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The Nikon Df uses Nikon's F-mount, which was first introduced in the late 1950s. Uniquely among Nikon's DSLRs, the Df can be used with practically any F-mount Nikkor lens, even optics which predate the Ai (automatic indexing) standard.
For a camera aimed so squarely at lovers of 'traditional' photography, it is a shame though that the Df's focusing screen is fixed and cannot be replaced by a split prism for manual focusing.
Here's how the Df maintains compatibility with pre-Ai lenses - its Ai tab (indicated here) can be flipped backwards, out of the way of the lens mount, preventing older pre-Ai lenses from jamming.
The Nikon Df is built around a 16MP full-frame CMOS sensor. The sensor and imaging pipeline are borrowed from Nikon's flagship D4 professional DSLR.
|As we'd expect from a high-end Nikon body the Df features a high quality pentaprism viewfinder with 100% coverage. Here's the actual prism itself.|
|A usefully 'retro' touch is the Df's compatibility with screw-thread cable releases. A release like this can be picked up for small change from camera stores and online auctions.|
|Nikon claims that the Df is weather-sealed to the same extent as the D800 and D800E. Here, the camera's body seams are indicated in yellow on the front...|
|...and on the rear.|
|Here you can see the fairly standard front control points. The front command dial is placed vertically on the front plate, and while it's styled differently, it's functionally identical to the conventional front dials on other Nikon DSLRs.
Below it are two customizable buttons: 'Pv' (which by default activates depth-of-field preview) and 'Fn'.
|The Df's autofocus switch operates in the same way as on other recent Nikon DSLRs. You can use the switch to change between automatic and manual focus, and the button at its hub allows you to switch between single and continuous focus, as well as setting AF area mode.|
|This image shows the black version of the Df, focusing on the exposure compensation and ISO sensitivity dials. Both are individually lockable - the exposure compensation dial is unlocked by depressing the silver button at its hub, and the similar button at the far left rear corner of the top plate unlocks the ISO dial. As such, both are rather awkward to operate with your eye to the finder.|
|Back to the silver version of the Df again, looking at its right-hand controls. Shutter speed is set using a dedicated dial (or the rear command dial if you have it set to '1/3 STEP' as shown here), and drive mode is set using a switch around its outside edge. To the right of this is the combined on/off shutter button, a 'lift and rotate' exposure mode dial, and LCD with illumination button.|
|On the rear of the Df you'll find a fairly standard set of buttons, including one for live view. Please note though that although the Df offers live view in multiple aspect ratios, including 16:9, it cannot record video.|
|The Df's rear 4-way controller serves to adjust the active AF point and navigate the camera's menu system. A 3-way switch above it is where you can select metering mode - center-weighted, pattern, or spot.|
|The Df's I/O ports are housed on the left side of the body (with the lens pointed away from you) underneath a hinged rubber door. From top to bottom, they are micro-USB, mini-HDMI, and remote release connector.
The Df is compatible with Nikon's GP1A GPS adapter and WR-T10/WR-R10 wireless remote receiver and trigger, as well as the WR-1 wireless remote controller and Speedlight flashguns.
|The Df is powered by the relatively small EN-EL14a battery, which despite its modest 8.9Wh capacity, should be enough for ~1400 exposures, according to Nikon.
Note: the lack of flash helps the Df score well in CIPA standard testing, since any flash has to be fired every alternate shot.
The simpler battery is presumably also the reason the Df doesn't offer any info on battery life (as other high-end Nikons do).
|Even the battery/card door is self-consciously 'retro' - the lock on the bottom of the Df is extremely similar to that of the Nikon F and F2 film cameras.
In use, we've found it's somewhat prone to falling off (odd, since there's no battery grip available to justify the need to remove it).
We're also disappointed to see the SD card share the battery compartment in such an expensive camera.