Nikon Df review: Is this retro-styled shooter the best available-light camera ever?


posted Monday, March 3, 2014 at 4:49 PM EST


No question about it: The Nikon Df is an interesting camera. It's based around the same great 16-megapixel full-frame sensor and processor pairing of the professional Nikon D4, and yet carries a list price less than half that of the pro model. You'd think that combination would have everyody cheering, but the Df is actually a camera that divides opinion more than most -- and that's mostly down to its design aesthetic.

Retro styling is all the rage these days, and the Nikon Df's weather-sealed body follows the trend, resurrecting a look akin to Nikon's F-series film cameras. But it's this design that has caused a split in opinions: Some photographers love it for the connection that physical dials provide to key exposure variables; others have concerns about their implementation. For one thing, there are no intuitive Auto positions on the dials. Instead, there's a tiny Mode dial with an unusual lift-and-turn design. And there are questions about the ergonomic design of some of the controls, most notably the locking ISO sensitivity dial and the unusual vertical front control dial.

Of course, we discuss this in our Nikon Df review, and offer our thoughts on the FX-format DSLR's handling. We also provide an in-depth look at the camera's image quality and performance -- both in the lab, and out in the real world. But if there was one feature that defined our experience with the Nikon Df, it was probably down to that sensor, which allows for available light shooting in conditions where other cameras would have you reaching for your flash. It's incredibly liberating to be able to shoot with available light even in relatively dim lighting, and it yields a much more natural look to your photos. Doubly so because your subjects don't immediately adopt the deer-in-the-headlights look that they normally would just as soon as they see a burst of preflash.

In fact, we'd go as far as to say that the Nikon Df is arguably the best available-light shooter around -- and in our book, that makes it a pretty important camera, interface quirks or not. But is it the right camera for you? Read our Nikon Df review, and find out!