Nikon’s New DF Retro Camera
UPDATE: As I’m literally writing this post MYNIKONLIFE just announced Nikon’s new DF retro camera so all the speculation below is now no longer speculation. It’s real. Take a look for yourself. Much of what I wrote below was not about the specs but rather why.
Nikon’s on a roll and early tomorrow morning, 12:00am on the 5th. the predicted time, Nikon plan’s to unveil something old and something new. The Nikon DF, a camera that’s design and ergonomics is anticipated to take us back to the 80’s, with a good chunk of 2013 thrown in. The 2013 is just for those who have no interest in sending film off for processing. Thank goodness. From the leaked images and specs it seems to be quite an interesting picture
making tool. And the long drawn out description, “picture making tool” is exactly what it seems Nikon wants you to think of when using this camera. Picture making tool, not a camera. Camera can be described to quickly, it rolls of your tongue at 1/250th. of a second. Picture making tool requires you slow down and think about what you’re saying and eventually what you’re about to shoot.
When looking at these leaked photos they remind me of the F3 film camera I shot clear back in 1987. Virtually all of the controls are placed on the top deck though I have to say, I’m not crazy about where the Exposure Compensation dial is. Oh’well, it won’t be as fast to change as my D4 or other D camera’s but that’s apparently supposed to be the point. You can’t shoot as quickly so you’re forced top slow down and think about what it is you’re getting ready to trip the shutter on. Will this move your photography forward? I’m not so sure. I love the looks of the DF, I love the idea, but in practice I’m not convinced I could make the pictures with this camera that at one time allowed me to make a very comfortable living.
Which brings me to why I think this camera may just be a major hit for Nikon. Quite simply there aren’t that many people making their living from photography anymore. So that group of potential buyers is a nonissue for this camera. Then there’s the folks who have earned their retirement funds in other occupations. Many of these folks, due to digital photography, have decided to try their hand at the creative process of capturing images. These people don’t have to worry about a camera forcing them to move a bit more slowly. Most them realize they won’t be selling thousands of stock images, shooting for Vogue or even Sports Illustrated. Ok, well maybe a few think they’ll land the swimsuit issue gig. But overall, the people this camera is targeted towards, are the people we call Explorers. These folks are mostly interested in learning quality photography technique, experiencing amazing wildlife spectacles, taking part in cultural diversity, drinking a good wine, maybe scotch, watching sunsets and having fun interacting with other quality people with similar interests. These folks simply love photography and they have the time to slow down and check the F/Stop.
There are already a few blog posts out there bellowing why this is not the direction for Nikon to go. One gentleman on fstoppers.com has a blog post titled, The Nikon DF Represents Everything Wrong with Photography. When I read his arguments I had to agree with some of it, like his critique about the DF not having video. He said, “You may not shoot video, you may not care about video, you may hate that still photography and video are merging. It doesn’t matter what your opinion on video is, the fact is that removing features from a product does not make a product “revolutionary.” Yep, he’s right, but are their those who don’t give a darn about video. That could be an understatement.
I see this camera as just another product that Nikon is producing to try and capture photographers who want something different. Hooray to Nikon for thinking outside the box. Just because they build a very unique and different product doesn’t mean all their futures cameras will be just like this one. No, I think this is one of many models to come, kind of like the J1 & V1 experiment that seems to have down pretty well. I’m just hopeful that the next rabbit out of the Nikon hat will be a still camera with the horsepower to shoot 15 frames a second, uses Contrast Detection AF that works in Predictive AF at full FPS, has no mirror box, uses lenses half the size of current FX DSLR optics, has a touch screen LCD, has builtin GPS, builtin wireless, shoots video at 60 & 120 FPS, is weather sealed and bullet proof with an EVF with an Apple Retina display. Oh….. and sells for about $1500.00US. That’s the machine I’m waiting for but in th meantime I may just slow down and smell the coffee with the new Nikon DF hang in from my neck.