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Tuesday, 05 November 2013


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Unfortunately the Df is really just pointless. A camera that remains too big, too useless to manual focus with (no interchangeable focusing screens so green dot or bust if your eyesight isn't what it was) and way too expensive. I just dumped my large Nikon outfit - D800E, D600 and a whole load of lenses - to move to the Sony A7r which is small enough to actiually use with some pleasure. The introduction of the Df has not even slightly made me rue that sweeping decision. Although it does look quite cool I must say.

At least other retro cameras like the X100 or X-Pro1 actually brought some interesting innovations like the hybrid finder, but this actually does nothing at all. Extremely disappointing in my view.

Your visual comparison between this camera and an Excalibur seems very apt. Yikes. I've never owned a Nikon camera of any type so no nostalgic gravity field draws me to this thing.

Well, I guess we now know what "DF" means: Dial Frenzy! Anyone who can actually deftly operate this thing can be confident of two characteristics: (1) Their arthritis is well controlled, and (2) their memory ain't bad, either.

Did I already say Yikes!?

Ah, that's what digital slide rule would look like then! (:-)

If my memory serves me well, by the end of 2006, after I bought D70s, I wrote Nikon Japan to ask them to make digital version of FM2/FM3A and call it FM3D or FM4D. They answered that their road plan is to make brand new camera with brand new concept, not revisiting old, or already produced, cameras.
well, I think this Df is--by borrowing some words from Buzz Lightyear--falling with style ... for a revisit.

The Df is NOT an FM2 retro!
Can't someone just design a simple, no frills, useable "tool" that doesn't look like or feel like a computer with a lens?
Evidently, Leica can.
Evidently, Nikon and Canon cannot.
Wurra, wurra, wurra.

It will be fascinating to see what effect this has. It may sink without trace or it may prove to be highly influential. Depends, as always, on how it sells.

I think they chickened out and let marketing have too much of a say (PASM dial on top! Why?).

Excalibur! You nailed it.

PERFECT parallel with the Excalibur. I predict this Nikon will appeal to no one.

To me the camera looks quite ugly. However, normal shutter speed dial with normal (i.e. old-fashion) engravings on it is a big deal. :)

I’m thinking that with some more effort, like brass control wheels and a few brass accents here and there they could totally capture the Steampunk market demographic.

No video is enough to make me vote for this camera! Finally a digital STILL camera! Can't ever remember owning one since my Sony Mavica Floppydisk camera :)

Hmmm... curious - that detail shot says "Made in Japan" under the dials. Is Cosina assembling these? ;)

BTW, Go Bears!

I was surprised how ugly the camera is: the prism looks like an enormous hump with faux-leather on the sides, the dials are high and many looking like a diorama on top of the camera and the miniature grip for the right hand looks ridiculous. Where's style as it was in the Nikon F3, Canon F1 or Olympus OM?

I'm also sceptical about usability. Auto-ISO works pretty nicely on Nikons and a separate dial for ISO looks cluttered and it's not possible
to change the step size. A mode has existed since the 70's, so another dial for the shutter speed is a bit unnecessary too. And what's with the lock for exp comp? It's there to be used, not locked. OTOH, there doesn't appear to be any aperture ring on the lens, which is decidedly un-retro in my mind. As for the software, according to DPreview they removed video, but kept retouch options, which sounds weird.

But there are good things too: a mechanical cable release works, pre-AI lenses are supported and there are encouraging reports of the viewfinder being suited for manual focus.

The Df is exactly the kind of retro Nikon I expected.
Alas, it is also precisely the kind of retro Nikon I dreaded.
All styling, no design, if industrial design is understood in the Jobsian sense:

Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.

On film, I still enjoy some of the old tools: FM2, F3, FM3A.
They make sense, when and where. The Df, to me, does not.
Ask this: what problem does the Df solve, and what problem does it create or exacerbate?
To paraphrase Edsger Dijkstra, the Df belongs more to the problem set than to the solution set.

Leica retains its crown as the only camera company that actually gets the concept of Jobsian simplicity.
Another favourite of Mike's dicta to add to my collection.

In my hands again? I don't think a camera with more dials/buttons/switches/LCDs has ever existed.

Well, there is going to be a lot of whinge out there in the world on this. And before starting my own whinge-fest let me say that I have come to terms with the fact that the camera I want probably doesn't have much of a constituency in the real world. But because it is fun to put in one's 2 cents (pile on?) here's what I would like to see instead of what we actually got in the Df:

The overall concept for the Nikon I want starts with a hard look at the M9. Picture it in your mind's eye. OK?

What we are looking at in this mind's-eye picture is a mirrorless camera with a small number of buttons/controls. So: top plate 1) shutter speed, ISO dial, exposure comp. & nothing else; front: DOF lever, lens release (no need for a mirror lock up b/c . . . wait for it . . . the camera is mirrorless); back: no screen. What? (yeah, put extra $$ into designing the digital VF -- all viewing and settings accessed through the VF). Put a minimum of 4 buttons on the back and maybe a command dial on the right side of the back for scrolling through/magnifying pix). No AF. Just use MF focus lenses or the MF ring on your AF lenses. SD card, and a nice big battery (say: D3 size, or 4 AA's) and you're done. FF sensor, of course. The left side of the camera can have USB, other ports under a door. The bottom has a the battery/SD compartment. Why AA's? Proprietary batteries guarantee a 10-year life to all current digital designs. Because in my view we are "there" in terms of image quality, it is time to stop the revolving door of new annual models. Hey, I'm a Leica guy: I will gladly part with a shocking amount of samolians if I only have to do it once every 20 years.

Award design engineers a $100K bonus for every button eliminated from the interface. Additional bonus for every hour of battery life over 12 and robust through-put. Every other function goes into software, but two of the four buttons on the back are user-configurable.

Blink . . .blink . . . oh, where am I? Dream over.

