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Nikon Zf, the perfect street photography camera?

  
 
RoamingScott
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p.4 #1 · p.4 #1 · Nikon Zf, the perfect street photography camera?


tzhang4284 wrote:
Yeah Iím happy with it but I think some of the fanboys and influencers are definitely overselling the Nikon ZF a bit and its flaws particularly on ergonomics are non-trivial. If I were to be an irrational fanboy, itíd probably be on the Leica M11 - itís a bit of a pain in the ass but something very zen about using that camera + lens for photography. Might end up adding a film Leica at some point but spent way too much money on camera gear so will need to wait or sell some stuff.


The Cam Mackey videos on using it as a full on production rig are just...he's getting paid, right? They HAVE to be paying him. Like you say, some of the content is bordering on insanity from these guys.



May 14, 2024 at 06:47 PM
taildraggin
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p.4 #2 · p.4 #2 · Nikon Zf, the perfect street photography camera?


Internet, you are wrong and I am right.

It isn't a good street shooting camera if you can't zone focus. AF is too stupid and slow to pick out what you want instantly, abruptly. Best street cameras, ranked:

1. Ricoh GR. Purpose built for street shooting. Cheap, ugly as sin. Super fast and unobtrusive. Excellent 28mm lens, appalling color science (reds are weird), but B&W is *sublime*. Snap/zone focus easy to set up.

2. Leica M. Needs a lot of practice to become fast, but ultimately very fast. Fussy rangefinder calibration nonsense. For some reason, they compel you to wander around the Flatiron building. (Probably 16 of them over there right now, in the rain.)

3. Zf. Poor man's M. Does everything the M can do for 1/6 the cost, but things dig into your hand, the menus were designed in 1998 by a cigarette ash covered Tokyo engineer who never left his office and you're best off using voigtlander lenses which don't come native Z in 28. Fabulous color and auto exposure control is best in the biz. Bugger to zone focus AF lenses, but not as bad as...

4. Fuji things. Wonderful glass. Beautiful on the outside, awful menus and color science inside. Love to claim Leica innovation and concepts as their own.


Regardless of the quality of all this junk, someone who knows what they are doing will run rings around any one of these with their phone. All day long.



May 15, 2024 at 08:20 AM
1bwana1
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p.4 #3 · p.4 #3 · Nikon Zf, the perfect street photography camera?


taildraggin wrote:
Internet, you are wrong and I am right.

3. Zf. Poor man's M. Does everything the M can do for 1/6 the cost, but things dig into your hand, the menus were designed in 1998 by a cigarette ash covered Tokyo engineer who never left his office and you're best off using voigtlander lenses which don't come native Z in 28. Fabulous color and auto exposure control is best in the biz. Bugger to zone focus AF lenses, but not as bad as...




Having shot both the Zf is not a poor man's M. It is just a cheaper camera. It is not even close in ergonomics, sensor (recent models M10R and above, Zf years old sensor from Z6), shooting experience, build, available glass, glass with the "right" haptics to compare to M glass. The Zf is a lower end mirrorless camera with a retro look, but no retro experience. I guess if what you mean by "does everything the M can do" is that it captures images digitally then maybe. But, my cell phone does that too.

Still, I have a number of friends I shoot with regularly who enjoy the camera. But, all of them are still struggling and experimenting in trying to find lenses they are happy with. They generally are not comfortable with MF, and can't find AF lenses that are small, attractive, high end optics, with aperture rings. They end up trying all kinds of permutations with adapters, and other manufacturers lenses. Even many of the best MF options look like they just have an adapter built on the back. All of this is evident in the various Zf threads as well. Hopefully, either Nikon or a third party like Sigma will address this shortcoming in the Zf ecosystem soon. So much potential. But regardless of price, not at an M level in any way.



May 15, 2024 at 09:35 AM
coralnut
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p.4 #4 · p.4 #4 · Nikon Zf, the perfect street photography camera?


