I have to admit that the announcement of the Nikon Zf has given me G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). The camera looks stunning! And it seems to be nicely equipped, spec-wise.
There are some who will say that the 24mp sensor is unimpressive—and, yes, it’s not—but it’s all that most will ever need. Some cars have a powerful turbocharged V8, but do you really need it? It might be a whole lot of fun on occasion, but not likely a necessity, unless you’re towing something heavy or maybe on a raceway. That fuel-efficient V4 is a lot more practical, and probably plenty for your purposes. Similarly, the 24mp sensor in the Zf is more than enough resolution, unless you plan to crop deeply or print posters. On Fujifilm, I actually prefer the 26mp X-Trans IV sensor to the 40mp high-resolution X-Trans V sensor, just because more resolution is more cumbersome and can create storage issues, and I simply don’t need that much resolution. I think, for most people and purposes, the 20mp to 30mp range is ideal, and 24mp to 26mp seems like a sweet spot. More than that is overkill for the majority of photographers.
The problem, though, with the Zf is fundamental: there’s no aperture ring on Nikkor Z lenses. Because the lenses don’t have an aperture ring, Nikon was forced to include PASM. Just like the Zfc, the Zf has a shooting mode (a.k.a. PASM) switch, which enables and disables the knobs on top of the camera. For example, if the switch is set to A, the shutter knob doesn’t do anything, and is there only for looks. Of course it makes sense that it does this, but if designed correctly, the step of moving the switch to the correct position in order to activate the knob so that the shutter speed can be adjusted is unnecessary. Also, it’s unintuitive. No aperture control on the lens means that it can’t be set when the camera is powered off. Oftentimes, when I am photographing a scene, as soon as I see what it is that I’m going to capture, I have an idea what I want the aperture to be, and I’ll set it even before I power on the camera. Can’t do that on the Zf or Zfc. Just like the Zfc, the Zf makes the most sense when used in Manual mode, and especially when paired with a third-party lens with an aperture ring.
If you want the full Fujifilm experience, you’d better get a Fujifilm, as the Zf won’t deliver that. The Zfc couldn’t match it, and the Zf won’t be able to, either. That doesn’t mean the Zf isn’t an excellent camera, because I’m certain that it is very good, maybe one of Nikon’s best ever (I’m saying this having never used it personally). I would certainly love one myself, just because I’m a sucker for beautifully designed digital cameras that look and handle retro-like. I think the Fujifilm X-T5 and Nikon Zf will be compared very closely by reviewers and YouTubers, and, in my opinion, the X-T5 wins for several reasons, including size, weight, price, JPEG output/Film Simulation Recipes, and user experience (no PASM); however, the Zf will have strengths that beat Fujifilm, so it depends on what’s most important to the user as to which one wins, as I think they’re very comparable. If you’re in the Fujifilm system, you’re not likely to jump ship for the Zf, but if you’re in the Nikon system, the Zf will be quite tempting, and maybe it will convince you to stay with Nikon instead of switching over to Fujifilm, if you were considering that.
I want the Nikon Zf, but $2,000 could fund a nice weekend getaway somewhere. I think experiences matter much more than gear, and oftentimes it’s better to invest in using what you have in an epic way than to buy something new and miss out on the adventure. G.A.S. is an unfortunate problem, especially when combined with F.O.M.O. (fear of missing out); however, the best way to overcome it is to accept that what you have is plenty good enough—simply use it to the best of your ability whenever the opportunities come, and see what happens.
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