Nikon Goes Retro with the Mirrorless Nikon Z fc APS-C Camera

Enter the retro-cool and featured-packed Nikon Z fc camera! Lovers and fans of Nikon are certainly familiar with the company’s rich history, and it is difficult not to get excited when the camera’s design team breaks out a brand-new digital camera with a look and feel that harkens back to the days of the Nikon film photography era and its line of 35mm cameras that set a photographic standard for decades. While it looks like it rolled fresh off of the Nikon FM2 production line, the new Z fc is a DX-sensor (APS-C) digital powerhouse with all of the features and specs you’d expect from a modern digital camera.

The Nikon Z fc is the newest member of Nikon’s mirrorless interchangeable-lens Z line of cameras. The Z fc’s APS-C sensor sports 20.9MP and is powered by the Nikon EXPEED 6 processor. ISO range goes from ISO 100-51200 with expandability up to 204800 when needed. Video shooters can enjoy 4K recording at 30 fps using the full sensor—no cropping. Slow-motion videos at 120 fps in HD 1080p are also available, as is 4K time-lapse shooting for up to 8 hours. The Z fc also features 20 creative shooting modes for those looking for some extra fun and magic in their shots, as well as human and animal eye-detect autofocus modes.

The Z fc’s USB-C charging and data port allows for tethered shooting, external powering of the camera, and battery charging. This allows you to shoot stills and videos well past your battery life as long as you are plugged into power. Also, the camera is ready to be your next awesome webcam with speedy USB-C data transfer and a built-in microphone jack.

The last time Nikon went retro it was with the Nikon Df camera—still available—that paired the D4’s full-frame sensor and processor with a retro design—even down to the non-italicized Nikon logo—a nice touch, and a feature seen on today’s new Z fc, as well. Riding atop the Z fc’s body are separate dials for dialing up shutter speed, ISO, and exposure compensation. A digital readout shows your selected settings so you can read them all before you bring the camera to your eye.

In incorporating the retro look with the Z fc, the DX sensor allowed the package to stay small and easily portable. Weighing only 14 oz, the camera features a 3" Vari-Angle LCD screen that flips out and faces forward for vlogging and selfie fun. The OLED electronic viewfinder clocks in at 2360K pixels, and the camera has a full Wi-Fi feature suite for transferring files or allowing the camera to be controlled remotely.

Being released along with the Z fc is a matching silver version of the Nikon Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR lens, the smallest and lightest Z-mount lens available—weighing just 4.8 oz. Its 24-75mm full-frame equivalent field of view makes it a perfect all-purpose lens. This silver version is also available with the camera as a kit.

Another addition to the Z-mount DX lineup is the new Nikon Z DX 18-140mm f/3.5-6.3 VR—the Z DX version of the “all-in-one-zoom.” With an equivalent focal length of 27-210mm that takes you from wide-angle to telephoto, this is an ideal travel companion to the Z fc and other DX Z system cameras.

Also available with the Z fc is a Nikon Z 28mm f/2.8 Special Edition lens that is a non-DX lens, suitable for full-frame Z cameras while giving Z fc shooters the normal field of view of a 42mm full-frame lens.

With the Z fc, Nikon brings a balance of features and tech to the DX side of the Z-mount system with the added flair of a beautiful retro design.

What are your thoughts on the new camera’s design and features? Let us know in the Comments section, below!

112 Comments

I like the retro look of the Nikon Zfc; but I'm a Canon guy. I have two retro Canon cameras, except they shoot film: A-1, F-1N. Even my car is retro styled, Chevy HHR. My DSLR is the 5D III.

Retro is cool. :)

Thanks for stopping by, Ralph!

Todd, what's the maximum number of shutter clicks on this baby?  I see it has a lot of pluses and a few minuses, from my point of view - but it might open the way for me to start accumulating Z range glass, if I can tick a few more boxes.

Hi Richard,

I just checked the Nikon site and they do not give the shutter cycle count or expected cycle life on their spec sheet for the Zfc.

In general, "pro" camera bodies like the D6 are tested to about half-a-million cycles and the consumer/prosumer-level cameras are tested to about half of that, but I do not have specifics for you. I will keep an eye out, however!

Unfortunately, every camera ever made has some pluses and minuses! :)

And, not to push you one way or the other, but folks seem to be very much enjoying the Z optics.

Thanks for reading!

Best,

Todd

Will the other colors be available for preorder here?

