The Ideal FTZ Adapter Wish List

Joseph S Wiśniewski, who's been a smart and accurate poster on dpreview since almost its inception, recently came up with a Wish List for the ultimate FTZ adapter. I thought it interesting enough that it warranted some additional promotion and discussion, so I asked if I could plagiarize his list and comment on it. He agreed, so here we go...  (Note, Joseph's use of the acronym OEM gives away that he came out of the auto industry ;~).

Things that have appeared on an existing OEM or third-party adapter:

  • Screwdriver AF motor (was on Sony LA-E4 and LA-E5, Monster LA-KE1) — Probably the number one request for a future FTZ adapter, as there are a plethora of older Nikon autofocus lenses that don't autofocus any more on the current Z cameras. I'd point out, however, that the smaller battery cameras might have trouble with this, as you'd be adding a significant power draw every time you focused.
  • Removable tripod foot (Sony LA-E3) — The unremovable foot on the original FTZ was a love or hate relationship, and Nikon had to come up with a second version of the FTZ for the Z9 because that interfered with your hand position on the vertical grip. Nikon took the easy route and just removed the tripod foot to produce the FTZ II. So we temporarily have an either/or choice, which is becoming simply a "no foot" choice as Nikon halts production on the original FTZ.
  • Rotating tripod collar (Nikon PN-11 extension tube) — The recent Atoll plate that appeared on Kickstarter probably means we don't need this integrated into an FTZ.
  • Command dial (Canon EOS-EFS R) — I'm not a fan of this one, as Nikon's command dials are already finicky. On the other hand, the Function dial on the 400mm f/2.8 S makes me re-think that a bit. It would be nice to have a Function dial on the adapter when using one of the big F-mount exotics.
  • Filter drawer for polarizer, variable ND, etc. (Canon "Filter Mount Adapter") — Yes, this would be something useful, though I'd guess we'd need back-coated filters to keep bounce-back flare from becoming a veiling glare. It's also possible that some wide angle lenses might not like another air/glass surface in the rearmost point of their optical path.
  • Custom buttons. (Viltrox NF-Z, Fotodiox LM-NKZ-PRN) — Another potentially useful idea. However, most of the lenses I want to use on an adapter now are all the long telephotos, and they already have plenty of custom buttons where I need them. My left hand is typically not back by the adapter when using those lenses. For more wide angle and normal lenses, I've moved on to Z-mount choices, and I think most Z users will, too. So low priority.
  • Tilt adjustment (Kipon NIK-N/Z) — I'd say this idea has some hidden implications that make me less interested in it. If we're talking about using earlier F-mount Nikkors and tilting them, I can see all kinds of optical attributes in those older lenses that might make that less than ideal. But worth a look. 
  • Shift adjustment (Fotodiox has several Sony E adapters. It's really only useful with FF lenses on APS cameras) — As Joseph noted, you need lenses with far larger image circles than the image sensor size. So for FX cameras, we'd need medium format lenses up front, which Nikon doesn't make. And Nikon doesn't support any medium format, so this would never happen under the Nikon brand. As for DX: because of the 1.5x ratio change, what lens am I really going to mount up front? A 14mm f/2.8? Not interested; too much chromatic and spherical aberration in the areas I'd be shifting to.
  • Macro helicoid (Fotasy M42-N/Z Hel) — Pushing the lens forward would give it macro tendencies, which might be interesting. 

Things that no one has done in an OEM or third-party adapter yet:

  • USB and/or BT interface to override focus and aperture for follow focus, focus stacking, HDR, etc. — I'm not sure why you don't just USB or Bluetooth into the camera itself. Of course, that requires that Nikon let you do something useful, so perhaps this is a way for third-parties to get around and extend what Nikon allows.
  • Stepper motor interface to turn Nikon AF commands into drive signals for a powered focus rail (Ultimate focus stacker!) — Really a small market. If you look at how expensive the "intelligent" bellows from Novoflex is, you start to get the idea of how small the market might just be. 
  • Second aperture and apodizing disc, automatically working in conjunction with the lens's aperture — An interesting idea that a third-party could probably easily do.
  • Epi-illumination (either LED or flash) — This comes out of the microscope world. It's definitely a small niche, but in medical and biology research, one that would be quite useful. 
  • Powered filter wheel for multi/hyper-spectral work — Like the previous two ideas, something that is niche, but definitely do-able.
  • Internal screw or bayonet mount for teleconverter/wide converter capsules (possibly slide out without dismounting) — Just call it a "teleconverter FTZ," no matter how it's done (dedicated or customizable). Probably the second biggest demand would be for this, as many want to use a teleconverter with their F-mount lens. You can't use a Z-mount teleconverter with the FTZ, and adding an F-mount teleconverter behind the the FTZ just adds more mounts and introduces potential alignment and instability issues. 
  • Nikon pre-AI (aperture fork) support — And here's another popular request, as it opens up more of Nikon's legacy lenses to a degree of automation on the current cameras. Proper EXIF data, aperture monitoring, and so on.
  • Interchangeable front mount/with multi-protocol converter — Nikon is proprietary, so I'm pretty sure that Nikon isn't going to open up the F-mount side to anything that's not F-mount. A third party might see an advantage to attempting this, though.
  • X and Y actuators to produce small shifts: just enough to do the sort of "super-resolution" that Nikon's competitors do by shifting the sensor. It would only need to move a few microns, so voice-coil or piezo flexure actuators would suffice. — I like the idea but fear the implementation ;~). We're talking about the need for extreme precision and repeatability here, and that has to endure user handling (not really true of real sensor shift, as that's buried in the camera on a really stable platform in the case of the Z9). Then there's the issue of timing, so I'm seeing a USB cable going from the micro shift adapter to the camera to control that. 

Thanks for the list, Joseph. Now if we can only get someone to produce any of these. So, here's my priority list for that:

  1. FTZ-S adapter — embrace the screw-drive.
  2. FTZ-TC adapter — put a 1.4x teleconverter in the adapter.
  3. FTZ-AI adapter — all the things that Nikon has done over the years to let the pre-AI, AI, and AIS lenses still play in the automated world.
  4. FTZ-SHIFT adapter — perhaps an adapter to shift F-mount FX lenses on a Z-mount DX camera.
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