Pure Photography Teaser #5 Confidently Shows Off Beautiful, Solid, Uncluttered Full-Frame Nikon Df

Not much to add. Competitively priced, say around $2k, Nikon created a new classic. Everything’s solid about this camera. Enjoy the Nikon Df’s Pure Photography pre-announcement teaser #5 with a confident Nikon showing off a beauty of a full-frame camera days before the November 5 launch.

This teaser’s byline: “Good things take time. They’re worth the wait.”

It’s kind of unheard of to launch a product before launch. On the other hand it’s ingeniously shrewd. Nikon’s the talk of town, and it takes some marketing whizz to divert the buzz away from the recently announced, not less spectacular full-frame Sony A7s.

While the A7 and A7R are the power of the D800 in a compact package, the Nikon Df is Nikon’s compact version of its flagship. Or as someone told me it’s the camera Leica should have built and would have sold for $10k.

This DF is a home run. As previously said, Nikon pulls all the right strings with this camera, an as much digital as good old school mechanical FM2/F3 styled new icon of digital photography — just to mention the important and by most newer cameras omitted, nicely placed exposure metering mode switch, something I need all the time:

Pure Photography Teaser #5. Here's the Nikon Df...
Pure Photography Teaser #5. Here’s the Nikon Df…
... kind of officially unveiled before announcement...
… kind of officially unveiled before announcement, meaning Nikon’s so confident…
... meaning Nikon's so confident about the DF they can't get it quickly enough into the mind of photographers.
… about the DF they can’t get it quickly enough into the shopping plans of photographers.

  • Omer

    ….and making a point of manual focusing, I think, although clearly auto focus is still there. So what kind of AF does this new lens employ? The bulbous design of the “G” lenses is not used and hopefully Nikon has abandoned the original “screw-driver” AF it first used (if only to help reduce weight.) Manual focus only lens or new, more subtle AF design?

  • Omer

    Sorry, just noticed the lens has an AF switch. So maybe the original AF motor is still in the camera. Well, at least the lens is a bit smaller than the “G” lenses.

  • Bengt Nyman

    Hi Omer,
    The Nikon Df hybrid camera features both an OVF and an EVF.
    In OVF mode the camera is a normal DSLR, with PDAF autofocus executed by any Nikon FX lens with focus motor.
    In EVF mode the reflex mirror is in lockup and the image sensor does light metering as well as autofocus. The 16MP image sensor is reputedly a carryover from the D4 suggesting that in EVF mode you have image sensor CDAF but no PDAF.
    This combination makes the camera a normal OVF DSLR for photographing action and sports as well as a more vibration free mirrorless art and macro camera for those who prefer the more manual operation.

  • Omer

    Oy, I should do more thinking in the morning. Obviously if the the lens has an AF switch it will have an onboard AF motor rather than using the old “screw-drive” mechanism. Considering how small the lens is – a rumored new 50mm f1.4 – then kudos to Nikon for a new, smaller lens design. Hopefully we’ll see new, moderate aperture primes (24, 28, 35) being smaller than the “G” versions.

    The hybrid viewfinder will be interesting and in a smaller package should be quite enticing.

  • Robert Mark

    With all due respect… Says who?

  • Bengt Nyman

    Hi Robert,

    Nikon Rumors:

    Will be called Nikon Df
    Will use EN-EL15 battery
    3″ LCD Screen
    EVF/OVF hybrid viewfinder
    Can be used with true mirror lock up for non-AI lenses while still allowing viewing through view finder.
    New hybrid mechanical shutter
    No AA filter
    No video in low power mode but otherwise it will have video
    Expeed 3A processor
    Price: $3,000 for body only, $3,300 for a kit with the new 50mm f/1.8G lens
    Black, Black/Sliver and Chrome version will be available
    Read more on NikonRumors.com: http://nikonrumors.com/2013/10/23/new-set-of-specifications-and-us-price-for-the-retro-styled-nikon-fx-dslr-camera-d4h.aspx/#ixzz2jQb9ddOS

    There is also a Nikon patent disclosure on the web that is claimed to describe the combination EVF/OVF concept.

    Nikon will disclose the full spec. in a few days.

  • Jawad

    Something unsettling about the rumored specs of the camera, specifically the (16 MP) sensor. Why would Nikon put a 16MP sensor carried over from a camera that is known for its speed of execution and plug it into a camera that is supposed to be slow manual execution camera?! If it is only for low light capability, many modern sensor in these days have as good or even better low light capabilities than the D4 but with higher resolution. It should be at least 24 MP to compete against the alpha 7. Other than that, can’t wait to see it. TTL OVF + EVF + Essential Manual Dials + Hopefully fairly small package = yet another killer camera. Finally, the industry is moving in the right direction.