Hi Cosmic,

We will certainly have the colored versions available as soon as they come to us! We are waiting on information from Nikon.

Thanks for asking!

Best,

Todd

I just do not get this camera.  Nikon is being left in the dust by FF mirrorless offerings from Canon and Sony, so they decided to take on Fuji? Makes no sense. Small sensor, UHS-1 card slot, basic lens offerings, and half the focus points of Fuji.  The only thing they have going for them is the brand name and the price, which when you compare it to an entry-level Fuji is not that great.  This one's a head scratcher. 

HEy TOm they just put out 2 models the Z6II and Z7II and sometime soon tthe Z9 should be out.. THis is a camera that is not going for the pros that want and need Full frame 2 card slots and the best of the best with honors sir. Maybe to bring the other comsumer, such as the new to mirrrorless and maybe some people just above beginners. I love all that this APS camera stands for, and I am a 25+ year old nikon owner BUT I am still not in, in the mirrrorless world, this camera has much better AF in video and better video than the D7500 and all the DSLR out there... I know Sony is the king in AF but that means changing brands and no thank you, I am just hobbiest. 

That is what I think this camera will be good for, it is not a made for the Olympics camare 

Hi DAMASO,

Well said. I believe there is a market for this camera, and, apparently, Nikon does as well. Let's sit back and see how it goes!

Best,

Todd

Hi Tom,

You make some valid points there, but I am sensing that a lot of Nikon shooters are excited about this new Zfc. Time will tell if it takes off!

Thanks for reading!

Best,

Todd

Will there be a pre order available for any of the other colors? Like the white one? It doesnt even seem to be on nikons website

Hi S,

As soon as we get the info on the color variations from Nikon, you will see them on our site.

Thanks for reading!

Best,

Todd

Sony ought match Nikon in APS cameras and bring back an updated version of the A3000, which would be retro for Sony, which doesn’t have the lineage of Nikon. It is the only camera they made that balances well with its 18-135 all-in-one zoom, about the same size and weight as the Nikon 18-140. My A3000 is 8 years old and I am still keeping it for that reason, rather than buy a new A6XXX. 

The thing about how Fuji approaches retro is give it the look of an old film camera but jam it full of the latest tech.  This seems like old tech/old look and other than Nikon fans I don't see how this grabs anyone.

Hi Tom,

I guess it might grab the Nikon shooters that are jealous of FUJIFILM photographers? :)

I am curious to see who picks it up!

Thanks for stopping by!

Best,

Todd

HI Kenneth,

That is certainly a wish-list item I have not heard before. Have you posted on Sony boards or reached out to them?

Thanks for reading!

Best,

Todd

I love the look and it has decent specs and I sincerely hope this helps save Nikon. But it's kind of a me-too in comparison to Fujifilm's APS-C offerings that have been perfected over many years of making cameras with tactile controls like this, not to mention aperture rings on their lenses. I realize Fuji is unique in this regard and I suppose if you already have Nikon lenses and want this look and feel then this would work. If you're not already married to the Nikon system and starting out, there are better options, like Fuji, with an extensive lens line + third party lenses already available. Good luck to Nikon- I'd hate to see a photography icon like them go the way of Kodak...I still have fond memories of my old Nikon F.

I shot Fuji for years and recently switched to the Canon R6.  Never been a Nikon guy but always respected the brand and it's place in the industry.  Sadly this feels more like a fingers-crossed move than a new direction.  Other than die-hard Nikon shooters I just can't see who this is for.

Hi Tom,

There are lots of questions out there on different aspects of this new camera. I, for one, am curious to see if it is a fun "one off" like the Df appears to be, or if this is the start of a new trend for their APS-C cameras.

Thanks again!

Best,

Todd

Hi Barbara,

Well said. I also hope that Nikon has a healthy and long future!

Thanks for reading!

Best,

Todd

If this had 4k60 I think I would get it just for the darn side flippy screen. I'm a Nikon guy, but it's getting hard to not be jealous of Canon right now. (I can't bring myself to accepting Sony in spite of the fact I think they are fine cameras.) 

Hi Jay,

Thanks for your thoughts. It is interesting to see how our "needs" evolve as technology evolves. :)

Are you shooting Nikon Z or F-mount currently?

Best,

Todd

Mighty Nikon continues to fall from its past glory with this retro knock-off.

