The Nikon Df. An expensive toy?


I have to admit, I was following for the last few weeks with eager anticipation for Nikon’s new “retro” cool camera.  We knew it was going to be FX (full frame) from the teaser videos.  We got small glimpses of it and the whole buzz centered around this great idea.  It worked well for Fuji.  This is Nikon and they made some very nice film bodies.  The Df seems to be built around the FM frame, with a touch of earlier and later models.

The good news?  It looks very cool.  I mean, this is something I want to walk around Boston with.  I would look less like a tourist and more like  a man that travels the world in style.  It has mojo.  Ok, but what about the specs?

It has a D4 sensor.  That is good.  Well, part of the reason why wedding ‘togs flock to the D3/D4 is the build, the speed, the buffer, the Autofocus, etc.  This has the D4 sensor, but I almost feel like they took a Ferrari and put a 90 year-old person in the driver’s seat.  The sensor is only part of the equation.  Sure, we can shoot at ISO 102,000 with it.  Do I really want to?  No.  I have over 24 megapixels in my backup D600 with 2 card slots and 1080p video…at 1/2 the price.

Nikon calls this “Pure Photography.”  By removing video?  This is supposed to make it pure?  If we go with that logic then why is Nikon promoting the WiFi capabilities?  Hmmm.  I don’t see the purity in taking a retro camera and remote firing the shutter with my iPad.  Seems a little silly.

What we have is a really nice expensive toy.  I assume it will quickly become popular with the baby boomers that long for the days of setting everything manually while hoping the light meter was working properly.  There is a reason why the D4 exists today, it’s called progress!  Setting a camera manually and using a light meter was really slow and painful at times.  Today, we can let the camera do most of the heavy lifting so we can spend more time creating.

I do get it.  I understand what Nikon is doing.  I give them credit for trying.  However, where this camera fails is price.  This is not a Leica.  Nikons are working man’s cameras.  Their optics are fantastic.  But, this is not a digital version of a classic Leica M body.  If you really want “retro cool,” then sell your house and buy a Leica M9 with 50mm f/2.  The Nikon Df is essentially a retro-bodied D610 with a D4 sensor, minus the video, less megapixels, with one card slot, and $1000 more expensive. (or $1500 more expensive than a refurbished D600)  I don’t really think it will stay at $2996 for too long.  The niche market will fill the pre-orders, but then you will probably see the price drop to where it should be.  This is a $2000 camera.

It should be interesting to see how this does in the market.  I would never use it to shoot a wedding.  Too small and only one card slot.  The 39pt AF does not bother me because the D600 keeps up with my D3.  Not sure about the Df’s buffer.  I don’t see the average consumer plunking down $2996 for a Df to learn.  They will buy a D3200.  Studio professionals will buy the D800, which is only $50 more.  That just leaves rich folks who are  passionate about photography.  The only problem is, they will buy the new Leica M.  Let’s just hope Nikon has a lot of wealthy consumers that miss their old FM body.

In the end, I do think this is a beautiful Nikon.  I do love Nikon cameras and would really enjoy this camera for what it is.  It has mostly D600 guts with a D4 sensor.  That makes for a great camera.  But, does it make a great $3000 camera?  I don’t think so.

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