Thursday, September 1, 2022

Nikon Zfc

Earlier this month, while picking up an order at B&H's store on 34th Street and Ninth Avenue, I stopped by the Nikon counter in the upstairs camera department to take a look at the Zfc.  I'd become interested in the camera after learning of Nikon's release of the Z30 which it was promoting heavily as the ideal vlogging camera.  The problem with the Z30, for me at least, was that it didn't have a viewfinder, which meant I'd have to compose on the rear LCD screen just as I would with a smartphone or point & shoot camera.  For me, that was a dealbreaker.  At the same time, however, I became intrigued with the idea of using a Nikon for vlogging, for which I'm currently using my GoPro 9.

I was very impressed with what I saw of the Zfc.  The camera has a 20.9 DX-format CMOS sensor, an EXPEED 6 image processor, a 2.36m-dot OLED electronic viewfinder, and UHD 4K and full HD video recording capabilities.  At the same time, its fully articulated rear LCD screen that can be used as a forward-facing display monitor makes it an excellent choice for vlogging.  While the Zfc's recording limit of 30 minutes is substantially shorter than that of the Z30, I didn't feel this would present any great problem.  (Even if I did need a video of greater length, which isn't very likely, I could always stitch shorter segments together in Corel Video Studio.)  And most of the accessories available for the Z30, such as stereo mic, handheld tripod mount, and remote, also had equivalents for use with the Zfc.

I had no idea of purchasing the Zfc anytime soon when I first looked at it, but last week a used kit with the camera and 16-50mm lens was advertised at B&H.  Its condition was rated as a 10, which is basically "open box," and the price was 12% less than the cost of a new package.  This was too good to pass up, and I immediately went down to the store, checked it out, and bought it on the spot.

In general, I'm very happy with my purchase - the image quality of the stills is excellent and the video all I need - but there are two problems of which prospective buyers should be aware.  First, when I shot in RAW + JPG mode the camera in one instance failed to save the RAW NEF file.  I thought this was a fluke until I read a B&H user review for a DX lens in which the user claimed this happened regularly when using that particular lens with the Zfc.  That being said, the JPG quality of the photos I shot was almost equal the that of the RAW images I processed myself.

The second problem, which was minor but really ticked me off, was that Nikon, for all the money it charges for its cameras, does not include with the Zfc a simple 50-cent USB cable with which to download photos.  Luckily, in searching through the USB cables I already have on hand, I discovered the Zfc uses the same cable as my GoPro.  That was fine, but if I had had to go all the way back to the store the next day for no other reason than to buy a USB cable I would have been a very unhappy customer.

Finally, it should be emphasized that the Zfc is not a professional camera suitable for assignments or even travel to once-in-a-lifetime destinations, though I might very well toss it in my bag for either of those two purposes as a lightweight backup camera.  On the other hand, the Zfc is eminently suitable for vlogging, for day trips, and for carrying in my newly purchased Rofozzi camera bag as I move about NYC.

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