  • Bengt Nyman

    I agree Jawad !

    The Nikon Df leaves many questions unanswered.
    The choice of 16 MP has puzzled me too.
    I think Nikon recognizes that the photographic world is still hesitant about mirrorless PDAF.

    Meanwhile they are testing the waters with something old; D4 in a retro style body, plus something new; the OVF/EVF.

    The Df might please novelty buyers and collectors for a while but I doubt that it will become much more than a gradual Nikon entry into serious mirrorless.

  • The D4’s 16.2MP are all you need for very serious photography. Add Canon’s flagship 1D X with 18.1MP. Not only do better but less pixels allow for faster processing speeds, it’s already more than most need.

    Personally, I prefer big fat pixels. 36MP are an overkill maybe landscape photographers need or if your photography depends on stitching and cropping. I would applaud Nikon for 16MP and wouldn’t really know what to do with the superfluous extra amount of not really necessary pixels and data information filling up my cloud and storage devices even quicker.

  • Jawad

    The only reason these cameras have 16 and 18 MP is simply to provide the 10+ FPS. The formula goes somewhere along these lines: if you press hard and long on the shutter release button, the odds are that you will eventually have one or two usable frames for every trigger of lets say 100 frames. This approach will fill up your cloud way faster than wait for the right moment where all the elements are there and “CLICK”. One photo, one click all perfect.
    I don’t understand the concept of big fat pixel! it sounds very poetic though.

    More pixels = more details and / or tones

  • Jawad

    The main appeal for a full frame high end mirror-less camera is the size of the package for travelers (Besides the manual dials which we love and high end lenses). If Nikon manages to make the DF somehow competitive in size, then they’ve got a killer camera. I would go for an OVF any time over an EVF. Every Fuji x100(s), or X-Pro1 owner will tell you this and I am one of them.
    Why not test the water using the D600 or D800E sensor?!

  • 16MP give me already enough detail. As said, I’m not cropping. While true that the camera with more pixels can deliver images with finer detail in good light, the one with larger pixels (and fewer total pixels) will have better high ISO and low light performance (assuming read noise and fixed pattern noise are similar). For me, color and tonal accuracy matter more than incremental detail. But that’s a personal opinion.

    You will need to decide where that trade point is. The larger pixels
    will always have higher signal-to-noise ratios unless someone finds a way
    around the laws of physics which is highly unlikely.

    Bigger pixels = better sensitivity. That’s just how physics work in current imager technology, I’m afraid.

  • Jawad

    Dan, Got it. You are referring to sensor pixel rather than screen pixel. But still not correct. The quantum efficiency of a sensor has nothing to do with the size of photodiode (or Pixel) specifically in low light situations. It has something to do with the efficiency of how micro lenses gather light and send them to the right location to be collected rather than lost. A high MP sensor could have higher quantum efficiency than a lower MP sensor. As for the color (JPEG), it is the job of the post processor to create the most natural color. If you shoot RAW than you do not need to worry about it. For low light, the easiest way to reduce noise is to downscale the image. More pixels = better SNR (because of down-scaling capabilities). The proof is simple. Take a photo which has noise and downscale it. The more you downscale the better the photo will look.

  • Bengt Nyman

    Dan, I can understand if you prefer the D4’s 16.2MP over a higher resolution image.
    However, to tell the rest of the world “what they need for
    very serious photography” is a bit of an overreach.

    Depending on the expanse of the scene, a 16 MP versus a 36 MP image can give an apparently similar or a very different image. Photographing a smaller scene like a stilleben there is very little difference. Photographing an expansive city scene or a landscape, there can be a big difference.

    The image seen in the two differ even without far reaching cropping or enlargement.
    The lower MP produces a pleasant and simple rendering with distinct colors, contrasts and transitions.
    The higher MP produces a less dramatic, more subdued image with finer detail and more subtle transitions, like the real scene.
    The visibility of this difference depends on the equipment used to view the image.
    If you view the image on a 1K monitor you are looking at a 1 MP compression of the original image and you will of course never see the difference between a 16 MP and a 36 MP original.
    Viewing the image on a full HD monitor you will see a 4 MP image.
    Even when viewing the image on a photographic, 4K monitor you only see a 16 MP image.
    That is until you you crop or do a 100% image inspection during image editing.
    When you print an image at 72 DPI on 8 x 10″ paper you are getting a compression corresponding to a 0.4 MP Image.
    Even if you print the image at 300 DPI on 8 x 10″ paper you are only producing a 7.2 MP final image.
    In that respect a 16 MP image may appear to be an adequate starting point.
    However, if you decide to crop the image 50% linearly, you are capable of viewing the result of a 64 MP image on your photographic monitor and printing the result of a 29 MP image on 8 x 10.
    And we haven’t even started talking about larger prints for exhibition or advertising purposes.
    So, no, 16.2 MP has little or nothing to do with “very serious photography” other than for action, sports and news photography for TV, newspaper and magazine reproduction.

