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Hands-on with the retro Nikon Df

By Andy Westlake on Nov 5, 2013 at 04:00 GMT
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Hands-on with the Nikon Df
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Hands-on with the Nikon Df

The Df is a rather handsome camera, especially in silver, and absolutely festooned in buttons and dials. Nikon has made a matching version of the AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G, with a silver band round the lens barrel and 'retro' focus ring grip, which complements it rather nicely. It's a long time since we've seen a 50mm f/1.8 sold as a kit lens.

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Comments

Total comments: 230
12
PatMann
By PatMann (5 months ago)

A beautiful camera and looks great to work with from the standpoint of settings and controls. A pleasure to use I'm sure, and with the D4 sensor images should be stunning.

That said, the one thing that would have put this over the top for me is attention to viewfinder performance in manual focus. I would have liked to see finder optics and screens designed to take advantage of f/1.4 lenses rather than throwing away everything above f/2.5 or so. A retro design without retro performance in pure photography mode means it's #3 on my shopping list instead of #1. I'm unlikely to make it beyond #2, unfortunately. (1: D400. 2: D800 or successor. 3: Df.)

Perhaps the Df2x will bring the D800 and manual focus together as one.

2 upvotes
jtan163
By jtan163 (5 months ago)

I didn't think the Dƒ was going to be reasonably afforadble for me -and it's not c'est le guerre.
However I did not expect it to be so down spec'd.

I assume as DPR apparently does, that Nikon is jumping on the retro bandwagon to try and generate some actual turnover. That's great.

But I think they missed the fundamental point which is the the EM-5 especially and the XPro-1 actually bought something to the party other than a lick of silver paint and a vague resemblance to the cameras of old.

There was a discussion about this in the M43 forum.

As far as I can tell, this is a basically a D600 in a retro package.
Oh and they removed the video - which I don't really get - yeah not every one wants it, but since there almost certainly using the guts from other cameras that have it, why not keep it?

$800 for a lick of silver paint - that's not a very compelling sell.
If I could afford it, I'd probably buy a D800 or as Andy says a D610 and a decent lens.

2 upvotes
eozdural
By eozdural (5 months ago)

I don't understand how it has the same megapixels as the D4 and the same processor as the D4, but half the shots per second (5.5 vs 9 to 11).

And the worst thing in my opinion is that it is so expensive. Surely a camera for artists should be dirt cheap?

3 upvotes
Johannes Zander
By Johannes Zander (5 months ago)

The left over mirror boxes of the D600 can't do more than 5.5 fps. Plus some firmware limitations, so that the D4 still can outperforme the DF.

5 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (5 months ago)

Different shutter, different mirror box, different CPU.

4 upvotes
LarryK
By LarryK (5 months ago)

Why should it be "Dirt Cheap"? Is Nikon supposed to subsidize your activities?

You don't need this camera to be an artist.

0 upvotes
Shamael
By Shamael (5 months ago)

2750$ for the body only. I will see in my pocket if I find the screw that is missing in Nikon's marketing director's head. Nikon will never learn.

12 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (5 months ago)

They can get it. It's Nikon. People were in love with it before they knew anything about it. How many companies can say that?

1 upvote
foto guy
By foto guy (5 months ago)

Seems to me Pentax offered a kit with a 35mm lens (K30?), which is essentially a 50mm view. So, it hasn't been *that* long since someone has offered a standard FL lens in a kit.
And Pentax has always had full compatibility with its old lenses. Everyone's making it sound like this is a new concept.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (5 months ago)

"And Pentax has always had full compatibility with its old lenses." - o_O

1 upvote
dgc4rter
By dgc4rter (5 months ago)

Spot on! Agree with Andy,s thoughts on this one entirely.

2 upvotes
phoozy
By phoozy (5 months ago)

oh. another retro-wannabe.