Maybe another way to get there would be a RED-style modular system that would allow you to put together the camera you wanted. Yeah, no market for that either.

I am still waiting for a good reason to upgrade from a D3 and M9 w/Fuji XP-1 as back up. Oly EM-D-5-whatever came close. The current Sony alpha 7 comes close. Still waiting though.

[Afterthought: I do wonder whether this camera is a little like the U.S. Postal Service's recent re-issue of the Inverted Jenny stamp: a shout-out to tyros but a fundamental misunderstanding of what the tyros actually want (or an inability to give it to them, even if you do understand it). Most of us who are all geared up already have the camera we want. I think the disappointment comes from not feeling for the promised product what we thought we would --sort of an emotional head-fake mapped to techno-wizardry. I remember the first time I saw my new 6x6 negative printed at 11x14 -- it was like the first time I saw Star Wars, a that's-what-I'm-talking-about surge of hormones and sense of triumph. Retro of this type flirts with us by promising this reaction. . .but of course the sequel is never the same thing.]

[Sits back to watch the fur fly...]

By the 1970s Excaliburs were pretty bad, and they got worse. But the car pictured, a Zimmer I think, is way worse.
Brooks Stevens is gonna come and haunt your web-site unless....
And heck, Brooks and the Excalibur were from your neck of the woods.

Well, one interesting design choice I'm glad to see is that this may point to the end of the aerodynamically-profiled camera. Granted, those smooth angular curves may help reduce strain on the hands, but in the end they look distinctively UN-designed. Isn't one of the pleasures of classic cameras the ecstasy of angular, pointy, and knurled controls that grind your fingers with pleasurable pain into hardened callosities?

A little bit like most middle-class cars nowadays. Everything is a bit smoothed out, as if they took a properly designed car and sanded out all the bits that could get in the way. The result is an utter absence of design decisions, only compromises. You need to go into the luxury, and super-luxury market to find some instances of cars with true lines.

I've stuck with Apple as soon as I could afford them (meaning: when their prices started to go down!) because I have always preferred their insistence on design decisions rather than on features and compromises. Windows has always felt like an 80s boom box instead.

I think it looks fat too. Kinda too deep for its width or something. Like a cartoon version of an old Nikon. As a Nikon user I'm disappointed, and especially with the price point. Correctly priced (more xpro1 range), I would probably be interested - if only to get that D4 sensor in a smaller cheaper body

I want my Nikkormat FTn in digital, I want my Nikon 35Ti in digital. But I think those days are really, really over. And yet: Leica...

I think they have made a sigma style pricing error on this camera. Its about $1500 over priced. However they could be trying to counter the problems they had with actually delivering the D800 when it came out and you could see the price go down once shelves become stocked. Based on specs alone I see no reason to get this camera at all. If all you have is nikon glass then that will fit on the Sony A7 as well, a camera I am sure will be the main comparison to the Df. Some people may purchase on style alone but I would warn perspective buyers that I think the price will drop and there may be a quick update to the hardware.

The thing strikes me as a DSLR in size, shape, and features, that happens to be fitted into a body with squared off shoulders and some metal bits that feel a little retro.

What's interesting, though, is that price-wise there doesn't seem to be much of a premium for "retro" here. If this was just a cash grab, they'd have jammed a Nikon 1 into an FM styled body and sold it for this same price. This thing is actually a legit semi-pro body, with a feature set that's pretty much in line with the price.

There's a few misfeatures that suggest a little too much committee work too, but for all I know this might be a test of Nikon's new DSLR styling.

It seems that your Excalibur is to this

as the Df is to the FM2/FE2. If you want a retro camera use a FM2 and if you want a retro car buy one designed in the 1930's.

At $3000 including the 50 f1.8 I cannot see too many takers.

All the buzz-vapor-hype about the word 'hybrid' Rorschached me into thinking that maybe Nikon had combined an optical finder and an electronic finder to be viewed through the same hole. If so, then Nikon would have finally fixed the one thing that all OVF (D)SLRs fail at: very low light viewing and focusing.
That would have been progress!
Oh well.

I thought this would be the camera that could replace my D700. It's not. Sigh...

I used my Nikon FM for more than 25 years before replacing it with the D700. Guess I can use the D700 for at least a few more years!

Besides, the Df appears too thick for my FM case (Nikon CF-28).


OK, I just don't get this retro thing -- and I'm pushing 70 and still know how to run a Speed Graphic.

I'll resist the urge to rant at length, but I will ask who the hell wants to take the camera down from their eye and move their left hand to the top of the camera to change exposure compensation?

It seems the camera makers are chasing what a friend calls "the 85 to death demographic" -- chasing a market that will soon literally die off -- when they should be looking to the future and trying to figure out what will attract the late teen and early twenties crowd into the serious camera market.

I rant mostly because I have only a few good years left and I'd like to have a really sweet camera that takes full advantage of digital capabilities while I can still walk around and carry it. Articulated screen, wireless connection, EVF and full-time live view, a grip and shutter release shaped to the human hand, touch screen and even (horrors) video. Yeah, I want all that stuff. And I like being able to run the whole camera with the thumb and index finger of my right hand.

Right now I'm stuck between Sony and Panasonic. Both have cameras I like though neither has everything I want in one package. From their latest offerings I'm not sure what they are thinking, but at least there is some hope.

I like how you and Thom come to opposite conclusions about who this camera will appeal to. But it's too expensive for me, so I'll go back to jonesing for a D6X0.

From a Canadian view:

DF: $3099.95
800: $3149.95
610: $2099.95

So is any photographic device worth that kind of money? Personally the Peter Turnley print offering is far more valuable long term IMO and a portion of the print sale returns to keep
The Online Photographer alive and well.

My first Nikon was a Nikkormat FT2 that I purchased new a very long time ago. I've owned several Nikons since then with a couple of F3's being my stop at the top of the line. I currently own a D600.

