Nikon Z fc: Retro-styled & Versatile
Nikon Z fc draws inspiration from the stellar Nikon FM2. This APS-C mirrorless interchangeable lens camera has features for the serious user, and keeps things fashionable as well. K Madhavan Pillai put it to the test.
There is always something beautiful about all things classic, even if it is to make a statement. The APS-C Nikon Z fc follows in the footsteps of its bigger, more serious sibling, the full frame Nikon Df launched back in 2013, with mechanical SLR-styled controls, but with the latest digital technologies built-in. Yet, one can switch to using command dials and position AF points, like any of other Z series cameras. Lets take a quick look under the hood of the Nikon Z fc.
The Nikon Z fc is identical in hardware to Nikon’s other Z series APS-C mirrorless camera, the Z50. This includes its very capable (albeit non-BSI) 20.9MP DX CMOS married to an Exspeed 6 processor, with a native ISO range of 100-51,200, an excellent 2360k-dot EVF, up to 11fps continuous shooting, 4K/30p upsampled video from the full sensor width.
Like the Z50, the Z fc has a 209-point hybrid autofocus system, with a range of area modes including pinpoint and dynamic-area AF (photo only), single-point AF, wide-area AF (S and L), wide-area AF (L with people or animals), auto-area AF, autoarea AF (people or animals). But unlike the Z50, full time Eye AF in the Z fc functions with both stills and video.
Along with its fully articulating 3-inch touchscreen monitor that can face the front, its external s input socket, and full-time Eye AF with video, the Z fc is a particularly good choice for vlogging and webcam usage (using Nikon Webcam Utility) even among other Nikon’s Z cameras.
Additional features include USB power delivery, built-in Wi-fi and Bluetooth, (particularly useful wireless firmware update functionality). Of note is the array of 20 Creative Picture modes that can be used in video, and the 10 Effects modes accessible from the mode dial (that does not allow RAW, and, depending on the effect, changes how videos are processed).
Styled after the venerable FM series of SLR cameras, the Z fc does turn heads because of its retro look, but does not emulate the same feel that only an older generation of photographer would be familiar with. Beyond the now redundant film advance lever, the mechanical feel of a SLR is missing. Even the new Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 SE, designed for the Z fc and based on the classic Nikkor, does not have an aperture ring or distance scale. This is a fine lens though, in every respect, meant to look like a classic but which does not handle like one. The Z fc is more of a design statement with the handling quirk of being able to use a few old-school dials. And once that is accepted, the Nikon Z fc becomes an interesting, fun camera to use, including all its capabilities as an advanced digital camera.
The sensor is capable of excellent quality, especially at lower ISOs. Nikon has done an excellent job in not overdoing the pixel count. Despite not being a back-side illuminated sensor, it is a very capable one. Images show plenty of editable detail. At higher ISO settings, I would rate it at par with the newer sensors of the latest releases. I liked toying with the various Colour Profile options, and the Z fc delivered excellent, pleasing results. Set to Auto, the camera does well in identifying scenes and selecting its own profiles.
On the whole, the Z fc is a speedy camera, from continuous shooting at 11 fps to playback, and given its retro look, perhaps even deceptively speedy. AF performance was generally quite reliable in real-world use. The AF system is rated down to -4.5 EV and proved to be snappy and mostly accurate, even in challenging situations and low light. I enjoyed AF-A with Wide-area AF, with the selected point locking onto moving subjects quite effectively. Face and eye detection works well too, in stills and video, but like the Z50, the Z fc needs faces to be somewhat well lit and large enough in the frame for quick and continuous detection.
Adding to its appeal as a vlogging camera is that it does quite well with video too, recording 4K UHD at 30fps from the full width with full pixel readout, making the Z fc rather competitive. . The camera can record FHD video at up to 120p. The Z fc has 4x and 5x slow-motion video modes, too, and can record time-lapses as well. Unfortunately, there is no Log or HLG video output. And there is no in-body image stabilisation.
For what it delivers, the Nikon Z fc is priced quite competitively among its peers at Rs. 84,995 (body only), or at Rs. 1,05,995, with the Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 SE (that I quite enjoyed using and prefer to the standard kit lens). Especially for those who enjoy the appeal of a camera with retro styling, the Nikon Z fc is well worth the price.
This article originally appeared in the January 2022 issue of Better Photography.
DX Sensor, 1.02x OLED EVF, retro SLR styling
Image quality, ISO performance, speed
Magnesium alloy frame, sturdy
Compact, better suited for smaller hands
|Warranty & Support
One-year warranty, wide service network
|MRP||Rs. 84,995 (body only)|
|VALUE FOR MONEY||4/5|
|Who should buy it?||From hobbyists to serious enthusiasts, to vloggers, the Nikon Z fc is an all-round performer while also being a retro-styled conversation starter.|
|Why?||The Z fc is small, speedy, has plenty of creative options, with a capable sensor that produces great results.|