3 upvotes
FLAGISM
By FLAGISM (5 months ago)

Its 1983 again... Can a digital SLR fit into the same size/weight package as a manual focus compact film SLR? This is a step in the right direction - perhaps a few too many dials/etc.It looks like a cross between my Nikon FG, an FM2 and a F3HP. Hope they keep up the retro design(s) but at more affordable prices. I hope a future model has at least 24MP. Nikon's manual focus viewfinder on their film cameras were excellent in contrast/brightness with manual focus lenses. Hope this one also achieves those high standards. CanNikon DSLRs have been humoungous for too long (Pentax, Canon SL1 and a few others excepting).

2 upvotes
Hadarmil
By Hadarmil (5 months ago)

Ok, I understand that there's lots of old men yearning for the days they still had hairs and teeth, but I fail to get the usefulness of "analog" ISO, exposure AND exposure comp dials. What's the point of a top LCD for?
If your eye is on the VF you can see all the info you need and you've got twin dials to change stuff. A single button well placed for changing ISO is all that's left. So they have a tiny top LCD and jumongous dials for the sake of redundancy. And no video... cause this is a camera for "real" artsies!
C'mon! Even the oldest fart just might want to take a video of his grand grandchildren demolishing his gear or something. Oh well.

4 upvotes
Hadarmil
By Hadarmil (5 months ago)

Oh, just forgot, no focus peaking or twin focus. Beautiful piece of bad design choices though.

5 upvotes
Higuel
By Higuel (5 months ago)

AND you cannot realy focus the old brigth fixed lenses!!!

0 upvotes
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (5 months ago)

Hadarmil:

I you need a explanation for shutter/ISO dials, look at either the Canon G16 or the Leica M (Type 240).

1 upvote
Plastek
By Plastek (5 months ago)

Jesus Christ. People whining about control dials and top LCD!

Not longer than 3 years ago you'd be laughed for writing something as stupid as that. And now you only see support. Sad times. ppl go down the drain.

3 upvotes
leebloggs
By leebloggs (5 months ago)

Oh..! Seem to have given the game to Sony, right? Not quite! The Sony lacks lenses. So Nikon gave the game away to Olympus? I think so - the EM-5, at that! The EM-5 is modular, has all the quality a hand-held need produce, has all the lenses you need.... I would've sold up for the EM-1, but there is no point. I would've sold out to the Sony A7, but it's too soon. I would have loved to sell out to the Nikon, but that's not possible. If the product is right, then I'll take it and sort the price as required (worth any misery). But right now the winner is the Oly EM-5. Really - it is, unless you're shooting sport / in the studio / cropping heavily, or have to spend ages in post.

1 upvote
what_i_saw
By what_i_saw (5 months ago)

A desperate me too attempt. Nikon trying to protect it's turf and in process losing on both ends.

3 upvotes
HarryLally
By HarryLally (5 months ago)

Wrong caption for image 8 - should be f/1.8G. Otherwise, good 'hands on' article. Much better than the overly-colloquial 'first impressions' piece.

0 upvotes
jondh
By jondh (5 months ago)

Nikon this is pre production, please redesign the camera!

6 upvotes
Artmonkey
By Artmonkey (5 months ago)

I very much agree with Andy on this one. I was so very excited by all the teasers about the Df but it's the case of so close yet so far for me. What I was hoping for was:
● Real Split-D manual focusing
● 'Auto' settings on shutter and ISO dials
● A return to manual aperture rings
● 'Auto' on aperture ring so we can get rid of the PASM dial (Fuji X100)
● No horrible locking mechanisms on the dials

I could take or leave the following
● A body that wasn't quite so fat
● A price that wasn't so mental
● Video should still be here, I see little reason for it's demise
● Hybrid viewfinder would be amazing (Fuji X100), I'd pay more for that

Damn it, I'm going to design my own camera, I've had enough of this...

7 upvotes
RadPhoto
By RadPhoto (5 months ago)

You just described Fuiji's. If you actually want to buy a camera why don't you just get one instead of complaining?