With this camera Nikon took the old advice "simplify, simplify, simplify" and tossed it out the window. It's a DSLR with MORE buttons, knobs, and dials that exist to duplicate functions found elsewhere on the camera. All in the name of retro. Shame about the photography aspect...

Fuji got it right. Nikon did not.

Mike, you really should warn people before you display a photo of an Excalibur immediately after a photo of the Nikon Df. The Df upset my stomach. The Excalibur triggered my gag reflex. Lucky for me I hadn't eaten lunch yet or I would have lost it.

Not sure I agree with the sentiment that Leica is the only company that gets Jobsian simplicity. I think the Fuji X-Pro1, X100/100S and XE-1 cameras get it, too. Perhaps not quite as ascetic as the Jony Ive designed Leica M, but Jobsian to the extent that using their "hands-on" and "retro" interface is fast and fluid. And, at the end of the day, with respect to getting the image, that's all the really matters. Even my Olympus OM-1 is not as Jobsian as some might remember; but it was a helluva good camera.

Yeah, but it's got those really sweet eyelets to attach a neck strap to.

I've been a Nikon user since the '70s, and still have both my FM2s, which l love. But the Df spec sheet leaves me cold. If I had the money to spend, it would go for a D800e, not a less capable, not really small, camera at an exorbitant price.
And the lens they announced with it, isn't not only not 'retro', it another *&^% 'G' lens which doesn't even have an aperture ring, making it a pain in the butt for use with extension rings or bellows in macro use. Bad day, Nikon.

I get retro… I like retro. But you have to choose the right classic to copy. The FM/FA bodies were what you got when you couldn't afford Nikon's big guns, the F series. Yes, they had faster shutters, which was a real benefit working with flash, but their tiny viewfinders were like a security-door peephole compared to the picture-window VF of an HP. Which brings me to the camera should have had in mind when they designed the DF-- the F3. As drawn by Ital Design, the F3 was as elegant a camera as Nikon made since the original F. No, make that "as elegant as any camera by anyone, ever."

A certain recently-released FF Sony does remind me of the F3's minimalist clarity, ironically. To bad I loathe EVFs!

So now we can choose between a digital FM that isn't cheap, and a digital OM that lacks the original's unique combination of compactness (tiny lenses and full (film) frame) and unique controls (all exposure settings done with the left hand). That's not quite the retro-future I was hoping for.

While I have no insight other than what I read online it seems to me that this camera is aimed squarely at boomers. DSLRs, as a category, appear to be declining in market share, globally. Additionally given the price point, compared to other Nikon offerings and their competitors, the Df will generate nice gross margins and profits for Nikon.

I'm not 'anti' this camera in any way. Matter of fact on first announcement I gently kicked myself for buying a D600 back in July when the cashback offer was on. As it turns out there's simply not enough difference in the DF to make me regret my choice. But, each to his or her own.
For everyday scenic shooting, where nothing moves too fast, I have my camera set to aperture priority. I select aperture with the front command dial. With easy ISO enabled in the menu I can adjust ISO via the rear command dial until I arrive at my preferred shutter speed. All this with my eye to the finder and without having to alter my left hand grip to set ISO on the top plate dial. My question is this: What is the practical advantage of the ISO dial, or is this just a trip down memory lane for some photographers? Or have I missed the point entirely? It wouldn't be the first time!

This thing is Nikon's response to the "Hasselblad" Loony and its siblings. The inclusion of a preposterous semi-retro (no aperture ring) 50/1.8 shows very clearly the thinking behind this camera. Essentially it's jewellery although of course given that it includes a D4 sensor it'll undoubtedly output usable pix in the hands of anyone who knows how to use any camera - assuming that it's pointed somewhere worthwhile. I expect that the nouveau-riche of China and Russia - weren't far from the minds of the design team.

I feel a little confused about this camera. I'm not interested in a "retro looking" camera. That is just a definition, a marketing definition. But I'm interested in a camera which can be used with my old nikon lenses (AIS+AFD), maybe one of that Zeiss in Nikon F mount, and without the need to wear my reading glasses to set iso, aperture, speed and focus. Possibly not too large and heavy. Will the DF be it? Not sure, before a decision I want to have one in my hands...
PS: we are all different, we all have different desires, we all...

I think it looks like an FM2 that got too many lashings with the ugly stick, but that aside, I think the abundance of dials is a good thing. For too long people have been asking for more tactile controls and I think it odd that many of the same folks are now complaining that there are too many. I, for one, would love to have an ISO dial on my Fuji cameras.

But the price is too high, especially for the hardware inside. I can't see it making any sense.

But the worst thing about the camera is that the focusing screen isn't user replaceable. All this hubub about supporting pre-Ai lenses, all these attempts to appeal to owners of decades-old Nikon glass, and they don't even let you put in a screen that's better suited to manual focus? Huge, epic fail.

The crime is that this camera appears to be 90% exactly what it should have been, but that last 10% is a doozy.

I LOVE what Nikon did with the Df. After this, Fuji, Olympus and Sony don't have to worry about Nikon anymore ;-)

It just doesn't look right (a bit out of proportion, like Leica's interpretation of their film M), but more importantly for me, does it FEEL right? I'm dubious over having no aperture ring as a natural input dial, but I guess you have to hold one to really tell.

At the end of the day, it's a Nikon with a full frame sensor in 2013 -- it is gonna take good photos isn't it? :)


What's the point of using older lenses without any focus help? This frankencamera hasn't got a split prism and the focusing screen is fixed. Perhaps they must change the "pure photography" for "pure blurred photography".

Nikon has totally lost its way. They are imitating Fuji and trying to sell it like Leica, and are all wrong in both ends. But they actually made me a favour, I finally decided to save for the XE-2 and two or three primes.

