Retrospect: Nikon Df After 4 years.

Hello, everybody! The days went by really quick as we approach the end of the year and I was looking at my photo archives from a few years back and found some pictures of the Nikon Df launch done in November 2013 and thought that you might be interested to see these. I am not sure where the other pictures are but I will update this blog post as soon as I find them so please come back to my blog to see if something new was published.

10883043645_ca874f862e_zThis is what the reception looked like. Of course, the pretty receptionists are a must in a product launch. Maybe they can hire me next time for the ladies? What do you think?

10883312593_15bc7468a1_zHere is a close look. I dig the girl to the left. I enjoy looking at pretty women and I found that looking at pretty women can lower my stress. Sometimes, all it takes is a pretty face and a sweet voice to lighten-up my day at the office. That’s what my assistant is a sweet and “bubbly” young girl. Not only is she smart and dependable but she’s also my moral support! One day, she will be a big name in the industry and I will make sure she does.

The Nikon Df was launched with great fanfare along with other products that day. It was held in the big hotel across the Shinagawa train station and the launch made a big news in the local camera industry because Nikon is showing a new type of product that’s going to appeal to amateurs who like to use older lenses and also to professionals who stuck to their old cache of manual Nikkors that were not Ai-compliant. I remember the hype that day and I also remember the frustration and bad press after the launch. In fact, I made a negative review of the Nikon Df and I also contributed to the bad press. Despite all this, it sold very well here in Japan and the waiting line lasted for weeks! Sadly, the sales figures for this camera was lukewarm elsewhere where Nikon’s main market really is.

10882718015_853f75cbbc_zAs usual, there is a talk by Nikon main-stay Mr. Abe. I find that Mr. Abe is very technical and can bridge the gap between art and engineering. He has the ability to explain what is deemed to be so technical such as the subject of lens designing and explain it beautifully to somebody who knows nothing about it and make him understand what’s going on.

10883281213_3b18b71913_zHere he is talking about the various features of the then-new Nikon Df. Notice that there is an old plunger-type cable release connected to the Nikon Df camera being shown at the presentation and the older-fashioned lock for the battery compartment.

To many people, this was superficial and many of the design decisions were made just to ride the rising retro-style camera wave that was forming a few years back. This was also my main sentiment but I eventually liked the camera after some time largely because of the odd feature that it can use pre-Ai Nikkor lenses. My main issue at the time of launch and the years after it was the price. It was sold with a high price tag and I just could not justify spending that much just for a retro-style Nikon that can use pre-Ai Nikkors. A few years passed and the price subsided to more realistic levels so I got one around 2 years ago and at this point is the only DSLR that I own and I do not see myself selling this due to the fact that it can use pre-Ai Nikkors in which I own plenty of. I have learned to love it and all of its flaws because I got mine for a good price. Thinking back in retrospect, If the Nikon Df was launched with a much lower price then it would definitely be an instant hit and most of the bad press surrounding it wouldn’t be present. I hope that Nikon learned from this experience and take the pricing at launch more seriously because at the end of the day, money is still a very big factor in everybody’s purchasing decision. The pricing was the real deal-breaker for me and I am sure many people felt the same,too.

(Click to enlarge)

Here’s some images from the main hall where the new products are showcased. There was a big crowd and there was a long line of people who wanted to try the new Nikon Df.

10882787456_de85b5a28d_zHere is a pic showing the Nikon Df’s chassis. As opposed to what many people think, the top part is actually made of metal. I know that it felt like plastic but here it is!

10882970416_d977f9893e_zHere is another view. I want to say sorry to you now because I don’t have any pictures of the prism and other related things. These were from my archives and I wasn’t paying any attention on my archiving until a few years ago so my pictures were hard to track.

The high cost of production definitely contributed to the high price as you can see from the pictures above of the chassis’ casting. The Nikon D4 sensor used on this wasn’t cheap as well. Speaking of the Nikon D4, I recall owning the Nikon D4 back then and that’s also a big reason for my initial aversion to the Nikon Df. I saw not a lot of reason for owning a camera that has the exact same sensor as the one I was using. Had it been made with the great 24mp sensor of the Nikon D610 then that would probably sway my opinion a bit.

(Click to enlarge)

And here is the star of the show! I recall that handling the camera felt awkward for me at that point and I hated some of the design decisions and it took me some time (months) to adjust and feel comfortable with this camera. There are many places where things can be improved but we will not see any successor to this camera in the near future. I asked the people involved in the development of the Nikon Df and they told me that there won’t be any successors to this camera because of internal and financial restructuring. Overseas sales performance is also not enough to justify designing a replacement. I’m still hopeful that this will change because I really want to see a Nikon Df2 with all the quirks fixed and the pricing done right this time around. After a few years owning this camera, I can now say that Nikon made a masterpiece but it was launched at the wrong timing and with the wrong price. If the Nikon Df was launched with a Nikon D3s sensor and $700 less because of it then that would have made a killing. Anyway, these are just my sentiments and tell me what you think. I want to hear what you have to say about the Nikon Df after 4 years of it being launched and whether it still has a place in photography today or in the future due to the current trend of people using older lenses. Thanks for reading, Ric.

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38 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carlos Herrera
    Sep 22, 2017 @ 13:17:43

    Hola Ric. Es correcto, se tiene que invertir tiempo para sentirse cómodo y seguro para conocer el equipo. Por otro lado es realmente importante poder montar todo tipo de lentes en especial los antiguos y exquisitos pre AI. Algo importante para mi es que realmente es una cámara, me refiero al no contar con vídeo la hace más dedicada y atractiva, se necesita tomar vídeo entonces emplear una cámara de video. Los rumores de la nueva DF2, con mas mega pixeles y video, ¿para que?, no creo que se accesible en el precio. En fin, a usar óptica antigua¡ en un monstruo que no muchos comprenden y menos posen.