1 upvote
Artmonkey
By Artmonkey (5 months ago)

I don't understand your argument there. I always want new cameras and love retro dials and designs, but they have to be ergonomic and this fails on many fronts.

Perhaps my points describe Fuji designs so well because they are so good at designing retro cameras. I've owned many Nikon DSLRs over the last decade and I don't hate the new designs, but I do think this Df could have been much better (more mechanically than aesthetically). I also own the Fuji X100 and that is part of what makes this new Nikon so much of a let down.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
1 upvote
itsastickup
By itsastickup (5 months ago)

I'm all for dials, but the lack of an aperture ring on the 'kit' lens is just wrong. They should supply it with the earlier 50mm.

9 upvotes
itsastickup
By itsastickup (5 months ago)

70's? I think it looks mid eighties. The silver one reminds me of their cheap plastic film cameras.

3 upvotes
James Booba
By James Booba (5 months ago)

Hm maybe another 5 years then Nikon will follow Minolta.

0 upvotes
Just a Photographer
By Just a Photographer (5 months ago)

Don't think its going to be bought by Sony.
Though Sony might exit the market in 5 years time....

1 upvote
Hadarmil
By Hadarmil (5 months ago)

Sony actually does pretty well with the Nex line, though they do price and design lenses pretty awkward. Shame they didn't rush to make and price proper lenses before coming out with great new cameras, but I doubt they'll be going down.

0 upvotes
royston42
By royston42 (5 months ago)

Why is this not manual focus? And smaller?

1 upvote
David Rosser
By David Rosser (5 months ago)

What on earth induced Nikon UK to only sell this camera with a kit lens? Surely the target market for the camera already have standard 50mm lenses in their armoury (I have two 50mm f/1.4 of different vintage and certainly don't want another 50mm).
I thought this camera might be a D700 replacement but.....

Comment edited 41 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
Nukunukoo
By Nukunukoo (5 months ago)

Now we know where they placed those unused D600 shutter and focusing components. Also "Made in Japan" apparently costs an extra $850.

Comment edited 6 minutes after posting
6 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (5 months ago)

and it should be cheaper to have a new low resolution sensor than cleaning the dust-oiled one.

0 upvotes
Just a Photographer
By Just a Photographer (5 months ago)

Though I am sure you wetted your pants first Nukunukoo.... ;)

1 upvote
ir Bob
By ir Bob (5 months ago)

I'd say it's a nice camera, but no focus aids on a camera that accepts all old manual focus lenses really is a big omission. I hope it accepts the focusing-screens of the F3.

4 upvotes
Higuel
By Higuel (5 months ago)

it does NOT!

1 upvote
ironcam
By ironcam (5 months ago)

I totally dig retro camera's, but the Nikon looks too frankensteinish to me. Especially the silver version. Compare it to something like a classic Olympus OM film camera. The Olympus has a much cleaner look.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
5 upvotes
techPro
By techPro (5 months ago)

Big bulky and too expensive better to get the EM1 or G7.

7 upvotes
Tom_A
By Tom_A (5 months ago)

Yes these are smaller, in all other aspects the df obliterates them. This high quality full frame sensor allows for images that are impossible with your non-competitors...

1 upvote
Stu 5
By Stu 5 (5 months ago)

Tom_A no not in all other ways. It is not as well made as the E-M1. Manual focus is not as easy. Single point AF is slower. Handling speed for those that need it is slower.

1 upvote
Mike99999
By Mike99999 (5 months ago)

@Tom_A, the df obliterates nothing about the EM1.

The EM1 destroys the DF in autofocus speed and accuracy. I know this because my current Nikon DSLR has the same crippled AF unit. Once you try the Olympus AF, you know it nails every shot, and you feel crippled when you get back to your Nikon DSLR. What good is full frame if half your shots are out of focus? What are they thinking putting an APS-C AF unit in a full frame camera anyway?

The EM1 destroys the DF in stabilization on fast primes. Sure you can get VR on zoom lenses, but not on the f/1.4 and f/1.8 primes.

