PERFORMANCE: EXPOSURE LATITUDE
compared with the correctly exposed shot – and the strong highlights looked poor. The +1EV shots fared much better in both areas. Recovering the -3EV was pretty successful, in colour, contrast and digital noise. There was an increase in noise and some mottling was seen in areas of even tone, but this wasn’t terrible. The results looked good – and would be even better with careful editing. The -1EV and -2EV Raws looked very similar to the correctly framed shot: a pretty good showing by the Z fc.
Exposure brackets were made in a variety of lighting situations, and in 0.3, 0.7 and 1EV steps to see how the Z fc’s Raws coped with poor exposure. Raws were processed in the latest version of Lightroom Classic, with default settings used and only exposure corrected. Overexposure was less well-handled by the Z fc’s Raws, but that is typical. Even +2EV gave files that were difficult to recover, especially in bold lighting. As you can see in the +2EV shot of this scene, the sky went cyan
“THE EXPOSURE SYSTEMDELIVERED CONSISTENTLYACCURATE RESULTS, EXCEPT IN EXTREME BACKLIGHTING”
occasion, acquisition seemed sluggish when the subject walked into the frame, and the focus box appeared to lag behind as they tracked across the field of view. Using the multi-controller and OK button to help the AF system lock on is fine, but it slows down the process. Generally, though, the 209-point hybrid system was impressive, and focused in very dim conditions – it works down to -4.5EV – provided there was some detail to work with. The exposure system delivered consistently accurate results, except in extreme backlighting, and out-of- camera JPEGs looked fine. The same high level of performance was given by auto white-balance in a mix of lighting conditions. For megapixel counters, the Z fc has 20.9, which is three to five fewer than rival cameras (and the same as the Z 50). But that’s still plenty, and having fewer probably helps ISO performance, which rates highly.
a more realistic FM2 experience, I sampled a selection of manual focus legacy optics, including Leica M and Olympus OM lenses via the appropriate adapter. Using these manual optics was great fun, and I either relied on a mid-aperture and zone focusing, or the Z fc’s focus check magnifier. Using the 16-50mm lens, I found people AF to be very good in stills and video. It detected the subject’s head or eyes when they were a decent size in the finder. For example, with the lens at 28mm, it worked well for a person within three metres of the camera. Once acquired, whether automatically or with help from you, the focus box keeps track of the subject’s face or eyes pretty well, as either you or they moved around. Face and eye detection AF has come a long way. The Z fc’s seemed competent and similar to that of the Z 7II (with the latest firmware), but perhaps not quite up with the latest Canons and Sonys. On
Overall, I enjoyed using the Z fc. It has an amenable nature, with no serious, deal-breaking niggles. That said, if I had to highlight any negatives, I didn’t see the point of the tiny aperture window. It was simply too difficult for me to read. Plus, a firmer-action compensation dial, or a lock, would have been a benefit, too; I did alter the dial a few times as I pulled the camera out from the bag. The camera is consumer-level, so having a single SD card slot is not a detraction.
Ultimately, the Z fc is a thoroughly modern camera, with front and rear input dials, articulating touch monitor and ‘i’ menu providing great handling. A focus joystick would have been nice, but the multi-controller is a tried-and- tested method of shifting the AF point – so I didn’t miss it too much. WC
Having a proper shutter speed and ISO dials was fun, and options like auto ISO and autoexposure modes – which of course the FM2 did not have – was very welcome because it gives the user the choice. Some days, I had the Z fc set up for grab-shooting, other times I went manual.
WHAT’S ON? The Z fc has a typical Nikon menu, which will please existing users – and system newbies won’t have a problem finding their way around
CHOOSE ANY ANGLE The Z fc is the first Nikon Z camera with a fully articulating monitor, which can be set to face forwards. This is ideal for selfies, vlogging and shooting from all viewing angles – and it’s handy for upright-format shooting, too
Issue 92 | Photography News 45
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