A Response on the Nikon Df Distaste, and Thoughts to Consider

A Response on the Nikon Df Distaste, and Thoughts to Consider

What ever happened to loving a camera for the camera? Why does everything we buy have to fill a utilitarian hole? What happened to a love for the craft and as much as for the tool? There has been a lot of chatter around the Nikon Df and if we as photographers need it. It's gone so far as to suggest that it represents all that is wrong with photography these days. I want to argue the opposite. I want to argue it represents what many of us have lost as photographers: joy in the craft.

The theme of Lee's article of distaste stemmed from the question of use and features and business growth. I don't think that's what Nikon envisioned with this camera. Watch those Df teaser videos again. You'll notice the man isn't in a studio. He isn't at a wedding. He isn't posing a model or a couple. He is wandering a beautiful space and capturing moments that mean something to him. This is not accidental. Nikon knows what they want this camera to do and did their best to express that in short videos.

This is a walk about camera for camera and photography lovers. It bears a design that is reminiscent of what many of us shot our first images on. It reminds us why we started shooting to begin with and pushes us to find that part ourselves again.

I might shoot with my iPhone a lot, but that doesn't mean the photographer in me shuts off. I look at the pictures and still find myself wishing for better dynamic range or a higher quality image. I can't help it. This is also the case in the cameras Olympus, Samsung, Sony and others make (with the exception of the new Sony full frame which I have not yet shot on). The Df won't have that problem. I can shoot what I like shooting, shooting for myself and not a client, and also love the image quality. I rarely shoot video on my iPhone, so it's a feature I won't miss in a walk-about camera. I don't know how to shut off the video man in me, and I won't be shooting without the right gear, which I sure as heck won't be toting around Scotland when I'm walking around with my Df.


"Ask any photographer their earliest memory of photography, every one of them will have a different yet impactful story. In all of our careers, there is a moment, not the one that deals with being a professional photographer, but one far more simplistic. It is the moment when we fall in love with photography.

"Like any relationship, photography is a journey. There will be times when we struggle through the feelings that we have lost our creative visions. However, there is balance in times that we feel the clarity from producing imagery that matches your mind’s eye."

-Blair Bunting on the Nikon Df


This isn't a camera to grow your business. This isn't your second or third wedding body. This isn't your do-it-all camera. This is the "grow yourself" camera. This is a gift to yourself for a job well done. This is a camera to remind you why you are a photographer.

I may love the 5D MKIII or my 70D, but I love them in a "gets it done" kind of way. I would enjoy the Df in an "inspires me to love my craft again" sort of way.

Those of you hating the price for lack of features, quit looking at this camera from the perspective that it needs to be something it was never intended to be. Try and look at it as the answer to a problem you long forgot ever existed. Look for it to be the partner for when you need to get away, the camera that can be there as a physical reminder of why you picked up a camera in the first place.


"I see plenty of people complaining about the lack of video, the high price tag, the fact that it isn't designed like a normal, modern DSLR. I think this camera is not for you. It's not meant to be a second body for weddings. It's not designed to shoot corporate videos with your slider. This, is a pleasure camera.

"A 5D or D800 with big proper lenses is a bit like a pick-up truck or a van. Great for work, but not so nice to go for a spin on the weekend. This camera is a Porsche. I want a Porsche. I want it to look good. I want it to be a bit different than my Monday-Friday camera.

"This camera isn't for everyone. It wasn't designed for everyone. I see a lot of comments that are similar to people who hate Apple for making beautiful things that cost more than ugly things. You can drive your Pontiac Aztek, I'll pay a bit more for an Audi."

-Comment from ParisShooter on Fstoppers


Love the tool as much as the craft, and you might find yourself a much happier person. It sucks when a love becomes work. It can be hard to go back on the studio or with your eyes glued to a monitor for hours on end, editing. The Nikon Df wants you to be able to get away from that for a while without giving up the love for taking pictures.

