… and yet it may also be the most unnecessary.
Last week, Nikon showed off the mysterious “Retro Styled” DSLR that it was teasing for the longest time, the Nikon Df. Almost immediately, the photography world was taken aback at how expensive the Df was, coming in at RM8,999 for the body only for what most consider just a fun “alternative” camera for the pseudo-hipster photographer. Some photographers on my timeline were quite appalled at how Nikon was “trying too hard” with the Df and should just stick to what they know.
The Nikon Df is a 16.2MP Full Frame DSLR which uses the same sensor as the flagship, top of the line RM20,000 D4. Unfortunately that’s where the similarity with the D4, or even the D800 or D610 ends. The Df shoots at 5.5fps has the same 39point AF system as the D610 and has a Single SD Card slot. The big selling point is the fact that the Df is compatible with just about ALL Nikon F-Mount lenses INCLUDING the Pre-Ai Standard lenses, a nod to the film photographers of old.
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Before I saw the specs of the Df, I wanted so badly to love it. I started my photographic journey with the old Nikon FM2 and FE2 and that probably contributed to why I shoot Nikon for my professional work today. The excitement carried through during the Nikon Malaysia launch on Thursday where our video was shot and getting to hold it in my hands was something truly remarkable. Even after learning that the Df would cost RM8,999 I was unfazed and in all honesty I was already considering it as a backup camera!
This was where the rose-tint gradually wore away into a shade of disbelief. Firstly, the Nikon Df does not do video, just like my Ageing D700. If I recall correctly, there is no current DSLR that doesn’t do video and according to Nikon, it was not a limitation to any hardware, more like a philosophical one. Since the F in the Df stands for Fusion, the concept takes the simplicity and elegance of film photography and brings it to the present, you couldn’t do film with an FM2 now could you?
Since the Df was pegged to be a “shooters camera” and for RM8,999 I began to think, surely it would be a lot more than just the D4’s sensor that makes this camera stand out. Aside from the lacklustre other features for the price range, the controls got me thinking again. I did enjoy using the manual dials in the past and heck even right now but down the line, if its the “shooters camera” that its meant to be, why do we want something that is more work to operate than a regular camera? Granted the option for usual thumb and finger dials are there but it looks like a backup plan more than anything just in case the manual controls got too fidgety.
Everything said, I still think the Nikon Df is one of the most exciting and interesting cameras in the market today and heartbreaking as it may be, it peaks my interest a little more than the A7R and A7 simply for 2 things; The addition of a pentaprism and NO EVF (a huge thing for me) and support for old Nikon lenses which when talking about optics are some of the best around.
Unfortunately I could not recommend this as a camera for anyone but ageing old photographers who have a cabinet full of lenses that their new cameras don’t support at all. At the price RM8,999 the A7R and A7 are better buys and heck even the D600! But this camera isn’t for the sane, logical photographer. This camera is for the romantics who are still in love with the old days. The Leica Monochrome was a B&W only camera and yet it has such a following. I’m not comparing a Leica and a Nikon here, but rather saying that, for even the craziest of concepts, there will be a following.
Unfortunately, everything said, I still want one.