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Home » Nikon Zfc vs Nikon Z5 – Retro Styling or Full Frame Image Quality

Nikon Zfc vs Nikon Z5 – Retro Styling or Full Frame Image Quality

Nikon Zfc vs Z5

There’s no doubt it’s one gorgeous-looking camera, but how does the Nikon Zfc compare against the slightly more expensive, full-frame Nikon Z5?

In this post, I compare the Nikon Zfc and Z5 on 6 factors, including price, performance, and image quality. And much to my surprise, choosing between the Nikon Z5 and Zfc is more difficult than you might think. Jump to Conclusion


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Table of Contents

1. Price

Both the Nikon Zfc and Z5 can be bought on their own or paired with a lens. Body-only, the Nikon Z5 costs just under $1300, while the Nikon Zfc can be had for a little less than $1000.

However, add the Nikon Z 24-50mm F4-6.3 kit lens, and the cost of a Nikon Z5 jumps up to nearly $1600. In contrast, you can buy a Nikon Zfc paired with the bargain-basement Nikon Z DX 16-50mm F3.5-6.3 VR lens for less than $1100.

Winner: Nikon Zfc


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2. Image Quality

At the center of the Nikon Zfc is the same APS-C-sized 20.9-megapixel BSI sensor found in the Nikon Z50. Whereas the Nikon Z5 packs a much larger full-frame 24.3-megapixel FSI sensor, similar to that found in the older Nikon D750.

Although the Nikon Z5’s sensor is more than twice as large as the Nikon Zfc’s APS-C sensor, the difference in image quality is slight. Read A Beginner’s Guide to Camera Sensors

Since the Zfc and Z50 share the same sensor, I compared the Z50’s output with that of the Z5 and found the Z5 to have a little more than a 1-stop advantage. Read Stops in Photography Explained.

In other words, photos taken with a Nikon Z5 at ISO3200 looked slightly better than photos taken with a Niko Z fc at ISO1600. And thanks to its extra 3-megapixels, the Nikon Z5 has slightly more detail. Read What is ISO.

The marginal difference between the two cameras is not all that surprising. First, the Nikon Z50 (and Zfc) feature backside-illuminated (BSI) sensors for superior efficiency, while the Nikon Z5 features an older frontside-illuminated (FSI) design. Read How do Image Sensors Work.

Furthermore, the Nikon Z5 sensor’s low pixel density demands a blur-inducing anti-aliasing filter to prevent moire (strange color effects), while the less-moire-prone Nikon Z50 appears to be filter-less.

As a result, the Nikon Z50’s image quality is much closer to the Nikon Z5 than you might expect. Nevertheless, the Z5’s large full-frame sensor keeps it ahead. Read is full-frame worth it?

Winner: Nikon Z5


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3. Performance.

In terms of performance, the Zfc punches well above its weight. For example, the Nikon Zfc shoots up to 11 frames per second compared to just 4.5 fps with the Z5.

And while the Z5 can focus in light as low as -3EV, the Zfc keeps going until -4.5EV.

However, the Nikon Z5’s battery will officially last up to 380 shots, beating the Zfc’s CIPA rating of 300. And most important, the Nikon Z5 has in-built image stabilization (IBIS), while the Nikon Zfc does not.

Both have similarly specified rear screens, except the Z5’s screen is limited to tilting up and down, while the screen on the Zfc can be flipped forward and used for vlogging.

Elsewhere, the cameras are remarkably similar. Both shoot 4K30p video and have the usual modern-day perks such as Eye-Af, Wifi, and Bluetooth.

Overall, it’s tough to choose between them. As a photographer, I would choose the stabilized Nikon Z5, but if I needed to vlog or shoot action, the Zfc wins.

Winner: Draw

4. Controls

Despite being a bit of a poser, the Nikon Zfc features well-laid-out controls and uniquely manual dials for setting ISO, Shutter Speed, and exposure compensation. If manual dials are important to you, the Nikon Zfc is for you.

However, the Nikon Zfc lacks a few controls I’d miss. For example, I find the customizable ‘U’ functions on the Z5’s mode dial insanely useful, and I don’t mind its AF joystick either.

And while the Zfc’s AE-L button can be customized to drive autofocus, I prefer the Z5’s dedicated AF-On button. I also find the Z5’s two front-mounted customizable Fn buttons extremely handy.

On the other hand, I prefer the Nikon Zfc’s full-flip-and-rotate screen to the Z5’s tilt-only effort, and Zfc’s manual dials look like an awful lot of fun.

In a way, this may be the least relevant comparison here as we are witnessing two very different design philosophies. But ultimately, both cameras do the same job, and the Nikon Z5 has the means to do it more efficiently.

But for the days when efficiency matters less than the experience, the Nikon Zfc has a special and unique place in Nikon’s range.

Winner: Nikon Z5

5. Body

Both are well-built cameras featuring robust metal-alloy chassis encased in robust plastics. Nikon’s Z cameras are known to be built to a high standard.

As for portability, the Z5’s grip makes it the larger camera and more comfortable to hold, particularly if you like to use larger lenses. But at 390 grams, the Nikon Zfc is an ideal travel companion compared to the 590 gram Nikon Z5.

Winner: Nikon Zfc

6. Lens Selection

At the time of writing, the Nikon Zfc’s Z DX system features just two lenses, with another coming soon. In contrast, the Z5’s full-frame Z FX system features 17 lenses with 8 more on the way.

Like the Z5, the Nikon Zfc can mount Nikon’s older F-mount lenses via the Ftz adapter, and it can even mount full-frame Z lenses. However, neither of these options is optimal or good for the wallet.

Winner: Nikon Z5


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Conclusion

Overall, the Nikon Z5 is the more capable camera. It features slightly better image quality, a superior range of lenses, in-built image stabilization, and faster ergonomics.

That being said, many people could not care less and will be drawn to the Nikon Zfc’s gloriously retro body, manual dials, and compact form. And despite its looks, the Nikon Zfc is no bimbo. It shoots faster than the Nikon Z5, can autofocus in darker conditions, and has a more useful, fully articulating screen.

And then there’s the price. The Nikon Z5 is a bargain next to the Z6 and Z7 but is still more expensive than the Nikon Zfc, especially once you add the lens.

So which should you buy? Thanks to its range of lenses, practical ergonomics, and slightly better image quality, the image-stabilized Nikon Z5 offers more headroom for serious photography. In other words, the Z5 is more useful to fewer people than the Nikon Zfc.

Since the world isn’t stacked with serious photographers, the Nikon Zfc is the better bet for most. Not only is the Zfc absurdly good-looking but also hugely competent.

So, if you’re tired of using your smartphone and want to give your memories the image quality they deserve, the Nikon Zfc and its 16-50mm kit lens might be all the cameras you ever need. Back to Introduction

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