I was wrong about the Nikon Zfc.
I wasn’t wrong about everything, actually. The Zfc is indeed surprisingly large and heavy—since it’s large and heavy it should have a grip, but it doesn’t. The camera feels too plasticky. It has an unnecessary PASM switch. The Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 lens that it came with is pretty pedestrian—plus it doesn’t have an aperture ring (none of Nikon’s Z lenses do, unfortunately). The Zfc is a little overpriced. It’s a camera that is easy to be disappointed with, and I believe a missed opportunity for Nikon. I was right about all of that.
Where did I get the Zfc wrong? How I was using it. This is a camera that begs to be used with a manual third-party (or vintage) lens, and with the PASM switch set to M. Forget that crummy Nikkor lens! Buy a cheap “nifty fifity” from China instead. Then use the Zfc as an all-manual camera. Viola! It suddenly makes sense!
I purchased a TTArtisans 35mm f/1.4 for about $85 (stay tuned for a full review), and I’m much happier with it than the 28mm f/2.8. It has nothing to do with the focal length of the Nikkor lens or its maximum aperture. My favorite Fujinon lens is the 27mm f/2.8—that Fujifilm pancake is great! The Nikon version is not. The TTArtisans lens is much better than the Nikon lens that came with Zfc—it’s both optically superior and has more character. More importantly, though, it has an aperture ring.
Using the Zfc in full-manual without an aperture ring just doesn’t make sense. Using the Zfc in Aperture-Priority without an aperture ring doesn’t make sense, either. Using an aperture-ring-lens on a PASM camera isn’t particularly natural in my opinion, unless you set it to M and treat it like an old-school film camera—that’s what I did with my Zfc! It works on this camera only because it has shutter and ISO knobs—I control the exposure triangle with physical controls.
This! This is how to use the Nikon Zfc—the right way—all manual. No auto anything. The Zfc is unique in that, even though it has PASM, it also has physical controls that are activated by being in the correct mode (in this case, manual mode). When you do this, the shooting experience is similar to manually shooting with a Fujifilm X camera—this is the closest to the traditional Fujifilm experience that I have found outside of using a Fujifilm camera. If you don’t mind attaching a non-Nikkor lens and shooting full-manual, the Zfc is actually an alright camera. Yes, it’s still short of what it could have and should have been, but at least I found how I can enjoy using it.
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Example photographs, captured with my Nikon Zfc plus the TTArtisans 35mm f/1.4 lens, using some of my Nikon Z Film Simulation Recipes: