I got my hands on the new Nikon DF and let’s be honest, it’s an adorably attractive camera body.  My love of all things retro sparked some interest in this new DSLR with FX sensor.  I watched a few videos and reviews mocking the design and calling it a “marketing scheme” or desperate attempt on Nikon’s part.  Thus, to spite the critics, I decided to give it a try myself.

When I picked up the DF, my first instinct was to instantly have more fun holding this little “toy” because of its classic frame, but don’t be fooled by it’s total cuteness.  This classic piece has some powerful potential.

Let’s take a look at some positive specs:

  • 16.2MP FX-Format Sensor:  This is the same 16.2MP full-frame sensor and image processor from the flagship Nikon D4. This means the same image quality and low-light performance can be had in a smaller body.
  • 39-Point Multi-CAM 4800 AF Sensor:  This processor and AF system is borrowed from the comparatively affordable D610.

And now of course, let’s get rid of the elephant in the room and consider the obvious facts:

  • No video:  It might have the same guts as the D4 but it’s missing video capabilities.
  • Only one SD card slot:  Those who shoot high volume might have a problem with the one card inconvenience.

But here’s the truth.  I loved it.  It felt great in my hands and regardless of what any negative review says, I was able to create images that I was proud of with a piece of gear that I will most definitely use again.  And then again.

(All images shot with Nikon DF and 50mm 1. 4)

I enjoyed it immensely and was very happy with the images captured that day with the DF.  Which brought me to what I believe to be an important conclusion.  Reviews are helpful, but at the end of the day the most important opinion is your own.

If you’d like to give the DF a try, check it out at LensRentals.com here.  I highly recommend it.


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Join the conversation! 13 Comments

  1. Loved the article! Detailed and very interesting. And the photos are just gorgeous!

  2. While I think there is merit in what you’re saying. It doesn’t really excuse Nikon for doling out such a poorly thought out thing. I mean come on, if you want retro controls done right just look at Fujifilm. That layout makes wayyyy more sense than the Dfs one. I mean pretty camera, sure. Gorgeous images yea definitely. but in the end I’m sure you could create them with even a D600 or even a D7000. Lets be honest here and not pretend it was a huge money grabbing scheme on nikon’s part. The price really deserves something better thought out and better designed. Make no mistake I think the DF as a camera is workable and able to get some amazing shots (dependant on the user naturally) but I don;t think we should be egging nikon on about this, lack of better word right now, Monstrosity of a camera. And not in a good way :/

    • Hey Joel, good thoughts and I definitely have read similar reviews of the DF and actually had similar thoughts as well…until I tried it. Probably could have had just as much fun as other cameras but bottom line, it worked well for what I needed. I’ll try out the D600 and let you know my thoughts next time :)

    • Totally disagree with your opinion. The Fuji layout is good but once you get used to the Df way it is just as intuitive and enjoys compatibility with over 60 years worth of lenses. In my opinion the Df is very well thought out and a design classic. It was designed by Tetsuro Goto who is immensely experienced with camera design and was involved with the design of the F3, F4 and F5. Pretty much everyone who owns the Df are extremely happy with it, including people like Bjorn Rorslett. The Df was awarded with the Red Dot product design award just the other day. Probably the most prestigious design accolade in Europe.

      I think the Df was controversial because it is easy to misunderstand due to its flexibility and because its hybrid concept hasn’t really been seen since the F4. Its a fantastic camera anyway and already a cult classic.

  3. Is that LensRental an affiliate link?

  4. I love the Df. I have owned it for a couple of months now and like it more and more for every day.
    It must be the most misunderstood camera ever. I think most critique of the Df comes from people who just don’t understand what it is. I agree with you that reviews should be taken lightly. Often reviews exist within a certain tribe of concepts and design. As soon as you move outside that group of people opinions change drastically.

    Here is a review that I found meaningful and not just click bait entertainment like most other reviews out there.

  5. Great work . Crisp clean and good composition .

  6. Nice work Melissa both in terms of your even handed review and some very good images …I have had my Df for three months and I agree with you…initially I was very sceptical indeed but having tried it I was pleasantly surprised. My first shoot with it was with a group led by your friend Mr Lovegrove and whilst I maybe failed to convince him of its merits I am delighted with the images it produces. One of the reasons I think that brought so much initial negativity was the rather over-hyped Ad campaign that raised huge expectations….


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About MelissaNiu

Melissa Niu is a storyteller at heart. Niu's work ranges from her Broadcast Journalism experience at NBC in Seattle to her recent work as a co-founder and host of the photography platform, [FRAMED] Network. Her passion for photography, music and journalistic skills harvests into a massive need to tell a good story. As a mother of three daughters and running multiple businesses, Niu is constantly seeking balance, health, laughter and progression.


Gear, Photography, Portrait, Your Focus


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