Nikon Z fc Review
|Full model name:||Nikon Z fc|
(23.5mm x 15.7mm)
|Viewfinder:||EVF / LCD|
|Native ISO:||100 - 51,200|
|Extended ISO:||100 - 204,800|
|Shutter:||1/4000 - 900 sec|
|Max Aperture:||3.5 (kit lens)|
5.3 x 3.7 x 1.7 in.
(135 x 94 x 44 mm)
|Full specs:||Nikon Z fc specifications|
Nikon Z fc Preview -- First Impressions
by Jeremy Gray
Originally posted: 06/29/2021
Nikon has a long history of iconic cameras and lenses. Among the company's rich history is the Nikon FM2 film camera, first released in 1982. The 35mm analog camera was produced until 2001. Why are we talking about the Nikon FM2 in 2021? Well, it's because Nikon has announced a new DX-format Z camera, the Nikon Z fc, and its retro design is inspired by the legendary FM2.
The Z fc could also be seen as a sort of spiritual successor to the Nikon Df DSLR, which also combined modern digital camera technology with old-fashioned, retro styling. However, the Z fc differs from the Df in a couple of ways. The Z fc isn't a full-frame camera, for starters, which is a big difference. Further, the Df may have had a digital image sensor, but it didn't include the same features as its peers at the time and leaned heavily into the old-school photography vibe. The Z fc offers many of the same key features as the Nikon Z50 wrapped in a compact, stylish, old-school package. The Z fc even adds some new features, above and beyond the Z50, which is exciting. The Z fc isn't a successor to the Z50, but it's not simply a differently styled alternative, either.
Nikon Z fc Key Features and Specs
- Nikon Z mount
- Retro-inspired style and operability
- Styled after the Nikon FM2 film camera
- 3" Vari-Angle touchscreen
- 20.9-megapixel DX-format CMOS image sensor
- Native ISO range of 100-51,200
- 209-point hybrid autofocus system
- Eye AF during stills and video recording
- Up to 11fps continuous shooting
- 4K/30p video
- 1080/120p video
- Available in six special edition colors
- USB power delivery
- Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, plus wireless firmware updates
- Usable as a webcam using Nikon Webcam Utility
Nikon Z fc design: New Z camera calls back to Nikon's analog heritage with retro style and analog controls
Looking at the front of the Nikon Z fc, the neat old-school detail is immediately evident. The camera's engraved 'Nikon' logo is the one Nikon used in the 1970s and 80s, which is a nice attention to detail. Moving to the top of the camera, Nikon has doubled down on physical, tactile controls. The top of the camera includes dedicated ISO, shutter speed and exposure compensation dials. The camera's entire 100-51,200 ISO range is accessible on the ISO dial, plus Hi.1 and Hi.2 settings are also accessible via the dial. The top of the camera doesn't have space for a full information display, but it does include a small window that shows your selected aperture.
You may have noticed that we haven't mentioned a dedicated mode dial. The Z fc doesn't have a traditional mode dial, but surrounding the ISO dial is a switch, allowing the user to swap between M, A, S, P and Auto shooting modes. It's an elegant solution and efficient use of space on the camera's top deck. The top of the Z fc also includes a power switch, a movie/stills mode switch and a dedicated movie record button.
The Z fc aims to deliver modern Z performance and technology in a classic design. Further, Nikon wants the Z fc to be lightweight and compact. The Z fc is constructed using a magnesium alloy frame, which provides durability without making the camera large and heavy. The Z fc weighs 5 grams less than the Z50. It's not a big difference in weight, of course, but at only 390g, the Z fc is a lightweight APS-C mirrorless camera. The Z fc is 134.5mm (5.3") wide, 93.5mm (3.7") tall and has a depth of 43.5mm (1.8"). The Z fc is about 8mm wider than the Z50 while being the same height and 16.5mm thinner.