I'm an old Nikon guy (I have D800 and a D3 right now) and I have very little nostalgia for cameras -- I've had Nikons since I left Pentax in the 70s, and frankly, Nikon's esthetic, if you want to call it that, has always been function before form. But as each new camera came along, I left the last one behind, because the newer models were more functional. IMHO, People who yearn for F3s and FAs must be remembering them through the haze of fond memory, because these were not good-looking cameras, even at the time. Call up a bird's-eye view (45 degrees down) of an FA or an F3, and you'll see what I mean -- the top plate is just as crowded as this one. But: everything was where it was supposed to be. They handled beautifully. My D800 is chunky, but also handles very well.
And I gotta say, I like those key controls right where you can see them -- the compensation and ISO, and on the other side, the shutter speed and the mode dial. This might partly be age on my part: I like analog control forms, which is why I still wear a watch, when I've got a cell phone in my pocket that gives much more accurate time -- I can glance at my watch and *remember* what I saw, while the cell phone just gives me a bunch of numbers and I don't get the *concept* of what time it is.

The fatness: the one thing I don't understand is why it's so fat. Panasonic has jammed most of the functionality of the Df into its GX7, which is just a little more than half the size of the Df. (The Panasonic weighs .875 pounds/402 grams; the Nikon 1.56 pounds/710g.) Some of that extra weight goes to the mirror housing, but most of it must go to the electronics, which Nikon hasn't figured out how to squeeze down as much as Panasonic or Sony. On the other hand, the Df weighs almost a half-pound (.42 pounds) less than a D800.

I don't know whether I'll get one or not; I really do like the d800's sensor, and if I want to cut weight, I've also got that GX7 with a 16mp sensor. But with everything said so far, I bet this camera really *feels* good in your hands.

+1 @ James Sinks reference the SONY A7!

Well, direct dials rather than menus is probably a good thing.

But somehow, as the user of simpler, smaller, bigger-file making Leica M-240, I am not impressed....

On my humble DSLR I’m able to set the aperture, shutter speed, ISO and EV-compensation without ever removing my eye from the viewfinder. Nikon wants me to sacrifice that for what? – a plethora of nicely designed, retro-looking dials? Dream on!

A little side note, fwiw: I believe the old joke reads, "A camel is a racehorse designed by committee."

That small difference really makes the joke for me -- camels can be used the same as horses in many ways, but you'd never bet on one in the Kentucky Derby :-).

[Hi Kobie, Oh yes, good. I'll make the change. Thanks. --Mike]

Well, as an "old timer" with a lot of vintage Nikon glass and current owner of the 732th Nikon F made in 1959, I truly admire the inspiration that came upon some (young perhaps) engineer at Nikon to figure out a way to mount pre-AI Nikkor glass on a new Nikon dSLR. Unfortunately, some not so inspired guy in the marketing department thinks I will pay a hefty premium for this pseudo trip down memory lane. No, but I sure do hope the pre-Ai glass feature gets ported to other new Nikon camera designs in the near future, or maybe I just have to wait for a hefty price drop on the Df.


If I were looking for an analog (yes probably a pun in there somewhere) in another electronic device, it would be the Jitterbug cell phone. This camera if for those photographers (older) who, for whatever reason, cannot get comfortable with the computer part of digital photography just as my parents will NEVER be fully comfortable using their cell phones. For them, the DF takes settings ordinarily controlled through the menu system and externalizes them by turning them into knobs.

If that helps some people enjoy digital photography more by giving them a UI that they can "get," fine. But this is a device targeted specifically at a particular demographic cohort. Nobody is going to stand in line to buy the latest Jitterbug phone. This will not move the ball for Nikon in the long term at all.

What's Nikon going to do, get the Fonz to promote it? Just goes to show how bankrupt Nikon designers and marketers are. They can't really advance the technology so they just rearrange parts from several already made cameras and put a new skin on it. What a pathetic attempt at squeezing every last dime out of the consumer market.

To my eye, it doesn't look like a committee design - more like "OK, guys: Team A does the front and top, and Team B does the back and sides. See you in two months !!"

My summer holiday pictures this year were shot with an FE, 50/1.4, and 28/3.5, and I didn't miss much...

Oh, on a side note, I bought myself a very, very nice looking D300 for ~350 USD at one of my local Nikon dealers :-)

I suppose there's a difference between what most people see as retro and what photographers who has used older cameras know from experience.

While I love the Fuji X-Pro-1's styling and handling, it's not as simple as my OM1. And while I appreciate what Olympus did with the OM-D, it's a modern camera in all the ways it handles. The Df looks similar - retro styling but modern function. It will appeal to those who want that but anyone who has used something like the older Nikons referred to (or, in my case, an OM1) will prefer the original. I've got enough photographic knowledge to get good results from an OM1 and would very much like an OM1 with a digital sensor inside it: I will be forever disappointed as no one is going to do that (and I can't afford an M9).

Earlier this year I sold my D2x/D3, the holy trinity lens set, and misc. Nikon accessories. I used the proceeds for a used Fuji x-Pro 1, x100s, and 3 lenses, and pocketed the change. I did keep a few of my Nikon prime lenses though, and this camera is in my future.

I will eagerly watch the used market, and once it drops below $1,000, I'm in. A D4 sensor, in a package that's half the size/weight of the D4. As an added bonus, I get to use ttl with all of my Nikon flashes that I kept as well.

"No video is enough to make me vote for this camera!"

I'm surprised how many times (3 or 4) I've seen a similar sentiment on the web, when video could just be ignored on most cameras that have it. It's not removed in order to lower the price or increase other specifications. It DOES make things a little bit simpler, but I'm surprised people care that much.

As one of my design tutors used to say: "If that is the solution what was the problem?"

Mmmh, this compared to what Sony and Fuji are doing makes Nikon look like Microsoft trying to make a tablet...

Does this have dials to do anything that requires menus on a D700? I can't find the example. It has dials for a couple of things that are button-plus-dial on the D700, but the ergonomics of button-plus dial work pretty darned well for me.

This has the D4 sensor. It's the closest to a D700 follow-on yet, but at a stratospheric price point.

