5 reasons old-school photographers will love the Nikon Df SLR camera

This pricey SLR packs in digital features, but it's also a throwback to the era of film cameras

Published: November 04, 2013 11:01 PM
The 16-megapixel Nikon Df, a full-frame SLR
Photo: Nikon

As Nikon introduces its newest 16-megapixel SLR, the Nikon Df, I'm reminded of a Bruce Springsteen lyric: "Everything dies baby that's a fact, but maybe everything that dies someday comes back." Just looking at this advanced full-frame SLR, those who actually remember film might think it was a film camera. But the Df is very much a contemporary digital SLR.

Here are five reasons why I think old-school photographers (including myself) might love this camera:

Retro design

The first thing most old-school shutterbugs will respond to is the look and feel of this SLR. On top is a pentaprism and cover that gives the Df a distinctive, older appearance. Since it's an SLR, it has a through-the-lens viewfinder (not an electronic one). And it features a leather-textured grip with a similar feel to the retro models introduced by Fujifilm and Olympus. The Df is also available in both black and chrome colors, which harks back to film cameras of yesteryear. But despite such retro styling, this camera is the lightest and smallest FX-format in Nikon’s lineup.

Full-frame CMOS sensor

The Df is an FX-format camera, which means it includes a 16-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor. Unlike most SLRs with APS-C-sized sensors, this camera does not have a crop factor when you attach a lens to it. A 24mm wide angle lens doesn’t become a 36mm lens. On the Df, it remains 24mm. That makes us more mature shooters very happy.

For more on SLRs and other advanced cameras, check our buying guide and Ratings for digital cameras.

Lots of physical knobs and controls

Note the variety of dials, buttons, and other physical controls that adorn the Df’s surface. Need to tweak the ISO or shutter speed? Turn one of the dials on top of the camera; no need to go searching through an endless maze of menus.

Focus on still-photo features

Despite its throwback design, the Df includes many up-to-date features found on Nikon’s other SLRs, including a wide ISO range (100-12,800 and expandable to 204,800), a 39-point autofocus system, the ability to fire off 5.5 frames per second, and an in-camera high-dynamic range feature. It’s also got a 3.2-inch LCD.

No video, no Wi-Fi, no built-in flash

Another intriguing aspect of this camera is that unlike many advanced cameras, the Df does not include every conceivable feature. It has no video capabilities; so Nikon is targeting enthusiast photographers who have no interest in capturing video. It also has no built-in Wi-Fi or flash, although it does have a hot shoe for attaching an external flash.

The Nikon Dfl will be available at the end of November for $2,700, body only, or $3,000 with the new AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G lens.

—Terry Sullivan

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