AF lenses that are small, attractive, high end optics, with aperture rings, don't seem to be anywhere in Nikon's Z roadmap. Nikon seems to be more interested in the polar opposite: ginormious and heavy high end optics without aperture rings.

many of the best MF options do look like they just have an adapter built on the back, because it's cheaper and more expedient to just add flange distance to the back of an existing retrofocus design than it is to properly design a new lens from scratch to fit a new mount.

Yes the Z ecosystem has great potential, but it seems that the first generation of lenses has been populated with a few truly outstanding lenses which have captivated our attention, while the line was rounded out with less stellar designs. Hopefully as time passes we'll see some of the mediocre lenses replaced as new optical designs are developed specifically for the mount.



May 15, 2024 at 10:09 AM
RoamingScott
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p.4 #5 · p.4 #5 · Nikon Zf, the perfect street photography camera?


It's wild that there are so many tears about lenses when you can adapt any FE lens to Z without penalty. You should be happy and enjoy the ENORMOUS selection of lenses at your disposal and be glad that you can build a kit to solve any use case between two good brands.


May 15, 2024 at 10:12 AM
stompyq
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p.4 #6 · p.4 #6 · Nikon Zf, the perfect street photography camera?


RoamingScott wrote:
It's wild that there are so many tears about lenses when you can adapt any FE lens to Z without penalty. You should be happy and enjoy the ENORMOUS selection of lenses at your disposal and be glad that you can build a kit to solve any use case between two good brands.


Is this sony E mount glass on Z bodies? This is with an adapter right? Can you comment on this a little bit. I've always been interested in this because there is a huge selection of lenses in E mount but always thought the adapters meant loosing some critical features



May 15, 2024 at 10:29 AM
RoamingScott
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p.4 #7 · p.4 #7 · Nikon Zf, the perfect street photography camera?


stompyq wrote:
Is this sony E mount glass on Z bodies? This is with an adapter right? Can you comment on this a little bit. I've always been interested in this because there is a huge selection of lenses in E mount but always thought the adapters meant loosing some critical features


Yes, the E to Z adapters are small and support AF at native E performance.

There is a wealth of small primes on E that is missing on Z.



May 15, 2024 at 10:40 AM
coralnut
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p.4 #8 · p.4 #8 · Nikon Zf, the perfect street photography camera?


Forgot to mention -- Adapting lenses to the Z mount solves a flange distance problem, and sometimes AF even works -- but adapting other 'narrow mount' designs does nothing to realize Nikon's own description of the best advantage of the Z mount -- that it's increased diameter provides for the design of superior new lens designs. We're still waiting for most of those to appear.

xTZ adapters are typically narrow on the lens side and wide on the camera side. They solve the flange distance problem, but they do nothing to offer the main improvement that Nikon touted as the most attractive feature of the Z mount going forward -- the wider diameter of the mount that would facilitate superior lens designs. We're still waiting for most of those designs to be released. Hopefully they'll come in future generations of lenses. Until those materialize the superiority of the Z mount hasn't been fully realized.

Edited on May 15, 2024 at 10:47 AM · View previous versions



May 15, 2024 at 10:45 AM
RoamingScott
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p.4 #9 · p.4 #9 · Nikon Zf, the perfect street photography camera?


coralnut wrote:
Forgot to mention -- Adapting lenses to the Z mount solves a flange distance problem, but it does nothing to address Nikon's own description of the best advantage of the Z mount -- that it's increased diameter provides for the design of superior new lens designs. We're still waiting for most of those to appear.


Many of them HAVE appeared. Z lenses require far less software correction than their smaller cousins from other brands BECAUSE they are utilizing the large mount (Plena is the best example).