-- A long-time B&H customer and owner of FE2, F3, FM3A, F6, and D850 cameras.

Hi Christopher,

Thank you for your years of patronage! You have some awesome machines there!

Thanks for reading!

Best,

Todd

Agreed Chris... all this does is make me want to run out and buy a Photomic F. Props to the 850 though... it's still my go-to

Well said, Daniel!

Will you be able to use the F to Z adapter on this camera? 

Hi David,

Yes, you can use the FTZ adapter on the Zfc. My guess is that all Z-mount cameras will retain FTZ compatibility.

Thanks for reading!

Best,

Todd

I bought a Nikon FE in 1978 and proceeded to buy nikons for over 30 years but I switched to Fuji about ten years ago because I wanted the simplicity of control the Fuji offered. I see now that the new Nikon has stolen its top plate from Fuji or my Nikon FE from 40 years ago. Sorry Nikon, you are TOO LATE!

Hi Edward,

I believe we are in the same club here as I migrated as well. I love changing aperture on the lens and not with a dial!

The good news is that this camera can introduce retro design and controls to a new group of fans, especially those thinking of entering the Nikon Z mirrorless system.

Thanks for reading!

Best,

Todd

Since I was deeply in love with my pair of FE2's, the retro styling and operation of the Zfc really caught my attention.  And like my FE2's, it badly needs some sort of auxiliary grip to handle larger and longer lenses.  I actually still have the grip I made for the FE2 out of aluminum and hard maple.  Start with the Z 18-140 lens; add the F to Z mount adapter, and a nice range of lenses exists.  Yes, I could be tempted.

Hi Gerald,

Good stuff!

I have an FM3a and love the form factor and looks of this new camera as well. I'd love to see what the bottom of it looks like as that might give a hint to the possibility of a future vertical grip/battery pack.

Having said that, I am sure a lot of non-OEM accessory companies will roll out some grips for this camera in short order.

Thanks for stopping by!

Best,

Todd

This camera, to me, is a tremendous leap of faith both forward and backward by Nikon in merging the inherent quickness of analog controls with digital processing and feedback. A great start to an evolution of analog/digital in a field that can benefit from it. Far from being a “retro gimmick” this concept enables faster and easier settings controls and readout than having to look at a screen and make sure that one’s finger is on the proper dial or menu to affect a change. Simple, direct. Pick up the camera, check the dials, make an adjustment if necessary, and shoot. Moments pass so quickly. In my opinion and experience, analog controls are faster and easier. Processing images belongs to the digital realm  can’t wait for full-frame version of Z-Fc  

And yes, I was raised on film cameras and darkrooms. First analog camera was Kodak box camera, then Pentax Spotmatic; first digital camera was Nikon Dx1; current D750, along with various Sony, Olympus, Lumix models. 

Happy 4th!

Jim

Hi Jim,

Happy 4th to you as well!

Looking at a wide range of user interfaces from cars to cameras to aircraft, analog controls are often faster and easier, but not always less expensive or as elegant.

I remember reading a column from a talented automotive writer who was complaining (as everyone did) about the BMW iDrive system that did away with almost every traditional control in the car and replaced it with, basically, a fat joystick. The writer suggested that the company develop something called the "iKnob" that allowed you to increase or decrease a particular specific function simply by turning the "iKnob" to the right or left.

As aviators transitioning from the 1950's antiquated Boeing CH-46D to the shiny fresh 1970/80/90s vintage Sikorsky MH-60S, many of us immediately missed having a radio with a handful of toggle switches, buttons, and knobs as we now had one with "menus" and "keys."

Back to cameras, the Zfc is being easily compared to FUJIFILM's X-T series of cameras and their retro controls, but it is noted that Nikon's lenses will likely never go back to having an aperture ring while FUJIFILM allows for that "manual" aperture selection experience.

Anyway, it must be getting late and I must be digressing more. It will be interesting if this is a one-off retro design (assuming the Df, not having been replaced, is a one-off retro DSLR), or if Nikon will follow this up with other versions.

Thanks for reading!

Best,

Todd

It would be nice if there were some dedicated DX primes.

Hi Pete,

As a former Nikon DX shooter, I 1000% agree!

Unfortunately, according to the Z Lens Roadmap, Nikon does not have any plans for a DX prime lens in the near future.

Let's hope that changes!

Best,

Todd

So...is this basically a crop sensor version of the Df? Different sensor, of course, but in essence - about the same thing?

