Nikon’s Z FC is an APS-C mirrorless camera that combines Nikon’s new Z lens mount with looks and controls reminiscent of the company’s classic film SLRs from the company’s FM and FE series.
The Z FC is Nikon’s second crop sensor camera to use the company’s Z mount and is built around the same 20.9MP sensor as the Nikon Z50, but you get dedicated dials for ISO, shutter speed, and exposure compensation for accompanying your backward movement. style. Nikon says it’s aiming the camera at a younger, style-conscious audience.
20.9 MP CMOS sensor
Burst shooting up to 11fps with Full AF (9fps with 14-bit Raw)
UHD 4K video with up to 30p oversampling, using the full width of the sensor
The 1.04M-dot fully articulated rear touchscreen
2.36 million dot OLED viewfinder
Manual dial for ISO, shutter speed, and exposure compensation
The Z fc is priced at $ 960 for the body only, $ 1100 with a silver version of the 16-50mm F3.5-6.3 VR zoom, and $ 1200 with the 28mm F2.8 (SE) -like a prime lens. retro.
The Z fc will be sold primarily in silver with black leatherette patches, but six versions with colored grip material will also be available in limited quantities. The pink, mint green, white, gray, amber-brown, and sand beige versions will cost $ 100 more than the regular model and, in North America at least, will only be sold through the Nikon website.
The main thing that is new to the Z fc is its retro styling and its control system based on dedicated command dials. The camera is designed to evoke Nikon’s FM and FE series SLRs, but it is also likely to recall some of Fujifilm’s digital cameras that reference the same era of SLR design, as well as Nikon’s DSLR Df. of 2013.
But despite the classic look, the Z fc is a modern camera at heart, offering a few features that should ensure it’s seen as more than just an embellished Z50.
Full-time eye AF in video mode
Unlike the Z50, the Z fc offers Nikon’s full-time eye autofocus mode while shooting video. When taking pictures, it also includes focus modes that combine face-eye AF with a large focus area, giving you more control over where the camera searches for a subject (in the Z50 face/eye AF it is only available in all areas AF mode ‘Auto’, which means that the camera chooses a human subject for you if there is more than one person in the frame).
The Z50 and Z fc are likely to share the same ‘Expeed 6’ processor, so these features could probably be added to the older model via firmware, but Nikon may choose to keep a distinction between the two.
Fully articulated screen
The Z fc is the first Z-mount camera to feature a fully articulated rear LCD screen. This means that it can be turned all the way forward for vlogging (works well in conjunction with the video Eye AF function), and it also means that the screen can be folded towards the rear of the camera, to protect the LCD panel when viewing. travels.
Helping photographers on the go too, the Z fc has a USB-C socket on the side that can be used to power the camera as well as charge the battery. It’s a ‘Superspeed’ USB 3.2 Gen 1 (aka USB 3.0) interface, which should mean it’s significantly faster at transferring data than the plugs on the Z50.
Firmware updates by smartphone
The other new feature of the Z fc is the ability to accept firmware updates from a smartphone. It’s a feature we’ve seen from other brands and found it unexpectedly convenient both in terms of getting information about updates and keeping the camera up to date.
How it compares
Nikon aims the Z fc at a younger audience interested in owning a fashion camera for sharing photos on social media and vlogging. It’s to “capture iconic moments” (read: photos for Instagram), according to the company. Nikon has created the Z fc to be the opposite of the ‘boring black camera’, with a design that dates back to Nikon film cameras of yesteryear. It is something to attract attention.
