The Nikon Z f
Gregory Gross

The Nikon Z f

September 26, 2023

Tags: Camera Gear, Photography

About a week ago, Nikon announced something that had been widely rumored and that I had eagerly been waiting for: the Nikon Z f, a full-frame mirrorless camera with styling reminiscent of the company’s FM2 film camera of the 1980s.

The articles on DP Review soon flowed forth: first their preview article, then their first-look video, then their pre-production sample image gallery, and finally their hands-on slideshow.

When the Nikon Z fc came out two years ago, I was immediately smitten by its styling, and I thought the camera body would look great connected to my Questar telescope. My growing interest in film photography only added fuel to the fire.

But rather than jump in and buy one, my reluctance to plow hundreds of dollars into what felt like a redundancy—I already had a cropped-sensor camera in my Canon EOS M50, and I found it hard to justify getting yet another cropped-sensor camera—I held off. I also felt that I would feel foolish if I bought the Nikon Z fc when what I really wanted was a full-frame version of that camera.

As time went on, I grew to appreciate the virtues of my Canon EOS M50, and I began to doubt whether or not I really wanted a full-frame version of the Nikon Z fc.

When it finally materialized in the form of the Nikon Z f, the price tag that I feared would be very high was indeed very high: $2000 for the body alone.

Ouch. At that price, I’m not sure I would even be comfortable taking it out of the house and into the wild.

But more importantly, if the price is not the thing that would hold be back from buying a Nikon Z f for myself, the real thing that would do so would be a more philosophical objection. The seeds of that objection appeared in my opening post in this DP Review discussion thread, where I wrote:

If I’m going to shoot digital..., shouldn’t I just use a modern digital camera in its modern native form, boring as it may be, rather than a digital camera that tries to mimic a film camera? If I want that fully manual film experience, shouldn’t I just go for the real thing and stick with the Nikon F I already own and love using?

I still feel this way. In fact, I feel this way more and more.

What really killed my interest in going down the Nikon full-frame route, though, was the only thing that should matter at the end of the day: image quality. I downloaded Nikon’s NX Studio, the company’s free software for editing raw image files generated by Nikon cameras. In a nutshell, I was completely nonplussed after I had a chance to play with some sample raw image data I downloaded from DP Review’s sample image galleries for various Nikon mirrorless cameras. I felt NX Studio’s capabilities paled in comparison to Canon’s Digital Photo Professional, a piece of software I could already use with my images I produce with my Canon mirrorless cameras.

I’m not sure if I should feel disappointed about this or if I should feel thankful that I avoided spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on something I might ultimately come to dislike.

No, I’m am sure. I feel thankful.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll change my mind down the road. But at this stage, I have arrived at the realization that I’m kind of a Canon guy.

In spite of the appeal of Voigtlander’s manual-focus lenses for Nikon Z-mount cameras, Canon’s Toyota Camry-like product design aesthetic, and Canon’s refusal to open up its R mount system to third-party lens manufacturers, I just like the image quality I get out of my Canon cameras. After all, modern cameras are meant to produce images, not be imitations of the camera gear of the past.

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