Nikon ZFC Review: A Camera that Brings Back the Nostalgia of Film Photography

Nikon ZFC ReviewA triumph of design at an honest price, Nikon ZFC guarantees a unique shooting experience to the Nikon Z50. The vari-angle display is also an inspired option which embodies the brand’s retro fusion concept. For the most part, the camera is a flawless combo of mirrorless shooting and old-meets-new design, as you will see in this Nikon ZFC review.

Nikon ZFC Comprehensive Review

Specs

  • Dimensions: 3.7″/ 5.3″/1.8″
  • Display Size: 3″
  • Weight: 13.8 pounds
  • Stabilization: None
  • Battery Type: Nikon EN-EL25

Design

You don’t have to adore the Nikon FM2 to be a fan of vintage aesthetics of Nikon ZFC. This stunning camera comes with a retro 28mm f/2.8 Z lens and an inspired vari-angle display. Its front is basically the same as FM2 dimensions, which means it’s a dinky camera. The design cues, form factor, and everything else also screams FM2, including the inspired typography.

Design

The view from the top is nothing short of remarkable. Although it is thinner than FM2, the model still packs shutter speed, exposure dials for ISO, and exposure compensation dial. The small window having an LCD screen in the current aperture setting is great too. Nikon has gone most of the way there, excluding the lenses.

The new Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 SE lens was rolled out with this model, and similar to the camera, it definitely resembles retro style. But wait, there is no aperture control ring on this exclusive edition full-frame lens. With that complete array of exposure dials on the top plate, the absence of aperture control ring is immensely missed. What’s more, there is none in any other Nikon Z lens either.

However, users can change the sole control ring on the 28mm lens from focus to aperture. Nevertheless, both can’t be enjoyed simultaneously. Otherwise, aperture can be shifted by employing the front command dial, but it is hardly intuitive, particularly if you already shift the shutter speed dial.

Ultimately, the absence of a dedicated lens aperture control ring is a big reason to utilize the camera in the Auto mode. In order to comprehend the exposure dials, the in-built program mode switch consisting of auto, the implementation of in-camera auto ISO, users can achieve the exposure effect they desire quickly. The in-camera auto ISO handles a charm similar to upscale Nikon cameras. This leads to minimum shutter speed that can be manually chosen.

Moving on, the flip touchscreen ideally suited for vloggers and selfie enthusiasts is a great addition, but for extra reasons. This type of display can be completely folded, unveiling a protective dappled leather finish. One can pretend it is screen-less in a way that is not possible with tilt or fixed displays.

Featuring a circular eyecup design for the EVF, the profile from the back is whole. The electronic viewfinder is a considerably big touchscreen with a performance and feature variety that is competitive at this price point. With 2.36 million dot resolution and 60 fps, you will need to press your eye close to see a clear view.

The touchscreen itself is easy to use. You are given touch focus with playback control, subject tracking, full menu navigation, and shutter response. The screen’s footprint is minimal as well, adding quite low to the overall size of ZFC. In simple words, this is how an ideal touchscreen should be.

Tiny hints of a modern camera are visible around the exposure dials. The shutter speed dial displays a switch to shift from shooting static to video. Unfortunately, the in-camera menu is the same whether you are capturing videos or pictures. Individual custom menus would be appreciated for video and image to make surfing your options streamlined.

Nikon ZFC boasts a magnesium alloy framework, which is stellar at this price point. But it lacks weather sealing. It can be due to an uncompromising profile, but users will be especially conscious to look after the camera. When it comes to the battery life, it offers a full day of moderate usage and this is the performance you can extract from such a camera.

However, if you opt for extensive continuous high sequence images or capture loads of videos, the situation changes. But it is now possible to charge the model anywhere through the USB-C input. How convenient is that? While talking about inputs, keep in mind that the ZFC is laced with a mini HDMI and a 3.5mm microphone port.

Anywhere else, what you are provided with the mirrorless tech is a choice for a silent shutter. Coupled with the flip touchscreen for slight waist level viewing, the camera represents a smooth shooter perfect for street and travel photography. Compared to the almost sane priced Nikon Z50, ZFC’s design is better.

There is the exposure compensation which works during the auto exposure mode, plus USB-C charging port and vari-angle display. However, some people might prefer the feel of the deeper grip of the Z50, particularly with longer lenses, but there is an optional grip for ZFC.

Performance and Features

For all its emphasis on manual control and the retro charm, the model is not a loser and is loaded with a competitive feature set. Some examples include a single UHS-I SD card slot, 11 fps burst shooting, and tracking autofocus with priority for animals and people.

Its start up time is quick, with the ZFC being capable of shooting under a second of powering up. Plus, the Z lineup lenses focus rapidly and discreetly for usual scenes, presenting a manual focus override as well. There is an on-screen touch tracking autofocus that is focused on the subject while the ZFC detects eyes and faces with a satisfactory accuracy, speed, and dependability.

With the active viewfinder, just press the OK button to reveal a manual autofocus selection area as well. But it is not possible to swipe the open display for autofocus area selection. Rapid action sequences can be captured at up to 11 fps in the extensive mode, with auto exposure and continuous autofocus.

But the camera only supports the previous and sluggish UHS-I SD card, which means that those sequences are saved for roughly 22 frames, that equals to 2 seconds, and you will have to wait some time for these frames to process in order to achieve full speed operation again.

The continuous high mode is much sluggish at 5 fps, although you will be offered roughly 35 frames, which makes the burst longer. Again, it requires a bit of time to eradicate those files to regain complete capture capability. In simple words, the camera is ideal for fast flashes of action, but it actually does not support sustained action scenarios.

Image Quality

Boasting the same 20.9 million pixel APS-C sensor as the one found in Nikon Z50, you can expect identical image quality. And apart from the minimal handling changes that might influence the shots you are capturing, including the exposure compensation dial, everything is exactly the same, which is not a disappointing thing.

The 20.9MP sensor boasts an impressive noise handling, with all settings up to ISO 6400 looking neat, particularly the ones beneath ISO 800. This is a general rule of thumb to prevent the unpleasant effect of noise. In this case, it translates to ISO 25,600 and ISO 51,200. The dynamic range is gratifying and the implementation of a HDR mode is practical and straightforward.

There is a variety of auto white balance settings, with the possibility of maintaining warm shades as a choice. Generally, colors appear impressive from the off, but the dominant colors can influence the temperature and share in other colors. For instance, a green vista can appear saturated magenta, or a dominant blue hue can make the skin tone appear a tad yellow elsewhere, and so on. This is a traditional issue for AWB.

The usual color profile offers a pleasant subtle degree of saturation which is more similar to a neutral color profile in other systems. The in-built raw editing allows tweaking to exposure, picture mode, color profile, and white balance among others.

Maybe the one thing holding back the picture quality is the presence of native lenses. The lens inventory for Nikon mirrorless cameras with APS-C sensor is not much promising, but improved lenses exist for the rival Fujifilm X series.

Pros
  • Gorgeous body.
  • Great value for money.
  • A superior balance between the old and new.
  • Helpful vari-angle display.
  • Discrete yet visible control dials.
  • Splash and dust resistant.
  • Crisp, big EVF.
Cons
  • Compromised ergonomics.
  • Absence of DX Z-mount lenses.
  • No in-body flash.

Final Verdict

After reading this Nikon ZFC Review, it’s clear that the model is great for retro lovers and the users who prefer manually controlling the exposure.

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