The Nikon Z fc has a satin silver coating which contrasts nicely against the leather-like black grip material covering much of the camera, including the front grip area and much of the camera's rear. A neat aspect of the camera's design is that you can flip the 3" Vari-Angle display such that the display is hidden, like what you can do with some Fujifilm X Series cameras. The back of the Z fc's display is covered with the same black leather-like material, such that when the display is reversed, the Z fc has the look of a film camera, which of course, lacks a rear display.
Speaking of the rear display, the Z fc's display is 3" and has approximately 1.04M dots of resolution. The display flips out to the side, allowing it to be used as a selfie display. The vari-angle display should also prove useful for vloggers, allowing them to easily frame shots and monitor their video. The display has 11 manual brightness levels and offers a 170-degree viewing angle. The touchscreen can be used to interact with camera menus, shooting settings and more, as well.
Above the display is a series of buttons, which are finished in satin silver. There are playback, delete and monitor display buttons to the left of the viewfinder. To the viewfinder's right are an AE-L/AF-L button and a command dial. To the right of the display are 'i', zoom in, zoom out, display and menu buttons. There's a directional pad with a central 'OK' button, too. The Z fc doesn't include a dedicated autofocus point joystick, which is also absent on the Z50.
The Z fc's electronic viewfinder is a 0.39-inch type OLED display with a resolution of 2.36M dots. The EVF offers 100 percent frame coverage and has a 1.02x magnification.
Overall, the Z fc is arguably Nikon's most stylish Z camera yet. Based on appearances alone, the camera promises to bridge the gap between Nikon's storied past and its mirrorless Z system present.
Nikon Z fc features and performance: 20.9MP APS-C sensor, same great performance as the Z50
Looks aren't everything, of course. The Z fc has the same imaging pipeline as the Z50, meaning that the Z fc comes equipped with a 20.9MP CMOS image sensor paired with Nikon's EXPEED 6 image processor.
We've touched on the ISO range, but to reiterate, the native Z fc's native ISO range is 100-51,200, which can be expanded up to ISO 204,800 (Hi.2). The camera includes Auto ISO, which automatically selects an ISO from 100 to 25,600, which can be further customized to user preference.
The Z fc's 20.9MP image sensor can capture 12- or 14-bit RAW (.NEF) images, plus JPEG images. To fine-tune the look of your images, there are 20 customizable Picture Controls to choose from, including Auto, Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait, Landscape, Flat and a variety of creative Picture Controls. You can use the exposure compensation dial to adjust brightness when shooting in Auto mode, too.
The Z fc offers the same shooting performance as the Z50, as well, providing up to 11 frames per second continuous shooting when recording 12-bit RAW images. The camera's buffer depth isn't stated, but it's safe to expect around 30 14-bit RAW images to fill the buffer and even more for 12-bit RAW images and more still when shooting JPEG images, based on the figures listed in the Nikon Z50 instruction manual.
In terms of autofocus, the Z fc includes the same 209-point hybrid AF system as the Z50, although with some improvements. The 209 AF points cover approximately 87 percent of the frame in the horizontal direction and 85 percent vertically. The AF system is rated to work down to -4.5 EV.
Autofocus area modes include pinpoint AF (photo only), single-point AF, dynamic-area AF (photo only), wide-area AF (S), wide-area AF (L), wide-area AF (L-people), wide-area AF (L-animals), auto-area AF, auto-area AF (people) and auto-area AF (animals).
The Z fc includes a couple of AF features that the Z50 doesn't, including full-time Eye AF when recording video and Wide-area AF for people and animals. Having full-time Eye AF when recording video, plus the Vari-Angle display makes the Z fc Nikon's best camera for vlogging and webcam usage (more on that in a bit).
