Nikon DF Review: Retro Cool

Looks like a camera from 1988. Performs like a camera from 2018.

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The Nikon DF for first time lookers would be reminiscent of the film cameras of yesteryears. A bulk of the camera’s functions can be controlled using the built-in buttons and dials on the camera body itself. So much so that you would hardly ever use the menu and the rear LCD screen for any manual controls. Make no mistake, underneath the retro design and the ‘filmsy’ look is a digital beast, waiting to be unleased. It shares many of its features (except for looks) with the old flagship Nikon, the D4. Look wise the camera shares its features with the F3 and also the FM/2.

Sensor

The sensor inside the Nikon DF is a 16.2 megapixel CMOS sensor. The same as the Nikon D4. As a matter of fact the D4S also uses a similar resolution (16.2 megapixel) sensor. The large real estate of the sensor with only a limited number of pixels arranged on top of it means that the sensor is capable of producing rather clean images. Image sizes are 4928 x 3280 pixels. Large enough for ever day web publishing and social media posts and even the occasional print.

Image Processing

Image processing is powered by Nikon’s EXPEED 3 image processor.

Auto-focusing

The DF is powered by a Multi-CAM 4800 FX 39 point AF system. 9 out of these AF points are cross-type. 7 out of these AF points which are located close to the center of the frame are sensitive down to f/8. Sensitivity down to f/8 would be ideal when working with long lenses.

To add to that the DF also has a 2016-pixel RGB sensor with 3D Color Matrix Metering II technology to accurately meter a scene. Accurate metering and perfect in camera white balance setting saves a lot of time when post-processing your images.

ISO Sensitivity

ISO range of the camera is 100 – 12800. But it can be further upgraded to 50 – 204800 for a larger working room.

Still Shooting

The Nikon DF isn’t designed for shooting high speed and action photography. The maximum continuous shooting speed of the camera is only 5.5 fps.

Video Shooting

The DF can’t shoot videos. Surprised? Well probably the Nikon people didn’t think you were serious about shooting videos with a retro styled camera. Either that or they took the retro styled theme a bit too far.

Rear LCD Screen

The pretty large 3.2” LCD screen at the back of the camera has a resolution of 921k-dot. The screen gives 100% coverage of the frame.

Connectivity

There are no built-in Wi-Fi connectivity either. You will have to plug in an optional wireless adapter to be able to use wireless connectivity.

Build Quality and Weather Sealing

The DF is built like a tank. Not that you would actually attempt to assemble your new furniture with it, but it can take a fair bit of abuse without complaining.

Conclusion

Some of the best features of the camera are not so apparent. For example the meter coupling level on the lens mount. This enables the camera to be used with Nikon’s older Ai and Non-Ai lenses. That means if you are migrating from older film cameras and is intrigued with the retro design of this digital camera you have one more reason to be happy.

The DF isn’t too expensive, nor is it too cheap. If you are looking for an all-round camera which can shoot videos as well as stills, then the DF is certainly not your camera. You would be better off with something like the D610or even the D810.

But, if you are looking for built-in operability with older film lenses, plus the ability to control everything mechanically, then the DF makes perfect sense.

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