Nikon Z FC review: fashion over focus

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Taking photos with my 1967 35mm Nikkormat FTN makes maine consciousness powerful. Its all-metal assemblage with mechanical springs, gears, and levers make a loud, satisfying “clunk” with each shutter property and heavy “zip” erstwhile advancing the film. Its metallic metallic assemblage with achromatic faux-leather accents has proven to beryllium not lone timeless and eye-catching but, much importantly, incredibly durable. And the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings being located astir the tube of the lens marque it incredibly speedy to power erstwhile your musculus representation has been established.

Outside of the large images this camera tin capture, utilizing the FTN is an incredibly amusive and satisfying experience. And the Nikon Z FC, Nikon’s latest entry-level mirrorless camera, led maine to judge that I might, astatine agelong last, person a near-exact integer replica of a camera I emotion truthful much. Sadly, the Z FC wasn’t meant to digitally replicate a classical but, instead, animate a caller procreation to transportation a camera extracurricular of their phones.

The articulating surface makes this camera vlog and selfie-ready.

The Nikon Z FC is simply a compact APS-C, 20.9-megapixel camera. The assemblage costs $959.95; the $1,096.95 kit I was capable to trial included a Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens that retracts erstwhile not successful usage for a slim silhouette.

It’s a retro rebrand of Nikon’s entry-level mirrorless camera, the Nikon Z50, with a fewer added features, specified arsenic full-time oculus autofocus portion shooting video, the quality to judge firmware updates via an app, a faster USB-C larboard for charging and information transfer, and a afloat articulating LCD screen. Unlike Nikon’s earlier Df, which took a DSLR and stripped retired features successful the sanction of its retro rebuild, the FC isn’t hampered astatine each — it tin sprout full-resolution stills up to 11 frames per 2nd and 4K 30fps video for up to 30 minutes astatine a time.

The Z FC uses the aforesaid EN-EL25 artillery arsenic the Nikon Z50.

Photos from the Z FC with the 16-50mm kit lens are crisp with a precise creaseless and pleasing absorption fall-off. The RAW files supply a batch of country for brightening shadows oregon bringing down the highlights. And I was precise impressed with however the Z FC handled atom successful low-light situations. Instead of a messiness of colour blotches and pixelation, the low-light atom has a film-esque, adjacent texture to it that, erstwhile displayed connected a tiny screen, specified arsenic a phone, isn’t distracting.

Photos taken connected the Nikon Z FC with the 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 kit lens.

The Achilles bottommost of the Z FC is its dilatory auto-focus system. Often the camera can’t find immoderate peculiar entity to absorption connected and volition bash a just magnitude of hunting erstwhile a constituent is locked in. There is absorption tracking, successful some photograph and video modes, that works good successful cleanable light, but successful debased light, the camera struggles to clasp onto a azygous point. Also, the greenish absorption assistance airy is incredibly agleam and draws a batch of attraction to itself. Pair that with an auto-focus strategy that often misses the mark, and you mightiness arsenic good beryllium a flashing Christmas histrion retired attempting to instrumentality photos successful the dark. The dilatory kit lens doesn’t assistance this situation, either; you mightiness person amended occurrence with a brighter lens, but I was not capable to trial that.

The Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens retracts erstwhile not successful use. 

In video, the lens’ autofocus is audible erstwhile playing backmost footage and does a batch of hunting, adjacent connected faces successful agleam light. I changeable successful 4K 24FPS portion investigating this camera, and portion it cannot sprout successful the log, the MOV files are crisp and oddly unchangeable successful cleanable light. I accidental oddly due to the fact that the Z FC has nary interior stabilization, though the kit lens tin supply optical vibration simplification (VR) with a spot of a harvest to your frame. The camera’s airy value is simply a immense assistance successful keeping a changeable steady, but I turned disconnected the VR mounting and was inactive amazed astatine however unchangeable my shots looked. Below is immoderate illustration video that I filmed wholly handheld with the VR mounting off.

Sample vlog footage from the Nikon Z FC. All footage changeable astatine 4K 24FPS with the 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 kit lens.

But present to the elephant successful the country and the biggest quality betwixt the Z FC and the Z50: the look of the hardware.

The Z FC is simply a integrative instrumentality connected Nikon’s 35mm F cameras. It shares the aforesaid retro look with the iconic metallic body, a faux-leather wrap-around design, and dials connected top. When I saw it earlier this year, I was instantly excited due to the fact that it has agelong been a imagination of excavation to person a integer mentation of my Nikkormat FTN, which, though produced by the Japanese institution Nippon Kogaku K. K., shares the aforesaid plan arsenic Nikon’s F cameras. But the infinitesimal I held the FC, I knew this wasn’t for movie enthusiasts looking for the aforesaid manual shooting acquisition successful a integer body.

Lightweight cameras with integrative parts consciousness similar toys nary substance however bully the internals mightiness be. The high-pitched click of pulling retired the articulating surface oregon artillery compartment and the slippery consciousness of the integrative assemblage marque maine question the camera’s durability arsenic well. And though galore folks volition beryllium blessed with this camera’s output, the acquisition of utilizing it leaves a batch to beryllium desired for a idiosyncratic who has go truthful utilized to the sounds and consciousness of much premium systems. I recorded each dependable the Z FC makes successful the video below.

All of that is to accidental this camera is not made for folks coming from all-metal, well-constructed 35mm cameras specified arsenic myself. It’s designed to look bully from afar and beryllium airy capable to instrumentality anywhere, but utilizing it feels similar playing nonrecreational alternatively than really being professional. And Nikon has played into the manner archetypal attack with six colour options.

The Nikon Z FC is simply a large entry-level camera for fashion-forward folks who volition beryllium motivated to transportation this camera everyplace due to the fact that of its retro design. With astir controls being acceptable to dials connected the apical of the camera, the strategy is casual to use, and the prime of the images and video is precise good.

Fujifilm and Leica cameras stay the closest acquisition to shooting with all-metal vintage camera bodies due to the fact that of their galore manual power wheels and coagulated construction. As for the Z FC, it’s a large camera for $959.95, but it does not supply the aforesaid acquisition of the cameras Nikon designed it to look like. Its looks are alternatively intended to pull an assemblage that wants to look the portion of a lensman without having to transportation the dense cogwheel that was erstwhile needed to beryllium one.

Photography by Becca Farsace / The Verge

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