We’ve been waiting for the Nikon Zf for a couple of years now. In fact, at The Phoblographer, we genuinely thought that the Nikon Zfc would be a full-frame camera. As successful as the Zfc has been around the world if the upcoming Nikon Zf wants to win over the hearts of more passionate photographers, Nikon really needs to release a lot more retro-styled lenses that appeal to the eyes.
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Style Really Matters
Part of Fujifilm’s runaway success over the last decade has been due to the immaculate styling of its X series of cameras. Most of these models harken to the good old days of film photography. This was an era where cameras weren’t just a tool to document life, they were instruments of desire thanks to the styling and design teams at most of the camera companies. It’s not just the cameras themselves. Their lenses are also beautifully styled. The silver variations especially turn heads. I look at these and silently appreciate them and the work put in by their designers at each level.
I want to use the Nikon Zf as an everyday, feel-good camera. A companion that I take along with me everywhere.
Nikon used to do this quite effectively too. Their FM2 is arguably their most iconic design, alongside the ever-coveted but slightly bulkier F3 model. And it felt astoundingly solid in your hands. Like you could hammer nails with it, and it would continue working as usual, aside from a few cosmetic bumps and dings. Unsurprisingly, they chose this design to mold the Nikon Zfc. A tad unfortunate that a few corners were cut in the materials department, but I understand this was probably done to keep costs down.
The Nikon Zf Body Styling Needs Matching Lenses
Regarding specs, the Nikon Zf looks like it will tick most of the boxes users want. Recent news reports state that it could even have a high-resolution mode. As someone who’d want the low light performance of the 24-megapixel Z6 II from the Nikon Zf, it’s good to know that there may be a way to get an even higher resolution image directly in camera. I’m not worried about the specs, as the Zf autofocus performance also looks like it will be better than the Z6 II and Z7 II. So from a performance perspective, I think Nikon has it all covered. It then comes down to the look of the lenses that can go with this camera.
Almost all of Nikon’s current Z-mount lens lineup is devoid of eye-catching elements in them. Aside from the SE editions of the 28mm f2.8 and 40mm f2 lenses, both of which have a silver control ring, the rest are primarily plain black. This is a marked departure from their SLR era, and understandably so. Their design guidelines appear to be very different since the launch of the Nikon F5, which also continued into their DSLRs. But when they introduced a film-era styled body like the Nikon Zfc, I expected many more retro-looking lenses to go with it. That hasn’t quite materialized from their end, but I do hope it becomes a reality when the Nikon Zf is launched soon.
Old-Looking Lenses Are Great To Look At
The Zfc did come out in a wide variety of colored options for the body leather, but we haven’t seen more silver lens options for it. This shortcoming is what a lot of the 3rd party lens manufacturers like TTArtisan capitalized on, adding splashes of color in measured proportions to their lens lineup. All of which remind you of classic film lenses and their undying visual appeal. It’s time for Nikon mirrorless cameras and lenses to become conversation starters on their own. The Zfc did just that when I walked into a restaurant with it, and many of the waiters expressed an interest in knowing more about it. I have complete faith that the Zf will do this, but I want to pair a classic-looking full autofocus lens with it from Nikon.
The last thing Nikon would want is for users to purchase a Zf and then stick a 3rd party manual focus lens on it. And from an aesthetic perspective, I’ve seen quite a few users in photography forums state this. They purchased the Zfc for its looks but added more 3rd party lenses to their camera bag to go with it instead of Nikon ones. One gentleman even bought a Nikon Zfc simply because he wanted to use it with the Artralab lenses he couldn’t resist buying.
What I’d Like To See Nikon Do
- It’s a wild thought, but if Nikon could bring out more variants of existing lenses like the Z 50mm f1.8 S and Z 35mm f1.8 S, they would look more in harmony with the upcoming Zf than the existing plain black ones. The 50mm f1.8 S gives me results that I drool over, especially with the sharpness I get with it. I’d definitely use it a lot on the Nikon Zf, but I would much rather have a version of it that has better styling.
- The pair of lenses mentioned above are considerably bigger than lenses like the above-seen Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 AI-s. So I wouldn’t even mind a Z 50mm or 35mm f2 S edition with a clickable aperture ring and classic distance scale markings. Smaller, sleeker lenses would pair well.
- Let’s have a compact, vintage looking SB-300 speedlight to go with it. Something like what Godox did with its Lux Junior Flash.
- I want to use the Nikon Zf as an everyday, feel-good camera. A companion that I take along with me everywhere. I’d be willing to sacrifice a stop of light or two and pair something that looked like the Nikkor 70-210mm f/4.0s from 1982 if it means I get lighter lenses to use. Just look at the beauty below and try to tell me you won’t want to see something like that on your Nikon Zf.
let’s bring Classic Nikon Looks Back
Nikon wouldn’t just be targeting new users here. Film photographers would undoubtedly have a handful of F-mount classic lenses they could use with the Nikon Zf. As much a stretch as this may be, those lenses would pair better with an FTZ adapter that was styled better. It’s all about creating an ecosystem of lenses and accessories to go with the Zf. To pull back a lot of ex-Nikon SLR users who jumped ship to other brands at the dawn of the mirrorless era. To whet the appetite of users like me who have been craving film-era style cameras and lenses from Nikon ever since they teased us with the Nikon Df. And for Nikon to showcase to the world that its styling department still has what it takes to create beautiful-looking cameras like it did for many decades.
The Right Time Is Now
For almost 2 years now, I’ve been waiting for the Nikon Zf to launch. And it was only last week, when news of its impending release began to increase, that I realized I had no excellent looking lenses to pair with it. The joy of photography is as much in the experience of the craft as it is in the results that the art and skill behind it produces. I’ve realized for some months now that I need to rekindle that experience, and no body sticker kit for my Z6 II will give me that feeling.
Blazing fast autofocus is excellent when I need it, but I also want to have the option to slow down occasionally and run my fingers slowly over a rubber manual focus ring that reminds me of how I did photography in my childhood. I want that nostalgia hitting me each time I turn the aperture ring on a lens made for the Nikon Zf and Zfc. There are still many such photographers out there who want these aesthetic, tactile pleasures in a mirrorless camera and lens system from Nikon. Maybe we’re a minority, but we’re a sizeable one that Nikon can help significantly add to if they get this right. I’m banking on them to do so. Oh and I’m still hoping for that mirrorless rangefinder from them someday.