That's what it aspires to, and whether it actually succeeds at that aspiration is eventually up to you, the purchaser. But the price point tells you this isn't a general consumer camera. It's not meant to be a "hipster" body or go against popular vintage looking Fuji or Olympus bodies. It's a different animal entirely.

I expect to catch quite a bit of flak for this opinion, and that's ok. Much like the Df, I stand for something whether or not it's fully understood by everyone. What actually matters is that these opinions and my purpose matter to me. In the end, isn't that what is important to all of us?

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'I may love the 5D MKIII or my 70D, but I love them in a “gets it done” kind of way. I would enjoy the Df in an “inspires me to love my craft again” sort if way.'

I love that. I'm a Canon shooter and I'm really jealous of this camera. I liken it to buying a 1969 Mustang rather than a brand new Porsche; maybe it's missing the bells-and-whistles and you might have paid a bit too much for it, but it's about how it makes you feel.

So if you pay $3000 dollars and it inspires you take this out for a walk and capture some snaps without thinking if the client will like it, or if it will look nice in an album, then I suppose it serves its purpose.

Great response Marlon. Just like Fuji and when the x100 came out, it's back to basics when shooting becomes fun again. And non-photographers love asking about the camera when you are photographing them because it looks different from what they are used too (plastic DSLRS) which in turn helps break the ice on a shoot. But this is the internet everyone loves a good debate, I like it and no one should be slated for liking it.

The big difference is that the X100 offers something the DSLRs don't, that leaf shutter lens and the ability to sync flashes to high shutter speeds.

I understand the X100s and why I use it as a tool to make images that I have a harder time making with DSLRs, but this camera just doesn't offer anything my current DSLRs can't handle.

To be honest, the X100s is my favorite camera to shoot with right now. If I don't need the speed of a DSLR, i'm shooting the X.

X100s also offers only one lens, and if you shooting portraits it's not the camera for you. Leaf shutter or not.

completely agree ^

Mark Schueler's picture

That's the thing, though--it's not missing ANY bells and whistles, other than video. It's not stripped down at all, it's just pretending to be, which is even worse IMHO.

Covet whatever you want, but $3000 would buy you a helluva trip to some scenery you could shoot with a manual film camera... you know, if you *really* want to get back to "pure photography."

People say they would rather buy this and would rather buy that. But for those who already own a ton of gear for work, we want something else like the Df. I mean, look at Michael Schumacher. He drives an F1 when he races for sure, but when he doesn't, he drives a Fiat 500. Same thing!

Zach Ashcraft's picture

Could not agree more with this article. I definitely resonated with much of it. Love my 5d3, but hate carrying it plus a zoom lens around the streets. Its pain on my wrists and neck! I do however ove putting a 50 or 24mm on my Nikon and roaming the streets or woods. Helps me to slow down and really see my surroundings as opposed to snapping a photo and moving on to the next thing.

why not put a 50mm or 24mm on your 5D3 then. how's this Df or any other Nikon helping you any better than your Canon?

Because the Df is more fun? And you can't put a price tag on fun?

how's the Df more fun than the 5DIII?
if i wanted to shoot with a different experience I would rather get a mirrorless camera or even a Leica.

For the same reason the Fuji X100 is fun. It's a different ball of wax.

Thank you for writing a thoughtful response. I agree 100% with everything you said. Obviously my article was a bit harsh to get my point across but those people who actually finished it realized that I wasn't mad at the camera, I was mad at the current trendiness of being a photographer.

This camera may be trendy but I buy trendy things all the time. I may even buy into this trend. I was simply trying to point out that we shouldn't focus on what's fashionable and forget about actual photography

Jaron Schneider's picture

Amen! And I think what Nikon wanted to do was make us focus on it again.

nikon want´s to make money you clown... period.

I think Nikon is trying to push its company as more photography-based, as opposed to Canon which tries to be up there in video. That's just my thoughts, and this camera seems to embody that

Von Wong's picture

Here's an angry blog post to your Df bashing - http://www.lighting-essentials.com/whats-wrong-with-photography-nothing-...