    It is correct, you have to invest time to feel comfortable and safe to know the equipment. On the other hand it is really important to be able to mount all kinds of lenses especially the old and exquisite pre AI. Something important to me is that it really is a camera, I mean not having video makes it more dedicated and attractive, you need to take video then use a video camera. Rumors of the new DF2, with more mega pixels and video, for what ?, I do not think it is accessible in price. In short, to use old optics in a monster that not many understand and least possess.


  2. Richard
    Sep 22, 2017 @ 19:07:13

    Hi Richard,
    I bought my Df about 18 months after release. It was my first digital camera and coming straight from an F3-HP, could not understand the negative comments around the ergonomics – the top plates are almost identical.

    Coming from Velvia 50, the image quality and low light handling, (my primary requirement), were a revelation. The only thing I’d like to change, would be to have interchangeable focusing screens done the same as the F3.


    • richardhaw
      Oct 01, 2017 @ 02:00:59

      Hello, Richard!
      I would love to have interchangeable finders,too! A waist-level finder will make me very happy! Ric.


      • dr0mabuse
        Oct 16, 2017 @ 16:35:23

        The last camera with interchangeable finders was the F5. I own a Kodak DCS 760 which is built on a F5 base and a 12MP sensor somewhat bigger than APS. The probem is the supply of battery packs. It is a perfect camera for street photography.

      • richardhaw
        Oct 28, 2017 @ 04:45:34

        Yes, I would love to have a waist level finder for the digital cameras! a flippy screen just isn’t the same.

  3. dr0mabuse
    Oct 16, 2017 @ 16:24:05

    I bought an used Df via ebay from Great Britain. I am, like you, a fan of the old manual focus lenses. An important point for my decision was that the Df is small and handy and fits in the photo bag I used with my F90x. The smallest full-frame SLR indeed. I took a lot of fine pics with it.
    Then, after the camera hat its 2nd birth day, I visited an open-air festival when the shutter striked. You can see the photos of this day at
    I fiddled around to look what happened and succeded to lift the mirror. The upper shutter blade was crumpled. Sorry that I forgot do make a picture of this. It was a pity because I was come to the festival to see Patti Smith and I had no camera in reserve.
    I gave the camera to Albrecht Kamera Service in Cologne and they fixed it well but the bill was over 400€. They told me that was the first time they got such a case of damage. That was also new for me, I never got this on my FA, F2, FM2, F501, F90x, D70s. D3100 or D700 which I had in heavy use. So I lost a bit of confidence and will alway keep my small and fast D3100 in reserve on such events.
    So, are there other Df users with a similar damage?
    Thanks for exchange.


    • richardhaw
      Oct 28, 2017 @ 04:47:53

      Hi! This is the 1st time I heard this happen to the Df! Looks like it’s a fluke! Shutter replacement elsewhere is cheaper but shipping might make it expensive. Patti Smith!


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  5. Andre Tampubolon
    Nov 14, 2017 @ 21:34:14

    Hi richard, I previously used Fujifilm X70 and X100T. They are indeed compact, fun cameras. But without interchangeabale lens support, though.

    I still use my Nikon film bodies: a F2AS and a F4. Film is still awesome, but on some certain cases it’s limited. That’s why I want a DSLR body. The DF suits my preferences:
    – full frame? check
    – retro look? check
    – good image quality? check
    – compact? check

    16 MP seems enough for me. I don’t do tightly cropped shots, and won’t print in the size of giant billboards (well, those are what medium/large format cameras for). I also don’t do sport photography, so blazingly fast AF is not needed.
    Mostly street photography, sometimes landscape, a little bit of portrait, and in general whatever I find interesting while walking around.
    Guess the DF it’s a good deal, yes? 🙂


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  10. Kevin Kerfoot
    Dec 15, 2017 @ 14:42:20

    Yes, they miss the mark big time on the pricing. Back in 2014, I wanted either the Df or the D800. I tried both of them out. I couldn’t stomach spending the money on the Df, when for $300 more, I could have the D800, so the D800 it was.


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  18. Kurt Ingham
    Oct 11, 2019 @ 18:13:19

    The Df is still superb in low light. I loved what many people didn’t like – it feels and operates like a film camera (which I used for 30+ years) Whenever I pick up my wife’s the interface
    seems immediately familiar – unlike my Sony A7 series – which I use for my many legacy lenses


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  26. Tony D
    Dec 26, 2020 @ 14:18:09

    Richard are you still loving the Df? I’d be curious on your thoughts on it vs Nikon Z with ftz specifically for using MF Nikkors in 2021. Even the used market for the Df today means you are picking against impressive alternatives… Z6, used D750, etc…


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  29. Martin
    Sep 20, 2022 @ 16:36:51

    I am late to the party, having first purchased a Df in 2021, a used black one for around U$D 1300. I could never justify Nikon’s $2800 new price. So I used Fuji X100 series until I could swing the Df. I liked it so much, I managed to buy another one, in “silver” (I still think chrome). Having shot F2s for 40 years, I did not understand the complaints about the Df’s ergonomics. I still had several Ai and AiS lenses, but bought more to use with this camera! And a few AF-D lenses as well. I am a happy photographer!


    • Kurt Ingham
      Sep 20, 2022 @ 17:48:12

      I have rather large collection of ‘legacy’ lenses-the Sony A7 accepts almost every one. But, every time I borrowed my wife’s Df I loved it. Finally I got an unexpected financial windfall and bought one of my own! With the 85mm f1.4 I feel a little jolt of joy every time I pick it up-and maybe even a little artistic inspiration


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