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Hopes in the retro camera trend

November 06, 2013  •  Leave a Comment
There's been endless fuss this week (and in fact, for several weeks) about Nikon's new full frame SLR, the Df and its retro look.

The good news about the Df (in my opinion) includes:
  • sensor and processor apparently from the top of the line Nikon D4.
  • major controls accessible through good old-fashioned knobs, which are not only easy to use, but which show at a glance where they're set. Great!
  • it's smaller and lighter than many new SLRs, despite having a proper, metal body.
  • it can conveniently use old Nikkor lenses.
The bad news isn't great. In Australia at least, the Df will sell for more than the 36 meg, pro body D800. And this is for a camera with fewer autofocus points than the D800, one card slot, no built-in flash and no video capability.

Ouch!

Of course, as with all things, the proof of the camera will be in the actual images produced in real situations. For this, we must wait. 

Joe McNally has posted some nice shots already - but Joe could produce great images with a box Brownie. He's no indication of how a photographer of modest (even very modest) attainment such as myself will go armed with a Df.

Time will tell - as it will also tell regarding whether this "retro" look with mechanical dials is a marketing gimmick, or a trend. Fujifilm seems to have started this with their X series cameras and they've justifiably received high praise for these cameras. Pick one an X100s for example, and you'll note metal analogue dials controlling aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation - in a metal body. They even take an old-fashioned cable release!

I hope it's a trend. I love my D800, as I did my D300 that preceded it. Great cameras - reliable, ergonomic tools which produce great images. It's just that I'd like to be able to see what's what by glancing at a dial - as we could in the stone age.

Maybe Nikon and Fuji have realised that the film cameras they made for all those years had something going for them in the digital age: analogue controls.

Let's hope so.

Shane Baker


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