Nikon launches retro Df as DSLR camera sales slow


posted on 6th of november, 2013

As it's wisely and frequently been pointed out, the best camera is the one that is with you. My Nikon DSLR is not huge by pro camera standards - but it's still too big to go with me all the time.

The camera in question lives in a big green backpack alongside other photographic “essentials” - a 70-200 f2.8, wide zoom, filters, flash triggers and a SB flash. That's just the stuff that fits in the bag. There are mono pods, tripods, studio flashes, background sets, large reflectors, small reflectors, soft boxes and beauty dishes.

For me, and it seems many others, it's all gone too far.

Worldwide sales in DSLR cameras is slumping. In a recent statement, Nikon confirmed that prices of entry-level single-lens reflex cameras have tumbled because of slowing demand and “rising competition”.

Others have already predicted the demise of the DSLR.

So, after months of rumour, Nikon finally announced this week their new “retro” styled full frame camera, the Nikon Df.

The response has been mixed on the net. Steve Huff of www.stevehuffphoto.com commented that the Df “Looks like a Sexy Awkward Frankenstein of a camera but it beats the usual bubbly fat rounded look of a DSLR”.

Photoshelter's Allen Murabayashi summed up his views with an article posted on the on the Photoshelter blog “I don’t know many things, but I’m pretty sure the camera of the future isn’t from the past.”

Nikon may well sell quite a few Df cameras in the coming months. I'm sure that as a Nikon with the same sensor found in the D4, it's going to have excellent image quality and all the bells and whistles one would expect from a modern DSLR.

That said, I'm sure I'm not the only one that thinks that with the Df, Nikon does not really “get” the reason why they have been losing DSLR sales to smaller, lighter and arguably less complex cameras such as the Fuji X series and the latest micro four thirds cameras.

Fuji “gets it” with their X100s - a small, lightweight camera with one high quality prime lens. The camera is optimised for quality stills photography, but has the ability to capture video. Most importantly, both the X100 and X100s are small enough to take high-quality photography with you wherever you go. The X100s looks sexy too - but its form follows function.

By contrast, Nikon's Df looks just like a small full-frame camera with a lot of oversized “old school” dials. Nikon have attempted to make it look “cool” to be “retro”. The function follows form approach usually fails. Time will tell if Nikon has got it right with the Df.

Regardless, it will still live in a bag along with all the other “essential” accessories we all “need” to take decent picture.

The Df does not capture video. Not because it would be a technically challenge to do so - but because Nikon thought it would be better if it didn't.

Personally, I can't help agreeing with Steve Huff that it's sad Nikon did not rather have a crack at a modern interpretation of the Nikon S2 Rangefinder. Now that would have been awesome.

Pictures of the new Nikon Df are available on my durban photographer site where this post was originally published.

Tags: df nikon
Comments (3)

Posted by Inyrdreams on November 07, 2013
i totally agree with you... price tag is way too much for a retro camera that doesnt even do all the other nikons do! guess they are hoping enough people will climb on the cool have to have it bandwagon and shell out the money... wont be me!
Posted by Davidwatmough on November 07, 2013
price is £2750 in UK so about $3500 which is expensive when D700 is around £1700.
I think anybody serious about selling images will still go with DSLR.
Posted by Martingraf on November 07, 2013
first I thought it is a good idea - but when I heard it's full frame and costs several thousand bugs - it didn't make much sense anymore - this would have been a great idea if Nikon would have done it for the sentimental amateurs with a price tag under $ 1000 - sometimes wonder why they don't ask the buyers what they want before they build it



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Photo credits: A J Cotton.

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