Why the Nikon Df is not for you

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The Nikon Df  claims to be the smallest and lightest full frame DSLR. While that is true, its size is actually not much smaller than the D610. If you compare it to the Nikon D4 then yes, it is much smaller, but why would you compare the Df with a pro body camera?

If you are planning to get the Nikon Df, there is no doubt that you have the Sony A7/A7r and the Nikon D610 in your mind too.


Let’s check out some of the main features between the Nikon Df, Sony A7 and Nikon D610.

Nikon Df Sony A7 Nikon D610
Effective pixels 16.2 MP 24MP 24.3 MP
Focus Points 39, 9 cross type 117 39 , 9 cross type
Native ISO Sensitivity 100-12,800 100-25,600 100-6,400
Frame rate 5.5 fps 5 fps 6fps
Viewfinder Optical 100% Electronic 2.4MP 100% Optical 100%
Storage media SD SD Two SD
Built in flash No No Yes
Flash sync speed 1/200s 1/250s 1/200s
Max shutter speed 1/4000s 1/8000s 1/4000s
LCD 3.2 921K dot 3” 1.23M dot 3.2 921K dot
Video No HD Video HD Video
Dimension 143.5 x 110 x 66.5mm 127 x 94 x 48mm 141 x 113 x 82mm
Weight 710g 474g 760g
RRP $2749 $1698 $1999

Here is what I think of the Nikon Df:

If you are considering the Nikon Df as a casual camera, yes it will work for you.

If you are considering the Nikon Df as a street photography camera, yes it will work very well with prime lenses.

If you are considering the Nikon Df because of its classic mechanic look, yes it certainly has some resemblances to the FM3.

But if you are considering the Nikon Df as a travel camera, the Nikon Df might not be it. What I mean by travel is actual real travel, not traveling down the street to take photos or taking a photo walk on a Sunday.

But why isn’t the lightest and smallest full frame DSLR a good travel camera. If you compare it with the Nikon D610, it is not much smaller, just 2cm shorter in length and in depth, but is 30% more expensive. They even both weight about the same. Also do you really need a full frame camera for travel, mirrorless cameras like the Fujifilm X series and Sony A7 are way smaller and lighter.

Another disadvantage of the Nikon Df as a travel camera is lens choices. For travelling,  you probably just want to bring a zoom lens. Unless it is a photo specific travel then you could be bringing a few lenses and bodies to suit. Have you noticed the introduction of the Nikon Df uses  the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens. Nikon knows the 50mm f/1.8 lens is a good balance with the Nikon Df, any larger lenses will make the camera too front heavy and with the small hand grip that it has, it would not be too comfortable to use. The lenses that Nikon uses to promote this camera are all prime lenses, the 28mm f/1.8. 35mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.8, 85mm f/1.8 and 105mm f/2.8. Nikon knows the current zoom lenses are too big for the Nikon Df. Yes, those big lenses like the Nikon 200mm f/2 will work on the Df  but it just doesn’t feel right.

Zoom lenses like the 24-120mm f/4 is way too big for the Nikon Df. The lens itself  weighs as much as the Df and it is 103.5mm in length. If you want to use legendary Nikon zoom lenses like the 24-120mm f/4, 24-70mm f/2.8, 16-35mm f/4, you are better off getting the D610 which is more comfortable to use with bigger lenses. Overall, I feel the Nikon Df is best to pair up with prime lenses.

The Nikon Df is certainly a revolutionary camera, combining the design and controls from its classic film cameras with the modern technology of a digital SLR. It has a target of audience and is definitely not for everyone.

Here is a quick chart to test whether the Nikon Df is for you.

Get the Nikon Df or not?
If you want a classic look camera by Nikon Get it
If you want the smallest FX camera with OVF Get it
If you are a prime lens user Get it
If you want a second body May be
If you want to upgrade from your D600/D700 No
If you are looking for a travel camera No
If you want a camera for street photography May be
If you want a casual camera May be
If you are a Nikon fan Get it
If you have too much money Get it !!!

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About Kent Yu

Kent is a professional wedding and portrait photographer based in Wellington, New Zealand. He and his team specialise in modern and contemporary weddings. Kent has his work published in international magazines and is a regular author to a number of photographic publication. He is fascinated by photographic equipment and enjoys showcasing the gear used in creating his images. You can find him on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Google+
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