The majority of today's old-school cameras aren't just using their looks to draw attention away from sub-par specs. Some of the highest-end cameras in the Fujifilm, Olympus, and Panasonic lineups have a retro slant. Sensor sizes, autofocus speeds, wireless capabilities, and other in-camera features continue to charge forward, but digital-camera bodies are reverting to the classic looks of the 1950s and 1960s.
Nikon has just joined the throwback party with the most advanced retro camera in recent memory. The Nikon Df puts the 16-megapixel full-frame sensor of the flagship D4 in a camera body that looks like the original Nikon F from the late 1950s. The D4 performs like a champ in low-light settings, so expect this camera to do the same.
Feature-wise, it falls somewhere between the D4 and the Nikon D600: It has the same sensor and generous ISO range as the D4 (100 - 12,800, expandable to 50 - 204,800), but like the D600, it has a slower maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 of a second, a 39-point autofocus system, a top continuous shooting speed of 5.5fps, and a SD/SDHC/SDXC card slot instead of the D4′s CompactFlash slot. Battery life also falls between the two cameras, with a CIPA rating of 1,400 shots per charge.
Like the camera it takes its design cues from, the Df doesn't shoot video. There's also no built-in flash or Wi-Fi capabilities, although it is compatible with Nikon's separately sold WU-1a adapter for offloading images wirelessly.
The Df's classic body comes in two color schemes: a silver/black two-tone motif, as well as an all-black colorway. There are knobs and buttons galore for quick access to settings, including a double-decker exposure-compensation/ISO dial, a shutter-speed dial next to the shutter button, and a front-mounted control wheel that you can use to adjust the speed blindly while looking through the camera's optical viewfinder or at its 3.2-inch LCD screen.
In late November, the Df can be yours for around three grand. The body alone will sell for $2,750, while a kit configuration with a new 50mm/F1.8 Nikkor prime lens is priced at $3,000. By itself, the lens will sell for $280.