|Nikon Z fc||Nikon Z50||Fujifilm X-S10||Sony a6400|
|MSRP at launch||$960 b/o |
$1100 with 16-50mm F3.5-6.3
|$860 b/o |
$1000 with 16-50mm F3.5-6.3
|$999 b/o |
$1299 with 18-55mm F2.8-4.0
|$900 b/o |
$1000 w/ 16-55mm F3.5-5.6
|Image stabilizations||Lens only||Lens only||In-body||Lens only|
|Max burst rate||11 fps (12-bit Raw) |
9 fps (14-bit)
|11 fps (12-bit Raw) |
9 fps (14-bit)
|20 fps (e-shutter) |
8 fps (mech)
|Screen res / type||1.04M-dot |
|1.04M-dot tilt up/down (down by 180°)||1.04M-dot fully-articulating||920k-dot tilt up/down (up by 180°)|
|Viewfinder res /magnification||2.36M-dot |
|4K video spec||UHD 30p/24p |
|UHD 30p/24p |
|DCI or UHD 30p/24p |
|4K 24p No crop |
4K 30p 1.1x crop
|Mic/headphones||Yes / No||Yes / No||Yes / Yes (w/ inc USB adapter)||Yes / No|
|Battery life |
|Dimensions||135 x 94 x 44 mm||127 x 94 x 60 mm||126 x 85 x 65mm||120 x 67 x 60 mm|
Fujifilm has been making cameras with designs comparable to the Z fc for many years, with the X-T30 being the most similar. While it is very capable for stills and videos, it is not actually a vlogging camera as it lacks a fully articulated display. Technically speaking, Fujifilm’s X-S10 is the best option for vloggers, trading manual control dials for a fully articulated display, as well as in-body image stabilization, but design-wise it’s a boring black camera.
The Z50 already offered excellent still image performance and twenty “creative capture” image processing modes, but the Z FC’s fully articulated display, capable AF system, and external microphone help extend its appeal to people who want to make vlogs.
On the stills side, Sony’s a6400 is a rival at this price point, but it can’t compete in terms of design, while Panasonic offers the very compact and very vlogging-focused G100 / G110, whose design, again, unlikely to be much of a conversation starter.
Body and controls
The body of the Z fc closely resembles the size and shape of Nikon’s FM and FE SLRs, meaning it doesn’t have the kind of outstanding grip that was later deemed essential for holding a camera. If you need something else to hold onto, there is a bolt-on accessory grip that screws into the base of the camera. Nikon US tells us that they currently have no plans to bring this ‘Extension Grip GR-1’ to the country, but Nikon UK and Nikon Europe promote it as an available accessory.
Metal-finished dials are fairly common, but the Z fc uses solid aluminum dials, and Nikon says the numbers are etched into the metal, rather than being printed or glued to the surface. The ISO and shutter speed dials have pressure locks to prevent accidental operation, but this means they require a bit more considerate operation.
Although the Z fc ends up looking a lot like Fujifilm’s X-T30, its dials work slightly differently. Instead of the exposure mode being defined by the position of the shutter speed and ISO dials, the Z fc has a separate exposure mode switch. For example, setting this to ‘A’ for aperture priority disables the shutter speed dial, regardless of its position.
Generally, dedicated dials are used to control each exposure parameter, with a command dial on the front of the camera setting an aperture value. The exception to this is if you turn the shutter speed dial to the ‘1/3 stop’ position, at which point the rear command dial takes control of the shutter speed.
An interesting quirk is that the ISO dial does not include an ‘Auto’ position. We couldn’t find an easy way, other than adding ‘ISO Settings’ to My Menu, to turn Auto ISO on and off. With Auto ISO turned on, the ISO dial ends up setting the minimum ISO the camera will use.
Separate video/stills operation
A small switch at the base of the shutter speed dial allows you to switch from still images to movie recording and vice versa. As with the Z50 and other recent Nikons, you can opt for different settings for both modes, allowing, for example, different white balance and color mode settings for each shooting style. However, the reliance on dedicated dials means that your exposure settings will tend to carry over, so you’ll have to adjust them a bit each time you change.
Magnesium alloy construction
The Z fc is a fairly light camera, thanks to the extensive use of magnesium alloy in its construction. The lack of a protruding grip helps keep the weight below that of the Z50. In addition to the robustness of a primarily metal housing, Nikon says the Z fc has been designed ‘with dust/drip resistance in mind’ (although none of the lenses offered as kits seem to make the same claim).
The thin gauge metal and fairly lightweight plastic battery cover and viewfinder cup trim make the camera feel less substantial than its metal build might imply. However, the feel of the dial (particularly in terms of the front and rear command dials) helps counteract this impression.
The Z fc uses the same EN-EL25 battery as the Z50, and since it shares that camera’s screen, viewfinder, sensor, and processor, it offers a very similar battery life. The CIPA rating of 300 shots per charge is reasonable, rather than excellent, even once you’ve taken into account the fact that it’s common to get twice as many shots as these ratings suggest, in everyday use.
The ability to directly recharge or power the camera using its USB socket will alleviate some of this pressure, especially if you’re already in the habit of packing a USB power bank to keep your phone full on the weekends.
