“Experience the power of pure photography with the Nikon Df” – so say’s Nikon’s website. As a long term Nikon user (first with film, then digital, and now with both film and digital) who loves the benefits that digital photography has given us but who also loves the simplicity of old film cameras the Nikon DF should have got my pulse racing however from the moment this camera was released it has totally failed to pique my interest. Why is that?
I think the problem is that Nikon has completely failed to understand what the term “pure photography” means. To me it means that it is the photographer who creates the image, not the camera. What I love about taking photos on my Nikon FE is that it is me that makes all the decisions and therefore it is me that determines whether the end result is any good or not – I select the aperture, I select the shutter speed, I decide what to focus on and get that focus correct. OK my FE does have an Auto setting for the shutter speed but I don’t want to use it and rarely do. If I get this combination of settings right then it is extremely satisfying when the developed print comes out (assuming the subject matter, composition, and development process are all good too but that is another story). To me this is Pure Photography.
So how does the Nikon DF fit in with this? The fact is that it does’t any more than any other DSLR does. With any DSLR you can set it to manual exposure mode, set it to spot metering and turn off auto-focus. You won’t get that same buzz from doing it on a camera where you have no choice but it is possible to do everything manually. Quite why you would spend hundreds or even thousands of pounds on a camera only to turn off all the expensive features is another matter!
The Nikon DF is a bog standard DSLR except that it is made of metal and has “old style” knobs on the top rather than than modern dials and buttons – is this Pure Photography? Nikon have taken out video capabilities – does that make it Pure Photography? They also charge you around £2,200 for a DF which is the same as a much more capable D800E – is this Pure Photography? I rather suspect it is more like Pure Marketing.