Anytime Nikon puts an “F” in the name of a camera, photographers who have been around for a while (and that would be me) take notice. My first motor driven camera was an F, which of course was a tank with a lens. I forget if it had treads. But the F was an undisputed classic of design and toughness. It was simple, as its name suggests. A rugged bunch of shutter speeds looking for a set of f-stops. The DF harks back to that simplicity. It’s a classic blend of old style film camera bundled with new fangled digitally fancy footwork.
It’s cool. It looks and feels kind of like….your dad’s camera. It certainly does not have the foreboding heft and street howitzer feel that attends walking around with one of the bigger flagship DSLRs. Some of those make you feel like Iron Man with a camera. You will pose for my picture now, or I will turn you into ash with my death ray machine! Unobtrusive, they ain’t. The DF is quiet, light and fast. It does not call attention.
It was fun to use, for the brief period time I really charged with it. The pix here on the blog were all shot in one morning, and two afternoons. About five productive hours. I did not have much time, as these new cameras, once they get them in the pipe, they have certain markers on the calendar they have to hit. In that short time frame, I was indeed blessed once again by the dependably glorious light of Mexico.
Also, even though we were on the clock, in Mexico, time is stretchable. Elastic. Wonderfully malleable. As is the light. Mexico is a land that abounds with possibility, and color. Also, many things become possible when you work with Hector Segovia and his marvelous crew at PhotoXperience Mexico. They are an amazing bunch of shooters and can-do people. I go back to work with them again in the first week of December, in the astonishing city of Guanajuato. What Hector is creating there is a learning center about photography for all of Mexico. I will be teaching with mix of Mexican photographers, along with guest instructors like RC Concepcion, Joel Grimes, and Frank Doorhof.
My first big Geographic job was in Mexico, in the Copper Canyon, and area of rugged rocks, steep canyon walls, and legendarily reclusive Tarahumara Indians. One rustic, scenic way to see the area is to hop on the historic train run that winds its way deep into the heart of Chihuahua.
What Nikon wanted to do was dovetail the new efforts with the DF with some of my prehistoric efforts from days gone by. Which was cool. I dug into my Copper Canyon files, and there are pictures there I’ve always liked, even though I recall Nat Geo not being particularly fond of the story as I presented it. The editor at the Traveler magazine was displeased the Copper Canyon did not look like the Grand Canyon. I tried to insist I was not responsible for that, to no avail.
Thankfully, I did not have to trek into the wilds of the Copper Canyon this time, but stayed on the enchanting streets of Guanajuato, and San Miguel. The colors there blend easily with the friendliness, and easy manner of the people of these towns.
One thing I mentioned earlier was the quiet nature of the shutter of the DF, so, I brought it into church.
The above two are in the realm of portraits, as both the subjects are working with me, and I am using flash to augment the existing light of the wonderful churches there. (It being Mexico, if you don’t like the look of a church, or perhaps, it’s too dark to work, don’t worry. There is literally another church down the block.)
Had a great time moving and shooting quickly with the DF. Again, just worked intensively with the machine only briefly, but the essence of what I liked was that it had a classic, well worn feel in my hands, and it was very light, and quiet. But, despite the lack of bulk, I did not say goodbye to state of the art AF tracking, chip performance, and liaising with a speed light, among other automated digital wonders I’ve gotten used to, living in the world of pixels. (One thing you do say goodbye to is video. This is a pure stills camera. Go click. Done deal.) I won’t include the tech specs on my blog, but hit this link for the Nikon site and tech info. They do a much better job than I could of parsing out the guts of the machinery. Mongo just use camera! They’ve also created a cool, smaller site, with a video interview, and the work of my colleagues, Bob Krist and Lynn Goldsmith are also featured. More tk….