Nikon Z fc review: retro goodness
While not the only retro-inspired mirrorless camera, the personality and portability of the Nikon Z fc makes it a great choice for a walking or travel camera. Largely based on the 18-month-old Z50, its internals aren’t the most advanced or the fastest, but overall performance is solid and new user-friendly keys like the articulating screen and USB-C power supply are welcome.
- Stunning retro styling inspired by FE
- Lightweight construction
- Fast and precise AF
- User-friendly features for bloggers
- No stabilization in the body
- No headphone input
- UKList Price: £ 899
- United StatesList price: $ 960
StyleRetro style camera with various physical dials and switches
Video skillsRecords 4K up to 30 fps, 1080p up to 120 fps
Flexible displayFully articulated 3-inch touchscreen
At Trusted Reviews, we generally strive for objectivity, but there’s no getting away from the fact that the relationship with a camera (or any similar tech product, really) begins on an emotional level.
This is why style is considered an essential part of the industrial design process, and why Nikon returned to its heyday of the 1970s and 80s with the new Z fc – a camera that shares most of its innards with the Z50. but dresses them in a beautiful old black and silver school shell.
Heavily inspired by the company’s beloved FE 35mm camera, the Z fc’s beautiful retro looks are clearly designed to appeal to style-conscious photographers and videographers looking for a modern camera with real personality – but is there more than its flirty look?
Design and handling
- The camera has a decidedly retro design, despite modern internals
- The inclusion of a hinged screen and USB-C power supply are welcome additions that make it easier to use
- Controls are inspired by old-fashioned 35mm cameras, with manual dials for setting ISO and shutter speed located on top
The Z fc is a nice camera, like I said, and it’s also well built.
The magnesium alloy frame is both sturdy and lightweight, so while it may look like a 40-year-old camera, it won’t put so much strain on your neck. It’s not weatherproof and the exterior is metallic-looking plastic rather than actual metal, but there’s a sense of solidity here that suggests the Z fc will last you for years.
The controls are also inspired by old-fashioned 35mm cameras, with manual dials for setting ISO and shutter speed located at the top. It’s not a new concept for mirrorless cameras (Fujifilm has been doing this for years with its retro-influenced X-series models), but it’s a refreshing new direction for Nikon, and the dials feel good enough. heavy and clickable when twisted.
In addition, you will also find a separate dial for exposure compensation and two switches located respectively under the ISO and shutter speed dials. The former allows you to instantly switch between video and photo capture modes; the latter enters the standard Auto, P, A, S and M shooting modes.
There is a dedicated button to stop / start video recording and a small LCD screen which also displays the current f-stop parameter – a curious addition that seems a bit redundant given that all parameters can be displayed on the screen. rear and in the viewfinder.
The old-fashioned design is not as purely ergonomic as some forms of modern cameras. There’s no big grip for your right hand to curl up, to begin with.
That’s not to say that the Z fc isn’t nice or comfortable to hold: its leather-look textured body offers a grip, and controls (including adjustment knobs on the front and rear) are all in the right places for your fingers to find.
To prove it doesn’t do it all by the retro playbook, the Z fc includes a decent OLED electronic viewfinder and an excellent 3-inch rear touchscreen.
The screen is particularly impressive. It’s fully articulated and can be swung to one side of the camera body to face the front – a boon for vloggers and anyone else trying to organize themselves into a shot. This is a major improvement over the folding screen on the Nikon Z50 which, when facing forward, was blocked by vlogging handles, tripods, and anything else attached to the bottom of the camera. .
Features and performance
- It has controls very similar to Nikon’s older Z50, which means it’s not the most technologically advanced camera at this price point.
- There is no headphone or mic jack, which detracts from its appeal to vloggers.
The DNA of the Z50, Nikon’s first mirrorless camera, shines through strongly in the internal components of the Z fc.
The cameras share a sensor, processor, and plenty of features, and in some ways that’s a positive thing: Despite the Z50’s age, its 209-point hybrid autofocus system is fast and precise, with a Real-time tracking effective for human and animal eyes, and this results in the AF configuration of the Z fc. Both cameras can shoot continuously at up to 11 fps, which is a respectable speed for a camera in this price range.
There’s no in-body image stabilization (IBIS) here, but the Z fc can gain optical stabilization with compatible lenses. The 16-50mm kit lens I reviewed the camera with supports it for example, but it would have been nice to have IBIS and any Z mount lens given the advantage of Nikon’s vibration reduction technology. One for the company’s next retro camera, maybe?
The battery is designed to deliver around 300 shots on a full charge, with a USB-C port allowing both internal charging and constant power (something you won’t find on the Z50, by the way). This will come in handy for anyone who uses the Z fc as a webcam or streaming camera (there is a free Nikon Webcam Utility app for Windows and Mac). A separate AC battery charger is also included in the box.
Connectivity is a mixed bag, however. While generally fine – there’s Bluetooth and Wi-Fi on the wireless front panel, a micro HDMI for video output, a mic input, and the aforementioned USB-C port – the lack of a headphone jack for audio monitoring is a glaring omission, especially considering the loading of features generally friendly to vloggers.
- Strong performance even in low light, with the right lenses set
- Decent 4K video recording, although you need some stabilization
The 20.9 MP APS-C sensor used here is a reliable work tool that delivers solid results in a range of lighting conditions. Like the Z50, the Z fc has an extended ISO range of 100-51200 and can operate effectively in low-light conditions – although the kit’s small lens aperture on our review sample limited its capabilities to this. regard, and we would like to be interested to see how an unstabilized but larger aperture lens like the new Nikkor 28mm f / 2.8 might perform under similar circumstances.
Camera JPEGs are crisp with rich colors, and while you might not get the dynamic range and low-light capability that a full-frame sensor would bring, we think it’s a good one. compromise given the compact size of the Z fc. If you want, you can take photos in 14-bit RAW format, which should give you more leeway when editing.
The camera also has a nice range of video options, with 4K up to 30 fps and 1080p up to 120 fps (for slow motion playback). 4K footage presents a good level of detail, although the lack of a true “flat” picture profile limits his ambitions as a filmmaker somewhat. For vloggers, however, there is real appeal in the Z fc’s combination of good quality footage, lightweight construction, front display, and efficient real-time eye-tracking autofocus.
Should we buy it?
You want a portable camera with personality: The Z fc’s old-fashioned style and control setup sets it apart from the mirrorless pack, and its portability makes it suitable for travel and street photography as well as vlogging.
You are looking for top performance: The lack of stabilization in the body is not unusual in a camera in this price range, but its inclusion would have improved the performance of the Z fc.
To see it dispassionately, the Nikon Z fc is little more than a Z50 with a more versatile display, improved USB port, reworked controls and a retro look. But that’s not how it works, and that retro look gives the Z fc a personality and charm that makes it a far more desirable camera than the Z50 ever was.
The compact size and low weight add extra appeal, and it’s a camera that feels like more than the sum of its parts. From a technological standpoint, there is nothing revolutionary, but the overall package adds to Nikon’s most characteristic mirrorless model to date.
How we test
We thoroughly test every camera we review. We will always tell you what we find and we never, ever take money to review a product.
You can charge it via USB C cable or the included battery charger
No, there is no waterproofing here
There is an OLED viewfinder on the camera
RRP in UK
Recommended price in the United States
Nikon z fc