Basic Specifications
Full model name: Nikon Df
Resolution: 16.20 Megapixels
Sensor size: 35mm
(36.0mm x 23.9mm)
Kit Lens: Non-Zoom
50mm
(50mm eq.)
Viewfinder: Optical / LCD
Native ISO: 100 - 12,800
Extended ISO: 50 - 204,800
Shutter: 1/4000 - 30 seconds
Max Aperture: 1.8 (kit lens)
Dimensions: 5.6 x 4.3 x 2.6 in.
(144 x 110 x 67 mm)
Weight: 34.7 oz (983 g)
includes batteries, kit lens
Availability: 11/2013
Manufacturer: Nikon
Full specs: Nikon Df specifications
16.20
Megapixels
Nikon F 35mm
size sensor
image of Nikon Df
Front side of Nikon Df digital camera Front side of Nikon Df digital camera Front side of Nikon Df digital camera Front side of Nikon Df digital camera Front side of Nikon Df digital camera

Df Summary

The full-frame, FX-format Nikon Df takes the same great sensor and processor pairing of the professional Nikon D4, and places them in a retro-styled body that, while occasionally clumsy, is undeniably handsome. Unfortunately, its autofocus system isn't the greatest, and quite a few features -- including movie capture and an autofocus assist lamp -- are missing from the design. If you're a fan of the retro aesthetic and can justify its pricetag, though, it's arguably the best available-light shooter in its class.

Pros

Same sensor and processor as professional D4; Great image quality; Arguably the best available-light shooter in its class; Handsome, retro styling; Weather-sealed design; Big, clear full-frame viewfinder; Excellent battery life

Cons

Expensive; Bulky, yet handgrip is quite modest; Some controls are clumsy; Plastic body panels don't gel with retro aesthetic; Autofocus isn't in the same league as image quality; No AF assist lamp; No movie capture; No portrait grip; Single card slot

Price and availability

Available since late November 2013 in either silver or black versions, both with black leatherette trim, the Nikon Df is priced at US$2,750 body-only. A kit bundling the AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Special Edition lens is priced at US$3,000. The lens itself retails separately for US$280, so you're saving only $30 by purchasing it in a kit. It's optically and functionally identical to the standard 50mm f/1.8G lens, which costs just US$220, however, so if cost is the most important factor you'll want to buy that lens instead.

Imaging Resource rating

4.0 out of 5.0

Nikon Df Review

Overview and Walkaround by , Field Tests by Eamon Hickey
Preview posted: 11/04/2013
Review finalized:

Updates:
11/27/2013: Labmaster Luke's Take
01/20/2014: Field Test Blog Part I: Initial Thoughts
01/24/2014: Field Test Blog Part 2: A Nighttime Stroll
02/23/2014: Field Test Blog Part 3: Icy Rivers and Skating Rinks
03/02/2014: Image Quality / Print Quality comparisons and Conclusion

Nikon DF Review -- Front quarter view

Many of us who've been photographers since the film days still remember our favorite cameras from that time gone by, and often find ourselves reminiscing about them -- the way they felt in our hands, the way they handled. Sure, we look through rose-tinted glasses in our nostalgia, but our film cameras were decidedly different to their digital brethren. They were simple and elegant, with form matching function. Major features had physical controls dedicated to their use; there were no complicated menu systems to hide them. And those film cameras were backed up by some truly great lenses, too -- lenses we no longer use solely because modern digital cameras don't support them.

The Nikon Df is a full-frame DSLR that puts you in a time machine and takes you back to those days of film, merging the control-rich aesthetic of F-series film cameras with modern digital design, and bringing new support for your classic Nikkor lenses. The Df trades on our nostalgia, but it's a lot more than just a throwback to another era. Sure, the weather-sealed, magnesium alloy-bodied camera sports physical controls aplenty, but it will also excite photographers who've never touched a classic film camera, because it's the smallest and lightest full-frame camera Nikon has produced to date.

Nikon DF Review -- Dave Etchells checks out the pentaprism viewfinder

At the heart of the Nikon Df is a 16.2-megapixel, FX-format CMOS image sensor, the same chip used previously in the pro-oriented Nikon D4. As in that camera, it's paired with an EXPEED 3 image processor. Although the Df's 5.5 frames-per-second burst performance lags well behind the 10fps of the D4, it boasts the same exceptionally wide expanded sensitivity range of ISO 50 to 204,800 equivalents.

