Zfc Questions and Answers

This page will be updated as more questions come in.

"Why wasn’t the Zfc a full frame camera?” 
Beats me. It seems that Nikon hasn’t really thought through their product lineup, either that or they intend to just proliferate products to see what sticks (again). Neither of those are what I think they should be doing, as being last to market means that all their product line gaps are fully exposed until Nikon fills them correctly.

So consider this: Nikon didn’t come out with a Z5 but instead came out with a Zf. You let the original Z6 move towards the full frame entry position and price the Zf between the Z6 and Z6 II. Given the DX lens paucity, that seems like a far better choice than what Nikon decided to do, which is drop the Zfc right on top of the Z50. As I’ve noted, the details of the Zfc are really Z50 II, so now what does Nikon do with the Z50?

“Will we get more DX lenses appropriate for the Zfc?”
Beats me. Seems unlikely that Nikon would distract the Z lens line output to fix a problem they have with the new camera that adds to the problem they already had. 

I’ve been harping on messaging lately, and Nikon’s sending some messages that aren’t going to help them. I outlined earlier what we’re still waiting for, but if what we start getting before those things is more items to make the Zfc make sense, some of the Nikon faithful will just give up on considering a Z transition and just go somewhere else.

“What happens to the Z50?
Good question. Nikon doesn’t seem to know, or else they’re being silent because it’s a surprise. As of today, those retro dials and II-type features will cost you US$100 more than the already competent Z50. Let’s consider Nikon’s choices:

  1. Lower the price of the Z50. Okay, but that squeezes any upcoming Z30. 
  2. Keep the price where it is. Okay, but that’s just splitting the customer. I don’t think the Zfc is going to long term increase the number of 20mp DX Z customers (it will short term). 
  3. Update the Z50. Okay, but the Zfc just took the obvious II-type updates, so now a Z50 II would need sensor-based VR and more, which is going to take time to engineer.
  4. Drop the Z50. Yikes. Not even sure what to think about that possibility.

"How do I get the colored body options?”
In the US at the moment, only Nikon’s own store will carry them, and in limited quantities.

“What are your readers saying?”
It’s still early, but as I noted in my first article, the response seems pretty strongly divided. Some like the nostalgia, some wish the nostalgia was full frame, some don’t see the point. 

“Will the Zfc sell well?”
Yes, initially it will do better than the Z50 did, I believe. Long term, I’m not so sure. “Retro” isn’t the predominant force behind “better sales.” Ultimately, you have to make a better product.

“So will there be shortages?”
Let me predict how it’ll go: 

  • Nikon will concentrate first on providing black panda zoom kits. If that’s what you want, it’ll likely be more widely available and restocked faster when pre-orders exceed supply.
  • Nikon will secondarily concentrate on black panda 28mm prime kits. You’ll notice that they didn’t release the prime separately yet. That means the entire production is going to filling kits at the moment. We’ll see if Nikon got the demand right for that, but there’s a good chance they didn’t and that they’ll have shifted to producing lens-only boxes at the point where they realize that they didn’t meet Zfc kit demand. I expect the prime kit to go out of stock and not resupply fast.
  • Bodies will come last and have the lowest priority if Nikon continues their previous stock strategies. I suspect it, too, will go in and out of stock, at least in the first couple of months.
  • The pastel pandas are only available from NikonUSA in this country. Who knows how many they ordered and whether they got the color preferences right. My guess is no. There was a discussion that was had about applying the leatherette at the regional centers, which would give them more ability to respond to the demand quickly, but I don’t know if that happened or whether all the bodies are just being finished in Thailand and specific quantities of each color shipped to the US.

“Why are women used so much in the marketing materials?”
I see a lot of Nikon-generated marketing photos that have a woman holding or using the Zfc, and that’s highly true in Asia. This is reminiscent of the colored Nikon 1 campaign—which included an outright pink camera—and the way it tried to appeal to women. 

At its heart, the Zfc is a fashion statement, not a technology statement. And Nikon seems to be targeting that statement towards younger women for some reason.

Within Tokyo, and at all the camera companies, there’s been this constant “people that buy cameras are men, but if we could get the women to buy in equal quantities, we’d increase the market size” thought since, oh, about 2007. The nearly all-men teams at the camera companies keep trying to do fashion cameras, and mostly failing (at least failing to live up to their high paternalistic expectations). 

But there’s a point that needs to be made: smartphones don’t have that problem. Women buy smartphones and use the cameras in them. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that women used their smartphone cameras more than men. So if the camera companies want to survive post iPhone, they do indeed need to find a way to make all audiences buy their product. Men and women. Young and old. Blue collar and white collar. Asian and Western. And so on. 

Is the Zfc an attempt to do that? I’m not sure it was originally intended to be, but I suspect Nikon’s marketing decided to push the female side a little harder because they needed some viewpoint than the Z50. 

“Was the Zfc a surprise to you?”
Yes and no. Going full nostalgia was a surprise. But I had been following Z50 II engineering patter for some time. I kept thinking to myself it was too soon for a Z50 II. But I guess not if it comes out with dials ;~). 

"Should I sell my Z50 and buy a Zfc?”
I’m sure hearing a lot of folk saying they’re going to do just that. Just like a lot of Z6/Z7 users sold their original camera and got a Z6 II and Z7 II.

Nikon needs to be a little careful here. If the demand for new bodies is comes mostly from those with the previous generation body, that says that the transition from reliance on DSLRs isn’t going as smoothly as Nikon needed it to. Moreover, the growing used market for perfectly fine bodies becomes difficult to market against. You can currently go into many dealers and have a choice between a used Z6, a Z5, a new Z6, and a new Z6 II, for example. That’s four choices priced differently in a very narrow range of competence/features.

In a more perfect world, Nikon would have had an option for Z6 users to send their camera in for a for-money upgrade to Z6 II (though I’m not sure Nikon designed the cameras well for that option to make any sense). Of course, that would have made selling Z6 II bodies tougher for them ;~).

I keep getting the feeling that Nikon’s looking for “more traction” and not finding it. 

“Will you write a book for the Zfc?”
I’m currently assuming I will. The operative question is whether it should be a Complete Guide or something else.

Looking for other photographic information? Check out our other Web sites:
DSLRS: dslrbodies.com | mirrorless: sansmirror.com | general/technique: bythom.com | film SLR: filmbodies.com

text and images © 2021 Thom Hogan — All Rights Reserved
Follow us on Twitter: @bythom, hashtags #bythom, #zsystemuser