Did Nikon Hit the Sweet Spot With the Z fc Mirrorless Camera?

Nikon's first retro-inspired camera, the Df, came out to mostly middling reviews noting its emphasis on form over function. Their second effort, the mirrorless Z fc, keeps the retro aesthetic and features far more competitive specs. Did the company hit the sweet spot this time? This great video review takes a look at the image quality and performance you can expect from the Z fc. 

Coming to you from DPReview TV, this excellent video review takes a look at the Nikon Z fc mirrorless camera. Nikon seems to have learned a lot of lessons from the Df, with the Z fc bringing with it plenty of capabilities, such as 4K video and an 11 fps continuous burst rate, all at a price below $1,000. And as many Fujifilm shooters will tell you, these retro-inspired designs are not just about aesthetics; they can actually have a positive impact on your workflow. By having prominent manual controls for major settings, you are able to keep your eye to the viewfinder and avoid crawling through menus more often, which keeps you more focused on creating images. Beyond that, it is simply a fun way to shoot. Check out the video above for the full rundown.

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winzehnt gates's picture

Nikon hasn't a single lens with aperture ring for the Zfc. If anybody wants an aps-c camera with dedicated dials for all major settings, including aperture, Fuji has a fantastic lineup of cameras and lenses. I can't imagine anybody but a Nikon fan-boy buying the Zfc.Why should anybody choose the Zfc over e.g. the T-30, when dedicated dials are a main requirement?

Hans J. Nielsen's picture

You sure sound like a Fuji fanboy. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Fuji.
Your theory has one major flaw. The believe that no one can be happy with a camera / lens without an aperture dial on the lens.
Sorry to burst your bubble.

winzehnt gates's picture

I might be a Fuji fanboy, but you missepresent my comment, which ends with "Why should anybody choose the Zfc over e.g. the T-30, when dedicated dials are a main requirement?"
My argument wasn't that Fuji cameras were better, but if your main reason to contemplate the Zfc is the retro dials then have a look at Fuji cameras too.

PS: Do you think of yourself as a Nikon fanboy?

Hans J. Nielsen's picture

I am a Nikon user if that is what you mean. Yes, but a fanboy? That would imply I would care what other camera makers make and I don't.
The reason I pointet you out as a Fuji fanboy is, that I see this all the time when the Z fc is in the press. Someone always come out and say, But what about Fuji? Look at it. It has dials too and it look retro long before the Z fc came out.

The point of the Z fc is that it-is a Nikon. It is being praised by people that like the idea of a retro looking Nikon. Not a retro looking Fuji.
The strong point for the F fc is it use the same Z mount as its bigger siblings, so if you already have Nikon Z glas, then it is a no brainer.

winzehnt gates's picture

I don't think we have the same definition for "fanboy". I my book, a fanboy of a certain brand can't imagine to use another brand because his beloved brand is the best.
So, when you say that you don't care what other camera makers make, I would see that as strong indication that you're indeed a Nikon fanboy.

I like using my Fuji cameras, but not because they are Fuji cameras. I like the dedicated dials, the colours and the option to redevelop a raw in camera. I also like the size of my X70, which makes it an easy everyday companion. But if e.g. Sony would release a new iteration of the RX1 with WR, I would contemplate to buy one.
If Canon or Nikon would offer cameras with the UI I want, I would think about it.
Fuji cameras provide what I want from a camera, but as I've written in other posts, other photographers milage may vary. Because of all that, I don't see myself as Fuji fanboy.

PS: What made you think that I'd "believe that no one can be happy with a camera / lens without an aperture dial on the lens" in the first place?
All I did was pointing out that while the Zfc is advertised for its retro dials, one important dial is missing.
In another post below, I wrote "I love the dedicated dials, whereas others love to change speed and aperture with front and back dial. For me an aperture ring at the lens is a must, for others, it's irrelevant."
Next time, don't jump to conclusions.

