Nikon Df review

Past and present combine for photographic pleasure and superb images

Nikon Df review
Check out all those retor-style dials on the top-plate

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

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.


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.