Nikon Df: A retro-styled full-frame DSLR
By Simon Crisp
November 5, 2013
Nikon has revealed its latest full-frame camera, the Nikon Df. The new DSLR boasts the same 16.2-megapixel FX sensor as the flagship D4, but in a much smaller and retro-styled body. Aimed squarely at photography enthusiasts and purists, it's been designed to pay homage to the Nikon F, F3 and FM/FE series of 35mm film cameras and features mechanical control dials galore.
While we've seen plenty of retro-inspired cameras in recent years, including the Fujifilm X100S, the Olympus PEN E-P5 and the Panasonic GX7, these have all been either fixed-lens or mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. The Df is the first retro DSLR, and as such was never going to be as small as the recently announced mirrorless Sony Alpha 7s, though it is the smallest ever FX DSLR.
Inside the Df there's a 16.2-megapixel full-frame FX CMOS sensor (36 x 23.9 mm), which is paired with the Nikon EXPEED 3 image processing engine for producing top-notch image quality. An ISO range of 100-12,800 means the camera should be a solid low-light performer, and it's capable of continuous burst shooting at 5.5 fps. Auto-focus is dealt with by a 39-point Multi-CAM 4800 AF system which has nine cross-type sensors, like that in the Nikon D610.
The most striking feature of the Nikon Df is undoubtedly its abundance of mechanical dial-based manual controls, which add to its retro good looks and give it a feel to match. Settings with dedicated control dials include shutter speed, ISO, exposure compensation, and shooting mode. There are also enough other controls, including function buttons on the front, to keep most enthusiasts happy.
An optical glass pentaprism viewfinder gives 100 percent frame coverage, and there's a 3.2-inch LCD on the rear with a 921-k dot resolution. A rugged build quality sees magnesium alloy covers used on the top, bottom, and rear of the 143.5 x 110 x 66.5 mm (5.6 x 4.3 x 2.6 in) and 765 g (1 lb, 11 oz) camera. It also boasts the same level of weather sealing as the Nikon D800.
It's interesting to note that in playing to the photography purist market (or perhaps because of a lack of space) Nikon has omitted video capabilities from the Df. This will no doubt rule it out for some photographers, while delighting others. The Df also forgoes Compact Flash card compatibility in favor of a single SD slot. Additionally there's no built-in flash, or indeed Wi-Fi, though it has a hot-shoe for an external flash and is compatible with the WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter.
Reaffirming the Df's status as an enthusiast's camera, it will not ship with the standard compromising zoom kit lens. Instead, there's the option of a 50-mm F1.8 G kit lens, which has matching retro looks. The Nikon Df is also compatible with virtually all Nikon F-mount lenses, not just current AF, AF-S, DX and AF-D NIKKOR offerings. Thanks to a collapsible metering coupling lever located on the bayonet, classic Ai and pre-Ai NIKKOR glass can also be used.
Available in silver or black color schemes, the Nikon Df will go on sale later this month with a body-only price of US$2,800, or $3,000 with the 50-mm F1.8 G kit lens.
Product page: Nikon Df
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