I find I'm anxious to get out of the optical viewfinder business, and get into something mirrorless for my primary camera (among other things, I want to consolidate down to one system again). However, with the way I use the high ISO and the AF in my D700, none of the mirrorless models are there yet. Maybe the next generation M43 from Olympus, if I'm lucky.

As a professional tool -- I suspect it's unsaleable to working photojournalists because of the lack of video; from what I read that's a requirement in that profession now, except perhaps for old-school high-fliers.

How about just giving us the following on ALL cameras.

- An ISO dial that's easy to reach when you're looking through the viewfinder and doesn't require holding down a button at the same time, you know, like the other two exposure criteria.

- An exposure mode dial that doesn't require holding down a button at the same time.

BONUS: 4-5 buttons that we can customize to ANYTHING.

The sad thing is, they didn't even get the dials right. Like Fuji, they should have an "A for auto" position. They could even have added an aperture dial - or even a ring around the lens mount. This is not a well thought through product.

In any case, it's not for me. Sure, I had a little twinge of interest - I used to use a nice little Nikon FG, and a digital one would be nice, but I don't actually need this camera. Wake me up when the inevitable digital TLRs show up. I mean, somebody is going to make one.


I must be the only person on this planet that likes the look of this camera...or am I. I have been reading volumes of comments slating this camera all day. The general consensus is that it's an ugly piece of work, but then many people after condemning it end their comments with "if it was $2000 I would consider it" People are funny.The herd mentality of the internet is alive and well.

The DF is a D4 in a smaller and lighter size at half the cost. Of course it will find a market. But I wouldn't call any digital retro, a word that's thrown around far too much these days. After all, there are only so many ways to design a functional camera, and some designs are going to appear traditional. The only camera that can honestly be called retro is the Fuji GF670. Offering a folding film camera in 2013 -- that's RetroVintage!

Clumsy pastiche! It's like modern Bentleys — they're trying to hard to look like a Bentley. It's as if someone went through the books about the historic models and thought "now, what makes a Bentley/Mini/London Taxi a Bentley/Mini/London Tax?". Then they had to try to marry that with modern requirements, such as aerodynamics, space, air conditioning, crash protection, and ended up with a pig in lipstick.

Likewise, you can't shoehorn all the electronics required by digital SLRs into something as svelte as an FM2 and neither can you cram the vastly more complex human interface into something that had a lever, a button and a dial.

Still, people don't seem to look that deep and fall for it. I'm sure the Nikon gear fetishists will fall for it.

By all means, look to the past, but use it to influence a modern design.

For me, Fuji and Leica get the retro thing. Heck, I'd say even the Pentax K-3 is a more effective retro-styled camera than this.

No doubt this camera is capable of making a fine photograph. Skilled people will purchase a Df and do good work. They understand that it's what the camera looks at rather than what it looks like that counts. For those who don't get that and have 3K to burn, their ship has come in.

Give Nikon some credit. This will sell and, ultimately, that's what matters to them.

I'm stuck on a D90, playing around with an X100s and looking to upgrade my DSLR. So I was waiting for this with some anticipation. My first reaction is that this is 140g lighter than a D600, but £1000 more expensive. The weight matters, but the price matters more.

I confess having a bit of a struggle to understand the crtiticism about this camera. While I wouldn't call it 'beautiful', I find it very interesting. It's the kind of camera I'd buy in a heartbeat if I had enough money to start a photographic system anew. Some people just don't like DSLRs and want something more classy: Nikon is now selling them this camera and still they don't like it. Go figure...
Surely it is bulky (at least by SLR standards) and expensive, but is it too much so? How much does the D4 cost?
Others complain it has no video. So what? Want video? Buy a video camera. At least you won't have the time constraints of a DSLR. What part of 'pure photography' did these people find hard to understand? This camera is for serious amateurs who want a stylish camera with all the features and image quality of a professional DSLR.
Then come the nitpickers. The handgrip is too small, the dials are unnecessarily complicated, and this and that. Again, these people don't 'get' this camera's ethos.
On the other hand it has a beautifully big and bright optical viewfinder, which puts it one step ahead of the Sony Alpha 7; it is a full frame camera, which sends APS-C and micro 4/3 to the weeds. Plus it is a simple camera, despite the prolixity of dials and buttons: it evokes an era when serious amateurs and professional photographers had to know how to control a camera and there weren't the bells and whistles of today's cameras. It is a very serious proposition. Well done Nikon! Shame about the price, though, but it will go down soon. (At least I hope so...)

I'm in agreement with, or at least understand, much of the criticism that the Df has drawn. However, and someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but the Df is the only DSLR that, with a manual focus lens, allows the user to adjust ISO, aperture, shutter speed, and focus with physical dials and rings...no screen needed.

Of course, for the majority of photographers, this is a liability, not an asset, but I think Nikon was aware of this; the target audience (should it exists at all) is going to be acutely niche. However, if I still shot digital, and if I had the money, I might consider this camera despite its numerous flaws for no other reason then the ability to use those dials/rings. I don't like buttons, and I certainly don't like menus.

I started off on the 'modern' SLR/DSLR, no nostalgia here; I simply prefer the older, more tactile set up, and it fits my style of photography as well (which is actually best served by an old rangefinder). By the time my viewfinder is up to my eyeball, everything is already set---zone focusing, faster than any autofocus.

That a corporation, albeit in a highly cautious and thus compromised manner, released a camera that caters to what is a pretty dicey market at least hopefully signals (along with moves by Pentax, Fuji, and more recently, Sony) the continuing expansion of options among high quality cameras, an area that not long ago was largely dominated by only black bulbous blobs.

This might be hard for some people to comprehend, but some people still like to use a pen to write, their hands to sculpt, and their actual voice to sing.

Roughly seven billion folks on the planet; we're not all the same...

Why oh why is the focusing screen fixed??!!

You dare to picture the camera posed with an old AI-S lens but don't offer the ability to put in a screen to make focusing that sweet old lens reasonably possible?

