Why the Upcoming Nikon Zf won’t be a “Fujifilm Killer”

Apparently, Nikon is about to announce a new retro-style full-frame camera called the Zf. The phrase “Fujifilm killer” has been floated around as if this camera will strike at the heart of Fujifilm’s market share. Let me give you a few reasons why this won’t be the case.

Before I begin, I want to applaud Nikon for creating a new retro-style camera. I believe the Zfc—their APS-C retro-looking model—has been a commercial success. I own one, although I almost never use it (the last time was on a trip to Sedona in May). Nikon hopes to build on the success of the Zfc with the upcoming Zf. Most camera companies don’t have the guts to create a beautifully designed body, so it’s great to see Nikon do it. I probably won’t buy a Zf personally (Nikon, if you want to send me one, I won’t say no!), but I’m sure it will be a very tempting camera for many.

Supposedly, the Zf will be a 24mp full-frame model with two memory card slots (one SD, one Micro-SD). It will be less plasticky than the Zfc, but it is unknown if it will be weather-sealed. Apparently, it will have IBIS and even pixel-shift. While I’m sure the Zf will generate plenty of excitement, it won’t be a “Fujifilm killer” for a few reasons.

First—and this is Nikon’s mistake—is there aren’t any Nikkor Z-mount lenses with aperture rings. I do believe that some of their lenses can be customized to make the manual-focus ring an (unmarked) aperture ring, but then you don’t have a manual focus ring. That’s not an ideal setup. Because the lenses don’t have aperture rings, Nikon will likely include a PASM dial or switch (like on the Zfc) to toggle on-and-off the knobs on the top plate, which is awkward and seemingly unnecessary. The best solution is to use a third-party lens that has an aperture ring and shoot in manual mode. Nikon should released a series of prime lenses with aperture rings along with the Zf (or, even better, back when they announced the Zfc), but I don’t think that will happen. This oversight means that you’ll have a really hard time replicating the Fujifilm shooting experience; if you want that, you’d better buy a Fujifilm camera instead.

Nikon Zfc + TTArtisan 35mm f/1.4 + Vintage Color Recipe – Sedona, AZ

Another important piece of the puzzle that Nikon lacks are JPEG Recipes. A lot of people buy Fujifilm cameras for Film Simulation Recipes, which can save you a lot of time and frustration while providing a more enjoyable experience. There are some Recipes for Nikon Z cameras (here, here, and here), but nothing like what’s available for Fujifilm. A community has even sprung up out of these Recipes, with photographers that are often extremely kind and welcoming. I don’t think there’s a better community in all of photography!

A number of people have said, “If only Fujifilm made a full-frame camera!” With Fuji, there’s either APS-C or medium-format, but not full-frame. At one time APS-C was for amateurs or hobbyists, while full-frame was for professionals and advanced enthusiasts, but that time has come and gone (yet the stigma doesn’t easily disappear, despite being outdated). Nowadays, there are tons of amazingly talented photographers who shoot with APS-C cameras.

The advantages that a 24mp full-frame sensor provides over Fujifilm’s 26mp or 40mp APS-C sensors are improved high-ISO performance and increased dynamic range, but it should be noted that Fujifilm’s cameras are quite excellent at high-ISO and dynamic range, so it only matters in extreme circumstances—and even then, only a little. People will mention depth-of-field (due to the crop factor), but that’s a bit overstated, as it depends on the lens focal-length and aperture—it’s possible to get a narrow depth-of-field on APS-C similar to full-frame, but not with identical focal-lengths and apertures.

Fujifilm X-T5 + TTArtisan 35mm f/0.95 + 1970’s Summer Recipe – Sedona, AZ

This isn’t to say that APS-C is just as good or better than full-frame. There are some advantages and disadvantages to both sensor sizes, but overall those advantages and disadvantages aren’t huge. In my opinion, the advantages of APS-C (which are size, weight, and cost) outweigh the advantages of full-frame, but each has to determine what makes the most sense to their unique desires and needs. My only point is that full-frame isn’t massively better (if better at all) than APS-C, so just because Nikon offers a similarly-styled model with a full-frame sensor doesn’t mean that Fujifilm should be quaking in their boots.

A fun side-by-side experiment would be the Fujifilm X-T5 with the Fujinon 33mm f/1.4 and the Nikon Zf with the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8. The Fujinon lens is 2/3-stops brighter, while the Nikkor has about 1/3-stop less depth-of-field (f/1.4 on APS-C has a depth-of-filed more similar to f/2 on full-frame, everything else being equivalently equal). Both offer the same field-of-view. While the Zf is full-frame, on paper the X-T5 has several spec-sheet advantages. The X-T5 is smaller, lighter, and cheaper; however, since the Fujinon lens is more expensive, the cost of these two kits will be similar. The “winner” of this experiment would likely depend on the photographer (one might lean Fujifilm while another might lean Nikon), but I bet it would be a very close call.

