Nikon Z fc camera with Z 28mm f/2.8 SE lens

The crop-sensor Nikon Z fc camera with Z 28mm f/2.8 SE lens
(Image credit: Future)

God I’m excited about the latest from Nikon Rumors, that a full-frame ‘Nikon Zf’ could be announced later in 2023. Why could this mirrorless camera be so special? It will be everything that the casual yet excellent crop-sensor Nikon Z fc wasn’t for pro and enthusiast photographers, and simultaneously dethrone Fujifilm to become the king of retro. 

It’s less likely to boast the high-end performance of the Nikon Z8 and Nikon Z9, but it will deliver a delightful hands-on and tactile shooting experience that photographers in 2023 so desperately want, and hopefully be pitched at the same price point as the Nikon Z7 II that launched at $3,000 / £3,000 / AU$5,500. But let me backtrack and unpack what the Nikon Zf represents and why it could become one of the best mirrorless cameras

The top of the Nikon Z fc camera on a shelf

The top of the Nikon Z fc camera (Image credit: Future)

Nikon Zf: the matter in hand

Smartphone cameras are so capable now, but phones handle awkwardly for photography and video. Dedicated cameras, therefore, need to lean in on what can set them apart; a tactile and enjoyable camera experience.

Fusing the old with the new is what Fujifilm has done so well for over a decade now, with mirrorless cameras like the Fujifilm X-T30. Those with the cash to splash can opt for rangefinders like the Leica M11. You get shutter speed and ISO dials and lenses with aperture control rings, and it’s all wonderfully hands-on and distinct from most other functionally capable, yet often sterile mirrorless cameras.

I find it surprising that neither Sony or Canon has leant into this retro market, bringing old-fashioned design into their modern mirrorless cameras, especially Canon with its 35mm film heritage. No, if you’re into the old school in 2023, Fujifilm is your first port of call.

Nikon stepped outside its mirrorless camera box with the crop-sensor retro Nikon Z fc in 2021. It offers such a refreshing take on camera design and was a camera that I had a great time reviewing. Yes, this is what photography is about.

The shutter speed and exposure compensation dials on the Nikon Z fc

The shutter speed and exposure compensation dials on the Nikon Z fc (Image credit: Future)

And while I loved the Z fc, my time with it left me asking, like many Nikon fans – will there be a full-frame version of this camera? After all, its retro charm was inspired by the legendary Nikon FM2 – a 35mm film camera – and we’d already seen the modern retro concept in the full-frame Nikon Df DSLR camera a full 10-years earlier.

It’s not just the sensor size that whetted my appetite for more modern retro goodness. The casual nature of the Z fc – from its competitive list price, entry-level build quality and all-round performance – counted it out as a purchase for my enthusiast needs. This could all change in the Nikon Zf.

The Nikon Z fc camera with retro Z 28mm f/2.8 SE full-frame lens attached

The Nikon Z fc camera with retro Z 28mm f/2.8 SE full-frame lens attached (Image credit: Future)

There’s also the question of lenses. Nikon Z mirrorless lenses abound in the full-frame (FX) format, while crop-sensor APS-C glass (or as Nikon calls it DX) is sorely lacking. Even the retro Z 28mm f/2.8 SE lens launched alongside the Z fc is a full-frame optic. I’m really hoping that a launch of the Zf will also see new lenses that match the retro design, much like the SE version of the 28mm lens (see above). Personally, I’d love to see Nikon Z lenses with aperture control a la Fujifilm, too.

The Zf could be the camera for photography and camera design lovers, ably supported by some excellent Nikon glass, and ready to take on serious photographer’s cameras like the Fujifilm X-T5.

Nikon Zf: what to expect

I’ll unpack what we can expect from the Nikon Zf in more detail soon, when more leaks inevitably surface, so look out for that, but the nuts and bolts center around what the Nikon Z fc wasn’t, because the same concept will remain.

I’m expecting a physically larger camera with a more immersive viewfinder and a more durable, weather-sealed design, plus larger capacity battery. I’m thinking of the 45.7MP sensor as found in the Z7 II, and not the stacked sensor found in the Z8 or Z9, or the 24MP sensor in the Nikon Z6 II. And the Zf has to be an all-round faster operator than the Z fc to satisfy enthusiasts.

Currently Nikon’s only retro mirrorless camera is the entry-level Nikon Z fc. If Nikon is to turn pro and enthusiast photographer heads away from Fujifilm, then the Nikon Zf must land and deliver, and I can’t wait for that day.

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Tim is the Cameras editor at TechRadar. He has enjoyed more than 15 years in the photo video industry with most of those in the world of tech journalism. During his time as Deputy Technical Editor with Amateur Photographer, as a freelancer and consequently editor at Tech Radar, Tim has developed a deeply technical knowledge and practical experience with cameras, educating others through news, reviews and features. He’s also worked in video production for Studio 44 with clients including Canon, and volunteers his spare time to consult a non-profit, diverse stories team based in Nairobi. Tim is curious, a keen creative, avid footballer and runner, and moderate flat white drinker who has lived in Kenya and believes we have much to enjoy and learn from each other. 

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