With a design that harkens back to the legendary Nikon film cameras like the FE and FM, the new Df will strike a chord with some photographers based upon its looks alone. Past the styling, this is is an advanced DSLR with a full-frame (FX-format) image sensor and dial-access to key controls and features. As a Nikon FM2 owner (yes, I still own film cameras) I’m eager to see what this new Df can do when I have it in my hands. The full press release is below and we’ll have more coverage in print and online as we use the camera. Until then, here are some first impressions:
Nikon has gone to some of their most highly-regarded components for the internal features in the camera.
- The Df has the same sensor as the top of the line Nikon D4. It’s a full-frame 16.2 megapixel CMOS sensor that, in combination with the EXPEED 3 image processor, is capable of an ISO range from 100-12,800 (expandable to 204,800).
- The metering system is the same 2016-pixel 3D Matrix Metering & Scene Recognition System that’s found in the Nikon D610.
- The Df’s AF system is their 39-point system with 9 cross-type sensors and 7 AF points that can operate down to f/8. This is particularly nice for nature photographers who use tele extenders.
In a way, the Nikon Df reminds me of a sports car like the old Porsche 911SC, In making that car, Porsche looked at the key elements that a driving enthusiast would want and then they took out everything else. The Nikon Df has the D4’s full-frame sensor, retro-styling, it’s the smallest & thinnest full-frame body that Nikon makes, there are dials that access the most important functions for a photographer, a 150,000 cycle shutter, 5.5 fps and the ability to use a huge number of current and legacy Nikon lenses. It doesn’t have HD video and it doesn’t have a pop-up flash. Like a true sports car, at $2,749, it’s not inexpensive, but it certainly ticks the critical boxes for a lot of still photographers.
-Christopher Robinson, Editor
Here’s the full press release from Nikon:
MELVILLE, NY (November 4, 2013) The new Nikon Df is a modern classic designed for those who have felt a connection to their camera, who revel in the idea of going out to photograph an unfamiliar location, and who know the effort and ultimate satisfaction that is part of getting the shot. Announced today, the Nikon Df is a unique, advanced-level D-SLR that harmonizes Nikon heritage and modern performance in a lightweight and very capable FX-format camera. The new Df pays homage to the enduring style and controls of Nikon’s distinguished “F” series of 35mm film cameras, yet features technology similar to Nikon’s professional flagship D4 D-SLR. Released alongside the similarly styled AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Special Edition lens, Nikon’s newest FX-format D-SLR presents a versatile and reliable option to help passionate photographers truly achieve their creative vision.
“Nikon cameras have played an important role in documenting world history for the better part of 50 years, and have earned their position as a reliable tool that pros and enthusiasts can count on. The Nikon Df represents much more than a storied legacy of cameras; it’s more about giving the user a chance to truly enjoy the experience of taking amazing images,” said Masahiro Horie, Director of Marketing and Planning, Nikon Inc. “The design is unwavering, and the features are the latest in Nikon imaging technology. The Df brings together the best of yesterday and today for advanced full frame photographers.”
A Classically Styled, Thoroughly Modern Masterpiece
From a robust feel, to mechanical dials and finely detailed craftsmanship, the Df embodies the very best of Nikon’s photographic legacy. The classically styled camera recalls design cues such as a recognizable pentaprism and top cover, which is now constructed of durable, lightweight magnesium alloy. The top of the camera features elegant yet sophisticated mechanical controls for settings, letting users feel the tactile reassurance of adjustments, such as a familiar click stop for shutter speed adjustment. Additional dedicated dials also control ISO, exposure compensation, release mode and exposure mode, while modern controls are also easily accessible. The intuitive control layout allows for quick and confident setting adjustment, yet retains a solid operational experience that “feels like a Nikon camera.”
The Df has been designed with an emphasis on familiar intricate details made famous from previous generations, including the leather-textured top and grip, along with the body mounted shutter button with a threaded release port. The design also recalls the slenderness of the previous generation’s cameras, making this the smallest and lightest FX-format camera in Nikon’s lineup.
It isn’t all about good looks though, as this enduring design is coupled with legendary performance to create a very capable and extremely appealing FX-format offering for professionals and enthusiasts. The 16.2-megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor of the Df is inherited from Nikon’s professional flagship D-SLR, the D4. The large 36 x 23.9mm CMOS sensor is praised for its ability to produce amazing image quality in a wide variety of lighting conditions. Whether shooting landscapes, wildlife or weddings, the frames captured with the Df exhibit amazing clarity, accurate color and a broad dynamic range. In addition, Nikon’s exclusive EXPEED 3 image processing engine helps propel image quality, yielding images with a natural color and depth, all while enhancing subtle and nuanced tones.
