Photography News 92 Newsletter

Big test

PERFORMANCE: ISO Shots taken on the Z fc with the 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 lens attached, with the duo on a Leofoto LS- 324C tripod. The ISO 100 exposure was 15secs at f/7.1. Raws were processed in Lightroom with default noise reduction applied. Interchangeable-lens Nikons usually deliver good performance when it comes to digital noise – the Z fc is no different. Its native ISO range is 100 to 51,200, with two expansion speeds at the high end – H1 and H2 giving the equivalent of ISO 102,400 and 204,800. Close on-screen scrutiny at 200% revealed barely any difference

mid-tones show graining, and fine detail suffers, but this is at high magnification – not a serious issue. Quality suffers more beyond this speed, though. Grain gains much more prominence and detail loses the crispness of slower speeds. In summary, noise performance is impressive, comparing very well with cameras of the same format.

between the ISO 100 image and ISO 800 frame – and there wasn’t much quality fall-off at ISO 1600. Look hard enough and you will see some digital grain at ISO 1600, but it’s very smooth and easily removed with some noise reduction in processing. There’s a more obvious drop- off in quality when you get to ISO 3200 and beyond. Smooth





UNDER THE THUMB There’s no focus joystick on the Z fc, but a multi-way controller is used to move the AF point around the frame. The ‘i’ button brings up a quick menu that can be edited to suit your needs




still pretty fast in practice, and if you are using the monitor you can locate the AF point or zone quickly by touching the screen. If your viewing preference is the EVF, there is no touch and drag AF, so you have to use the multi-way controller. The AF system has people and animal focusing, and these options are available in both Auto Area AF and Wide-area AF. I tried a wide range of autofocus settings, too, but relied mostly on single point and smaller zones. The AF itself was accurate, responsive and generally swift. I mostly used the Z fc with the supplied 16-50mm zoom and 28mm f/2.8 SE; the autofocusing on these optics was very good. I also used the Nikon Z 24-200mm and the new Z 105mm f/2.8 macro lens. The latter was more of a challenge for the Z fc, and there was a bit more searching and uncertainty when you got close to a subject, but that’s typical of macro lenses. On the plus side, the 1.5x crop factor of the APS-C format meant it was an effective 150mm, which allowed for a little more working distance. I also tried several Nikon F-mount lenses via an FTZ adapter, including a Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Contemporary. And, for

there is a small LCD window for that very purpose. It’s a personal thing, but I struggled to see the f/stop value with the faint LCD and tiny numerals – and there’s no backlight to help. To be honest, rather than trying to peer at it, it was just as quick to tilt the camera and check the rear monitor. This brings us nicely to the Z fc’s three-inch, vari-angle articulating monitor, the first Nikon to have such a screen. You can fold it inwards for the film-shooting experience, or have it out to the side, angled for low- or high-viewpoint shooting – and forward-facing for vlogging. This style is currently in vogue, and the majority of recent new cameras have gone for it. There are more upsides than downsides, but the negatives can’t be ignored. If you like shooting waist-level candids, having the monitor out to one side is a giveaway. Also, if you like L-grips, the upright section gets in the way. Although you can get around this with two-section L-grips and just taking off the upright part. Once you leave the top-plate, the rest of the body design is typical of a modern camera, with function buttons, playback controls and a multi-directional controller. There is no focus lever for quickly moving the AF point, but the multi-controller is




SETYOUR SPEED A spring-loaded lock button at the centre of the ISO dial has to be pushed and held down in order to adjust speeds. Around its base is the PASM

exposure dial, including the auto setting

Issue 92 | Photography News 43

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