Df, yes, but with video.

Yes, with video...minus a mirror and F-mount. :)

Thanks for helping a fellow B&H customer, Pete!

Best,

Todd

Hi Matt,

The answer to your question is, "Yes, mostly," The big differences, besides the sensor size, is that this is a mirrorless camera and the Df is a DSLR and this camera has the mirrorless Z lens mount, not the famous Nikon F-mount.

...and it is much newer than the Df which, although still available, is a couple of digital generations long in the tooth.

Thanks for reading!

Best,

Todd

Would be GREAT if:

Does it have metal top and bottom plates?

Will it take diopter eyepieces lenses like the FM?

Can we add a "motor" like the MD-12 that has extra batteries?

Wish it could take old manual lenses too!

Hi Robert,

Great questions! Unfortunately I don't have all the answers.

  • I am not sure if the top and bottom plates are metal. The body features a magnesium frame and the dials are carved aluminum. Based on the weight, I would hypothesize that the top and bottom plates are not some sort of heavy metal.
  • I am afraid that the diopter eyepieces went out of fashion years ago with the end of the F3 and FM/FE-series cameras (someone may correct me on this). Now diopter adjustments are usually built into the camera. [https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/photography/tips-and-solutions/calibrating-diopter-your-camera]
  • I am not sure if a vertical grip is in the works, but many modern cameras have OEM and aftermarket grips.
  • The Zfc will take any manual Nikon F lens with the FTZ adapter. You will lose auto focus with AF-D lenses, but you will retain auto exposure with AF-D, G, and E F-mount lenses.

Thanks for stopping by!

Best,

Todd

The Zfc has a USB-C port, which allows for powering the camera and charging the battery. With a USB power pack, you could probably run all day, although not as convenient as the old MD-12.

Hi Gerry,

It is always a bummer when new technology isn't as convenient as old tech!

Best,

Todd

Those FM diopters were terrible and scratched my glasses.

Hi Joel,

I tried to employ a 2x viewfinder magnifier on my D1x years ago for lunar photography, but found it cumbersome and one more thing to mess up in the process!

Best,

Todd

Very nice. I would totally buy this if I didn't already have my Z50. I'm pretty happy with it's performance, but I love retro styling.

Maybe if I ever sell my Z50. Definitely looking forward to the Z 28mm compact prime however, since my 35mm S-line is kind of enormous on my Z50 for discrete street portraiture.

Hi Christopher,

Yes, it is too bad the crystal ball did not foresee the arrival of this cool retro camera when you got your Z50. Crystal balls have become so unreliable these days. :(

And, I agree, that Z 28mm prime looks pretty cool—especially on the Zfc. I am sure it will look good on the Z50 as well!

Thanks for reading!

Best,

Todd

From what I have been able to see, this camera does not have a connection for a Nikon MC-DC2 Remote Release Cord, which would be my preferred way to fire the camera remotely.  What would be the best way to fire this camera remotely without touching it?

One other question.  How big is it compared to the Z50?  I haven't seen any pictures side-by-side comparing size to a Z50. 

Controversies about the retro look aside, this is a serious camera with upgrades to Z50 specifications. 

Hi Fred,

Thanks for your questions!

According to Nikon, the camera is compatible with the ML-L7 Bluetooth Remote Control as well as via Bluetooth connections with a smart device. I do not see any compatibility for another cord and they did not, unfortunately, even in the retro design, incorporate a threaded shutter release to accept the beautiful Nikon AR-3 cable release [https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/photography/hands-on-review/things-we-love-nikon-ar-3-threaded-cable-release].

Specs-wise, this camera seems to match up almost identically with the Z50, albeit with the retro design—same processor and resolution, for starters.

Size wise, I don't have either camera on my desk, but here are the dimensions for both the Zfc and Z50:

Zfc (W x H x D): 5.3 x 3.7 x 1.8" 13.8oz

Z50 (W x H x D): 4.98 x 3.68 x 2.36" 13.9oz

Thanks for stopping by!

Best,

Todd

Another option is the SnapBridge app on a compatible IOS or Android device - phone or tablet.

From the Nikon Canada web site:

"When you can’t be behind the camera, pull out your compatible smartphone and use it to control the Z fc. See what the camera sees, change camera settings like aperture and shutter speed, then take the video or still."

Thanks for the assist, Gerry!

Best,

Todd

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