A key feature of the Nikon Df for fans of the company's F-series film camera will be its 100% pentaprism optical viewfinder. Of course, this is a DSLR, and so there's still a 3.2-inch, 921k dot LCD monitor on the rear panel as well, but we'd imagine the typical Df owner will be spending less time fumbling around in menus than most photographers do today. There's also a small info display on the top deck, again as you'd expect on a modern Nikon DSLR.

The styling and handling of a modern lens might, perhaps, seem out of place on a retro-styled body, but you have two alternatives. First, you can mount your historic Nikon lenses on the Df body, with welcome news if you've been holding onto your favorite film camera lenses: The Nikon Df has fewer limitations on old glass than do other Nikon DSLRs, thanks to a new, collapsible metering coupling lever on the bayonet which supports pre-AI lenses. Second, Nikon is also releasing a retro AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G (Special Edition) lens alongside the Df body, and this couples modern optical design with classic Nikkor styling.

Nikon DF Review -- In hand front quarter image
The Nikon Df has a weather-sealed body with similar protection to that offered by the Nikon D800.

The Nikon Df uses a 2,016-pixel 3D Color Matrix Metering II sensor to determine exposures, and features a 39-point autofocus system with nine cross-type points. Seven of those points will work to f/8. Both a hot shoe and flash sync terminal cater to external strobes, and as you'd expect on a retro-styled, enthusiast camera, there's no built-in flash.

The retro design goes beyond simply the aesthetic, with a design decision that may surprise you. Unlike almost all SLRs these days, the Nikon Df doesn't support movie capture. For those looking for a film camera experience, that's likely another check in the plus column, however.

The Df stores its images on Secure Digital cards with support for SDHC/SDXC and faster UHS-I types, and power comes from an EN-EL14a battery pack, rated for 1,400 shots on a charge. Connectivity includes both Type-C Mini HDMI high-def video, plus USB 2.0 High Speed data. You can also connect either a WU-1a Wi-Fi adapter or GP-1 / GP-1a GPS receiver to the Nikon Df.

Nikon DF Review -- In-hand top quarter image
The Nikon Df's top deck is crafted from magnesium alloy. The black version (shown) has a light splatter texture, while the silver version has a bead-blasted, plated finish.

Let's take a look around the Nikon Df's rather handsome body.

Place your order with trusted Imaging Resource affiliate Adorama now:

Or with B&H Photo Video:

Walkaround. Seen from the front, it's very clear that the Nikon Df is a camera which doesn't hide its controls. Buttons, knobs, and dials sprout in all directions, sometimes stacked wedding cake-style, multiple layers deep. The Df is surprisingly light in hand, and weighs about 1.8 ounces (50g) less than the D600 / D610, previously Nikon's lightest and most compact FX-format models. Retro styling aside, it doesn't feel as substantial as old Nikon film bodies like the F3, but it still feels comfortable. That's in part thanks to the rubbery leatherette coating that overlies many of its panels.

Nikon DF Review -- Front view

In terms of size, the Nikon Df is almost the same height and width as the Nikon D610, but quite a bit slimmer. It's around 0.6 inches (16mm) less deep, a difference that comes largely thanks to a shallower handgrip. The grip lines the right side of the camera body (as seen from the rear), and at its top resides an eyelet for the neckstrap, mirroring one at the left end of the body. Both eyelets are angled forwards to help keep the camera from tipping down on the strap, at least when using lighter lenses.

Moving left a bit, there's the Front dial, adjacent to the silk-screened model number. Unusually, the whole dial is visible, rather than it being mostly hidden inside the camera body. Its front surface is lined with a circle of leatherette trim matching the material that wraps most of the camera body. The design makes for an interesting, retro look, but it's not as easy to turn as the more typical, embedded dial.

Beneath are the DOF Preview and Function buttons. At the top left is the Self-timer lamp and below that, in the body's leatherette portion, is the flash sync terminal. Move down a little further and you get to the Lens Release button.

