I truly hope the Nikon Df returns one day as a mirrorless camera variant.
Step back in time to the last moment you felt your heart beating from excitement. That’s the feeling the Nikon Df is bound to give you. We’re a website that champions the future, but we also adore the past. And the Nikon Df was and still is one of the perfect bridges. It was a DSLR meant to get retro. Created back when everyone was trying to go retro, Nikon paid homage to their past. If you’ve ever held a Nikon F camera, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Ergonomically speaking, that camera is the one that everything else pretty much drew from. It was built incredibly solid, and it was always reliable. That DNA stuck with Nikon, and that’s why the Nikon Df can still be had today. And in a time where we’re staring at screens all day and night, the Nikon Df is a refreshing change.
The Nikon Df is, first and foremost, what I’d like to call a photographer’s camera. What do I mean by that? Well, let’s face the fact: no one living today has had a lifelong career as a purely digital photographer. It just hasn’t been possible yet. And if you’re looking to satisfy your affinity for all things retro, the Nikon Df is probably your best bet. We interviewed a passionate photographer a while back about how she used it to clear her mind. And indeed, it’s nigh perfect for that. It’s from a time before we became all about the connected camera. Therefore, it forces you to really focus on the experience and what’s in front of you.
We doubt we’ll see a Nikon Zf anytime soon, but the Df undoubtedly emphasizes image capture first. We said it was ahead of its time. How often do you find a camera willing to take a risk? There aren’t many! Arguably the first camera to create the retro-inspired buzz was the Fujifilm X100. At the time, the Nikon Df was mistreated and misunderstood by many, while everyone in the industry was pushing for major innovations. We still do that today, but we also all appreciate simpler times. This camera reminds us of just that.
According to the listing at KEH, the Nikon Df had:
- A 16MP full-frame sensor: the same one in the Nikon D4, and perfect for those who are sick of constantly buying new hard drives or don’t care about the megapixel war.
- ISO 100-12,800 is arguably more than you need if you get some solid Nikkor vintage lenses.
- 39 autofocus points along with the classic Nikon rangefinder focusing system for manual focus
- 5.5 fps
- 3.2-inch screen
- Retractable Meter Coupling Tab allows use with Non-Ai lenses.
- Dedicated dials for shutter speed, exposure compensation, and ISO
- It looks great with a lot of Nikon’s old manual focus lenses!
If you’re an experienced photographer who’s confident in what you do, this camera is probably just the right camera you need now. It’s the only retro-style DSLR out there with analog-style controls. It’s also a welcomed slap in the face to the megapixel wars. Combine that with the plethora of old Nikkor glass, and you have a fun toy! Because the megapixels are low, you’ll be able to make more use of the lens compared to newer sensors. In fact, you should treat the Nikon Df like a film camera with a digital back.
In our previous review of the Nikon Df, we stated:
“In the end though, I could see myself owning the Nikon Df at some point. It will be a used or refurbished camera one day or the price will have to come down to a more palatable level. This camera is good for event photographers and wedding photographers especially if you don’t need video capabilities, despite all its flaws.”
When we later spent more time with it, we had this to say:
“The Nikon Df is not the most so sought after camera, but it does have its strengths. When it came out I was very critical of it. With the Nikon Df you get a camera that’s lacking but still a decent performer. The camera has a retro look with modern functionality. The lack of video is an issue for many. Fortunately, the photographer I was working with was using a Canon 5D, and covered the video portion of things. Satisfyingly, the image quality and the ISO performance made up for the rest of its shortcomings. The shutter speed did not matter much because I was mostly shooting at an average aperture of f8. The Nikon Df is good for events.”