When I first picked up the Z fc with its 16-50mm kit lens attached my first thoughts were ‘wow this sure is light’ and ‘this can’t be metal’. As mentioned above, the Z fc is indeed metal, although it feels very thin on the faceplate. The top plate is a different story – it feels solid, and the dials are perfectly designed. The screen showing the aperture is so small that you can forget it’s there, and the lack of backlight makes it impossible to see in the dark.
There were some aspects of the Z fc design that I didn’t care about. The body is covered with faux fur which I found quite slippery. Hopefully, Nikon will bring the GR-1 extension grip to the US soon, which would give me more confidence in holding it. I wouldn’t complain about an additional thumb rest either, as there isn’t much room on the back panel. I wish the menus could be operated with the command dials, which would be much faster than using the four-way controller or the touch screen.
Those things aside, the Z fc is a pleasure to shoot with, which is on par with the other Nikons in the Z series that I have used. The autofocus system is responsive, with Animal AF capturing the eyes of birds and cats, and a face detection fix on a subject wearing sunglasses (which was a pleasant surprise).
While I have no plans to be a vlogger, the Z fc is more than capable of handling that task, if it’s your thing. As soon as you rotate the screen towards you, the camera disables all buttons except red for video capture, so you won’t accidentally change a setting. There is no quick menu or way to start recording via the touch screen.
I was pleased with the footage I got after filming myself walking through the backyard a few times. The oversampled 4K looks great and the AF system stuck to my eyes like glue, even with glasses. However, the combination of IS in the lens and electronics was not surprising in any way. The Z fc lacks in-body stabilization, but the vlogger’s Sony ZV-E10 and Panasonic DC-G100 don’t have it either.
Since many people are using their cameras as webcams these days, I installed Nikon’s webcam utility software on my laptop to see how things looked. I had no problem using the Zoom camera and the quality was light years ahead of the $ 50 webcam I bought at Costco.
While I don’t enjoy taking videos of myself, I do enjoy sharing my photos on Instagram and Facebook. Nikon’s SnapBridge app has improved dramatically over the years and has worked almost seamlessly. It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but the camera remote and image transfer (to your phone or automatically to the cloud) work just fine, allowing me to put my photos on Instagram moments after taking them.
You can toggle the above comparison tool between JPEG and Raw modes by selecting the desired mode from the corresponding drop-down menu. At the top right of our tool, you will see icons indicating ‘Complete’, ‘Compare’, and ‘Print’. ‘Full’ gives you a 100% enlarged view of each camera in its native resolution; ‘Compare’ normalizes all cameras to the lowest resolution camera present in the comparison, while ‘Print’ resizes all images to approximately 8MP output.
The colors in JPEG are pleasing, with the golden yellows, warm greens, and vibrant reds that we have come to expect from Nikon. Like the Z50 (and Sony), the Z fc doesn’t appear to have an anti-aliasing filter, so detail capture is high, but it does come at the cost of aliasing and color moiré. The sharpness of JPEG is quite aggressive, with large radius sharpness causing more halos around the edges (aka overshoot) than competitors like Fujifilm and Sony. Noise reduction is quite effective at removing noise but comes at a considerable cost of detail relative to the leading Sony in its class.
There are two things we measure when we look at dynamic range: exposure latitude and ISO invariance. Let’s skip the technical verbiage and explain what they mean in the real world.
Our exposure latitude test does what you might be tempted to do in bright light: lower the exposure to capture additional reflections and then brighten the shadows. The Z FC’s excellent sensor allows you to illuminate shadows at levels far beyond what you normally would, with only a modest increase in noise.
The sensor is also highly ISO invariant, which you can see demonstrated in our test scene, where we took photos at different ISOs and clarified the Raw files. In layman’s terms, this means that you can shoot at low ISOs (to preserve reflections) and brighten the image in Photoshop or similar and get the same result as if you increased the ISO on the camera.
One last thing worth mentioning is the camera’s white balance system. There are three Auto WB settings: “keep the general atmosphere”, “keep light white” and “keep light warm”. We found that photos sometimes had a blue tint when using the ‘keep general atmosphere’ setting. If you notice this while shooting, switching to the ‘warm’ option will give you a more realistic-looking white balance.
