Nikon Zf: Nikon’s full frame retro camera

Tips & Techniques

Nikon just announced the Nikon Zf, a full-frame retro camera. This is not a surprise considering that the crop-sensor Nikon Zfc has been here for a while. At first glance, this is an impressive camera, even if you throw away the stylish look. (And it is stylish!): 24.5MP, full-frame, BSI CMOS Sensor; Fast AF; 4K/60p 10bit video; and, yes, six optional colors.

24.5 MP full-frame BSI CMOS sensor

According to Nikon the 24.5MP BSI CMOS sensor is a pretty good all-rounder, and has good low-light performance (ISO 100-64000), impressive readout speeds (14 fps mechanical, 30 fps electronic), and high dynamic range. Additionally, the Zf features pixel shift tech that combines multiple exposures to create a single 96MP file.

EXPEED 7 Image Processor

I know that you are going to compare this camera to the Nikon Z 6II, so here is one big difference: the Z6II has dual EXPEED 6 image processor chips, and the Zf has a single EXPEED 7 processor.

According to Nikon, this processor is “X10 faster than previous generations”, so hopefully, it is X5 faster than a dual EXPEED 6 configuration. It is, however, the same processing engine used in Nikon Z9 and Nikon Z8, so you should. Ultimately, that would mean faster AF, faster processing, and faster FPS rates.

Improved AF

This seems to be the case with every new release from every manufacturer, and this is how it should be. This time, Nikon boasts of using deep learning technology for object recognition (Basically, this is A.I. without staying A.I.). Along with this enhancement, the Nikon Zf also has 3D Tracking, which “locks onto fast, erratically-moving subjects that move parallel and perpendicular to the camera”.

Of course, you get all the standard features you would expect from a $1,996.95 in 2023:

  • Locking focus on common subjects: people, cats, dogs, birds, bicycles, motorbikes, cars, aircraft and trains
  • Eye detection AF: The Z f automatically locks onto the eyes of people, pets, and birds, even when they’re extremely small in the frame. For the first time, the feature is also available for manual focus lenses, automatically magnifying the area around the eyes so you can quickly confirm sharp focus.
  • High Continous FPS count: 14 fps continuous shooting with the Nikon Zf mechanical shutter. Or 30 fps using the electronic shutter.
    Interstingly, the Mechanical shutter has been tested to 200,000 cycles.

Low light performance

In terms of ISO, the Nikon Zf features ISO 100-64,000 for stills with low noise across the entire range. ISO 100-51,200 for video. No word on native ISO for log yet.

According to Nikon, you can get good auto focus down to 10EV, which is pretty dark.

Nikon Zf other features

  • 8.0 stops of 5-axis VR image stabilization
  • Dedicated Black & White Mode
  • In-camera Skin Softening (YIYKES)
  • Pixel Shift for 96MP images (requires Nikon’s NX Studio).
  • Fully Articulating Touchscreen

World’s first focus-point stabilization

The Z f applies stabilization to the area around the active focus point, wherever it is in the frame, providing precise correction right where you need it.

Nikon Df video features

The new Nikon DF shoots up to 4K/60p, 1080p/120, and the 4K is downsampled from the full sensor 6K resolution. I am very interested to see how this performs.

It also supports Internal 10-bit H.265 in SDR/N-Log/HLG.

And lastly, it supports a wide array of “pro monitor” features to help you shoot.

Nikon Df shoot assist functions

Retro style

If you are familiar with the Zf line, you know what to expect here. The camera looks like the old cameras from the ’80s and ’70s, with a black finish and leather-like highlights.

There are knobs and buttons to access many of the camera settings without the need actually to go into a menu. This includes a dedicated switch for toggling between color and black-and-white capture.

Nikon Zf - 6 colors

Nikon Zf vs Nikon Z6II vs Nikon Zfc

If you are considering the Nikon Zf, here is a chart that can help. It shows the Nion Zf in the middle. On either side, you get the Nikon Z6II if you prefer a non-retro camera, and the Nion Zfc if you prefer crop factor. I am only including the important differences.

camera Nikon Z fc Nikon Zf Nikon Z6 II
Price 959 1999 1995
Sensor resolution 5568 x 3712 6048 x 4032 6048 x 4024
Effective pixels 21 megapixels 25 megapixels 25 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors 22 megapixels 25 megapixels 25 megapixels
Sensor size APS-C (23.5 x 15.7 mm) Full frame (35.9 x 23.9 mm) Full frame (35.9 x 23.9 mm)
Processor Expeed 6 Expeed 7 Dual Expeed 6
ISO Auto, 100-51200 (expands to 100-204800) 100-64,000 for stills, 100-51,200 for video Auto, 100-51200 (expands to 50-204800)
Image stabilization No Sensor-shift Sensor-shift
Crop sensor x1.5 X1 X1
Articulated LCD Fully articulated Fully articulated Tilting
Screen size 3″ 3.2″ 3.2″
Continuous drive 14 FPS 14 FPS mechanical, 30 FPS electronic 14 FPS
Format MPEG-4, H.264 MPEG-4, H.265 MPEG-4, H.264
Modes 3840 x 2160 @ 30p 3840 x 2160 @ 60p 3840 x 2160 @ 30p
Weight (inc. batteries) 445 g 710 g 705 g 
Size 135 x 94 x 44 mm 144 x 103 x 49 mm 134 x 101 x 70 mm


Some people already have this camera in their hands for a while, and hurrah for us, already shared a review:

Gerald Undone on the Nikon Zf

Chris and Jordan

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