May 15, 2024 at 10:46 AM
1bwana1
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p.4 #10 · p.4 #10 · Nikon Zf, the perfect street photography camera?


coralnut wrote:
Forgot to mention -- Adapting lenses to the Z mount solves a flange distance problem, and sometimes AF even works -- but adapting other 'narrow mount' designs does nothing to realize Nikon's own description of the best advantage of the Z mount -- that it's increased diameter provides for the design of superior new lens designs. We're still waiting for most of those to appear.

xTZ adapters are typically narrow on the lens side and wide on the camera side. They solve the flange distance problem, but they do nothing to offer the main improvement that Nikon touted as the most
...Show more


The built in adapter style that many third party lens manufacturers are supplying do nothing to optically take advantage of the wide Z mount. Most also have no electronic correction. They just make the lenses larger, heavier, and less attractive. An additional price to pay for this approach in the less optimal shooting experience.

In the end, the Zf is a character camera primarily based on a retro look, and perhaps some level of a retro shooting experience.. That is significantly negatively affected by using adapted lenses with adapter whether built in or separate. As I have said, hopefully better choices are on the way.



May 15, 2024 at 11:41 AM
 


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Gunigaon
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p.4 #11 · p.4 #11 · Nikon Zf, the perfect street photography camera?


A mobile phone is the best Street shooter. You can't not carry it with you. Small sensor, huge DOF. Goes under the radar.

ZF is a great carry around body though.




May 15, 2024 at 12:02 PM
urbanwild
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p.4 #12 · p.4 #12 · Nikon Zf, the perfect street photography camera?


Do the new voigtlander lenses not take care of this? I know there aren't many yet, but the Zf and these lenses are all relatively new and this is hopefully just the start of a new area of growth.

https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1734166-REG/voigtlander_ba342e_nokton_40mm_f1_2_aspherical.html



May 15, 2024 at 12:09 PM
scalanc2
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p.4 #13 · p.4 #13 · Nikon Zf, the perfect street photography camera?


The adapters are a temporary solution, of course.
Sony did the same with the MC-11 and Sigma lenses.
This was part (important) of the Sony ML success.
Zf is a wonderful camera when fitted with Megadap and Sigma DG-DN (if not Sony) compact lenses.
They have a very pleasant retro look which matches very well with the Zf look.
Possibly these lenses cannot take advantage of the Z mount but performances in general are very good. No less and no more than when fitted on Sony.
This is also where Zf shines with the less demanding sensor.
In addition of this almost all the lenses available can be adapted to Z and many new manufacturers are joining the group with lenses in some way retro styled.
In the mean time Iím quite sure Nikon is working on a lens line dedicated to Zf and those will be the best option, of course.
Letís wait and see.
Concerning Zf it is the most technically advanced camera excluding Z9 and 8 which are redundant for most of the amateurs. The very high number of sales is there.




May 15, 2024 at 12:20 PM
matthewm
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p.4 #14 · p.4 #14 · Nikon Zf, the perfect street photography camera?


Having used a bunch of Fuji cameras over the last 10 years or so, and also having lots of experience with Canon gear from the DSLR and early R-Mirrorless days, and also using Sony off and on, I have to say, I think the Nikon ZF is kind of a weird hybrid of all of the above. I just got mine a couple weeks ago, and I'm really pleased with it so far, but it is far from a perfect camera. Is it a great first attempt at a more analog experience in a digital camera? Absolutely. But perfect? Meh... I dunno.

Obviously these are all my opinions, but having used it for a couple of weeks I feel like the sensor renders beautifully. No issues there. Colors are great, especially considering my last experience was with a Nikon D70 when it came out in 2004 and the colors from that camera were... lackluster. It definitely has a little bit of that filmic look that Fuji brings to the table, but leans into that slightly warmer tone similar to Canon's color science. It certainly doesn't have the sterile, digital feel of a Sony sensor.

I have both the 28SE and 40SE. The 40 is an exceptional lens. The 28 has... character. Some vignetting that I don't mind, but it's decently sharp and both lenses are small and light and fit the aesthetic. I used a Thypoch Simera 28/1.4 on the ZF for a weekend in the mountains, but found it to be kinda clunky (more to do with the lens than the camera) so opted to just stick with my 28SE for now (at least until Voigtlander gives us a small, 28mm prime native to ZF).