The video functions of the Z fc are the same as those of the Z50, except for the addition of eyepiece autofocus. That means you get a sample of 4K video without cropping from the full width of the sensor, Full HD high-speed shooting at 120 fps, and dedicated video settings (which allow you to quickly switch between still and video modes without bringing up any settings. desired). There are also focus peaks (for manual focus), zebra patterns (for judging exposure), audio level control, and the ability to configure the microphone to better capture vocals. When shooting with manual exposure, the camera also allows you to lock shutter speed and aperture to get the look you want and adjust the brightness via the exposure compensation dial.
Although it is not as sharp as images from the Fujifilm X-T30, which captures 4K with oversampling, the Z fc still produces very good-looking video. The colors are nice and the distractions like moire are minimal. Video captured at 1080p (both 60p and 120p) looks solid too.
The Z fc offers an electronic image stabilizer, which adds a modest crop. It doesn’t give you gimbal-quality stability and there’s a slight drop in quality, but if you’re not using a stabilized lens it’s worth a try.
|What we like||What we don’t|
| || |
With the Nikon Z fc, the company has designed a capable (but not class-leading) camera for photography and vlogging and also a great tool for this quest for a hands-on experience not found on other Z-mount bodies. It is essentially a Z50, a camera that won our silver award, in a different housing – and that’s a good thing.
Few will argue with the design of the camera – it looks fantastic. The handling is a mixed bag; the Z fc is light but feels a bit hollow. The synthetic leather that covers the body looks good, but slippery in the hand (Nikon offers an optional grip in some regions). The quality feel of the sturdy metal dials is offset by the cheap plastic battery cover.
Speaking of autofocus, the Z fc focuses quickly, detects eyes and faces with ease, and performs well at subject tracking, although Sony and Canon’s AF systems are more robust. The Z fc lacks a joystick to move the AF point (that’s what the four-way controller or touch screen is for), and you can’t use the LCD screen to move the focus point when your eye is in the viewfinder.
When used for vlogging, the camera sticks to the subject without any “hunting” and the built-in mic is satisfying (you can add your own via the 3.5mm mic jack). Overall, video quality is excellent at both 4K and 1080 resolutions (even at 120fps), and there is a generous set of capture tools available. If you take a lot of hybrid shots, the separate setup banks for stills and video will be greatly appreciated. Something you won’t find on the Z fc is a headphone jack for monitoring audio.
The image quality of the Z fc is also very solid, with a lot of raw detail capture, low noise levels, and plenty of room to light up shadows. We found that JPEG files often looked remarkably “ cool ” when using the default auto white balance settings. The change to the “warmer” version made the color more pleasant.
We believe Nikon has succeeded in what it set out to do with the Z fc. He took the guts of the generic-looking Z50 and created an inexpensive camera with a genuinely retro design that dates back to the company’s FM film cameras. The camera is sleek and dares we say modern, and it will turn your head a lot when you’re capturing your memories through photos or videos.
Compared to its peers
While we picked the Fujifilm X-T30 as a direct competitor to the Z fc because of all its physical controls, if you don’t mind losing the dials, the company’s X-S10 is the best option, thanks to its integrated body. image stabilization. Both cameras produce excellent still image quality and offer good AF but again not class-leading. Both cameras offer Log video output as well as microphone and headphone jacks, and the X-S10 also sports a fully articulated display. They also have better battery life than the Z fc.
The Sony a6400 lacks the fully articulated display and nifty vlogging tricks of the company’s ZV-E10, but it’s more in line with the Z fc’s feature set. The image quality of the a6400 is very good and its autofocus is the best in its class. While its 4K video quality is excellent, the 30p footage is cropped and the roller shutter can be a problem. 1080p image capture is poor and the camera lacks a headphone jack. The a6400 has one of the best battery life on the market.
The Panasonic Lumix DC-G100 (G110 in some regions) is designed for vlogging, with its fully articulated screen, multi-directional microphone, Log support, and a video capture button that you cannot miss. Unfortunately, the G100 did not live up to its billing. Its 4K video is heavily cropped, the autofocus is prone to hunting, and the still image quality just can’t compete with its larger sensor pairs.
The Nikon Z fc is an APS-C mirrorless camera that successfully recalls the design of the company’s film cameras. It offers a host of handy controls, a fully articulated vlogger-compatible touchscreen, excellent still and video quality, and lots of customization. It could use refinement in some areas, but for those looking for an eye-catching camera that can capture the moment on social media and more, the Z fc is a solid choice.