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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210 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...

Chris Reid's picture

You are gonna cop it for this Hahaha
So good !

tmensonides's picture

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...

Stefan Choquette's picture

BRILLIANT!

Dean Courtois's picture

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

Ramiro García Zepeda's picture

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!

Anonymous'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!!

Mansgame's picture

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.

August Young's picture

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

Noam Galai's picture

Masterpiece

bernard brand's picture

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

Matt Kozovski's picture

Best. Review. Ever. Much Lulz

Cris Franco's picture

Hilarious!

Graham Marley's picture

Lost my mind during the cigarette bit.

louisleblanc's picture

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.

Branko M's picture

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

Brilliant.

Victor Samuel's picture

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

Miguel's picture

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

Cory Anderson's picture

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

Branko M's picture

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.

Ralph Hightower's picture

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.

mmmarc's picture

It was an iPhone in a mophie battery case.

abhishek nair's picture

Amazing :)

Louis van Zyl's picture

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

Nick Papakyriazis's picture

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

foorider's picture

BRAVO!!!!!

Spy Black's picture

Considering you already looked like a hipster before you got the cut, all you really had to do was put on the clothes. ;-)

I'll tell you who that camera was made for. Old Japanese men. With have disposable income. The Df is to Japanese males what the Nikon 1 series is to Japanese women. The Df also appeals to geezers across the globe. Like myself. That's who that camera was made for. If it sells to the "hipster" market, all the better for Nikon. They obviously saw the appeal of the Fuji, which had the same mix of demographics. But really it's a camera for an older generation. We grew up a in a world with cameras that had controls just like that. We love that shìt. At least, some of us still do. Sure, professionally today most people are used to those little dials on modern DSLRs. Personally, I hate those dials. I wish DSLRs were designed like this from the word go. But that's just me, I'm an old school guy.

Also, if you stick an Ai lens on the Df, all of a sudden it all starts to make a lot more sense. You won't be using those little dials at all. You'll slow down even more than you already had. I understand the need for AF lenses and all that, but stick an Ai, or if you're just feeling too insecure without AF, put a D lens on there, and the camera design will start to make a lot more sense.

But young guys like yourself were never part of that world, which is why you feel the way you do about the Df. And that's perfectly natural, and there's nothing wrong with that. Personally, my only criticisms of the Df are that it's overpriced (I'm not a rich old Japanese male) and it sorely lacks an optional manual focusing screen. That's it. I don't give a rat's ass about it's lack of video or AF points. Ergonomically I can shoot with that camera without ever looking anywhere other than the viewfinder, because I know why they designed that camera the way they did. They literally made that camera for me. I also have an army of Ai lenses that will fit that camera very nicely.

So now you know who that camera was made for. I have to say, Nikon knows me well.

Henri De Vreese's picture

There are finaly some manual focus screens btw (I thought it was a scam first, but there are actually people that bought some and they work great)

Slaven Smolčić's picture

Completely understand you Sir.My friend who bought D800 was most impressed with 180/2,8 AI-S ED,and that is just small piece of lot of an old lenses.If only viewfinder would be beautiful like one in FM2.

Owain Shaw Photo's picture

Excellent way to start my day, thanks Lee.

Sean Tucker's picture

Nailed it:)

Taylor Barnette's picture

PLEEEEEEEAAAASSSE!!!! make more videos like this Lee! hahaha im dying hahaha

fotique13's picture

Lee, if you guys put out at least one video like this per month Fstoppers will stay relevant.. Great Job!

Ye TZ's picture

i literally clapping my hands when he's changing outfits. LOL

Dino Mari's picture

A.W.E.S.O.M - O

Jim Cunningham's picture

so Lee is a lightweight smoker :-)

funny video...bursting with irony...good job, people...

Jim Cunningham's picture

You should have left the adolf-stash there in the end :-)

Bruno Silva's picture

Can you guys do that again, but weekly?
Thanks in advance.

Graf Almassy's picture

Lee Morris is the next Kai Wong! I love this video! Best review in 2014! :)

Christopher Sztybel's picture

Absolutely hysterical!

Randall Richards's picture

1:59s in and i think, 'PERFECT'. I need nothing more Lee. PURE GOLD. LOL

Jonas Karlsson's picture

awesome video!
but what with the blinking left at 02:40? :)

jef3frey's picture

I never comment or anything always on the sideline reading etc...
now i registered to just put this out!!!
This was just too gooood!!!!!!

Anthony Woodruffe's picture

Best Video I've ever watched on Fstoppers... Way to go Lee

Norm C's picture

Well done. Pure gold. BTW - you look great in those selfies!

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