Nikon DF Review -- Non-AI lens menu

Also worth noting is a small lever at top right of the lens mount. This must be raised when using non-AI lenses, and lowered for AI lenses. Not doing so, says Nikon, could result in damage to camera and lens. When shooting with a non-AI lens, you must first program the camera with information about the lens' focal length and maximum aperture, and select that the lens is a non-AI type. Then you must select that lens for use in the camera's firmware, mount it, and shoot only in Aperture-priority or Manual modes. (The camera can't control aperture with a non-AI lens, so Program and Shutter-priority modes won't work.) And finally, you must dial in your chosen aperture not just on the lens, but also on the camera body.

Nikon DF Review -- Top view

Looking at the top of the Nikon Df, hardly any space goes unused. Starting at left, there are two stacked dials, both with locking buttons. The lower dial controls ISO sensitivity, with its locking button sitting just left of and behind it. The upper dial controls exposure compensation within a +/-3 stop range. It is locked with a button at its center.

Moving right, there's a sharply defined magnesium alloy pentaprism housing, and at its rear, an intelligent flash hot shoe with a hole for a locking pin. The pentaprism housing is, like much of the camera, leatherette wrapped, reinforcing the camera's retro aesthetic.

Finally, at right there are numerous controls. A Shutter Speed dial offers full-stop positions, and includes a 1/3 stop position. When this is dialed in, you can adjust the shutter speed in finer steps using the rear dial. Again, there's a central locking button for the Shutter Speed dial. Beneath is a lever which selects the camera's Drive mode, and a Quiet mode is among the options on offer.

The Shutter button is encircled by a Power switch, and includes a thread at its center for a release cable. It sits just left of a tiny and very simple four-position Mode dial. (No unnecessary "fluff" such as Scene modes on what's clearly an enthusiast-oriented camera.) Unusually, the Mode dial must be pulled upwards before it can be turned; it's spring-loaded to retract again once you let go. This locking function prevents accidental mode changes, but it can take a while to get used to.

Finally, there's a small info display, and an adjacent button with which to activate its backlight.

Nikon DF Review -- Back view

The rear of the Nikon Df, too, is pretty busy. It's fairly similar to the layout seen in recent cameras like the D7100, though, so it shouldn't take long for existing Nikon DSLR shooters to get used to.

The Playback and Delete buttons occupy their traditional positions at top left, above a column of five buttons which line the left side of the 3.2-inch LCD monitor. From top to bottom, these access the Menu system, control white balance and image protection, adjust image quality / zoom in during playback, control the flash / zoom out during playback, and finally, provide configurable access to various functions.

Above the LCD monitor sits a pentaprism viewfinder with 100% coverage and 0.70x magnification, and this is encircled by a rubber eyecup. Above and to the right is a small diopter correction dial, providing a -3 to +1m-1 corrective range. Continuing right, you'll find the Autoexposure / Autofocus Lock button, the Autofocus On button, and the Rear dial.

The remaining controls line the right side of the LCD, and sit inside a gently sculpted rear thumbgrip. From top to bottom, there's a Metering mode switch, a Four-way controller with central OK button and Lock ring, a small Flash Card Status lamp, and buttons for both Live View and Info functions.

Nikon DF Review -- Left view
Nikon DF Review -- Ports

On the left side of the body, you can find a few more controls and features. The Bracket button sits above the Lens Release button on the side of the lens mount, and further down, there's a Focus Mode selector. The side of the body, meanwhile, plays host to three separate rubber flaps. From top to bottom (left to right in the crop), these cover the USB data port, HDMI high-definition video output, and accessory port for options like a wired or wireless remote release, or a GPS unit. Note that the Nikon Df does not provide a composite A/V output.

Nikon DF Review -- Right view

The right side of the Nikon Df, meanwhile, is almost featureless. The only thing of note is a small rubber flap at the base of the camera, which provides access to the battery compartment if using a dummy battery to provide external power.

Nikon DF Review -- Bottom view
Nikon DF Review -- Battery and card slot

The base of the camera, too, is largely smooth and featureless. There's a 1/4 inch metal tripod socket, placed on the central axis of the lens, but rather close to the rear of the camera at or very near to the focal plane. There's also a locking compartment door at the base of the handgrip, behind which you'll find both the battery compartment and the single Secure Digital card slot. The compartment is opened by raising the metal lock hasp, and then rotating it to release the door lock.