Hans J. Nielsen's picture

So, you try to turn the conversating around to make it look like it is me that is the fanboy. How cute.

Tom Egel's picture

Fuji makes some nice cameras and excellent lenses for sure. While I enjoyed my X-Pro2, I decided to trade it in for the Z fc. Why? Because I wanted the articulating screen and I prefer the Nikon ergonomics and UI. Fuji doesn't have anything comparable to the 16-50, plus I can use my old Nikon MF lenses with the Zfc.

Matt Williams's picture

The lack of a nice compact zoom lens like the excellent Nikon 16-50 from Fuji is one reason I've always ended up selling every Fuji I've bought. The 15-45 is the closest, but it's optically much weaker and it's an awful power zoom.

Nikon Z lenses across the board are far better than Fuji's too. While Fuji has many great optics (the 90/2, 80 Macro, 16-55, 60/2.4, 56/1.2) they have a lot that are anywhere from poor to just good.

Plus, of course, you are entirely limited to APS-C with Fuji. Nikon allows you to share lenses between APS-C and FF, which many people do.

winzehnt gates's picture

I agree that these are all good reasons to choose the Zfc over Fuji (although the S-10 has a fully articulted screen, plus IBIS).
My argument was: If your main reason to contemplate the Zfc is the retro dials then have a look at Fuji cameras too.
PS: In general most cameras and most lenses are good enough, so that most people (me included) couldn't see a difference quality wise. So, in my opinion, the choice of camera is mainly down to handling, dials and buttons. I love the dedicated dials, whereas others love to change speed and aperture with front and back dial. For me an aperture ring at the lens is a must, for others, it's irrelevant.

Matt Williams's picture

Fair enough! And I agree that most people can't see the differences. Though I do think many, even those people, would like a pancake MANUAL zoom (not electronic zoom). Even the 15-45 doesn't compare to the Nikon 16-50 in size. Of course, Nikon lacks the tiny primes of Fuji - and they'll never be able to have them because of the larger mount. Such is the trade-off for being able to share/use FF lenses.

Fuji doesn't work for me because of the lack of a PASM dial. I realize this is the appeal for many - and I love it for compacts like the X100 series or the X-Pro and X-E cameras, but not for workhorse cameras. I need Custom modes that I can quickly switch to for different situations. Fuji requires you to go into the menu and adjust all your settings (autofocus modes, picture profiles, etc.) as well as adjust your manual dials. I can do all that with the turn of one dial on a Nikon Z camera.

The GFX 100/100S/50S II all have PASM dials with custom modes. As does the X-S10.

I hope one or both of the Fuji X-H2 cameras use PASM dials with custom modes. Then I might consider Fuji.

winzehnt gates's picture

I agree that the Nikon 16-50 is better than the Fuji 15-45. My biggest complain about Fuji X-Mount is the lack of pancake lens. There's only one, the 27mmF2.8.
But the 50mmF2 is a great small lens, especially for candit images at family gatherings.
I'm not a professional and I don't have this need to quickly switch modes. I usually choose a film simulation depending on my mood and the weather before I leave the house. Almost everything I need to access is on a dial or a button.

I think we live in great times when it comes to photography gear. Almost all cameras released in the last 5-7 years are at least good, a lot are excelent. This gives us the opportuniy to choose a camera more for its UI than for its image quality.

winzehnt gates's picture

Quote:"... I prefer the Nikon ergonomics and UI."
In my view, that's the best reason to choose a certain manufacturer. We are lucky that different manufactures have different ergonomics and UI, so we have options to choose from.

PS: The Fuji S-10 has a fully articulated screen, IBIS and a PASM-dial. But if the Nikon lenses suit you better, I fully understand, why for you Nikon is the better choice.