The yet-to-be-announced Nikon Zf will certainly be an excellent camera, and I think it’s smart for Nikon to make it. I don’t believe it will have any significant impact on Fujifilm sales. In fact, if it does well enough, it could even boost Fujifilm’s sales (similarly to how the X100V’s success has caused a spike in Ricoh GR III sales). Most of those who buy the Zf will likely be those already in the Z system. There might be some disgruntled Sony or Canon shooters who are considering switching brands who could be attracted to Nikon by the Zf. There might even be some Fujifilm X-T3 owners who are peeved that Fujifilm left their camera on an island who take a long look at the Zf. Overall, though, I don’t think the Zf will be a “Fujifilm killer” because—while it might have some lovely retro styling similar to what Fujifilm has become known for—it doesn’t offer the same shooting experience, due to the lack of an aperture ring, the inclusion of a PASM switch or dial, and the small number of JPEG Recipes available for it (plus the community built around that). The Nikon Zf will certainly be a popular model, but so is the Fujifilm X-T5—they both can exist simultaneously, and not step on each other’s toes.

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

Fujifilm X-T5 in black:  Amazon  B&H  Moment
Fujifilm X-T5 in silver:  Amazon  B&H  Moment
Nikon Zfc:  Amazon   B&H


  1. Amel · 21 Days Ago

    Other brands dose not understand the power of xtrans sensors. That for me is what fujifilm is all about. The color science behind that sensor is amazing. That is why nikon zf wont be a fujifilm killer.

    • Ritchie Roesch · 21 Days Ago

      I agree, thanks for the input!

    • Tony G · 7 Days Ago

      I’m about to sell all my Fuji gear just to get this one. We shall see if it’s all that. Or not. Still keeping my xpro1 for life.

      • Ritchie Roesch · 7 Days Ago

        I’m definitely curious about it, but won’t sell my Fuji gear to do it…. 🤣 😀

  2. john swain · 21 Days Ago

    A really nice article, thank you for the work on it.
    I think nikon DF fans will buy it and use the D->Z adapter for their existing lens library and evaluate what the Z lens offerings can do for them later. Yeah, the film sims are not being updated but then the audience is satisfied with standard built in jpeg?
    I have recently (this year..at age 68…)found PP to be the magic sauce for getting what you’d aspire a photo to be and making something go from ‘ok’ to really-darn-good using the same camera box and raw.
    thanks again and i appreciate your time and effort.
    john s

    • Ritchie Roesch · 21 Days Ago

      I shoot JPEG and most of those who read this website do, as well. Fujifilm’s SOOC JPEGs are noticeably superior to Nikon’s, but Nikon’s are still good, too (yet definitely different than Fuji’s). I agree that many Df owners will likely upgrade to the Zf, but it’s my understanding that the Df was a bit of a flop, and didn’t sell a ton of copies. Maybe I’m mistaken by that. I appreciate the input!

  3. Mark Walton · 21 Days Ago

    You ARE aware are you that the XH2 and XS20 have abandoned the XT controls and both now have PASM dials?

    • Ritchie Roesch · 21 Days Ago

      Yeah, I’m well aware. The X-H2 and X-S models are Fuji’s aim at Sony… call them Fujiny’s or Sonyfilms? I’m not a fan, personally, but I do understand that many people like them. I’m not one, though.

    • Chris Webb · 21 Days Ago

      I wouldn’t say abandoned, it’s more that they decided to offer alternative ergonomics and user experiences which is fine.

  4. Robert Daniels · 21 Days Ago

    I agree with you whole heatedly with this article. I have the fuji Xpro3 and 18mm|1.4 and I can vouch for the experience of using it along side my z50. However, I love both for various reasons. The z50 is a snappy lil’ camera but I use it for a slower experience than my Fuji. I mount(adapt) the Voigtlander (full frame)40|2 and the 58|1.4 along with the film like recipes. The low light files are very clean. The Fuji I use for EDC and street photography. I am looking forward to a full frame Zf but I’m not rushed at all. I’ve been enjoying the APSC experiences of both manufacturers that I have had NO real desire to get my pro camera replacement (D3, D700) for mirrorless offerings ala (Z9/ Z8 or the Z7, Z6 i and II’s). do however obtain pro glass like the Z 24-70|2.8s. with all that said, Nikon needs to tap into its legacy and not compare itself to what everyone else is doing. This what makes Fuji so unique is that it blazes its own trails. I would like to see Nikon tap into improving manual focusing for all lenses whether native or adapted. If I mount my Voigtlanders I want to be able to use the aperture ring and have some in camera software based tools to enhance the focusing experience. Imagine being able to put the camera in a hyperfocal mode that can be seen in camera or showing the are that will be in focus.sure there are also software solutions that can emulate a split prism.