Some interesting points that Jaron could also bring in on this post if you guys are curious to check it out

Man that was really angry. I couldn't finish it

Jaron Schneider's picture

Lot of fire in it, that's for sure.

Von Wong's picture

yeah it was angry. I only skimmed through it to get to the end. It was pretty intense

It matched the elitist tone of your original article with angriness though Lee.

We all know that post was designed to generate clicks, but the Title was horrible. A camera is NEVER what is wrong with Photography... The attitudes surrounding the equipment are.

Photography being a trend is what it is. But the price excludes all but the more serious amateur and hobbyist photographers out there.

Jozef Povazan's picture

An anger is sometimes necessary to show people that you actually care about something, Lee. I read your article and I read this guy reply to it, and he got you to the corner in my opinion. His arguments are pretty solid and if you really did not finish it reading yet, you might be missing a nice look into a mirror. You encouraged readers in your article right at the beginning of it to try to finish it so they do not see you as a hater of Nikon...' Well the same way if you look at his post reply which is addressed to you personally I think you might learn a bit how other people see you and your opinion on this. Everyone loves to be told how good he is, but it takes guts to look at a critique from someone who does not agree with you for some reason. I read posts from both of you and I felt yours bashing statement left me with really cold feelings in my mind. If you really read slowly your lines, you will find yourself trapped in arrogant tone of a person who assumes he is right about everything he said there, but honestly when compared to the other story from http://www.lighting-essentials.com/whats-wrong-with-photography-nothing-..., in my eyes you lost it big way there. This does not mean for me to stop coming to FS for news or good info. There are some great posts you guys have here, but this one is not the case in my opinion. You have a power to influence thousands which is great. But sometimes you remind me Yahoo - pull a story of something, give it an aggressive title to show up high in the feeds and get maximum out of it in clicks and social media to showcase your other work which might be better than the stated post on its own. Such e.g. this yesterday post ! Just my opinion, so thanks for the good stuff and good luck with the next posts! JP

That article over on lighting essentials does not deserve a response. It's written at about a 6th grade level. You are a nikon fanboy.

sorry but the other reviewer is right. that was a terrible article, lee. just poorly written, just to provoke controversy by taking a faux "con" position. maybe you should stick to photography. if you're not mad at the camera, why imply you are in the headline? writing was so much better before bloggers thought any trite thing they scribbled was the word of God.

Mathias Elmeskog's picture

Why should a person not express his or her opinion based on their langue skills? You do it without the use of capital letters or correct langue. I feel that when you red the headline you felt that it was good with an article that expressed you opinion, but then got angry because it did not.

Then you play the judge stating "...the other reviewer is right." claiming there is a right answer and then "... thought any trite thing they scribbled was the word of God.". Come on, even you must see this?!

In the end its just a fu**ing camera, buy it or not. Buy and use what inspires you, why should someone even reflect over what camera, car or sex toys someone prefers.

mathias, the article was disingenuous and misleading, as well as being rather sensationalist -- which is a cheap ploy. ive read other commentaries which were much more professional and non-contradictory. why are you even defending the author's right to write a piece of crapola? ps, what is "langue"?

It seems to me that he was more bothered about Lee than the camera....

I agree with some parts of his article...although he's a touch indelicate.

I'm no fan of the "styling" bs that manufacturers are using as yet another marketing ploy but the only people who seem upset about the new camera are "professional" photographers.

Yes, he thinks Lee is an arrogant elitist.

I loved your article. I, personally, think it's silly to claim that going back to an old school layout, on a digital camera, will bring back "soul" into photography, or make it pure again. I like the separation between film bodies, and digital bodies. I like going to my old film cameras, for that feel and that button layout - and because I shoot Canon it's actually really easy to navigate around my DSLR compared to Nikon.

The fact that they took away so many features, makes me really dislike the price of $3000. Because of that, you are literally paying for the look of the camera. Yesss, it looks amazing...but if I want to pick up a camera like that, I have film cameras already. I don't have to, and honestly can't afford to drop $3000 on a camera, that doesn't even compare to the DSLR I already have.

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