Wednesday, 19 February 2014
I can see why people like the Nikon Df. With metal-plated clicking dials to control shutter speed, exposure and ISO sensitivity, it’s almost exactly like using an old-style manual camera, like the Minolta recently gifted to me by my mother.
There’s just one hitch: most modern Nikon lenses, the G lenses (often ridiculed as standing for ‘gelded’), don’t have an aperture dial anymore. Well, I suppose that’s what the modern-looking command dial on the right is for.
Well hang on, there’s another slight hitch. Unlike old-style film cameras that lock you to one film speed for the full roll of film, digital cameras can change it at every shot just by changing the ISO sensitivity. So that makes constantly shifting around the ISO sensitivity dial on the left a little odd, considering you normally wouldn’t use it very much. Well, I suppose you can just switch on Auto-ISO, which is what a lot of photographers do these days anyway… which would make the ISO sensitivity dial redundant, then.
But is this really about preserving the ‘full manual’ experience? There’s a dial on the right that lets you switch between Manual, Aperture, Shutter and Program priority, which essentially means this camera can run full-auto – and that all of those clicky dials are potentially redundant.
So what’s the point of this camera again? Well, if it’s not to recapture the look and feel of old-style manual photography, it’s to take brilliant photos, I guess.
And it does. In fact, one of the photos I took in the past week came from the Nikon Df, but I bet you couldn’t tell which one it is. That said, it doesn’t allow for the kind of technique I’d normally employ – something a little quicker and responsive to the moment.
It is not ergonomically designed, so you can’t just lift the camera to your eye, switch it on and compose in a single motion as you would, say, a more modern-looking camera. No, this one makes you plod through each step methodically. Twisting the stupid knob every time just to turn it on is a right pain in the backside.
So. Right now, for me, the Nikon Df is coming across as a bit of a single-speed camera that takes great pictures. I’ll have more impressions later…