  5. Chris Webb · 21 Days Ago

    I used FM2s, FE2s and an F3 for many years so I am probably the exact sort of person Nikon regard as a potential customer but I can’t take their occasional retro forays seriously. Remember the Df? An absurd chimera. I’m absolutely satisfied with my various X-Ts and the excellent Fujifilm lenses, so can’t imagine ever going back to Nikon.

    During my short and unhappy Z system era I tried using the focusing ring as aperture ring and frankly it’s almost unusable as it’s very difficult to get the exact aperture you want, and too easy to nudge it out of position.

    • Ritchie Roesch · 21 Days Ago

      I’ve definitely heard that, too. It’s much too sensitive. Thanks for the feedback!

  6. Larry Adams · 21 Days Ago

    I shoot both Fujifilm and Nikon, and the zf is attractive to me as a replacement for my Z5, but probably not enough to plunk down $2000 for one. At 24mp it will not replace my Z7 or even my old D810. I also use the zfc, which is more likable than the Z50, which I also use, though both are equal in function.

    What Nikon does not have is a series of lenses with high build quality like the Fujifilm XF series. Optical quality is great in the S series Z lenses, but they feel like cheap junk even though they cost a mint, and no, they don’t have real aperture rings. Nikon gave up on this level of quality many years ago, when the G Nikkors replaced the AF-S D lenses.series.

    If the zf had a 40+ mp sensor, I would consider it as a possible double duty camera, shooting both dx and fx, the.way I use the Z7. Then I could dump the Z7 and buy some nice Viltrox PRO and LAB primes.

    By the way, I tried a Fujifilm X-HS2, for almost a year, but never got to like it, so I sold it. My old X-H1 has both old-style dials and PASM settings, by the way, so it’s not necessarily a question of one or the other. You can have both quite easily. Eventually I’ll probably get an X-T5, since Fujifilm doesn’t seem to be very quick moving on a new X-Pro4.

    • Paul Rohde · 20 Days Ago

      I’ve never used the X-H1. I so wish that the X-H2 had the same body (but with two CF slots) How were PASM settings implemented on the X-H1? The top dials are just like the Tx line (minus the exposure compensation dial)?

      • Larry Adams · 20 Days Ago

        Check out pages 123-125 in Tony Phillips’ X-H1 instruction book. It’s so simple, it doesn’t need a PASM dial: Set shutter speed to A and aperture ring on lens (or via control dial) to A, and you have P. Set shutter speed to A and the lens aperture to whatever actual setting you want, and you have A. Set shutter speed to the speed you want and the lens aperture to A and you have S. Shutter speed to a speed and lens aperture to an aperture and you are on M.

      • Paul Rohde · 20 Days Ago

        Thanks for your reply. Ok, I wouldn’t say that the X-H1 has PASM settings, unless you needed a non-Fuji user to warm to the classic dials. No explanation needed! Its all very simple with Classic Dials, with more direct control of what is exactly in auto or not. Because the X-T5 was crippled a little, I bought the X-H2. My classic dials are now the command dials, with the PASM in M. But it’s not the same. I’m working it but I’m in grief. The X-Tx command dial could be a fine shutter speed to the main shutter classic dial. I use to prefer to control the flash through the camera with a rear command dial push setup. There’s no push on the X-H2. More loss and grief. Why!

      • Ritchie Roesch · 19 Days Ago

        I feel as though Fujifilm left their long-time faithful followers out to dry by not making their flagship model for those folks; instead, they made it for those in other systems, as a way to attract them. People like you and I either have to “settle” for second (or third) best or suffer through grief (like you are now).

      • Ritchie Roesch · 20 Days Ago

        I have an X-H1. There is no PASM dial or switch on it. It has a Shutter and ISO knob like the X-T line, but the Exposure Comp dial is missing (as you noted), and you have to use a Command Dial to adjust it.

    • Ritchie Roesch · 20 Days Ago

      It used to be said that Canon made the best bodies, while Nikon had the best lenses. That’s literally advice that I was given by multiple photographers (much older than I) ages ago. Not sure what happened over the years, but the Nikkor glass that I’ve used in the last decade has been fairly mediocre. Maybe I’ve just tried the wrong lenses.

      My X-H1 doesn’t have a PASM switch or dial.

      I’m crossing my fingers that the X-Pro4 will be a November release. If not, it might be late-spring/early-summer 2024.

  7. Barry Williams · 20 Days Ago

    I am a Fuji owner and a Df owner, and I like both systems. I was looking forward to the Zf until I heard it was only going to be a 24 mp sensor. It seems Nikon views retro as an unwanted cousin. They only give it what they need to get buy, not to make a great camera.

