A fusion of Tech and Technique
The Df is an amazing camera that CAN be used as as digital DSLR, or it can be the digital version of the film cameras I used to use back in the days when I first started as a photographer. You can choose which personality you choose or apply a combination of those two interfaces.
Its intent is to re-create, as much as possible, the experience that photographers had when using a film camera. But it recognizes that digital photography has other elements that film did not have and it has tried to deal with those without losing the analogue interface. The experience of using film required a discipline of approach that one does not have to have today and what some regard as shortcomings, I see as a recreation of those conditions, and I'm fine with it. The clues to the fusion philosophy are in the whole design ethic:
The ability to use Non-AI lenses
The use of analogue dials controlling the essentials
The fabulous sensor, upgraded with a new processor to improve low-light/high ISO performance. It encourages you to use available light and fast prime lenses.
The removal of video to concentrate on stills, making the camera more compact and lighter.
Let me address some of the criticisms I have seen addressed at this
FIRST: It's a STILL photographers' camera - that deserves no apology, there are many DSLRs out there that do video just fine.
SECOND: It doesn't have a built-in flash. Neither did the film cameras, but it has a perfectly serviceable flash hot shoe with all the capabilities of any Nikon camera built-in.
THIRD: The unit does not have enough focusing points. It has a lot more than most film cameras did and it works fine in reasonable conditions.
FOURTH: There is only one card slot. Film cameras could only hold one film at a time. In the days of film when I was shooting around NZ, Australia and Asia for landscape, wildlife and travel production I could carry only a limited amount of film and that had a finite life in the very hot conditions. When I took a photo I would not know if it came out for maybe a month before it was developed. The temptation was to take several bracketing shots, but then there was the limited film capacity to consider. It generated a discipline of being sparing and very careful with my settings and composition. I still do that today with digital and shoot a lot less than my contemporaries who only knew the digital environment.
FIFTH: The controls have lock on them - yep and so did most of the film cameras, it's about learning to get used to them, once you do it's automatic.
This camera is all about taking time to enjoy the process of taking a photo, as well as the final outcome. In a similar situation my daughter's boyfriend asked about my record turntable and asked why I would still have one of those when an MP3 player was much more efficient. My response was that playing a record became an occasion in its own right and that was a big part of the enjoyment for me - in exactly the same way as taking a photo with the Df does.
I have now retired from my photographic career, I take photos for free and for me. I still have over $50k of Canon gear, which I have used since I went digital and I shall continue to use it. I chose Canon for its glass, but I always respected Nikon - I used them both when I shot film. I chose to switch brands for this body alone because of what it is specifically and I am happy that I have done so.
There are a lot of photographers out there who crave the latest technology on the belief that a better camera will make them a better photographer, or that the gear is somehow holding back their innate abilities. In 38 years of photography I have never felt constrained by the gear (I have used Nikon, Canon, Olympus and several other medium format brands). I have felt constrained by my skill in using what I have. For those who want the latest tech this is not for you, move on and be happy. For those of us who value that process this is a fine camera and worthy of respect.