Nikon Z FC assessment: style over focus

Taking images with my 1967 35mm Nikkormat FTN makes me really feel highly effective. Its all-metal physique with mechanical springs, gears, and levers create a loud, satisfying “clunk” with each shutter press and deep “zip” when advancing the movie. Its silver metallic physique with black faux-leather accents has confirmed to be not solely timeless and attention-grabbing however, extra importantly, extremely sturdy. And the aperture, shutter velocity, and ISO settings being positioned across the barrel of the lens make it extremely fast to manage as soon as your muscle reminiscence has been established.

Exterior of the nice photos this digicam can seize, utilizing the FTN is an extremely enjoyable and satisfying expertise. And the Nikon Z FC, Nikon’s newest entry-level mirrorless digicam, led me to consider that I would, in the end, have a near-exact digital reproduction of a digicam I like a lot. Sadly, the Z FC wasn’t meant to digitally replicate a basic however, as an alternative, encourage a brand new era to hold a digicam exterior of their telephones.

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

The articulating display makes this digicam vlog and selfie-ready.

The faux-leather wrap-around design looks great from afar.

The faux-leather wrap-around design seems nice from afar.

The Z FC is a plastic take on Nikon’s 35mm F cameras.

The Z FC is a plastic tackle Nikon’s 35mm F cameras.

The Nikon Z FC is a compact APS-C, 20.9-megapixel digicam. The physique prices $959.95; the $1,096.95 package I used to be capable of check included a Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens that retracts when not in use for a slim silhouette. 

It’s a retro rebrand of Nikon’s entry-level mirrorless digicam, the Nikon Z50, with a number of added options, reminiscent of full-time eye autofocus whereas capturing video, the power to simply accept firmware updates through an app, a sooner USB-C port for charging and information switch, and a totally articulating LCD display. In contrast to Nikon’s earlier Df, which took a DSLR and stripped out options within the identify of its retro rebuild, the FC isn’t hampered in any respect — it might probably shoot full-resolution stills as much as 11 frames per second and 4K 30fps video for as much as half-hour at a time.

There is a micro HDMI, USB-C, and mic port on the left side.

There’s a micro HDMI, USB-C, and mic port on the left facet.

The battery compartment also houses the SD card slot.

The battery compartment additionally homes the SD card slot.

The Z FC uses the same EN-EL25 battery as the Nikon Z50.

The Z FC makes use of the identical EN-EL25 battery because the Nikon Z50.

Photographs from the Z FC with the 16-50mm package lens are sharp with a really clean and pleasing focus fall-off. The RAW information present plenty of room for brightening shadows or bringing down the highlights. And I used to be very impressed with how the Z FC dealt with grain in low-light conditions. As a substitute of a multitude of colour blotches and pixelation, the low-light grain has a film-esque, even texture to it that, when displayed on a small display, reminiscent of a cellphone, isn’t distracting.

Photographs taken on the Nikon Z FC with the 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 package lens.

The Achilles heel of the Z FC is its gradual auto-focus system. Typically the digicam can’t discover any specific object to concentrate on and can do a good quantity of looking as soon as a degree is locked in. There’s focus monitoring, in each picture and video modes, that works nicely in good mild, however in low mild, the digicam struggles to carry onto a single level. Additionally, the inexperienced focus help mild is extremely vivid and attracts plenty of consideration to itself. Pair that with an auto-focus system that always misses the mark, and also you would possibly as nicely be a flashing Christmas tree out making an attempt to take images at the hours of darkness. The gradual package lens doesn’t assist this example, both; you may need higher success with a brighter lens, however I used to be not capable of check that.

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

In video, the lens’ autofocus is audible when taking part in again footage and does plenty of looking, even on faces in vivid mild. I shot in 4K 24FPS whereas testing this digicam, and whereas it can’t shoot within the log, the MOV information are crisp and oddly secure in good mild. I say oddly as a result of the Z FC has no inside stabilization, although the package lens can present optical vibration discount (VR) with a little bit of a crop to your body. The digicam’s mild weight is a large assist in protecting a shot regular, however I turned off the VR setting and was nonetheless shocked at how secure my photographs appeared. Beneath is a few pattern video that I filmed fully handheld with the VR setting off. 

Pattern vlog footage from the Nikon Z FC. All footage shot at 4K 24FPS with the 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 package lens.

However now to the elephant within the room and the largest distinction between the Z FC and the Z50: the look of the {hardware}.

The Z FC is a plastic tackle Nikon’s 35mm F cameras. It shares the identical retro look with the enduring silver physique, a faux-leather wrap-around design, and dials on high. Once I noticed it earlier this 12 months, I used to be immediately excited as a result of it has lengthy been a dream of mine to have a digital model of my Nikkormat FTN, which, though produced by the Japanese firm Nippon Kogaku Ok. Ok., shares the identical design as Nikon’s F cameras. However the second I held the FC, I knew this wasn’t for movie lovers searching for the identical handbook capturing expertise in a digital physique.

Light-weight cameras with plastic components really feel like toys regardless of how good the internals may be. The high-pitched click on of pulling out the articulating display or battery compartment and the slippery really feel of the plastic physique make me query the digicam’s sturdiness as nicely. And though many of us will likely be proud of this digicam’s output, the expertise of utilizing it leaves loads to be desired for an individual who has turn out to be so used to the sounds and really feel of extra premium methods. I recorded each sound the Z FC makes within the video under.

All of that’s to say this digicam just isn’t made for people coming from all-metal, well-constructed 35mm cameras reminiscent of myself. It’s designed to look good from afar and be mild sufficient to take wherever, however utilizing it seems like taking part in skilled somewhat than really being skilled. And Nikon has performed into the style first strategy with six colour choices.

There are three dials on top of the camera: ISO, shutter speed, and exposure compensation.

There are three dials on high of the digicam: ISO, shutter velocity, and publicity compensation.

The buttons being on the left hand side makes it tough to operate this camera with one hand.

The buttons being on the left hand facet makes it robust to function this digicam with one hand.

The Nikon Z FC is a superb entry-level digicam for fashion-forward people who will likely be motivated to hold this digicam in all places due to its retro design. With most controls being set to dials on the highest of the digicam, the system is simple to make use of, and the standard of the pictures and video is excellent. 

Fujifilm and Leica cameras stay the closest expertise to capturing with all-metal classic digicam our bodies due to their many handbook management wheels and strong development. As for the Z FC, it’s a fantastic digicam for $959.95, nevertheless it doesn’t present the identical expertise of the cameras Nikon designed it to seem like. Its seems are as an alternative meant to draw an viewers that desires to look the a part of a photographer with out having to hold the heavy gear that was as soon as wanted to be one.

Images by Becca Farsace / The Verge

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