The VF is nice. The camera feels nice in the hand once a grip is added (I use the SmallRig one). Battery life is really surprisingly good. The dials all feel nice. I use mine in Av mode for the most part and have mapped my aperture control to the back thumb wheel so with the camera to my eye, I can use my thumb to adjust aperture and then slide it up one to access the exposure compensation if I want. It works well for me.

Autofocus is so incredibly fast and accurate. Coming from the X100V and XPro3 it's night-and-day. Unreal just how fast the ZF is (in other areas as well). Crazy.

Nikon is never going to redesign lenses to include aperture rings. The ZF feels like Nikon's attempt at sneaking a few folks away from Fuji and leaning into that sort of 'film meets digital' vibe, but I don't see the ZF being a large portion of their production. I do think we'll see a ZF2, and if we do, I'd like it to have a tilt screen instead of a fully articulating one and a better grip that doesn't require an add-on grip.

I think companies like Sigma will eventually follow-up their already robust lens lineup with FX-compatible Z-Mount lenses, and I hope they do so with the little Contemporary primes with the aperture rings as I think those would compliment the ZF really nicely for those that want AF. For those that are ok with MF and want native glass, I'd like to see Voigtlander develop the Z-Mount lineup a little more with a 28 and maybe a 75 or 90.

It's not a perfect camera. It does a lot of things right. It's quirky in a lot of ways. I think it's fun to use. I think it can be a serious camera for a serious photographer. I think there are smaller, lighter, quieter cameras for street use, but I also think the ZF can do street photography well as the shutter is nicely damped with a good, not overly 'slappy' sound and the camera, as a whole, doesn't present as a big professional camera the way a Z9 or something would.

I like it. I'll keep it for a bit. Ultimately, I'd like to move into the Leica M ecosystem, but I think even if I do, I'd keep the ZF as an autofocus camera for when I'm feeling lazy and just want to grab a camera and chase my kid.



May 15, 2024 at 12:43 PM
coralnut
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p.4 #15 · p.4 #15 · Nikon Zf, the perfect street photography camera?


1bwana1 wrote:
The built in adapter style that many third party lens manufacturers are supplying do nothing to optically take advantage of the wide Z mount. Most also have no electronic correction. They just make the lenses larger, heavier, and less attractive. An additional price to pay for this approach in the less optimal shooting experience.


The larger, heavier and less attractive thing doesn't appeal to me -- especially when coupled with a body that is reduced size, and makes handling big heavy lenses difficult, especially in a portrait orientation. When you go vertical the Zf does not handle well, and it handles quite poorly with big ass lenses. For some reason people don't talk about that b/c they're so enamored with the retro look of the camera and it's incremental improvements in AF that they ignore a lot of it's weaknesses.

I hate to be the guy that sidetracks a thread about street shooting, so I'll be brief with this point -- I have to praise the the D8x0 cameras for the optimal shooting experience when laden by heavy lenses, giving them the nod to the feel-in-hand and overall handling of those cameras when fully equipped with the battery grip and loaded down with a huge lens. Those cameras are designed to be in-hand all day long and they're actually quite comfortable to shoot all day long without making your hands tired. I can't say that for the Zf, 6 or 7. (Sorry for the sidetrack)

In the end, the Zf is a character camera primarily based on a retro look, and perhaps some level of a retro shooting experience.. That is significantly negatively affected by using adapted lenses with adapter whether built in or separate. As I have said, hopefully better choices are on the way.


I don't know how great a level of retro shooting experience you can get when all of the OEM lenses designed for it lack aperture rings, and the camera itself lacks aperture ring sensors. That and the kludge methods that people have had to go through with the AF lenses to get them to work for zone focusing has been a nightmare for some. So I don't really think of the Zf as a retro camera. It doesn't really function in a retro way. To me it's more of a retro-look novelty camera. Though it's aesthetically appearing on the outside, it's still very much non-retro on the inside.