 

Nikon Df Review -- Labmaster Luke's Take

When we received our test sample of the Nikon Df, the first one of us to actually shoot with it was our senior lab technician Luke Smith. Luke has shot pretty much every significant camera that's been announced in the last ten years or so, so we thought his insights on the Nikon Df would be interesting to our readers. Herewith, then, some handling notes from Luke:

"The Nikon Df focuses nicely, the exposure is consistent and it's reasonably quiet to operate. To my eye, its images look quite like those from the Nikon D4, as expected.

The control dials work well for the most part, especially the ones with the center depress button, but there are two that don't work so well for my tastes. The ISO dial is a bear, and takes two hands -- one to press the lock release and one to turn the dial, which is really frustrating. And the Shutter Speed dial is pointless to me, because in order to achieve precise speeds you have to turn the dial close to where you want it, and then use the common digital scroll wheel to get it precise. But if you just set the dial to 1/3-stop increments then you can do this anyway, and I am guessing most people will set it there and never touch it again, using the more common and easy rear dial instead.

The top shutter speed is only 1/4,000s, where the D4 will go to 1/8,000s. Because of this and the minimum aperture being f/22, I was unable to complete our full series of ISO tests, because as I approached the top sensitivity -- a whopping ISO 204,800, as also found on the D4 -- I was unable to achieve optimal exposure. This is only a small gripe that will not affect many shots, but it is still worth noting.

The viewfinder is very nice and big, like a film SLR, but the overall look of the camera is not to my tastes. The 'silver' edition that we're testing seems to use several different shades of plating for the exterior, making the body somewhat cheap-looking compared to most pro cameras. And the shiny black front caps on several of the front buttons don't help in this respect.

Overall, the Nikon Df is an interesting camera which takes nice images, but has some rather oddball quirks."

Nikon Df Field Tests

by Eamon Hickey

Nikon Df field test photoA great many moons ago, when I was fifteen, my mom and my uncle banded together and bought me the Christmas present I hardly dared hope for: a single-lens reflex camera. It was a lightly-used Minolta SRT-101 with a 50mm f/1.7 lens, a classic metal all-manual SLR. I loved it. Using its simple controls I learned to make pictures.

A decade or so later, while working in a camera store, I earned a Nikon N8008s -- also known as the F-801S -- as a sales incentive. Here was a different beast, with a slew of automatic capabilities and, more radically, a much different control system centered on push-buttons and a multi-function command dial. This new system was made necessary by the camera's dozens of adjustable settings. I took to the N8008s immediately and soon strongly preferred its controls, which made my photography both faster and more precise.

Nikon Df Image Quality Comparison

See how the Nikon Df's IQ compares to rivals

by William Brawley

Nikon Df image quality Here we present crops comparing the Nikon Df's image qualityh with the Nikon D4's, as well as to the Canon 5D Mark III, Fuji X-T1, Nikon D800 and Sony A7.

NOTE: These images are best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction. All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses.

This comparison is almost too close to call. Both perform admirably here at base ISO, as expected. The Df does pull more fine detail from the pink fabric swatch, and perhaps just a slight bit more from the mosaic tiles as well, but the default JPEG sharpening could be as much of a factor here as anything else. Note, of course, that the Df costs roughly half as much as the D4.

Nikon Df Conclusion

by Eamon Hickey

The retro-styled, weather-sealed Nikon Df is an undeniably handsome camera, packed with external controls much like the F-series film cameras of days gone by. But perhaps its best attribute is what lies inside -- the very same sensor and processor featured in the professional Nikon D4. It's an undeniably high-end imaging pipeline, and yet the Nikon D4 costs half as much as that camera.

The Df is not without its quirks, though. The extensive use of plastic throughout its design doesn't gel with the retro design aesthetic, and some of its controls feel clumsy in use. The unusual lift-and-turn Mode dial is less intuitive than the Fuji X-T1's simple A-position on each control, but the lack of an aperture ring on many modern lenses paints Nikon into a corner with this interface. The locking ISO dial is also awkward to adjust single-handed, and the front dial uncomfortable as well.