Jason Frels's picture

Nikon has several lenses with a control ring that can be dedicated to the aperture.

winzehnt gates's picture

That would still be an aperture ring without markings.
It all boils down to personal taste, i.e. which kind of UI gives you the best experience and makes you want to go out and take images.
For me, it's having dedicated marked dials, especially aperture, speed and exposure compensation. Because of that no Ricoh GR could ever replace my Fuji X70, although the Ricoh GR III comes with IBIS and a higher resolution.

Deleted Account's picture

Because it LOOKS nicer than the Fujifilm camera and that's really the main reason to get a camera like the Zfc. There's nothing really special about the camera. There's no special sauce in its sensor output nor are there mind blowing specs. It's a generic low-end camera with an aesthetic gimmick. I do agree that an aperture ring on the SE lens variant would have been a nice touch and differentiator. It's not like you're going to attach any of the modern-looking Z lenses to it since that would just look dumb and ruin the entire retro aesthetic. So at the end of the day, if you're buying a Zfc over even something like a Z50 it's probably because you like the way it looks.

Tom Egel's picture

I disagree. I like the way Fujis look, I just never got along with their UI. It's not terrible, but tends to slow me down. A couple of examples, I like to shoot with the LCD off. With the X-Pro2, that also turns off the menu system, so you have to turn the LCD back on to get into the menus then toggle through 5 more screens to turn it off again. Also, every time you go into the Fuji menus, it does not remember where you were last, so you have to go hunting for the setting again. I did find the Q menu useful, but it still has the "display off" issue. I used the Fuji primarily as a travel camera and have since replaced it with the Z fc. Very capable unit. (and looks great too! :-)

Scott Nichols's picture

The z fc does have a dedicated dial for aperture. It’s called the front or back command dial. Not sure what your obsession is with having it on the lens.

Tom Egel's picture

Because it looks bad-ass :-)

winzehnt gates's picture

Just for the record, the front and rear dials are assigned dials and dedicated dials.
Also I'm the first to admit that's my personal taste to prefer dedicated dials. I don't expect everybody to share my UI priorities.

So, what is your answer to my question "Why should anybody choose the Zfc over e.g. the T-30, when dedicated dials are a main requirement?"
(Please don't overlook the conditional part of the question.)

PS: You don't have to understand my "obsession" with having a marked aperture ring on the lens, you just have to accept it. At least as long as I accept that most photographers don't share my "obsession".

Scott Nichols's picture

I guess my question would be about the condition itself. Once you take 60 servings to set a custom dial, what is the functional difference from a dedicated dial? You set it and forget it, and it functionally becomes a dedicated dial to you. So again, why even make that a condition in the first place?

winzehnt gates's picture

OK, I accept that you don't want to answer my question.

PS: If your reasoning is correct, then the Zfc should be lambasted for the missing PASM-dial and the half-baked pseudo retro style and not praised for it. No sane person not already invested in the Nikon ecosystem should consider the Zfc because of the retro style dials.

Roger Cozine's picture

Not even slightly impressed. Fujifilm has been making beautiful & tactical legacy style camera bodies for years. I don't even know why people act as if Nikon came up with something new and groundbreaking. The features aren't anything stellar either. That's not saying the new Nikon isn't a decent camera, but it's certainly not groundbreaking. Looking at the tech specs, it's either on par or slightly behind every other camera manufacturer already. Lastly... What's up with being only 20.9Mp and having only 4k 30fps? What is this, 2018? Even micro 4/3 have long surpassed that benchmark long ago. To me, this seems like Nikons last ditch attempt at keeping new camera buyers, and current Nikon shooters from jumping ship to other brands.

Matt Rennells's picture

How many cameras will do BETTER than 4k30 - with eye detect autofocus - for under $1k?

charles hoffman's picture

z-fc = cutesy, overpriced and totally outclassed and "outglassed" by fuji, sony, and even cannon

John Kelsey's picture

More negative bs trying to promote frivolous fuji and their cutesy little sensors...

charles hoffman's picture

Zfc 20 mp
Fuji 26


Stuart C's picture

Oooh look, someone else who takes photos of birds on twigs being arrogant, who knew.

