightforward, and intuitive control layout.

If the D4 sensor is so great, Nikon should put it in all the FX bodies. It's not like it costs any more than the one in the D800 of D600. (A D800x could be 36MP.) Then the D600 could be the "modern" small FX body, and the Df could have been the "retro" small FX body: no support for "G" lenses, no AF, split prism focus screen... I'm pretty tight-fisted when it comes to buying cameras, but I would have lined up for that.

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tissunique
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Re: The Philosophy of Nikon Df
In reply to eastvillager, 9 months ago

Eastvillager, I agree. I've heard it said that the DF is a D4 at half the price. What absolute nonsense. And so untrue. In fact the DF is more expensive than the D4 and I'll explain why:
It lacks several features. It is not a 'pro' camera in the strict sense. It doesn't offer video. It's way smaller and of far lesser build quality. It is far less capable. It is far slower. And I could go on. When you add up all the minuses it's actually way more expensive than a D4 and just about every other full-frame camera out there. That's how silly it is. Now if it was 40% cheaper I would buy one but why should I when there's the D800 and D610 available from Nikon - both offering much more.

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tissunique
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Re: You must have known...
In reply to sgoldswo, 9 months ago

So Simon, you're a camera collector I see. What are you getting next...?

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Simon Garrett
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Re: You must have known...
In reply to VBLondon, 9 months ago

I pretty much agree with all you've put.

Just a clarification on the "Good Old Days" point: it's pretty common in many activities and many walks of life for people to hanker after "The Good Old Days", which are always around 25-30 years ago. Personally, I think some of the enthusiasm for the Df - and indeed for FF in general - is based on this. The Nikon pre-publicity was clearly tapping into this with slogans like "It's in my hands again" and "pure photography".

Nothing against that - it's all a matter of preference. I don't criticise the Df or those who like it; I was intending to draw attention (as I think you are) to the strong reactions both ways to the Df.

I think similar strong and sometimes emotional reactions apply to FF in general (and I write as a D800 user).

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Simon

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