That and the Olympus lenses are generally better than the Nikon ones. It's a matter of taste of course, but that 50mm f/1.8G is rubbish.

6 upvotes
Artmonkey
By Artmonkey (5 months ago)

"What are they thinking putting an APS-C AF unit in a full frame camera" - Because there is no such thing as a full frame AF unit. That's why all the focus points are in the middle. Although I agree that this AF unit is utter trash. I've been playing with the D600 for a while now and it cannot focus in low light. I'm shocked at just how bad it is!

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (5 months ago)

Mike9999:

Just how do you know the AF in this Df is so bad? Have you used this body?

1 upvote
Tom_A
By Tom_A (5 months ago)

Let us see a real test before assuming how the focus will be be. It is however a much more realistic assumption that the big and sensitive sensor will allow to make pictures that are simply impossible on those small sensor cameras. Not to mention having much better bokeh for a given viewing angle.

0 upvotes
codeNsnap
By codeNsnap (5 months ago)

What a bummer ! Another 39 AF point FF...I was hopeful of a 51 point AF looking at the AF-ON button in those teaser videos..

Hipster camera..610 is cheaper with video

I think I should give up hope on a Nikon FF that does 6fps with 51 AF system that costs $3000 or lower..I already gave up hope on the D400

11 upvotes
dickyb0y
By dickyb0y (5 months ago)

Was expecting the camera to be at least 24 megapixel or higher especially for the steep price.

1 upvote
dannyboy5400
By dannyboy5400 (5 months ago)

I hope Nikon comes out with some faux retro lenses that are overpriced as well.

8 upvotes
CFynn
By CFynn (5 months ago)

They should have made some lenses along the lines of Pentax's limited primes to go with this.

0 upvotes
T3
By T3 (5 months ago)

It would have been funny if they had designed the battery to look like a 35mm film cartridge. That would have been epic.

4 upvotes
sharkcookie
By sharkcookie (5 months ago)

Sony does that already.

0 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (5 months ago)

Stay tuned. Older lenses won't be that convenient and newer lenses are too big, so.....

0 upvotes
yabokkie
By yabokkie (5 months ago)

5.5 fps

does it mean D600's shutter?

0 upvotes
noirdesir
By noirdesir (5 months ago)

And/or D600 mirror mechanism (apart from the sensor read out electronics which for a D4 sensor aren't limiting here, shutter and mirror movement are what limits frame rates).

1 upvote
Paul Farace
By Paul Farace (5 months ago)

I went soft after looking at these pictures... Nikon you led me on! Samfan said it looks gorgeous... well to me the chrome version looks like a fat FM is wearing a silver beanie cap!

3 upvotes
ray07
By ray07 (5 months ago)

I prefer Sony A7,E mount many lens can using....Leica M is my lover..

6 upvotes
samfan
By samfan (5 months ago)

Well I have to admit it does look gorgeous.

That said, Nikon still completely missed the point of why would people want an old-fashioned camera. For crying out loud, it comes with a G lens!! Seriously, no aperture ring? And what about that plastic back?

And the price, well, that settles the whole thing.

It's another camera for rich hipsters, sorry to say.

17 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (5 months ago)

Jeez... Just go on eBay and buy yourself whatever you want. Someone forbid you from using old lenses that you whine so much, or what?

4 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (5 months ago)

I disagree about the price which frankly should have been higher, c.$5000. Limited edition, too. That's a drop in the bucket for attorneys, doctors, dentists, stock brokers and believe me, there are a lot more of them then there are serious photo hobbyists. And these guys and gals won't split hairs over locking knobs and focusing screens. Who do you think buys Porsches, $15,000 re-issue Les Pauls and African photo safaris? Follow the money.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
SAERIN
By SAERIN (5 months ago)

I still have my SP 1,F-1, F-4 and F-5 film cameras.

I'm dating myself.