I just don't get it. Today's screens are notoriously bad for focusing in exchange for all the brightness they can deliver. By not providing real ability to focus older lenses this camera has instantly become nothing more than a plaything for hipsters who are massively into the retro thing.

$1500.00 and f/2.8 Nikon wide angle primes priced around $500.00 equals yes...

This? No...

Great minds run in the same track...
You and the Shorpy blog posted "Retro Done Wrong" cars on the same day...

Check out this post on toady's Shorpy blog....

This is one ugly camera. Looks like a Nikon FA just ate a Contax AX.


I'm keeping my D800, but I'm also going to keep a wary eye on Nikon. If this is a sign that they really are starting to lose their collective mind I'll be ready to get cozy with some of the very viable alternatives that are becoming available (I already spend way too much time with a cute little Sony NEX-5R, despite its numerous foibles).

This is probably the firs time that a Nikon release has inspired absolutely no GAS. No desire whatsoever.

Five thoughts on why the Df might be expensive.

1) Dials, knobs and buttons are infinitely more expensive percentage wise than menus in software. The manufacturing cost of the menu is zero, the cost of a knob is considerably more than zero, and then there is the extra computer hardware and added complexity to connect the knobs to the software.

2) Did they really pay an engineer to remove the video software and QA to re-test the whole system without it and then budget the extra funds to maintain a code fork?* I hope they just commented out the code and didn't raise the price to get rid of video, but if they really developed a no video camera rather than building on what they already had, that would bump up the cost a bunch.

3) It might be worth that to get all the clutter out of the viewfinder, and if the haptics are good enough that you could have the camera all set up before you raise it to your eye or even look at it, I'd consider it.

There is nothing more silly that standing there with the camera up to you face while you set it up. You may as well have a clown pointing at you with a big arrow sign reading "Photographer" in one hand and a cow bell in the other.

The thing is, it looks a little small for all those knobs, they seem pretty crammed together although the coaxial ones are a nice touch.

4) Although the bendy AI prong is a nice touch it only reminds me that the 800 does not have it. Why? That couldn't cost more than a dime.

5) It looks like the best home for my collection of old Nikkor glass is a Sony.

*BTW this reminds me how much extra carmakers like Porsche will charge you to delete the air conditioning, heater, and sound system

Ok, what we wanted was a D700s or D800 with the D4 sensor inside.

That would have been a no-brainer to buy. I have a D700 and a D4. The D700 is wonderful, it does available light well, and it does not get in your way shooting. Love it!

The D4 has excellent ergonomics and balance (minus the ISO-button) when shooting with the heavy f/2.8 zooms. It does available darkness well. It will do 10 fps. For general shooting it is too big, too heavy and quite expensive. It screams for attention, especially when you do not need it.

What we got was a D4 minus the excellent AF, wrapped in a body with dials, that is unobtrusive and an excellent match for a 85/1.8D. If you like to shoot in aperture priority, like I do. Or manual, sometimes.

Now we can choose: The Df at half the weight, half the price, with another user-interface or top of the line D4 price, weight, build and GUI.

Even if the Df is certainly not a camera for everyone, I kind of like it. If it handles well or not, remains to be seen. As a travel-camera, it has a lot going for it. It is small, and I do not need to buy a single prime to use it. Every lens in the bag already works.

A D700s would still have been better, but there is no such thing as one tool fits every purpose or every photograper. I wonder if Nikon has put a D600 shutter… or something else inside.

I think the price-tag is no surprise. It is expensive, as all FX-bodies less the D6x0 are. I think it will sell. It is a first attempt. So far Nikon and Canon has not done anything radical in the last years. They need to step up.

In reality we are spoiled by todays truely excellent equipment. Never has good gear been so affordable. 10 years ago we bought 4 MP pro-bodies that maxed out at 4 MP and ISO 1600. Any DSLR today kills in picture quality compared to just a few years ago.

Still I wonder if they ever get around to asking people what they want.

Forty years ago I would never have thought of this: Sony made a nice camera. Nikon tried real hard to copy Sony. And failed miserably.

Shucks- seems like I am the only one who likes this camera. A lot.

Too bad then Nikon is on my "evil list" right now because they messed up my D600 (oil splatter et al) and their customer service is giving me the runaround.

Which has led me to start looking at the Fuji system right now, else I would have been seriously considering the Df. I mean, I keep an FM2n as a backup for the day my FE2 dies. If ever. The Df could replace my D600, FE2 and FM2n! What a camera. Too bad who makes it.

I believe that Barnaby Britton, in his First Impressions Review of the Df at dpreview, hit the nail on the head:

"As such, although I hate to say it: from a cold, hard practical point of view, I can't shake the feeling that the Df is a little bit... silly. "

The ability to use pre-AI glass (lower contrast) does it for me - I have a couple of boxes full - as does the D-4 sensor in a smaller form factor. Bye-bye D3. I'll reserve judgement on the dials until I use them but it looks to me as if the UI will be fine, especially since the ISO operates as a minimum if auto is chosen. Pity the focussing screen is not interchangeable but I am now quite used to the green dot - and it's certainly more accurate than zone focussing Sigma DP's and the Sony RX-1, which I do regularly. And I quite like the look - then again my wife thinks I'm attractive - so some things are just inexplicable.

I'm among those who have been saying that we want a digital FE2 type camera. I had been really excited about this announcement. I've been working with DX nikons for about nine years now. They're okay. The FX offerings never appealed to me, they're just too big and whiz bang. And costly. But I always hoped for a digital version of my FE2, that would signal my time to move into FX and for all of my old lenses to finally be uncropped. I knew it would be expensive, but it would've been worth it. Today's announcement proves that Nikon absolutely does not understand me. What do i love about my FE2? Its size, its tautness, its simplicity. This camera has none of that.

I'm a third generation Nikon man. I still use some of my grandpa's Nikkors. But I think this means that my next serious camera will be a Fuji.