Eliyahu Mayevsky's picture

Can't resist the feeling Nikon spends considerable budgets at dpreview. If you visited dpreview only, you'd think Nikon is world's number one brand. Not saying it's bad, but it's presence there, as compared to others, is "over proportional"

charles hoffman's picture

Not that much
These guys come cheap

Deleted Account's picture

You can produce amazing images (if you have it in you) with this camera, just like every other enthusiast level camera on the market.

However, if people buy this product, and it helps Nikon with its financial issues, then people should be happy about it. Remember, competition is a good thing, it incentivises manufacturers to keep pushing.

I would also observe, if someone buys this camera because of the way it looks, and they enjoy it, maybe even becoming serious about photography in the process, isn't that a good thing?

Roger Cozine's picture

I'm not impressed with this camera, but I am highly impressed with your point of view. Very well worded and kudos for thinking outside of the norm.

Matt Rennells's picture

I think one thing that many are missing with this camera are the two main users this camera is directed at:

(1) Vloggers that only carry about style and will probably only use the kit lens (I'll put "momtographers" in this group too).

This group will look at Fuji and Olympus and it will ultimately come down to style, color choice of the camera, and what is available to them. Tech specs, lens availability, etc. means very little to them. These people probably started with something like a Sony a5000 with kit lens and are moving to a new camera.

(2) People already in the Nikon ecosystem who are looking for a compact camera.

This is what I fall into. I have two Nikon full frame bodies, zoom holy trinity, and several primes. I've been shooting Nikon for more than a decade. There are many times that I have wanted to take my camera for something, yet didn't want to pull out the giant camera with grip due to size, or didn't want to take the big camera because if something happens to it, that's a $3k+ issue.

I typically have the 70-200 glued to my Z7II for most things, and then carry a backup with 24-70 that ends up being dead weight just hanging from my shoulder. With this, I can have Z fc with the kit lens (24-70 equivalent), my main body with the 70-200, and I've got everything covered. When I need a quick wide overview shot, pull out the Z fc, snap a couple, and go back to the Z7II/70-200.

This camera has convinced me to abandon my backup DSLR completely and go mirrorless 100%. With the kit lens, it easily fits in a big jacket pocket, or on a shoulder sling style strap the weight is not even noticeable. AND it will take every single lens I have (albeit with DX crop) and work perfectly (as well as my flashes and triggers). Performance and image quality are actually better than all of the Nikon DX DSLRs I've used (with exception of maybe the D500 - they're pretty close).

Gil Aegerter's picture

I admit I like the way the ZFC looks. But I also like the idea of dedicated dials for use with gloves while skiing and the articulating screen. The only thing keeping me back is I have a D5500, about the same size and can use all my old glass without an adapter.

Glem Let's picture

winzehnt gates
You don’t need click stop aperture lenses on a Zfc, because you can set up a custom function so that when you twist the lens body, the f/stop changes, almost like the good old days, I say almost because there is no ‘click’ but what you do have is your hand on the lens and you twist it to change aperture.

Believe me it works a treat, I have it set up on my Zfc with the 28mm (40mm FOV),
Film speed on the top
Shutter speed on the top
Aperture on the lens…

Can’t get much more ‘retro’ than that without buying an FM2 and a roll of film.

winzehnt gates's picture

It's great, that this works for you. For me it has to be an aperture ring with markings. I just love to see all basic parameters without even having to switch on the camera.
Also, if you want to set aperture and manual focus, it's nice if both have their own ring.
For the same reason, I got the XF16-80F4 and not the 18-135F3.5-5.6 (In Fuji forums there are a lot of discussions about which one is the better travel lens.) For me it was easy. The former has a marked aperture ring, the later an unmarked one (because of the variable aperture), so it had to be the 16-80F4.
If you know your priorities buying gear (and holding GAS in check) is a lot easier. :-)