The Fstoppers Nikon DF Camera Hipster Review

About two months ago, I posted a highly controversial post called The Nikon Df Represents Everything Wrong With Photography. Even though I completely stand behind my original article, I began to wonder if I had not given Nikon's newest DSLR offering a fair chance. Today I decided to take the Nikon Df out into the real world and not only test it's photographic capabilities, but also hear what normal people had to say about it.

I'm going to let me video speak for itself, but I did find the Nikon Df camera to have some strengths and weaknesses. In no particular order, here are some of the pros and cons after playing with the camera for a few days.

Pros:
Overall Styling: This is the most noticeable change and definitely the most controversial aspect of this camera. I however do really love the way this camera looks aesthetically.
The Sensor: It's a Nikon D4 sensor for half the price of the real thing. The image quality is amazing, but not necessarily better than the D800 once you convert the D800's 36 megapixels down to same 16 megapixels found in the D4.

Cons:
No Video: I know some photographers don't care about video but it does not cost any extra to include it. If this camera was truly a vacationer's dream, then video should be an important feature to include.
Confusing Buttons: As noted in the video, sometimes exposure controls are associated with the retro knobs and other times they are associated with standard rotating "digital" knobs. But what really makes little sense is when aperture and shutter control is mixed with both button varieties. It's way more confusing than any film or digital camera Nikon has ever put out.
New Battery: Yep this takes yet another battery. The En-EL14a is smaller which is nice but not at the expense of having to buy another battery when I have already invested heavily in the universal EN-EL15.
Slow Focus: While the Df has the same Nikon D4 sensor, it definitely does not have the same lightening fast focusing. I guess if you really wanted to "slow down" your photo taking experience then you'd just manually focus but from my field test the focusing seemed slower at times than the Nikon D600 or D7000 I used to own.

Camera Size: This may or may not be a negative thing for the average user but I assumed this was going to be a small pocket sized camera that I could easily travel with. It's not. It's basically the same size as the D600 but it doesn't have the full hand grip on the side so it's incredibly uncomfortable for me to hold. If you have small hands you may like it though. 

The Retro Look: The thing that has been overlooked so far is that there are no retro styled lenses out for this camera. Sure it comes with the retro 50mm 1.8 lens, but the second you replace that lens with a newer Nikon 24-70, 70-200, or any other G lens, the whole system looks rather strange and out of place. Maybe Nikon really only ever envisioned Df users using the 50mm or older non AI and non AF lenses, but I'm sure most any real traveling photographer is going to want a wider lens and probably some sort of small telephoto. Once you place one of those lenses on this camera, the whole illusion of the retro look is completely removed.

 

Conclusion

As expected the Nikon Df takes great pictures, but honestly, all new DSLRs these days do. The camera has an appealing look that the average person, and I, really do like. If this camera was less than $1000 and was smaller I think it would be a massive success for amateurs and pros alike but it's 3 grand. For 3 grand you can get the highest rated DSLR of all time, the D800. If you were only going to own 1 camera, I'd have to recommend the D800.

I think the Nikon Df camera is going to find its way into the homes of wealthy photographers who have a collection of gear, old and new. The Df is a very good camera, it's just a little too slow, and a bit too uncomfortable for it to be considered a standard "pro" camera. That doesn't mean you can't take professional images with it. It simply means that I don't think droves of professionals will be throwing their D800s and D4s out anytime soon to make the Df their main camera.

I will end this post with a quote from my previous, extremely controversial post because I still stand by what I said:

"I’m honestly really excited that Nikon is doing something “different” but at the same time I would hate to see this camera, which I believe in many ways is a massive step backwards, become the best selling “pro” camera simply because it looks cool. We buy things every day because of the way they make us feel and that’s fine. I believe this camera will bring a lot of people a lot of joy. I just don’t want you to forget that we are supposed to enjoy photography, and not just being fashionable photographers."

As I said at the end of the video; if you're a pro or trying to go pro you may want to check out our photography workshop in the Bahamas. Check out this link for a contest to win a free trip.
 

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213 Comments

ALEXANDER TARDIF's picture

I normally don't like posting comments before finishing the entire review, but when I do, I like to say... THIS IS PURE GOLD! lol... back to the rest of the video...

You are gonna cop it for this Hahaha
So good !

Absolutely hilarious!

Keith Hammond's picture

Lee that is pure gold mate, you gotta make more movies

Avrohom Perl's picture

SO MUCH TROLL!
Comedy gold from beginning to end!

You better make a 2nd episode, you better...

Dean Courtois's picture

Lee the dedication is what made this video. Very entertaining!

Ok I just have to jump in and comment... that was HILARIOUS, fstoppers surprises me with new articles and originals, one after another, but this one blew my mind, this is a new high. Congratulations! This really shows why creativity is always more important than technical knowledge and all the other bluff a lot of commenters fight for every single days in pages like this, dpreview and practically any page that reviews cameras. At the end does that matter? Do you even have to get the 100% of all the hardware you have and pay $$$$ more for that extra sharpness in the corner? I can't tell what camera did you use for the video, does it matter? hell no! the same should be applied to photography every single time. Congrats again! and cheers from Mexico!

Jacob delaRosa's picture

WELL PLAYED SIR, WELL PLAYED.

FWIW I recently picked up a Chrome Nikon FE for $80...its damn sexy and not a bad camera either!

Levi Sherman's picture

#hipsterswag
This is awesome, made my night. :)

Scott Mosley's picture

Yes! Fantastic review!! Well, I wished you talked about the low light performance. We use a df with some of our old lenses during receptions at 6400 or even 12800 and the quality is great. We would never give up our d800s though. The camera is very light, despite what you said, and hangs from the neck very compact-ish with a 50mm e or 28mm.
I want more of this fstoppers! Best video ever!!

Glad to see someone with a bigger voice than mine see that with the Df, the emperor has no clothes. All the usual suspects are too afraid of Nikon to call them out.

well played sir ... well played....

Noam Galai's picture

Masterpiece

Hahaha!! Dude! This is awesome. Well done on not taking yourself too seriously :)

Matt Kozovski's picture

Best. Review. Ever. Much Lulz

Hilarious!

Lost my mind during the cigarette bit.

Well played sir, nothing like stirring the pot. I really think Nikon really dropped the ball on this. Fuji got it right and it just looks like Nikon wanted to jump on the bandwagon.

digitalrev just called, they want your help making their videos actually like.

Brilliant.

Lee has got to hook up with kai of digitalrev. Pure golden randomness... and some camera info sprinkled here and there.

Ohh man this was soooo good. Laughed so hard my stomach hurts. Great video Lee, you guys really pulled this perfectly.

Holy crap, that was awesome! Didn't even notice the 20 minutes go by.

The fact that u shaved that glorious beard, I was worried. But it was worth it.

"arnt u going to use these camera's to take the photos?"

...No. - Lee Morris.

Thank you Branko,
I forgot to mention that about the woman in the black leather jacket when you took her photo of her holding the cameras with your iPhone. I'm assuming that hipsters all own iPhones instead of Android.

It was an iPhone in a mophie battery case.

Amazing :)

This was legend... wait for it dary. Very entertaining and informative at the same time.

I am crying with the look man, you made my day !!! ;)

Brock Williams's picture

This is possibly the greatest use of the internet you fine gentlemen have ever made

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