Additionally, like the professional Nikon D4, the Df performs well in a wide variety of challenging lighting conditions with an exceptionally wide ISO range from 100 to 12,800, expandable to a staggering ISO 204,800. The combination of low noise and wide range make this an appealing camera to take on the challenges faced by photojournalists and event photographers, as well as those who enjoy the pursuit of extracting otherwise impossible images using natural light.
A Feature Set for Passionate Photographers
The Nikon Df is engineered to enhance the experience of taking photos and represents a culmination of decades of experience and feedback from photographers in the field, the studio and the sidelines. From its proven AF system to modern connectivity and legacy lens compatibility, the Df contains the century’s best photographic features for an enjoyable all-day shooting experience.
- AF System: The convenience and precision of Nikon’s 39-point AF system is proof-positive of the benefits of modern technology. With 39 selectable AF points throughout the frame for precise focus, the Df also features nine cross-type sensors, and seven AF points capable of working down to f/8. Users can also choose from a variety of AF area modes to match their shooting style: 9-point, 21-point, 39-point, 39-point with 3D Tracking and Auto Area AF.
- Get the shot with 2016-Pixel 3D Matrix Metering and Scene Recognition System: This Nikon system analyzes each shooting scenario and determines proper camera settings, resulting in even exposures, accurate white balance and precise AF. To capture action sports, wildlife and other fast moving subjects, the Df has a continuous burst shooting rate of up to 5.5 frames-per-second (fps).
- Compose with a 3.2-inch LCD Display and Glass Pentaprism Viewfinder: Users can easily compose through the high-resolution LCD screen or the bright optical viewfinder. The LCD screen has 921K-dot resolution, making it easy for users to adjust additional settings, review images or compose using Live View. Using the glass optical viewfinder, users will enjoy 100 percent accuracy and a bright field of view. What’s more, the shooting data presented through the viewfinder has also been updated and digitized.
- Connect and Share Instantly: Another modern touch allows users to connect and share their images instantly using the optional WU-1a Wireless Mobile Adapter1. By connecting to a mobile device, users can download and share images or remotely fire the camera.
- Features for Creativity: Photographing dramatic monochrome or vivid landscapes is easier with Nikon’s Picture Controls, which allow for the customization of color, saturation and tone. The Df also features built-in High Dynamic Range (HDR) to combine multiple shots with enhanced tonal range, and two to five-frame auto-bracketing. For maximum control, images can also be captured in JPEG, TIFF or RAW file formats.
- Support for a Storied NIKKOR Legacy: In addition to being compatible with all current AF, AF-S, DX and AF-D NIKKOR lenses, the Df is also compatible with classic Ai and non-Ai NIKKOR glass. Thanks to a new metering coupling lever located on the bayonet, the user has the ability to once again enjoy their lens collections with renewed functionality. Full-aperture metering is also supported.
- Accessory System Support: The Df is compatible with Nikon’s Creative Lighting System (CLS), letting users take advantage of i-TTL exposure or fire multiple units remotely using a Speedlight commander. To remotely trigger the shutter, the camera also supports the new WR remote system, as well as the threaded AR-3 cable release, which screws in to the shutter button in the traditional style.
A Classic FX-Format Special Edition NIKKOR Prime
The new AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Special Edition lens is the result of classic NIKKOR styling combined with today’s optics to create the ideal focal length companion lens for the Df. The design honors original NIKKOR Ai lenses, with colors, texture, and an aluminum mounting ring that is mated to the style of the Df. This lens is ideal for everyday portraiture, landscapes and casual photography, but offers a wide aperture and seven-blade diaphragm for natural image blur and a dramatic depth of field. Despite the timeless design, the 50mm f/1.8G is created with modern AF-S design benefits to give photographers rapid response, quiet operation and excellent sharpness and clarity throughout the frame.
Price and Availability
The Nikon Df will be available in late November 2013, invoking classic Nikon silver and black color schemes. The suggested retail price (SRP) of the Df (body only) will be $2,749.95*, while the Df and 50mm f/1.8 Special Edition lens kit will have a SRP of $2,999.95*. The AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G lens will be sold separately for a SRP of $279.95*. For an additional flair of nostalgic style, Nikon is also offering black or brown leather carrying cases, the CF-DC6B and CF-DC6S (pricing and availability to be announced).