Marc Your Author

The Digital Analog

The Digital Analog

In Silver and Cellulose I talked about photography using film rather than using a digital camera, and the way that doing so encourages the photographer to slow down and be more deliberate in their choices.

Of course, digital photography has many advantages, quick access to images, cheap (vanishingly close to free) cost per shot, instant feedback, and ease of sharing. My trusty Canon 5D Mk2 was getting old, and when the time came to replace it with something new I looked to the past, and a digital version of a camera I have been shooting with for decades.

I still have the old Nikon FE from my youth, and it now has a digital companion, the Nikon Zfc.

Clearly, the Zfc styling is influenced heavily by the vintage FE and FM series, and it feels very familiar in the hand. Styling aside the Zfc is based on the Z-50. Lenses are attached using the new Z mount but with a simple adaptor I am able to attach the vintage lenses from the FE. With the old 50mm f1.8 Nikkor lens attached the Digital Zfc becomes a fully manual camera, the lens has no auto-focus and the lens doesn’t have the smart technology to interface with the cameras exposure settings.

The exposure meter on the FE is a set of 2 needles, one showing the current setting and the other showing the setting the camera meter has measured. The manual experience on the Zfc is quite similar, with a +/- style reading. My memory tells me this is close to the Nikon FM viewfinder, one of the other cameras I used extensively in the past, but that camera remained with my dad in the UK and my memory is hazy.

Both new and old have physical controls, and are very tactile in use.

The Zfc feels like the logical continuation of the FE into the digital world, beinging with it the beauty and practicality of the original, and adding the benefits of the digital while ramaining true to the legacy of the old. It is possible, especially when using the original manual lenses, to use the camera in the style I talked about in my previous post, being forced to slow down and consider everything carefully. When that style of photography isn’t suitable, it functions like a modern digital, with all the assistance one expects from a modern device.

The Zfc has an APS-C size sensor, in 2023 Nikon released the full frame Zf, the same retro style with a full frame sensor. That is a little out of my price range at the moment, but maybe one day…