The newest addition to Nikon's DSLR lineup is the Df. I had hoped to actually be able to see and handle this camera when I attended NYC Photo Expo last month and to be able to report on it here. Nikon, though, inexplicably decided not to officially release the camera until several days after the event had ended. When I was at the show and asked a Nikon rep about the camera, he only smiled disdainfully and said, "I don't know what you're talking about." This snub to its prime customer base (what other location has as many professional photographers as NYC?) was the only latest in a series of blunders made by the struggling camera company. One has only to remember the dismal reviews that greeted the Nikon 1, a primitive milc that was little better than a point & shoot but carried a high end price tag.
Nikon is paying the price for its flawed decision making process. According to a report quoted last week on the Nikon Rumors site:
"Nikon Corp cut its full-year unit sales forecast for high-end cameras for the second quarter in a row on Thursday, as a dramatic fall in demand among photography hobbyists that began last year accelerated faster than expected. The company posted a 41 percent drop in operating profit to 21.9 billion yen ($222 million) for the six months ended September, saying overseas demand for pricy single-lens reflex models had remained depressed."
To get back to the Df, the camera is a puzzle. Initial reports indicated that it had been designed to compete directly with the Sony A7, a camera which I did see at Photo Expo and which I found very impressive. (Ironically, according to an article in PetaPixel, sales of the A7 are running 200% above expectations.) The problem is that the Df is priced a full $750 above the A7. For that matter, it's also a full $750 above Nikon's own D610. At $2,746.95 (the B&H preorder price as of today's date), the Df is only $50 less than the current asking price of the D800. And yet the Df's specs do not measure up to those of the D800. Most notably, the Df does not have any video capabilities. And while the D800 offers 36.3 megapixels, the Df provides only 16.6. Moreover, the smaller size of the Df body must necessarily make the use of longer lenses, such as my 80-400 VR, more problematic. Granted the Df has an appealing retro design (I still own and regularly use my F3T), that's hardly the criterion on which to base a camera purchase.
The bottom line is that I would not recommend purchasing the Df, at least not at its current price level. Even if it were the camera I wanted, I would wait and see. If the sluggish sales of this model continue, I predict that the Df will eventually be greatly reduced in price. I would not be surprised if it soon ended up selling for less than $2,000.