    The big problem with a low resolution sensor is they will be forced to include an AA filter, which will kill the resolution. I shoot landscapes and was hoping for the D850 sensor, or something comparable, with no softening filter.

    Nikon used to have a huge pro market back in the film days, of which I was one. It seems they have forgotten us along the way. In these days of excellent high res sensors, the last thing we need is just another shiny object with some nice dials. We need a useful, high resolution camera with the added benefit of manual controls. It would be a hugh success!

    • Ritchie Roesch · 20 Days Ago

      I was surprised at the sensor, but I will say this: 24mp is plenty enough for most people and purposes. Unless you crop deeply or print posters, 24mp is plenty, even with an AA filter. There are some who do in fact need more resolution, and so it’s good they have options—and perhaps you are one of those—but most people who buy a camera for the megapixels don’t actually need all those megapixels. That is to say, although I was surprised that it’s “only” 24mp, I’d actually like to see more options in the 24-30mp range (a sweet spot, in my opinion), and less with ultra-high mp counts. But that’s my opinion, and I’m sure not everyone would agree with it.

  8. tabfor · 20 Days Ago

    Nikon began their digital cameras with a Fujifilm sensor and always will be a beloved kid brother.

    • Ritchie Roesch · 20 Days Ago

      Back in the early days of digital, Nikon and Fujifilm collaborated multiple times. Fujifilm’s early DSLRs were in Nikon bodies, for example. Thanks for the comment!

  9. Julius Schlosburg · 20 Days Ago

    Great article and I appreciate your take on the upcoming release. I agree that I don’t think it will significantly hamper Fujifilm’s market. I’m a full-time advertising and wedding photographer and used Fuji for about 7 years, and only just switched to the Z6. I haven’t looked back except for the ability to adjust ISO on the X-T4 directly with a dial, which the Z6 shockingly can’t do (you have to hold a button), and for the flippy screen, which I know isn’t a popular opinion – but I really miss it. So the idea that there will be a Z6 with an ISO dial and a flippy screen makes this the first camera that I know I will buy on day 1 without hesitation. But I’ll still keep what remains of my Fuji gear – the size and weight and low-keyness of the system just makes it indispensable. I’ve convinced half a dozen friends to buy into Fujifilm and it will continue to be my recommendation of choice for the foreseeable future. I mean you just cannot beat a used old 56mm 1.2 or 23mm 1.4 and a used X-T2 in terms of bang for buck with any other system. I could prattle on but this is not my blog, anyways – exciting things in the camera world!

    • Ritchie Roesch · 20 Days Ago

      If I was invested in the Nikon Z system, I’d be first in line for the Zf, too. Thanks for the input!

  10. Michael Dreese · 7 Days Ago

    An excellent and well balanced article, Ritchie. I’m personally shooting 2 systems: Nikon Z for wildlife and action and a Fuji XT5 for travel and general photography. I find both systems have their advantages. I find that the PASM dial is much better for making fast adjustments for wildlife and the 3D tracking on the Z8 is superb. On the other hand, the form factor of the XT5 and the smaller primes make this setup so fun and convenient with no sacrifice in image quality. So I enjoy using both systems but I think Fuji is still the best retro option with Nikon the far better choice for my wildlife photography. Keep up the great work!

  11. Larry Adams · 6 Days Ago

    Now that the Zf is officially announced, you can see from photos that one of the functional failures of the Zfc may or may not have been fixed. Unlike Fujifilm cameras with ISO dials, the Zfc ISO dial does not have an A for auto-ISO setting. Nor does the Zfc have an ISO button like other Z bodies that lets you toggle back and forth from auto to manual ISO. You have to dive into the menu to get to or from Auto-ISO. The Zf also lacks an A setting on the ISO dial, but it does have a new and curious C setting where the A should be. I wonder what that is? A fix? A failure? Something more complicated perhaps….

    • Morgan Patrick Miller · 6 Days Ago

      Auto ISO? Who wants auto ISO when it’s soooo easy to change on the fly and the camera usually screwed it up in auto?

      • Ritchie Roesch · 6 Days Ago

        I use Auto-ISO very frequently on my Fujifilm cameras. It’s a great feature that works quite well. On my Zfc I shoot manually, because it makes a lot of sense to use it that way.

    • Ritchie Roesch · 6 Days Ago

      The “C” could be for Custom, and perhaps you can assign Auto-ISO to that? I have no idea. On my Zfc, I shoot manually, as I think that’s how the camera makes the most sense, due to Nikon’s design choices.

      • Larry Adams · 5 Days Ago

        Exactly. It would be nice to have an easier choice, like an X-H1 or X-T5.

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