OK, in a word: ridiculous.

Steampunk without the brass.

Gosh. 64 visible comments as I submit this, and almost all of them verging on the negative.

I can't deny that my gut reaction to the Df is also quite unsympathetic.
I see the Df as an innovation-less product with superficial cosmetic adaptations that pander to people who care more about nostalgic pseudo retro looks than actual functionality and usability.
One might compare this bizarre camera to a feature-rich quartz watch that rejects its modernity and clumsily attempts to dress itself as a mechanical watch.

Still, the sheer number of negative comments makes me want to suppress my negativity, and play the devil's advocate:

The mechanical dials, on which many (most ?) people focus, should perhaps — despite their prominence — be considered merely as "minor additions", rather than the foundation of this camera's controls.

Some people have complained that it's impractical not to be able to change the exposure compensation or the ISO without taking one's eye off the viewfinder.
As a DSLR user, however, I can't recall the last time I've set exposure compensation (EC) while looking at the subject in the viewfinder.
I usually set EC by looking at the subject directly. I've got a pretty good idea of how my camera's exposure system works, and can easily recognize situations — e.g. strong backlight — where EC will be needed. Looking at the suject through an optical — as opposed to electronic — viewfinder doesn't bring me any additional information that would assist me in determining the proper EC value.
Thus, the fact that the Df’s EC dial is mechanical seems to me a minor detail.

The same goes for the ISO dial. I usually set an appropriate ISO when I arrive at a location — e.g. a street, a forest, a park, a bar etc. — and rarely need to adjust it afterwards. I thus don't really feel the need to monitor a subject in the viewfinder while changing the ISO. Besides, an OVF, unlike an EVF, doesn't give you any useful feedback or information as you change the ISO (and presumably the exposure).

The Df’s front dial might have an odd shape, but the camera is still, basically, one of those common DSLRs with two command dials (front and back). Thus, in terms of usability of the settings that require frequent changing — aperture and shutter speed — the Df should be little different from existing DSLRs. Hence my argument that the mechanical dials are but minor "additions", rather than foundational items.

As for the absence of an aperture dial on the bundled 50mm kit lens, AFAIK, nothing prevents people from mounting on the Df an older Nikon lens with an actual aperture dial, if they so choose.

For manual focusing support, replacement focusing screens for the D600 and D800, complete with split circles and microprisms, are available from third parties like focusingscreen.com
It's thus quite likely that such third-party focusing screen suppliers will support the Df too.

Let me also point out that the Df body is weather-sealed and, at 760g, weighs less than the Nikon D600 (850g) and the Canon 6D (770g).
The Df is priced just between the D600 and the D800 and is thus, IMHO, not overpriced for a FF DSLR. Its D4-derived sensor's deliberately moderate resolution (16MP) is, incidentally, reminiscent of the D3/D700 sensor relationship. The Df might thus actually be the spiritual successor to the D700 that many users have been waiting for.

Regarding the product's positioning, DSLR users might be divided into three classes:

A) Those whose first SLR was a digital one, and have no experience with film SLRs. Some of them might be intrigued or attracted by the Df’s retro-looking mechanical dials.

B) Those who have experience with film DSLRs, but focus more on the "result" — i.e. the pictures actually taken — than the "tool", "process" or "haptics". These people have generally moved on from film to digital cameras, and are familiarized, quite comfortable with, and cognizant of the benfits of a DSLR's electronic dial-, menu- and button-based user interface.

C) The refractory, dinosaurian renegades who still use mechanical film SLRs, but might be intrigued or tempted by a camera like the Df which seems to address some of their reservations about the modern corruption of still cameras' purity by heathenish movie modes, EVF and electronic dials, for example.

Methinks most of TOP's visitors belong to class B, whilst the Nikon Df might actually be targeting primarily the A and C classes.
For people belonging to an untargeted segment, the rationale of the Df’s product planning and feature design might thus take a few days of quiet contemplation to grow into ;-)

I don't mind the button (to activate the dial) for ISO change or mode change. In fact, having ISO or mode change on me without my noticing is something of a nightmare of mine. Yes, I can fairly easily bump the aperture or shutter command dial accidentally -- but I'm constantly monitoring the exposure metering and the exposure setting, so such bumps are MUCH more likely to be noticed immediately. And I change them more often, so having to actively unlock those two WOULD be a problem.

Despite the negative commentary, this camera is gonna sell big. It is a steroidal looking FM/F3, but it does look solid, brick like- like most film F's. And truth is, it looks a helluva lot better than any other Nikon DSLR to date, and even better than ye olde F4.

Ironically, the teaser videos all had the 'pure photography' protagonist shooting daytime scenics- why would he do that with their lowest resolution sensor? Summer will probably see the higher megapixel version, maybe even the monochrome version...

Someone mentioned "the Fonz" above. That made me realize that, with the Nikon Df, the entire camera industry's attempt to resurrect a bygone era has gone beyond just sock hops, greasers, malts, and jukeboxes to "jumping the shark."

Where can one buy ASA 12800 film?

Hey Mike, Lynn Goldsmith puts the FE2 and Df side by side here. it's a very small section starting at 2:27 in the link.

I agree with Jay Tunkel - a digital version of the FTn would be awesome...

I like the look of the Df, but wonder about some of the dial locations (hence the FTn comment.) Would it be too much to ask for shutter speed and ISO dials/controls around the lens mount?

I'd leave the comp dial where it is though, but also add an A to the ISO dial. An A on the ISO and Shutter speed dial and min aperture with lock engaged means P mode (variable if ISO is unloicked), unlock lens gives A mode, and selecting shutter speed gives S... I wonder whether there's a way to have the camera control the aperture for manual lenses too, to give full PASM with non-CPU lenses - maybe input the lens data and use an aperture indexing system like on the FTn where the aperture ring is spun from open to closed and back to set up the meter and give the camera physical locations for the max and min apertures. You'd need some sort of small mechanism to move the little tongue on the back of the lens, but surely that wouldn't be that hard to implement.

