Friday, November 8, 2013

Thought of the Day: Nikon Df - Good or Bad?

There has been quite a mixed reaction to Nikon's new DSLR, the retro-looking full-frame Df. It seems that photographers are either excited or confused about it.

Those that are excited about the Df  point to the SLR look and feel, as well as knob controls on the body. And I have to say that this is what attracts me to this camera. Those who grew up in the digital age and have never used an old film SLR may not know that there is a certain connection with the art and process when using manual dials. That connection is just not found when digging through menus.

Those that are confused about the Df point to the lack of video capabilities, the ho-hum frames-per-second speed, the 16 megapixel sensor (as compared to 24 or 36 megapixel of some other Nikon models), perhaps the auto-focus, and the price.

I'm actually glad to see a new DSLR without video. I don't use a DSLR for video, so it is one less unused feature to worry about. Also, some camera manufacturers have done a terrible job lately with record-button placement, and many photographers have become frustrated with accidental video recording. You don't have to worry about that with this camera.

The five frames-per-second speed of the Df isn't especially quick, but, unless you are a sports photographer, it's certainly quick enough. Most photographers don't even need one frame-per-second.

The sensor on the Df is excellent. It's the same one found in the Nikon D4. Forget megapixels, this sensor is every bit as good as the sensors found in other Nikon cameras--the file size many not be as large, but the image quality is certainly as good.

I would not be concerned about the Df's auto-focus system, which is the same one found on the Nikon D610. It's very good, I'm sure of that. However, that is not the reason to not be concerned. A camera like the Df begs for manual focusing. With the Df in your hands, you should feel an inner desire to manually focus. Why? Because it slows you down. Because it is more accurate. Because it gives you more control. Because you are an artist.

Finally, the price of the Df is such that if you have money sitting around it is no big deal, and if you don't then it is a big deal. Put me in the latter category. $2,700 is a lot for a camera body. However, if you consider that the Nikon D4, which is essentially what the Df is, costs $6,000, then maybe it isn't such a bad deal after all.

I really like the Nikon Df, but I'll probably never own one. What I can hope for is that camera manufacturers will continue to come up with new products like this one in the future, and some other similar camera will end up in my camera bag.

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