5 Crucial Thoughts on the New Nikon Df. Does It Deliver?

ChaseJarvis_Nikon DF_1
Wow. Two new cameras on my blog in one week (here’s the other one). I’ve never been a gear whore and don’t like dedicating too much real estate here to it, but I do like me some of these compact cameras. So here we go – quick like.

Nikon got the aesthetics right, that’s for sure. If it does nothing else, the new Nikon Df is going to make you look like a legit photographer from the 70’s. Even more so perhaps like a photographer shooting film (but you won’t be.)

Specs: Within the tasty leather, chrome, and gunmetal exterior of this Nikon Df hides…

// the legendary sensor from the Nikon D4 – my favorite still camera sensor of all time
// Nikon’s latest + greatest Expeed 3 processor
// Optical viewfinder with 100% field of view (thank god – not having this sucks)
// Full wireless capability [requires WU-1 wireless adaptor].
// We’re still waiting on the side of french fries, but this full-meal of a camera may just satiate even the hungriest of critics.

Yeah, but does it deliver?

Before we can answer that question (because I can’t – haven’t used it), I want to set my expectations. Because they are (were?) high for this little bugger. But when the hype is this big, the goods had better follow. So here’s what it has to do to get my five stars:

1, Ergonomics. I like how all the dials for shutter speed, exposure compensation, and ISO give you the option of being really hands on with setting your exposure. Shooting this way really increases my connection with what you’re creating with the camera. The Nikon DF looks like it’ll do a nice job of recreating (or perhaps simulating) that experience of “making” pictures like the cameras of old… That feel helps me be connecting to the art just a little bit more–ie slowing down a tad– than some of my other tools in my shed.

2. The size. The size is nice. Or rather, the size is nice compared to a D4 or pro body. Don’t get me wrong, when I’m on a gig I need the pro body to lean on, bang around, pound nails and otherwise be tough and sturdy. With this little guy? I prefer the portability, sorta. It’ll make a great vacation camera for jet setting photographers….unless you also like to capture video of your travels like I do. If you want video you need another camera, or an additional camera, and then the whole compact selling point is thrown out the airplane window with no parachute. So what gives here? I dunno. They made up a nice advertising story about “back to basics” with a “real camera” but rumor has it they couldn’t keep the guts cool enough to shoot video because mechanically that stuff takes up space. Jury is out. I like the purity angle, but it’s 2013…

3. The sensor. It has the same 16.2-megapixel sensor as Nikon’s pro-focused D4, which is the best still sensor of all time. There, I said it. It has ISO range up to 12,800 and expandable to ISO 204,800!! You can basically shoot this thing in the dark – let’s just hope it (or you) can focus in the dark. What good is the sensor if you can’t pull the trigger in focus?

4. Focus. It better be decent. Nikons have historically kicked everyones ass in this department. This better not be a let down. I hope the focus is fast and accurate. (Speaking of fast…we know it’s not fast in frames per second department. 5 ‘n’ change. Not bad. But not fast. Who cares really – that’s not what this camera is for.) We really do want the focus to be fast, however, if it’s to stand out from it’s peers. BTW, how is the manual focus mode? It better kick ass. I’m curious to see if there are any features to assist with this. There’s a lot of marketing around this camera pimping its ability to use all the old non-AI lenses, but the cameras from that time had focusing screens built for manual focus. Without tools like focus peaking, a split image screen, or a microprism screen, shooting with manual focus lenses might just be a pain in the ass. Let’s hope they get it right

5. Pro shit. I’m excited to see how “professional” the camera can be. Can I pound nails with this thing? Is it heavy and durable? We use a ton of different cameras for video, but the D4 is my go-to camera for EVERY SINGLE commercial photo shoot we do. Could the DF could come along on our shoots as a good BTS rig? Even in our BTS stuff we expect pro quality That would be nice if this delivered. I will always have a couple D4 backups, but for the solo photographer, the DF could potentially save pro photographers some weight and coin if (and only if) it can produce professional results in a pinch.

All this said, I can’t wait to get my hands on the Df and take it for a rubber-burning test drive. Good pals like McNally are oogling over it, but Joe would have to use a Nikon mobile phone if they had one, so take that with a grain of salt. Anywhooo. Stay tuned for a more meaty pile of feedback when I get my paws on this thing.

The Df is available for pre-order in four options. Check out the goods here:

/// Black body w/lens
/// Silver body w/lens
/// Black body
/// Silver body

ChaseJarvis_Nikon DF_1

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