Gear Reviews

Nikon Z fc v Olympus E-P7; Battle of the retro-chic mirrorless cameras

Both sport retro designs and are packed with modern features, but which one should you buy?

A camera’s first and most important job is to capture great content, but that doesn’t mean it can’t look great too. Two of the newest cameras on the market – the Nikon Z fc and Olympus E-P7 offer a similar proposition – a small mirrorless body that features classic retro-chic styling. While the cameras look analogue from the exterior, inside they are both packed with cutting edge technology, but which model should you spend your money on? Let’s take a deep dive look at the specifications to compare the two options…

Sensor and resolution:

Let’s start with the newest camera, the Nikon Z fc, which offers a 21.51-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and this serves up a maximum file size of 5568×3712 pixels when you capture JPEG or RAW files. The APS-C sensor also delivers a 1.5x crop, which would change the effective focal length of a 50mm lens to 75mm. When it comes to the E-P7, the Olympus features a 20.3-megapixels Micro Four-Thirds sensor and this carries a 2x crop factor so that 50mm lens would return an effective focal length of 100mm. 

Autofocus:

The Olympus E-P7 features a Contrast Detection AF system that offers photographers 121 AF-points and also boasts Face Detection AF to make capturing portraits a breeze. The Nikon Z fc however has slightly more AF-points (209) and actually employs a hybrid autofocus system that combines Contrast Detection and Phase Detection. The Nikon’s AF can work well in low light and focuses down to -4.5EV.

Burst rate:

While neither of these cameras are likely to find a home in the kit bags of professional wildlife photographers, neither camera is slow so should be able to cope with everyday action scenes. While the Nikon can fire off 11 frames per second, the E-P7 tops out at 15  frames per second, which it can maintain for 42 RAW files or 49 JPEGs. 

Image Stabilisation:

While IBIS is relatively new to Nikon (featuring on the full-frame Z 5), Olympus has been including this technology on its cameras for years and the E-P7 features the brand’s advanced 5-axis system. This gives the camera up to 4.5-stops of compensation to keep shots steady. The Z fc however features no IBIS so Nikon users will have to rely on lenses that feature stabilisation technology.

The Olympus E-P7 features a 5-axis IBIS system to keep shots steady.

LCD design:

The beauty of mirrorless cameras is that photographers can line up compositions using the screen if they don’t want to use the EVFs and there is a difference between the LCD design on these models. The Z fc features a 3-inch (7.5cm) touch-sensitive LCD with a vari-angle design making it easy to set-up awkward high/low compositions. While the E-P7 can match the size of the Nikon’s LCD (3-inches), the design is different and the Olympus uses a tilting feature. The screen can flip all the way down to help users capture self-portraits or Vlogs, but many will prefer the Nikon’s vari-angle design instead.

The Nikon Z fc features a vari-angle LCD design.

Dimensions and Weight:

Both cameras in this comparison are small and, though they may not be pocket-friendly, they can certainly be described as jacket-friendly so you can quickly stash them away or transport them easily. The Z fc tips the scales at just 445g and measures only 134.5 x 93.5 x 43.5 mm. However, the Olympus is smaller still, with the E-P7 weighing in at just 337 (including battery and memory card) and measuring 118x68x38mm. In truth, neither camera will weigh you down and will appeal to photographers looking to save space or travel light.

Video:

Despite the small size of both cameras, neither lets the side down when it comes to capturing video content. The E-P7 can capture 4K video at 30, 25p and 24p and can also shoot Full HD at 60p and HD all the way up to 120p. The Nikon Z fc matches this, also offering 4K at 24, 25 and 30p but does go a little further and offers 120p all the way up to Full HD, enabling users to capture slow motion sequences at decent resolution. The Nikon also offers a port for an external microphone so enhanced audio can be captured.

ISO:

A vast ISO range will enable photographers to keep on shooting even when light levels fall and there is a difference in this area between the two cameras. While the Olympus EP-7 can offer up a decent range of Low – 6400, which can be expanded to 25600, the Nikon Z fc goes further, offering a native ISO range of 100- 51200, which can then be expanded all the way up to 102400.

Both mirrorless cameras are portable and lightweight.