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Nikon Df: Design

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Nikon Df: Design

The Nikon Df is made of magnesium alloy and is weather-sealed, while its styling echoes the Nikon F3 and FM2/FE – sporting the same angular pentaprism with a leatherette finish either side.

Other touches that hark back include the slender grip and ridged dials, along with the high position of the shutter button and old, thin Nikon logo sitting upright on the front of the pentaprism.

The Df’s viewfinder is large and bright so manual focusing is relatively easy. It’s taken from the Nikon D800, so has a 100% field of view and magnification of 0.7x.

Meanwhile, there’s a 3.2-inch 921k-dot LCD display at the rear, which is razor sharp and has high contrast levels. When in live view it allows you to quickly zoom in on the area of focus to assess sharpness, though there’s no focus peaking.

Now, while the Df looks nice, it’s not instantly charming like Fujifilm’s X100S. This is down to a couple of things. The first being its comparative chunkiness.

Of course, Nikon has had to cram in modern technology, yet the camera still seems rather too big, appearing even more so when alongside those classic Nikon film SLRs.

Then there’s the weight, or lack of it. Nikon boasts that the Df is its lightest full-frame DSLR ye, but it’s a little too light for its proportions – zoom lenses feel slightly off-balanced, although primes sit better.

The textured handgrip is slender and squat with a more aesthetically pleasing finish than the rear thumbrest, which seems slightly more modern and ‘grippy’.

Of course, the features and controls required by a DSLR necessitate extra buttons and switches. However, they are laid out more or less in the standard Nikon fashion with the manual controls for ISO, exposure compensation, exposure mode (PASM) and shutter speeds being obvious.

The shutter speeds increase in 1EV increments, but for a more precise exposure there’s a dedicated 1/3-step setting entered via the rear control dial.

In aperture priority, the aperture can be set via either the lens’s aperture ring or the front command dial. This is angled roughly 90° differently compared to other Nikon DSLRs.

The Df, which in the UK comes in a kit with a re-skinned AF-S 50mm f/1.8G lens, is available in black/silver or matt black. Of the two the latter is the more successful as the silver finish looks rather painted on and plastic.


March 23, 2014, 12:25 pm

I admit the retro design has its charm, but (much as with Leica's digital offerings) it seems to be targeting people who place far too much value on style nostalgia for my liking. I'll take a D800 and pocket the healthy chunk of change, thanks all the same.


March 23, 2014, 9:52 pm

Here is a hypothetical interview with Nikon:

Q: I see this camera uses a 16MP sensor, from the D4, so this must be a flagship sensor too.
A: No actually the sensors of the D610 and D800 are much better according to DxO
Q: Ah but this low res must allow this camera to shoot very fast, 10fps or better.
A: No, actually it shoots at 5.5fps slower than our D610
Q: Hmm, but it must have class leading shutter speed, 1/16000
A: No, actually it same as our entry level cameras at 1/4000
Q: Ummm, err, oh yeah, well it must have the flagship AF system right
A: No, actually it has same AF as D5300 and D610, middle of the road
Q: Ah, but it must have old school battery life and run forever out in the wilds
A: No, actually it has a very small battery with below average number of shots
Q: Well it must be very cheap then, cheaper than D610?
A: No, actually it is much dearer.
Q: Ok, then what is the point of this camera?
A: To get old farts to part with a lot of money to relive old time memories.


May 6, 2014, 11:31 pm

That must be me you are referring to. Someone who would prefer a Stradivarius to a Yamaha electric keyboard. Sadly Nikon have completely failed on every count and clearly do not understand the draw of classic camera controls over button covered electronic toys. On top of that there is the insulting price, must think we are fools.

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