 

In the Box

The Nikon Df Special Edition Lens kit with 50mm prime lens (as reviewed) contains the following items:

  • Nikon Df body
  • AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G Special Edition lens (optically and functionally identical to standard version.)
  • HB-47 bayonet lens hood
  • CL-1013 soft lens case
  • LC-58 lens cap
  • LF-4 rear cap
  • BF-1B body cap
  • EN-EL14a rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack
  • MH-24 quick charger
  • AN-DC9 shoulder strap
  • UC-E6 USB cable
  • BS-1 accessory shoe cover
  • DK-26 eyepiece cap
  • DK-17 eyepiece
  • NikonView NX2 Software CD-ROM
  • 1-Year Limited Warranty

 

Recommended Accessories

  • Large capacity SDHC/SDXC memory card. 16GB Class 4 should be a minimum.
  • Spare EN-EL14A or EN-EL14 rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack for extended shooting
  • EH-5b AC adapter and EP-5A power supply connector for studio shooting
  • Additional lenses
  • External Speedlight flash, or other shoe-mount accessory flash
  • DK-17 series dioptric lenses for viewfinder (if built-in diopter adjustment is insufficient for your prescription)
  • DG-2 eyepiece magnifier or DR-5 right-angle viewfinder
  • MC-DC2 remote release cord
  • AR-3 threaded cable release
  • GP-1A GPS unit (for geotagging of images)
  • WU-1a wireless mobile adapter (for Wi-Fi remote control)
  • WR-1, WR-R10 and/or WR-T10 wireless remote controls
  • HTC-100 or other Mini-HDMI cable
  • Small to medium camera case or Nikon's CF-DC6 leather case (available in black or brown)

Place your order with trusted Imaging Resource affiliate Adorama now:

Or with B&H Photo Video:

Follow Imaging-Resource.com on Twitter!

 

Similar to the Df but smaller lighter larger sensor cheaper But ...
loading
No cameras match your search criteria(s)
   

$2699.00

22.3 MP (27% more)

Also has viewfinder

22% larger

Df vs 5D Mark III

$1222.33 (125% less)

20.2 MP (20% more)

Also has viewfinder

8% larger

Df vs 6D

$1496.95 (84% less)

24.3 MP (33% more)

Also has viewfinder

20% larger

Df vs D610

$1496.95 (84% less)

24.3 MP (33% more)

Also has viewfinder

15% larger

Df vs D750

$3199.00 (14% more)

30.4 MP (47% more)

Also has viewfinder

21% larger

Df vs 5D Mark IV

$6989.00 (61% more)

18.1 MP (10% more)

Also has viewfinder

51% larger

Df vs EOS-1D C

$1896.95 (45% less)

36.4 MP (55% more)

Also has viewfinder

18% larger

Df vs K-1

$5499.00 (50% more)

20.2 MP (20% more)

Also has viewfinder

52% larger

Df vs 1DX Mark II

$6496.95 (58% more)

20.8 MP (22% more)

Also has viewfinder

55% larger

Df vs D5

$1796.95 (53% less)

20.9 MP (22% more)

Also has viewfinder

23% larger

Df vs D500

$1799.00 (53% less)

14.8 MP (9% less)

Also has viewfinder

21% larger

Df vs SD1

$3198.00 (14% more)

42.4 MP (62% more)

Also has viewfinder

7% larger

Df vs A99 II

$1198.00 (129% less)

24.3 MP (33% more)

Also has viewfinder

13% larger

Df vs A77 II

$1409.00 (95% less)

20.2 MP (20% more)

Also has viewfinder

20% larger

Df vs 7D Mark II

$961.49 (186% less)

20.2 MP (20% more)

Also has viewfinder

8% larger

Df vs 70D

$774.48 (255% less)

24.35 MP (33% more)

Also has viewfinder

Similar size

Df vs K-3

$829.33 (231% less)

24.35 MP (33% more)

Also has viewfinder

Similar size

Df vs K-3 II

$1146.95 (140% less)

20.9 MP (22% more)

Also has viewfinder

Similar size

Df vs D7500

$796.95 (245% less)

24.2 MP (33% more)

Also has viewfinder

Similar size

Df vs D7200

$3499.00 (21% more)

50.6 MP (68% more)

Also has viewfinder

22% larger

Df vs 5DS

Suggestion for improvement? Head over here.


Enter this month to win:

1 $300 Adorama Gift Certificate

2 $200 Adorama Gift Certificate

3 $100 Adorama Gift Certificate