I rented the Nikon Df this past weekend from BorrowLenses.com as its cost prohibits me from buying it as a second camera, yet I still find myself drawn to it and thought I’d give it a try to see if I even like it. Unfortunately, I like it.
The Df seems to be geared toward photographers such as myself, who began with manual film cameras but have converted to digital (Df, in fact, stands for digital fusion). Hearing that the Df is a camera that makes you slow down is not a bad thing in our minds, nor is the lack of an Auto setting or built in flash. This is a camera for photographers who like to take control over all of their camera’s settings and enjoy the act of photographing.
Before the Df, the D600 was the smallest full frame camera that Nikon made. I own the D600 and can say that while the Df is slightly smaller, the D600 is slightly lighter. Due to its smaller size, I couldn’t imagine using the Df with large lenses, at least not for handheld operations. That said, I could see myself primarily using the Df for either street or portrait photography, where I wouldn’t be using a large lens anyway.
The joy for me of the Df is the dials. I like being able to see my camera’s settings by just looking down and I especially love the exposure compensation dial—much easier to operate than my D600, which requires two hands (and remembering to reset it after its use). The dials are where the slowing down comes in, though I don’t feel they are much slower to operate than looking through the viewfinder of my D600 and turning dials till I get the combination I want.
Compared to my D600, which has 24MP, the Df only has 16MP, but it also has the same sensor found in Nikon’s flagship professional D4 camera. Besides, I would also argue that 16MP is better than 24MP. Why? You really only need a large megapixel count if you’re going to produce large prints (say the size of movie posters) or you find yourself needing to crop without losing detail. I have been able to produce up to 24”x36” prints in the past from 16MP files without issue, and find with the little extra time spent using the Df, I really have no need to crop. Also, the 16MP files are considerably smaller than the 24MP files, taking up less storage space and processing quicker. In this instance, less is indeed more.
As mentioned before, the major limiting factor of the Df is cost. Without a lens, this camera is around $2800 new and for that price range one could afford a Nikon D800. Of course, with the D800 comes added weight and size. The major selling points of the Df are its retro looks and features (it even has a depth of field preview button and cable release attachment). If you understand what I just wrote, then you’ll probably also find yourself lusting after this camera.
UPDATE: About a month after this writing, I gave into temptation and purchased a Df of my own. I simply adore this camera and it has become my main studio camera. In fact, the D600 has been mostly relegated to a backup to the Df.