Not long ago Sony unveiled and released their new line of full frame mirrorless cameras. They’re small, offer amazing picture quality and they represent the cheapest full-frame cameras currently available in the market (except maybe for a Canon 6D on discount).
I had mixed feelings about those new A7/A7r. The cameras are amazing, but the lens selection is currently extremely limited and they’re all so expensive that they bring the price of camera+lens basically in line with other full frame cameras from Nikon, Canon and Pentax. Sure, you can use other lenses by simply purchasing a third party adapter, but that adds to the cost even further, and not all adapters manage to let the lens work at its full potential.
What excited me the most about the new Sony cameras is that they’re the beginning of something new. Small, full frame cameras at a reasonable price now exist, so I’m sure that during the next few years every camera maker will bring something on the table, so I thought:”Hey, props to Sony, now I’m curious to see how Nikon and Canon will react to that!”.
And here we have the Nikon Df.
As you may have guessed from the feature image, I have a few problems with this camera.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the stuff inside the camera. The D4 sensor is pretty darn good, even though I think that the sensor from the D610 or D800 would have made more sense for a compact camera. And I find it weird that they included the D4 sensor and the D610 autofocus system. Afterall, this camera is missing the speed (and other features) of the D4, so why not using the D610 or D800 sensor?. Yeah, I know, the D4 is a bit better in low light, but we’re not talking about a night & day difference (HA! Low light! Night & Day! Oh, the pun! Did you get it? Eh? Sigh…). Since it’s missing the speed of a D4 body, then I’d definitely prefer a sensor like the D800 for landscape photography.
The Df does not make videos at all (and no audio as well, of course), that’s a feature that was completely removed because this camera is supposed to be about “pure photography”. I don’t mind that, in my camera I’ve pressed the “video” button 4 times, and 3 of them happened by mistake. No built in flash is a bit of a pain in the bum, not a major factor but it can come in handy every now and then as an emergency boat. And hey, the lack of this feature, as well as all the other missing features from a big-sized full frame camera should make the price more affordable, right?
That price tag. And I actually find the body only version to be more reasonable, because the kit with 50mm f1.8 lens costs 250$ more.
“But the 50mm f1.8 lens is a great lens, how can you complain about that?”. Oh yeah, it’s like that. But could you please tell me why on earth that SAME lens sells for about 100$ in any online store, and can be bought for 70/80$ used, and they charge 250$ for that? How come? Oh wait, here’s the reason.
The silver looking ring. THAT thing costs 150$. Its main feature is that it looks good on the camera.
So, am I upset with Nikon because I’m a Canon fanboy? NOPE, my D7100 is sitting next to me and we have a wonderful relationship.
Am I upset with Nikon because I want that camera but cannot afford it? NOPE, I could order it right now.
My problem with Nikon is that the price tag of this camera does not reflect its hardware. They took a sensor they already made a couple of years ago (the D4 was released last year in February, so I guess the sensor must have been ready long before that), combined it with an autofocus system they have already developed, and used a mount that basically allows you to use any Nikon lens ever, or at least most of them.
So where did the R&D cost go? And why is there an unexplainable 150$ premium on the lens?
It’s for the +?$#%ing @%#ing dirty %#&@ of a @&ing &*@#$ retro look.
For some reason that I cannot fathom, retro-everything has become a trend in the last few years. Personally, I don’t get it. It’s like:”Oh, I’d like to get an old, expensive collection camera but I cannot afford it, so I’ll get a new camera with a retro look, that will fuck them”. It’s not something that influences me or my life at all, because I don’t like the look of retro stuff, I don’t see the point in it since it’s just an aesthetic thing, and if you really want to shoot retro-style you should look for a real camera that was made 20/30/40 years ago and use it as it was supposed to be.
The problem that I have with Nikon is that they’re cashing in a trend by charging extra $$$ for reasons that are not connected to the hardware in any possible way. That’s not something that interests me right now, but it’s an extremely wrong approach especially because they don’t give any other option to their customers.
The only thing that I consider missing in my D7100 is a touch screen. It’s not a key feature, but it makes a lot of things quicker, so I’d be happy to give up video recording for a touch screen. So, what happens if during the next year Nikon releases the new Nikon D7150: same sensor, same autofocus, same everything as the D7100, no video recording and new touchscreen, IN A RETRO BODY WITH A SILVER RING AROUND THE VIEWFINDER and they ask 1600$ body only because it’s PURE PHOTOGRAPHY EXPERIENCE?
If the price of the DF was in line with its components, and they were not so insane to charge 250$ for a 100$ lens with a retro (?) ring around it, I’d have thought:”He, I don’t need it, but it’s a cool product, too bad it looks like that, hopefully they’ll come out with new, more interesting models soon”. But charging extra bucks for a trend? For no reason? I mean, how could anyone justify the extra 1000$ between the DF and the basic A7 full frame? The only reason that I would consider is if someone already had a house full of full frame lenses for Nikon cameras, and they wanted something not as bulky and heavy as Nikon’s current full frames.
But to be honest, if I was in such a situation I’d say:”Screw that, I’ll wait until the next DF release, when hopefully they’ll drop the retro style and charge less for more”.
As a wise person wrote somewhere else:”I started photography with film cameras. A camera’s form should follow function. Old cameras were not trying to be “retro” – they were just trying to be good cameras. Modern cameras should do the same. Add good controls that make sense and make photography better. Make the camera small, sleek and ergonomic. I think Sony has done a decent job with cameras like the NEX 7 and A7. Enough with this “retro” poser nonsense.”.
I find no appeal in the Df. It has a look that I find horrible, it does not improve photography in any possible way and has a huge price tag mostly because of its looks. It makes me extremely disappointed to see that Nikon decided to follow this kind of approach for its first compact full frame camera. If they made a regular non-trendy non-retro camera for 2000$ body only (with the D610 sensor to reduce the cost) AND a trendy retro model for an extra 750$ I’d have had no problem with that at all, give customers a CHOICE that is not guided by TRENDS.
My feeling is that Nikon wants to cash in as much as they can from this retro trend before it slowly dies, and maybe in 6 months they’ll release a properly shaped compact full frame camera without an extra price tag. Unfortunately, this lack of choice also screws those people who were really looking forward a portable full frame from Nikon, because if you were hoping for a compact camera to use all your Nikon lenses, well bad luck, it’s retro time, you need to pay an extra for no reason or (probably) wait until (at least) the next year. Oh wait, the silver ring thing, totally worth it!