UD On The Df
Uncle Dick has had two days to play with the new Nikon Df camera - we got them on Wednesday of this week and held a big launch for them after 6:00 on the night. Today he gives his verdict.
As a quick aside - I scored a bottle of beer and a piece of sushi on Wednesday and thoroughly enjoyed the picture presentation by David Dare Parker. Other people were faster with the food. A LOT of people crowded into the shop and a goodly number of cameras and lenses were sold. The buyers are all out there right now skiving off work so that they can go out with their new cameras...and who could blame them.
To quell your fears, the device is a good one. It is an interesting take by Nikon on what people MIGHT want in a digital camera. I would be fascinated to see who they surveyed and how they asked the questions to arrive at their design plan. The aesthetics of it argue that they are targeting a particular market - the operational characteristics may am at something else.
Here - what I mean is that it has been constructed to look like a film camera of the 1970's and 80's - not a dead simulation, but a design that has a great deal of mimicry about it. Not a new thing to do - think of Fuji's X100 and X100s camera and their echo of the 35mm rangefinder camera. This is Nikon trying the same thing with the big DSLR.
Students of the camera will remember that Nikon replicated some of their 35mm rangefinder cameras just at the turn of the millenium for nostalgic collectors. They were available in Japan, and B&H, and ECS for some time but have now settled into eBay and Uncle Boris' various shops. Pursue them if you will - they work about as good as ever they did.
This new camera is of another stamp. Nikon don't want the collectors to buy it - they want to sell this one to users. They have pitched the appearance to those of us nostalgic for the older gear, but the guts of it and the functionality are right up with the best new practise. One point to mention: if you want to do video you cannot do it with this device. It is pure still photography.
Okay - Nikon takes the body style of the film SLR and puts the sensor and computer processor of their best full-frame camera in it. The legendary D4 sensor - thing that has improbably high ISO and impossibly low noise combined. They put the controls for the thing up on metal dials like the old days. They lighten the body by making the panels of magnesium. They opt for a smaller battery than the big cameras - so that it can go in a slimmer hand grip. No pop-up flash. Traditional PC connector and mechanical cable release.
But remember that this is a digital camera and modern users are used to adjusting the shutter and aperture with thumb wheels - so they put that on there as well. You don't need to use them - you can do your adjusting on dials. You can also add all your old Nikon-mount lenses from the film era - they have incorporated the special little dedicated tab on the lens mount that talks to the lenses. You might be scrapping to put 1962 lenses on it but all the later ones go very well.
The battery compartment bears an EL-EN14a battery and an SD card slot and WHOA NELLIE there is a heavy rubber seal and metal locking key to get into it. It speaks well for the weather sealing of the rest of the body. Retro-look notwithstanding this is going to be a camera that can can withstand hard service.
Hard service: Can't tell whether people who get shot at for profit will be taking this out amongst the rockets and machetes. David Dare Parker said he would - he has been using the big D3 and 4 series for just that for a number of years. Now he'll get a chance to get that level of performance at a very much lighter weight. He will be wise to take a couple of spare batteries on a bandolier, however - the EN-El14a is a 1230 mAh pack.
Soft service: This is all any amateur photographer will ever need - as long has it as a good selection of Nikon lenses. I do not wish to suggest that the amateur should stop buying cameras - this is a business and we want to eat...but if you get this one you have a vast vista of capability in front of you and you will be working long and hard to exhaust the possibilities.
Pose service: This is new and if you are fast you will have it before your brother in law. Hurry in and bring your card.