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« The Second Step to Digital Image Excellence |Main| Nikon Df – The Past is the Future »

November 5, 2013

Retro Nikon debuts -- Nikonians react

BLG-THU.jpgNikon's newest Digital Single-Lens Reflex is creating quite a buzz in our forums. The newly announced Nikon Df is an FX (full-frame camera) with 16.2 million effective pixels. It uses a standard 36x24 mm CMOS sensor (36.0 x 23.9 mm).

This may not be the camera you absolutely need -- But for many Nikon enthusiasts with warm memories of the good old days -- it is destined to become the camera they absolutely want.

Nikonians author Darrell Young (DigitalDarrell) tells us this camera comes with equal doses of nostalgic features and modern-day technology:
"Remember when you were young and skinny, raising kids, and had all that energy? Well, you were probably carrying a camera that looked a lot like the new Nikon Df. Let this camera take you back in time as you carry it with you everywhere.

Basically, the Df is made for travel, and for what Nikon calls “a versatile full-frame option for passionate photographers.” The camera delivers the same high quality as the Nikon D4, the flagship DSLR in Nikon’s lineup, for about half the cost of a D4. Not having a bulky camera body, yet having sufficient speed (up to 5.5 frames per second), makes the Df a very flexible camera, ready for different styles of photography.

The Nikonians.org brand new Nikon Df forum shows a wide variety of global reactions:
"UK launch price with the special edition 50mm f1.8 lens is £2740 ($US4110)...Wow, that's not cheap!
-- Richard Walliker (richardd300), United Kingdom/Wales

"I was eagerly and patiently waiting from the release of D4 to get a replacement for my faithful D700. I skipped the D800 (too many pixels, you get them laying all around), the D600 and D610 (too consumer body), feeling that Nikon will release something to fulfill my wishes. And it came -- Nikon Df. It is exactly what I was waiting for -- "low" pixel count (just right for me), extremely high sensor sensitivity, no video (I use a video camera for my videos), pro-built and compact high quality body. Now I am a bit disappointed. The price is simply too high, even for such a nice piece of high tech camera."
-- Nikolaj Simic (niksi), Slovenia

BLG-Fig03.jpg"A very nice toy. Not that I really need it. The pixel count is disappointing - it should have been at least 36 MP. Better 54 (FF with D3200 density).
What would really make me happy - all the same, but for film."

-- Vladimir Stepanov (SVA ), Switzerland

"I felt Nikon got the pricing right with the high specs of the D800. I also felt a retro camera could be nice for those who felt this whole dslr madness has gotten out of control (ie feature creep, adding things that people may not need/want and complicating the interface, etc). But I figured a simplified camera would come with a 'simplified' price. I realize it has the d4 sensor at half the price, but frankly the d4 is overpriced and other than the sensor, the spec of the Df is more mid-range. I thought the purpose was to compete against the new breed of ILC which have price tags at 1/3 of the Df."
-- Eric Carlino (ecarlino), USA/Illinois

"I don't think the purpose of this camera was to compete with anything. I think it was a dream of one of Nikon's executives, maybe even the CEO, to produce a product that would reflect on their past history and heritage. I see that thinking in the release of the new AFS 58mm f1.4 lens and now the Df. I think you need to understand the pride the Japanese have in their heritage to see that. The last retro camera that Nikon produced was the S3 rangefinder kit from 2000. As far as I know only Leica and Nikon and maybe Zeiss through Cosina do these things. Since making a retro film camera now makes no sense at all they did the next best thing with the Df. You are getting a FE digital body with near D4 performance at a bargain price. I don't expect they will sell many based on the comments I see here."
-- Leonard Taupier (Leonard62), USA/Pennsylvania

"The naming strikes me as telling. While it is possible Nikon could someday come out with a "Df2" (or "Dg"?), the lack of a number in the model name makes me wonder if Nikon sees this as a one-off model rather than the start of a progression of traditional-style cameras. Who knows, perhaps this is Nikon's parting homage to the past before they come out with something radically new and different that abandons the single-lens reflex design. In any case, it's clear that this appeals to some people. I sincerely wish them joy of using it, and I'll be interested to read about their experiences and see their images."
-- Jonathan Bloom (jbloom),USA/Connecticut

"Just when I thought I was out, Nikon brings me back in! I really like the design and look of the camera."
-- Armando Camara (adcam), USA/Oregon

Here are the highlights, courtesy of Geoffrey Coalter at the Nikon USA Press Room:

Nikon Df:
BLG-Fig02.jpg• Classic Nikon design cues, with solid build and mechanical controls
• Sophisticated physical/mechanical controls for settings and adjustments
• Imaging and low-light performance inherited from Nikon’s flagship D4 D-SLR
• Large 36 x 23.9mm, 16.2 MP FX-Format CMOS sensor
• EXPEED 3 image processing engine propels image quality to the next level
• Exceptionally wide ISO range from 100-12,800, expandable to 204,800 for superb low-light performance
BLG-04.jpg• Nikon’s thinnest and lightest FX-format D-SLR
• 39-point AF system with nine cross-type sensors and continuous burst shooting up to 5.5 fps ensures precision and clarity when capturing moving subjects
• 2016-Pixel Matrix Metering and Scene Recognition System ensure proper camera settings for every shooting scenario
• Easy to create with a 3.2-inch LCD display and glass optical viewfinder
• Wi-Fi connectivity available with use of optional WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter, allowing for instant download and sharing to smart devices or remote firing of the camera
• Reaching back into the NIKKOR lens legacy, the Df is compatible with current AF, AF-S, DX and AF-D lenses, but also works with classic Ai and non-Ai NIKKOR glass
• Full compatibility with Nikon’s Creative Lighting System and WR remote systems
• Available in late November 2013, in classic silver and black color schemes at a suggested retail price (SRP) of $2,749.95 (body only). A kit will also be available with the AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8 Special Edition Lens for $2,999.95 (SRP)

AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8 Special Edition Lens
• Classically styled to honor original NIKKOR Ai lenses
• Sports aluminum mounting ring for manual focusing
• Classic 50mm prime focal length ideal for everyday shooting
• Features modern NIKKOR technologies
• Nano Crystal Coat, seven-blade diaphragm
• Available in November 2013 for a suggested retail price (MSRP) of $279.95, or alongside the Nikon Df for $2,999.95 (MSRP)

Following the official announcement from Nikon, Darrell Young has already received the green light for his next NikoniansPress/Rocky Nook book.

BLG-05.jpgAs a disclaimer-- You may think the fact that Darrell is writing a book on this camera could be a factor in his praise. We put that question to him via Skype following his post about the new book project. Was he pushing a camera for the sake of book sales?

His answer was immediate. For starters, he's buying this camera (and it isn't cheap) out of his own pocket (not getting a freebie)--
" I have been wishing for a digital Nikon FM for some time now. I miss the external controls. This camera brings back simplicity, when I want it, and complexity (functionality) when I need it. It is the best of both worlds, a fusion of old and new. I can't wait to get mine. I'll carry it everywhere I go!

He concludes with a final note on the price: "....the camera is a mini-D4 for half the price.

Part of photography is the distinct pleasure of owning high-quality camera equipment. On cold winter days when it is too nasty outside to shoot, you can open your camera bag and enjoy the feel of your fine Nikon cameras. This new Df is destined to become the one you hold up to your eye and derive tacticle pleasure from most frequently.

The rest of his Skype reply was a bit of butt-chewing to our editorial staff for doubting his integrity.

Posted by flashdeadline at November 5, 2013 5:11 PM