  • Convincing lines Bengt:

    The lower MP produces a pleasant and simple rendering with distinct colors, contrasts and transitions.

    The higher MP produces a less dramatic, more subdued image with finer detail and more subtle transitions, like the real scene.

    The visibility of this difference depends on the equipment used to view the image.

    However, here on THEME we’re not talking medium format. That’s another world. This is not a fashion or advertisement photography site targeted at medium format standard. If a photographer is not capable of delivering a perfectly fine image with a 16MP camera, then not a single pixel more, not even the double amount of pixels will help to get an appropriate image.

    I find that it takes about 15 to 25 megapixels to simulate 35mm film. 15MP work fine, 25 are for the perfectionist.

    So I was talking about “very serious photography”? Right. And not about prints for galleries. Of course I would need about 100MP to simulate medium format film and maybe even half a GB of pixels to simulate 4×5″ film. This, of course, is all invisible at Internet resolutions.

    But we’re talking real world here. I think it’s wrong to fall victim to enticing marketing promises. Let’s use gear we really have a use for.

    16MP, correctly processed, give an excellent 11×14″ (302 dpi) and a quite good 13×19″ print (262 dpi).

    But this is for the perfectionist. I love my A3 prints with razor-sharp detail from a 5MP Olympus E-1…

    Again, who is really making use of the extra data/information. This is a down to earth photography site talking about real world usage. Let’s not get caught up in mathematical fantasies.

    And with “serious photography” nothing less than good, solid photography is referred to — and not the photographer that enlarges files up to 200% on a perfectly calibrated screen for the sake of finding an anomaly.

    And we haven’t even mentioned a word yet on oversampling algorithms. Now you could argue capturing an image at a much higher resolution than needed for the end result is of great value in obtaining a clean result free of noise.

    If I have the choice, give me the camera with native pixels that don’t need downsampling to achieve excellent results for my needs. It’s always nice to have more power than you need, as long as it makes practical sense.

  • My bad, you are certainly right when including microlenses in the discussion. I was talking/thinking strictly pixels only. Today’s gapless/seamless microlenses are an ingenious shortcut maximizing the gathering of light.

    Don’t agree however that the reading and interpretation of the light gathered is solely done in post-processing. As we see with RAW. At this point in time, you can only cram so many photons into a pixel before photons fill it up and it becomes completely white. Not all pixels are created equal.

  • Bengt Nyman

    As comment contributors, let’s agree to disagree.
    As far as article content I think it should be informative, open minded and unbiased.

  • BTW, Bill Gates denied he ever gave the 64KB memory statement… I might be wrong and the pixel race in digital imaging somewhat continues. Rather guess imaging technology has found a new equilibrium that’s about the perfect balance between what the human eye can see and what an average, serious photographer and client have good use for.

    Bayer sensors anyway become history in two years. You can quote me on that, in two years.

  • Bengt Nyman

    Because of the wide range of personal preferences the market drives forward product designs that are overkill for most users. So is the case for cameras as well.
    A high resolution sensor gives you lots of options including post processing, compression, down sampling etc.
    A low resolution sensor severely limits your options.

  • sic!

  • h & m

    Not to mention most of the sales are not to “very serious” photographers. Which unfortunately is an issue. Frequently these people focus on MP as some sort of quality guide.

    I’m pleased Nikon took this approach. Just having sold off all my Nikon kit (now Fuji), other than some old manual lenses, the FD has rekindled my interest.

  • Add that 36MP, handheld, challenge quite some photographers’ ability to capture a properly focused shot.

  • Robert Mark

    I wish you were right about the hybrid viewfinder

  • Bengt Nyman

    Hi Robert,


    Apparently the new part of the Df viewer is the option of full time mirror lockup. I guess that suggests CDAF using the image sensor and viewing using the LCD display.

    If so the Df is a pretty normal DSRL in a retro looking body.

    I have a hard time justifying another 16 MP camera, considering that the D800 beats the D4 even in ISO.