Gear Photography Tech

Nikon’s new Z fc body blends vintage design with 21st century performance

Inspired by its 1970s FM film SLR, the mirrorless DX format body looks is a full manual masterpiece

Well, here’s a damn cute camera. Nikon fans have been hoping for a vintage themed Z Series body for ages and now it’s arrived in the very attractive shape of the Nikon Z fc

With its design inspired by the 1970s-era Nikon FM2 film SLR, there are retro elements and manual inputs aplenty, including dials, switches, a classic two-tone body and pentaprism, circular eyepiece, and vintage Nikon logo. Of course, Nikon did something similar with the full frame Df DSLR back in 2013, re-skinning the D700 with retro flair, but while that camera had its admirers, the Z fc looks altogether more convincing.

This is a Nikon DX format body, so it has an APS-C sized chip, but in sharing the Z mount with its full-frame mirrorless cousins, it will take all Nikkor Z lenses, albeit with a crop factor applied. Under the hood it’s pretty much a Nikon Z 50 with a firmware upgrade. Not that that’s a bad thing. The resolution is 20.9Mp, it has an ISO range of ISO 100-51200, and shoots at up to 11fps. Video maxes out at 4K 30p, though there’s also a 1080 120p mode for slow motion. The Z fc also adds Eye-Detection AF and Animal-Detection AF in both stills and video, previously only seen on the Z 6II and Z 7II

But let’s get to the fun stuff. The camera’s top plate is a love letter to vintage photography where you’ll find three large metal dials and a small LCD display. The dials control shutter speed, exposure compensation and ISO, though there’s also a PASM/Auto lever for setting shooting mode. The small LCD window shows aperture value and another lever switches between stills and movie mode. Finally, there’s a movie-rec and shutter release button, though sadly the latter doesn’t have a screw thread for a plunger which would complete the retro look. 

On the back, things will be a lot more familiar to modern day Nikon users, with a layout that’s similar to the Z 50, including a D-Pad, rear control dial and i-menu button. One big difference from the Z 50, though, is a new-style 3in screen, with a vari-angle design meaning it can be flipped around to the front of the body for selfies and also reversed to hide it from view. It’s smaller than the Z 50‘s screen, but allows for a few more buttons on the back, which is welcome. In its hidden orientation, it’s a shame there’s no nod to the FM2’s film window or data back add-on, but you can’t have everything. On the front there’s a control dial, like the Z 50, but only one Fn button.

Now, you can’t very well have a vintage style camera without lenses to suit, so the Z fc gets a silver edition of the Z 50’s NIKKOR Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR SE kit lens, plus a NIKKOR Z 28mm f/2.8 SE with heritage-styled focus and control rings and matching materials to the body. The latter will give you an equivalent 42mm view on the DX sensor. 

With either lens, the Z fc should feel light and portable. It weighs 445g with battery and card,  and measures 134.5×93.5×43.5mm. You’ll be able to pick up a Nikon Z fc from the end of July at the following RRPs: Z fc body only, £899; Z fc + Z 28mm f/2.8 SE kit, £1,129.00; Z fc + Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 kit, £1,039; Z fc + Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 + Z DX 50-250mm f/4.5-6.3 kit, £1,249.