I Got it WRONG — How to Use the Nikon Zfc the Right Way!

Nikon Zfc + TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4

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!

Nikon Zfc + TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4

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.

Nikon Zfc + TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4

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.

This post contains affiliate links, and if you make a purchase using my links I’ll be compensated a small amount for it.

Nikon Zfc — AmazonB&H
TTArtisans 35mm f/1.4 — AmazonB&H

Example photographs, captured with my Nikon Zfc plus the TTArtisans 35mm f/1.4 lens, using some of my Nikon Z Film Simulation Recipes:

Nikon Zfc + TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 + “Analog Film” Film Simulation Recipe
Nikon Zfc + TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 + “Analog Film” Film Simulation Recipe
Nikon Zfc + TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 + “Vintage Color” Film Simulation Recipe
Nikon Zfc + TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 + “Aged Analog” Film Simulation Recipe
Nikon Zfc + TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 + “Aged Analog” Film Simulation Recipe (increased exposure)
Nikon Zfc + TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 + “Aged Analog” Film Simulation Recipe
Nikon Zfc + TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 + “Vintage Color” Film Simulation Recipe

19 comments

  1. Barry Studd · 25 Days Ago

    Think I’d rather get an old Nikon FM2 Ritchie?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · 24 Days Ago

      That would be amazing! I love film cameras… I have a collection of sorts… but I rarely use them anymore. Mostly they collect dust, unfortunately. But as a display piece, the FM2 would be great, as it’s a beautiful camera.

      Like

      • Barry Studd · 24 Days Ago

        And they were solid. May get one on Ebay. Regret selling mine back in 2006.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ritchie Roesch · 24 Days Ago

        I sold a Canon A-E1 back around that same time, which I regret, too.

        Like

      • Barry Studd · 24 Days Ago

        I remember the A-E1, and then everyone going crazy when the A1 was released, a beautiful camera as was the A-E1. A friend of mine still has his A1 and would never part with it.

        Like

      • Ritchie Roesch · 22 Days Ago

        The A-E1 was one of the greatest 35mm SLRs ever made. Wish I had been more like your friend and kept it.

        Like

  2. Alexander Tvorogov · 25 Days Ago

    Some Fujinon lenses have no aperture ring as well. And my favorite travel lens Tamron 18-300 hasn’t it as well. IMHO it could not be a problem. It’s just telling that lens is budget but it’s not necessarily bad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · 24 Days Ago

      Yeah, I have a couple of those no-aperture-ring Fujinon lenses, and it’s frustrating (so I never use them). I hate turning the command wheel to adjust the aperture, as it’s awkward. For me, the experience (how I feel while photographing… the process) is just as important as what I’m photographing. I’m just getting too old, I guess, and too particular as I get older. I appreciate the input!

      Like

      • tabfor · 24 Days Ago

        Don’t hurry to grow old!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Khürt Williams · 23 Days Ago

      Using the XF27mmF2.8 lens without an aperture ring was frustrating. I bought the XF27mmF2.8 R WR, and I’m so much happier.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ritchie Roesch · 22 Days Ago

        I wouldn’t like the older non-aperture-ring version—so glad they fixed that with the new one.

        Like

  3. Marco · 24 Days Ago

    I remember eyeing the Zfc when it came out, there was so much hype about it. But then i saw the X-Pro3 and never looked back. Looking forward to read your full review of the TT Artisan 35mm f1.4. It’s a real bargain. Hope you will also have the chance to review someday the Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.2 X mount. I’m really interested in that one, it seems the perfect pair with the X-Pro3, shame it’s so damn expensive.

    Like

    • Ritchie Roesch · 24 Days Ago

      If I could choose between the Zfc and X-Pro3, I’d pick the X-Pro3 without hesitation. It’s the better camera by far. The Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f/1.2 would be a fun one to try, but it definitely is pricy.

      Like

  4. outkasted · 24 Days Ago

    Richie Waddup!!! I do not own or use the zfc but I do own the z 50 and Fuji Xpro 3. They are different cameras especially when they have good glass on them. If we speak on manual lenses on the Nikon z50 my Voigtlanders 40/58mm lenses are adapted to the camera. The results are really good. Now as of last week i imputed your recipes into the camera. The only challenge is locking in white balance for each recipe. The work around was assign a recipe to U1 and U2 (user functions) on my z 50 and i was able to lock in settings. This limits me a bit but it’s ok i can work with it. My fuji X Pro3 usually has the 18mm |1.4 (sweet!) or the older 27mm |2.8 (is ok). I love the Fuji as my everyday carry. But my Nikon Z 50 with my 24-70mm | 2.8s on it is REALLY GOOD. Sharp from Corner to Corner. The Voigtlanders when adapted produce a Fuji-esque quality to the .jpgs with warm tonnes and that well sought after ‘image fidelity’ or ‘3D POP’, ‘Zeiss Pop’ many talk about. These are full frame lenses adopted to a APSC body but I’m ok with that because I LOVE whaat each sensor size bring to the table. I will let you know what the findings are like after I review the images.

    Like

    • Ritchie Roesch · 24 Days Ago

      The Zfc doesn’t have U1 and U2, so it is one recipe at a time (kind of like Fujifilm Bayer cameras). The Voigtlander lenses seem really good… a bit expensive, though. I hope to try one someday. Thanks for the input!

      Like

  5. Khürt Williams · 23 Days Ago

    Hmmm. Interesting. I don’t have any of my old Nikon lenses but maybe I’ll rent a Zfc and try it with one of Minolta lenses.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. theBitterFig · 19 Days Ago

    The TTArtisan 35/1.4 was literally the first lens I bought for my Fuji. Still a favorite. Classic standard lens feel, decent close-focus, bright when you need it to be, and good handling for the price.

    Technically, I also ordered the 7Artisans 25/1.8 at the same time, but I hate and never used that lens (declicked aperture ring and horrible distortion made for frustrating photos and a bad user experience). X-E2 with a little manual lens is a really fun walk-around camera, a great alternative to my Pentax if I want to travel light. Kinda doesn’t surprise me that the Zfc works best the same way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ritchie Roesch · 19 Days Ago

      I’m pretty impressed with the TTArtisans 35mm f/1.4 so far, and it definitely makes me want to try some of their other offerings (but X mount, not Z mount…).

      Like

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