Nikon Df review

Past and present combine for photographic pleasure and superb images

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After years of rumour and speculation about Nikon introducing a full-frame camera with a traditional design and Nikon's own teaser campaign in the run-up to its announcement, the Df has naturally been greeted with considerable excitement.

Any disappointment that its sensor 'only' has 16Mp can be swatted away by the Df's excellent low light capability. It may not be able to resolve as much detail as the 36-million pixel Nikon D800, but it can be used in near dark conditions to deliver very respectable results.

Nikon Df
No built-in flash, but a hotshoe for an external unit

A pixel count of 16 million has been sufficient for many professional photographers who use the D4 and it has the added benefit of producing images that take up considerably less space on a hard drive and demand less processing power from a computer during editing.

We liked

We like the Df's traditional control layout which puts all the most important aspects for photography within easy reach. The camera also feels solid, is comfortable in the hand and a pleasure to use – despite the odd placement of the strap-lugs.

It's also good news that the camera is compatible with so many of Nikon's heritage lenses, but many are asking why this hasn't been done before.

We disliked

In the UK the Df is only sold with the special edition AF-S 50mm f/1.8G lens, which means it retails for £2,649.99. Meanwhile in the US it's on sale for $2,996.95 with the lens and $2,746.95 body only. Although these prices compare well with the D4, they seem high in comparison with the arguably better specified D800 and D610.

The Nikon FM-series was intended to be a more affordable alternative to Nikon's professional F-series. Unfortunately, it seems that in modern times manufacturing a stripped-down digital camera with similarly rugged build to the FM series incurs considerable cost – even if most of the internal systems are used in other cameras.

Front capped

Several of the camera dealers that we spoke to at the Nikon UK launch event were happy with the price as they believe it will sell well. Early indications appear to confirm this, but many photographers think the camera's price is around £1000/$1500 too high.

Some people have expressed surprise at how chunky the Df is, but it is comfortable to hold with enough space around all the well-sized control buttons and dials.

However, there are a few quirks in the design. The strap-lugs for example could be better positioned and though it looks quite chunky, the Exposure mode dial is quite fiddly to use.

Verdict

The Df is a strangely indulgent camera. It's far too expensive to be an impulse purchase for most and there are better options available for professionals. A professional is more likely to go for the better-specified D4 or, if they want to save money or get greater detail resolution, the D800/D800E.

Nikon has designed the Df for those who want to enjoy photography and for whom the end image is only part of the story. Many photographers will absolutely love it, because it feels great in the hand and has lots of direct controls that make it a pleasure to use - plus it's capable of producing superb images in a wide range of conditions.

Other photographer's, however, remain unimpressed by the retro styling, the lack of a video mode and the comparatively low pixel count – not to mention the high price.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDigital SLR Camera with Lens
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Green CompliantYes
TouchscreenNo
Effective Camera Resolution16.2 Megapixel
USBYes
HDMIYes
PictBridgeYes
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC UHS-I), Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC UHS-I)
Image StabilizationNo
ColourSilver
Brand NameNikon
FeaturesContinuous Shooting Mode, Live View, Face Detection, Orientation Sensor, External Flash Shoe
Screen Size8.1 cm (3.2")
Viewfinder TypeSLR
Weight (Approximate)710 g
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityWEEE, RoHS
Image Sensor Size36 mm x 23.90 mm
Maximum Image Resolution4928 x 3280
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height110 mm
Width143.5 mm
Depth66.5 mm
Focal Length50 mm
Image FormatsJPEG, RAW, TIFF
External FlashOptional
Focus ModesAuto, Manual
ManufacturerNikon Corporation
Product ModelDf
Product NameDf Digital SLR Camera
Exposure Control
  • Program AE
  • Shutter Priority AE
  • Aperture Priority AE
  • Manual
Aspect Ratio3:2
Manufacturer Part NumberVBA381K001
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.nikon.co.uk
Marketing InformationExperience the power of pure photography with the Nikon Df.

Boasting a retro-styled body and the same 16.2-megapixel FX-format sensor as Nikon's flagship D4, this camera expresses a passion for photography in both form and function.

Richly detailed photographs with smooth tonal gradations are achievable in any light, thanks to a wide dynamic range and light sensitivity that is extendable up to an incredible ISO 204,800 (equivalent). Together with the highly sensitive AF system, flawless metering, and fast performance, the Nikon Df may look like a classic Nikon 35mm film camera, but it's packed with the latest technologies.
Package Contents
  • Df Digital SLR Camera
  • AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G
  • BS-1 Accessory Shoe Cover
  • BF-1B Body Cap
  • EN-EL14a Rechargeable Li-ion Battery
  • MH-24 Battery Charger
  • DK-26 Eyepiece Cap
  • AN-DC9 Strap
  • UC-E6 USB Cable
  • String for Eyepiece Cap
  • Software CD
Limited Warranty1 Year