One Way the Zf is Different

I’m giving a talk at Creative Photo Academy next week with Mark Comon on the latest Nikon Z System gear. We usually do an online even when a new camera comes out, but we were both out of the country when the Zf came out, and several lenses have popped up since our last session, too. Meanwhile, we’ve been using the new camera and lenses in our trips (well, okay, not the 600mm f/6.3 PF VR S yet, as it just shipped). 

bythom cpalogo

Our free talk will be on November 6th, at 5pm PST. You can sign up for it at As usual, we record the session and make it available to anyone who signed up and couldn’t be there for it live.

I mention that talk because I’m starting to get specific Zf questions that get to the heart of buying decisions. 

In particular, there’s the issue of using mirrorless cameras completely silently. This is a key difference between the Zf and the Z8. The Z8 has a stacked image sensor with a 1/270 effective electronic shutter. The Zf is still using the older Z6 image sensor, which is not stacked and has a far slower 1/15 effective electronic shutter. 

What that means is that the rolling shutter artifacts on the Zf can be problematic when the the camera is used in Silent mode. This is not true of the Z8, which operates pretty much like a camera with a mechanical shutter when silent. Moreover, in artificial light, the slower Zf sensor more easily produces banding, and unlike the Z8, it has no way to syncronize the electronic shutter to the light frequency. 

So for people who want a completely silent camera, the Zf probably isn’t the one you want. If you don’t mind the mechanical shutter being used, then the Zf is perfectly fine with motion/action and responds to frequency-based light as you’d expect. Of course, when you use the mechanical shutter, you need to be aware of the difference between Continuous H and Continuous H (extended). Only the former gives you a live viewfinder while your photographing (not quite blackout free like the Z8, but very short blackout between live looks). For raw files, Continuous H (not extended) gives you a maximum frame rate of 6 (full mechanical) to 7.2 (electronic first curtain) fps. 

The reason why this is coming up is because of people thinking the Zf is an inexpensive Z8 for wildlife and sports action. The new autofocus system is in the Zf, after all. But pragmatically, you’ll have to give up significant frame rate to get the same quality images of moving subjects. 

Looking for other photographic information? Check out our other Web sites:
DSLRS: | mirrorless: | general/technique: | film SLR:

text and images © 2023 Thom Hogan
All Rights Reserved — 
the contents of this site, including but not limited to its text, illustrations, and concepts, 
 may not be utilized, directly or indirectly, to inform, train, or improve any artificial intelligence program or system.