Video: 4K/30p video, plus vlogging and webcam features
The Z fc records 4K UHD (3840 x 2160) video at up to 30p. 4K UHD video can also be recorded at 24p and 25p. 4K UHD video is recorded using the full width of the image sensor and with full pixel readout. Full HD (1920 x 1080) video can be recorded at 24, 25, 30, 50, 60, 100 and 120p frame rates. In terms of slow-motion video, the Z fc offers in-camera 4x and 5x slow-motion modes. The camera also has a built-in interval timer for the creation of 4K timelapse movies.
The Z fc's ISO range is slightly different during video recording. The camera's upper ISO limit, both manually and using Auto ISO, is ISO 25,600 during video shooting. The Z fc doesn't include in-body image stabilization, but an electronic VR mode is available for video.
The Z fc offers HDMI output, includes focus peaking, displays highlights (Zebras) and more. Although movie clip length is capped at 29'59", the Z fc can record indefinitely with USB-C power delivery. This is beneficial for streaming, video production, timelapse creation and more. Using Nikon's free Webcam Utility app, the Z fc can easily be used as a webcam, too.
Ports and power: 300-shot battery life, USB 3.2 and more
The Z fc uses the same EN-EL25 lithium-ion battery as the Z50. The Z fc is CIPA-rated for about 300 shots per charge of battery life or 75 minutes of movie recording. Of course, you can power the camera continuously via USB-C.
The Z fc includes built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Via its wireless connection, the Z fc, like the Z6 II and Z7 II, can be updated wirelessly via the Nikon Snapbridge application. This is another feature that the Z fc has that the Z50 doesn't. Nikon Snapbridge can also wirelessly control the camera and automatically transfer images from the camera to your mobile device.
In terms of physical ports, the Z fc has Hi-Speed USB with Micro-B connector, a Type D HDMI connector, stereo mini-jack and USB-C (USB 3.2).
A colorful addition to the Nikon Z lineup
The Nikon Z fc comes in a standard silver and black color. However, through Nikon USA and other Nikon stores worldwide, the Z fc will also be available in other colors. There are six additional colors, all of which will be available in the United States and Canada. These additional colors include white, coral pink, mint green, sand beige, amber brown and natural gray.
New-school glass with old-school style
The Nikon Z fc is available as a body only, but it will also be available in a couple of kits, including one with the Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR lens. This lens will be available alongside the Z fc with a matching satin silver finish. It's the same lens, optically, as the earlier black version released with the Z50, but the smallest Nikkor Z lens will have a new style to match the Z fc's look.
Nikon is also releasing a new Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 full-frame lens. This lens is fast, fun and affordable. The 28mm f/2.8 will be available in two versions, one that looks like other Nikkor Z lenses and another with a unique old-school style to match the Z fc. The Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE) lens offers a 42mm-equiv. focal length when paired with the Z fc.
The Nikon Z fc shown with the 16-50mm lens (left) and the new special edition Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 SE (right).
Pricing and availability
The Nikon Z fc will be available starting in late July in numerous configurations. The body-only will cost $960 USD. For $1,100, customers can purchase the Z fc with the special silver 16-50mm kit lens. The silver DX 16-50mm will also be available separately for $300. The Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 (SE) special edition lens will be available in a third kit for $1,200 and sold separately this fall for $300.
If you want a colorful Z fc, the limited edition cameras will be sold as a kit with the silver DX 16-50mm lens for $1,200 exclusively through Nikon USA.
Nikon Z fc vs Nikon Z50
While the Z fc and Z50 are similar in many ways, there are some obvious differences between the two cameras. Beyond the massive difference in style, the Z fc includes improved usability via a full Vari-Angle display and improved dial operation.
In terms of features, the Z fc offers USB power delivery and wireless firmware updates, two features the Z50 doesn't include. That said, the Z50 includes a built-in pop-up flash, something not available on the Z fc.
The Z fc and Z50 use the same autofocus system, but the Z fc includes Eye AF in movie and wide-area AF (L-people and L-animal), AF features unavailable in the Z50. The Z fc also includes exposure compensation in Auto mode, a useful feature unavailable for Z50 users.
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