At the end of this, I reckon you'd have an awesome camera with full functionality controlled by the left hand, which kind of leads to a question - could a film transport mech fit into this, giving us an F7?

... or, as engineers have believed over the years, a horse is a utility vehicle designed by an architect.

"People have been asking for a digital sensor in an FM2/FE2 body for a long time".

So Nikon gave them a digital sensor in a Zenit 122 body....

I am not sure why people keep thinking that this is a repackaged D600, as far as I can tell it has only the AF model from there. The rest is D4 and D800 tech.

I was initially disappointed, because this camera is more complex and larger than I was hoping for. However, the more I read about it, the more I get the feeling that this isn't actually a retro camera at all, but a serious high-end package which just happens to have an FM-style bump on top. The missing 1/8000s puzzles me a bit, but perhaps it was necessary to get 1400 shot performance from a 300 shot battery.

I hope that this aesthetic direction is not a one-off, and that the D4->Df will be followed up with something more modest, something perhaps based on the D600 (for real this time).

I also hope that the price comes down a bit. I cannot justify this price in my mind. I think $2200 might be fair, but $2700 is just very high.

Having thought a little about the Df I'm actually reminded that there was a DSLR with a shutter speed dial, aperture ring and exposure compensation dial many years ago and to my eye it was all more elegantly implemented than on the Nikon.

That Camera was the Contax N Digital. I recall playing with it at the Focus on Imaging show sometime in the early 2000s and it was a nice bit of kit. Looking at images now it has a remarkably clear set of rear controls and, picture quality aside, would probably be a joy to use compared to pretty much anything on the market right now.

They got one thing right: It shoots .tiff!

Finally, at last there are a few comments here about this camera that are not snide and condescending. It is not a perfect camera but surely it doesn't deserve the amount of negativity directed towards Nikon and towards Df.

Personally, I hate hate hate endless menus, touch screens and choppy EVF views. I am not that old - I just find a clean UI with dedicated dials that can easily be used from muscle memory preferable to having to scroll through menus. Surely I am not the only one? This camera also has the D4 sensor - one of the best in any SLR today. And it is usable with hundreds of Nikon lenses. So I don't understand all the knee-jerk hate against this camera.

I mean, if you want video or more megapixels, EVF, scrolling menus, touch screens, etc., there are other choices out there. Why begrudge some Nikon users an alternative a little different from the ordinary, annually-reiterated crap?

And, if I may, those who think this camera is ugly - what is your definition of an attractive camera? The cookie-cutter boxes and shapeless black blobs from Sony, Panasonic, Samsung, Canon or even most other Nikon DSLRs?

This camera is beyond my budget right now, but if I could afford it, it would be very high on my list. Kudos to Nikon for thinking outside the box, even if only a little bit. And I hope it sells enough to lead to a new Df line, including some lower priced versions, similar to what Fuji has done recently.

I fall squarely in the other camp. I'm a young fart - not an old fart. But, I did get started on a Nikon F that I still have. I like the idea of the camera, I like the look, and I may buy one despite the price. It's the first camera I've seen in the digital age that I felt like I would want knocking about with me on the road.

I wish it could take a split prism though - which may prove to be the one feature that stops me.

Riddle me this Nikon.

You build a camera that is promoted as a return to pure, manual photography that will even work with non-AI lenses and then you fail to offer a split prism focusing screen for said lenses?

Can someone explain the logic behind that decision to me?

Focus confirmation won't cut it. We need a real focusing screen.

To make matters worse the focusing screen appears to be fixed and with Nikon restricting the sale of spare parts to third party shops it is unlikely that a company like Katz-eye will ever be able to develop a 3rd party upgrade. (see D600).

That is a serious miscalculation and essentially nullifies much of the original intent of the design. If you are in to manual focusing, there is nothing to be gained by purchasing a DF. You're better off with a D800 that has a screen that can be swapped.

What on earth was Nikon thinking?

Well, if anyone wants to see a Df next to a FM2, a Df next to a D7000, and a Df with the FM2 and Leica M9, our first impressions article is up, complete with the comparison photos.

I think everyone is missing the point.

From the impressionable / wannabee / client / bystander's view a photographer using a serious modern camera doesn't appear to be doing anything very much: buttons get pushed, LCD's get viewed, but none of that is very visible - it looks like a bigger automated point-n-shoot object with all the skill streamlined out of the easy-to-hold plastic.

But DIALS ! Wow ! you can see & hear all the busy finger movements and click-clicking. This is not for amateurs: the chap operating all that hard edgy machinery must be a real pro, a wizard with the settings, a highly skilled proponent of the arcane art.

If only it was made of wood, with brass trimmings ...............

a nikon f with prism finder digital might justify the price.
this nikon is too overpriced.

Mmmmmm..... dials. Non-multipurpose dials, even. FF-sized viewfinder. Lenses. What more do ya want, eh?

When Volkswagen brought out the new Beetle or BMW brought out the Mini One, I'm sure many people slated the designs. Then they went on sale, and both companies continue to sell them. This is a modern camera which nods to the past and looks to the future as a potential sales line up. They have yet to put a D600 or D800 chip in this camera and I'm sure they will. I'm guessing I'm part of the target market as a 40 something photographer. I had my F801s out for a walk yesterday and the size of the prism looks similar to the Nikon Df.

As a working photographer, I'm looking forward to looking through a glass prism instead of the pentaprism. Thanks Nikon. One if my colleagues has already booked his. We've both decided in our jobs to get dedicated video cameras which do what they say on the tin. I'm looking forward to this camera. It's taken quite some time for the Nikon V series to take off but I'm glad Nikon are prepared to take risks. It's a very cool camera, maybe not as 'manual' as the Leica M digital series, but I'll take it over the Leixa X Vario any day.

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