The Nikon Df Revisited

I've recently had the opportunity to deal with the Nikon Df up close and personal. The owner's feelings about it were similar to mine just less over-the-top. His rationale and reason for choosing that camera were more about the sensor's low-light performance as he shoots a ton of live shows and really couldn't put out the cash for a D4. I can see that as being a rationaleIn any case I wanted to revisit that camera and also share a promotional video that Nikon put out as a marketing piece.

First up – my impressions of the camera live and in color; It's small enough to actually make sense compared to the D600. That's good news. Would still like to see it slimmed down a bit but it's not so so much the same in terms of size that it makes no sense at all. Thank goodness it looks better in person than any image I've seen of the camera on-line. No – it's not nearly as good looking as an FM/FE or F3 or anything like that. It's merely less ugly than it comes off in photos. Typical of upper-end Nikon stuff, the feel of it is far better than most competitors but no more so than any other upper end Nikon. I guess that's all better than I expected.

Now for that bad part; I still wouldn't even consider that camera anywhere near the price point. My feelings are similar to what my first pre-release impressions were as well as my post-release detailed rant about how far off Nikon was with just about everything to do with the Df. There's a lot of artificial-ness going on that I detest including the price-point and contrived component match-ups. The real question is would I buy one at all in it's current form? The answer is absolutely – in a second but only if the price was lower than a D600/D610.

As the Nikon Df sits right now there are only two things that make any sense at all to me about the camera. Possibly two and one half things. First up is size of package vs sensor format – smaller is way better and it seems to have been done with much the same back button control setup that works so so well. I won't go into some of the other gaffs that Nikon made in operational and control choices. None of them due to size reduction of a full frame body.

The second thing that makes sense even if esoteric is the tiny little detail of the flip-up AI lever on the legacy metering ring that all higher-end Nikon film cameras have always had. Too bad they cheaped-out on allowing it to flip up on every single digital camera ever made by Nikon – except this one. I have a bunch of Non-AI 60's glass I would love to use on my D600 but can't with out chopping it up, paying for a chopped up conversion, or breaking my D600. Would I do it all the time? Probably not but I would on occasion. It actually pisses me off that Nikon doesn't just stick that part on all of their upper-end cameras. It's actually pissing me off really bad now that they did it for an over-priced camera. It couldn't cost more than about fifty cents to implement. It's crazy to make it exclusive to a $3000 camera. Maddening Nikon committee bullshit.

What's the half-thing I kinda like about it you ask? The D4 sensor is not a bad package given the performance envelope. Why only half - because it's a gimmick at MSRP. I would be fine with it if it wasn't a committee trick to make people think "D4" vs less capable slower "D600". Nothing about the D4 in terms of speed, or even some of the firmware on-purpose handicaps is the same about the Df. It would make great sense if the package was south of the D610 price point. Which brings us to the still un-forgivable notion of an older (already paid for from R/D pov) part ending up in a $2,700 camera. At that price why not say the D800E sensor? Wouldn't that make sense too, it's not like somehow the retro-ness styling implies one particular sensor part over another. It's also unforgivable that we get the shitty-ass (relatively speaking) tiny little DX AF module vs the best they've got.

All of that feels really artificial - why does the Df have a compromised AF module? Ummm so people that don't need the speed but need the best AF you can get shell out $7,000 for a D4s. It can't be he cost - the D7100 has the good one. Same reason the D610 a far more expensive camera didn't get it… Ummmm don't want the people that are okay with 24 megapixels buying the D610, they've got to buy the D800 if they want better AF but none of the rest of it. Long term this really doesn't serve the company or the customers. Time and again companies that don't cannibalize their own product lines with the right product choices end up the worse for it.

Okay – enough ranting. I'll grab a Df when and if the price point is far south of $2000. Now for the good part. Coincidently I ran across a promotional video for the Df. Ignore the stupid Df market-speak here and there this is actually a good video. This is exactly how I feel about shooting photographs. Enjoy

RB

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