All of them are still above par to all my digital cameras which I purchased. With the exception of Ricoh GRV.

They have a life spam of 5 -6 life years and, the repair cost is grossly costly. Have a Leica digital
camera. How must will it cost you for a repair.

1 upvote
nathantw
By nathantw (5 months ago)

WTF, no XQD card? And SD instead of CF? What the heck?

1 upvote
CFynn
By CFynn (5 months ago)

CF would have been too big

2 upvotes
pdelux
By pdelux (5 months ago)

CF too big? look at he Size of this camera!

2 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (5 months ago)

Yea. CF too big because of the camera size.

1 upvote
Raist3d
By Raist3d (5 months ago)

This looks very promising. Need to check all the controls and the workflow.

3 upvotes
spidermoon
By spidermoon (5 months ago)

but where is the aperture ring on the lense ? This camera is mainly for people with lot of old manual Nikon lenses.

1 upvote
kevin_r
By kevin_r (5 months ago)

"The vertically-mounted front dial controls the aperture when shooting with Nikon's G-type lenses that don't have aperture rings."

4 upvotes
CFynn
By CFynn (5 months ago)

I'd like to see a shot of the focusing screen

0 upvotes
kevin_r
By kevin_r (5 months ago)

Yes, does it cater for manual focusing? That's the issue.

0 upvotes
Andy Westlake
By Andy Westlake (5 months ago)

The focus screen is much like any other Nikon SLR. There's no manual focus aid, but you can turn AF point illumination off when using MF lenses.

1 upvote
dannyboy5400
By dannyboy5400 (5 months ago)

Less features for more money? Nikon deserves to make money off any fool willing to buy this.

15 upvotes
AlpCns2
By AlpCns2 (5 months ago)

Well this fool would like one. More money for more build quality. I like it and don't mind paying a bit more for a quality constructed instrument.

9 upvotes
CFynn
By CFynn (5 months ago)

Build quality does not look like full metal like D800 - only top bottom and frame - like D610, D7100 etc.

0 upvotes
pdelux
By pdelux (5 months ago)

"a fool and his money are soon parted"

4 upvotes
Mike99999
By Mike99999 (5 months ago)

Quality instrument like the broken D600?

Plastic dials and the AF unit from an APS-C camera. Enjoy your 'quality instrument' my friend....

3 upvotes
AbrasiveReducer
By AbrasiveReducer (5 months ago)

It just looks different. They are all quality instruments, whatever that means.

0 upvotes
lacix
By lacix (5 months ago)

....and its not even April 01!

8 upvotes
ealvarez
By ealvarez (5 months ago)

want want want now now now

5 upvotes
boudro_
By boudro_ (5 months ago)

If they were really clever, they would have made it possible to mount Canon FD too.

0 upvotes
Camediadude
By Camediadude (5 months ago)

Wow Nikon!! Taking it back to the basics, DROOL DROOL DROOL DROOL ...

8 upvotes
AlanG
By AlanG (5 months ago)

You are joking right? Back to the basics of two shutter speed dials? And look at all of the buttons and dials on that thing.

Comment edited 4 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
T3
By T3 (5 months ago)

I think he's probably drooling for other reason. As in, he's always drooling.

0 upvotes
Camediadude
By Camediadude (5 months ago)

Not joking, I like it!

And, I seriously don't understand all of the rabid, knee-jerk herd-mentality comments of irrational hatred here, nor do I see a need for so much condescending and arrogant rudeness. What did I do to you?

Nikon, please ignore this tiny, bitter and self-loathing minority of very vocal naysayers here. I wish your company success, and verily I hope to have such good fortunes ahead that will allow me to purchase my first (hopefully top-of-the-range) Nikon someday.

Cheers to all my fellow quality design and engineering lovers!

8 upvotes
palerma
By palerma (5 months ago)

Why do people on the internet get so over excited and say things to people they would never say in person ?

It's a camera - if you don't like it don't buy it - simple.

3 upvotes
Total comments: 230
12