Because it is a character camera, Nikon hasn't been consistently supporting cameras like it. The Z line of cameras is given generic names with generation modifiers, like Z6, Z6ii, and Z7, Z7ii. But the retro line of cameras doesn't have that ... yet. Nor is there constant availability of the retro models -- they come and then they go away. We don't have a Dfii or Zfcii and I don't know whether we'll ever see a Zfii. Nikon would actually have to commit to the retro cameras as a stable model line rather than a curiosity for that to happen. If they decide to go that route, my interest will be in the full density sensor camera, not the intermediate sensor density cameras we've seen so far.

I'd really like to see a camera with retro controls, modern ergonomics and a high res sensor. As much as I like my old FM2N and appreciate the homage paid to it with the Zf retro styling, the FM2N ergonomics weren't worth copying as it's ergonomics never compared well to the F series.






May 15, 2024 at 12:45 PM
atnpro
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p.4 #16 · p.4 #16 · Nikon Zf, the perfect street photography camera?


Any camera can be used for street photography. Back in the day, even 8x10 large format cameras were used to document street life. For me, however, my go-to camera for this genre at the moment is Ricoh GR3/GR3x.


May 15, 2024 at 01:24 PM
taildraggin
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p.4 #17 · p.4 #17 · Nikon Zf, the perfect street photography camera?


1bwana1 wrote:
Having shot both the Zf is not a poor man's M. It is just a cheaper camera. It is not even close in ergonomics, sensor (recent models M10R and above, Zf years old sensor from Z6), shooting experience, build, available glass, glass with the "right" haptics to compare to M glass. The Zf is a lower end mirrorless camera with a retro look, but no retro experience. I guess if what you mean by "does everything the M can do" is that it captures images digitally then maybe. But, my cell phone does that too.

Still, I have a number of
...Show more

you seem upset about the Zf. does that mean you agree the GR is better than the M for street photography?




May 15, 2024 at 02:03 PM
Steve Spencer
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p.4 #18 · p.4 #18 · Nikon Zf, the perfect street photography camera?


matthewm wrote:
Having used a bunch of Fuji cameras over the last 10 years or so, and also having lots of experience with Canon gear from the DSLR and early R-Mirrorless days, and also using Sony off and on, I have to say, I think the Nikon ZF is kind of a weird hybrid of all of the above. I just got mine a couple weeks ago, and I'm really pleased with it so far, but it is far from a perfect camera. Is it a great first attempt at a more analog experience in a digital camera? Absolutely. But perfect? Meh...
...Show more

I just thought I would point out that Voigtlander does have the 75 f/1.5 now available in Z mount. You can also use their F mount 28 f/2.8 and the 90 f/2.8 APO easily with an FTZ adapter. The real gap in their line up, in my view, is between 15mm and 28mm where they don't have anything in either Z or F mount. You can adapt Sony E mount or Leica M lenses in that range or others, however.



May 15, 2024 at 02:26 PM
1bwana1
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p.4 #19 · p.4 #19 · Nikon Zf, the perfect street photography camera?


taildraggin wrote:
you seem upset about the Zf. does that mean you agree the GR is better than the M for street photography?



Not at all upset about the Zf. I think it is a cool fun camera. That is why I hope that the ecosystem for it is developed to reach its potential. Never shot the GR so no opinion on that.



May 15, 2024 at 05:13 PM
thenoilif
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p.4 #20 · p.4 #20 · Nikon Zf, the perfect street photography camera?


oguruma wrote:
While I having nothing against the Voigtlander lenses for what they are, they don't offer auto-focus or the same variety of aperture/focal lengths that the Fuji X-Mount lenses do, and even if those options were available, I find the Fuji would still be more pleasant to use due to the lack of a need for an MASP selector.

Sure, the jpegs that come from the Zf (and most of the Z cameras, honestly) are great, but the film simulations offer something special that the Nikons don't, though that might not be important to everybody.



Nikon picture controls have 10 slots for custom "film simulations" and there are options to download "simulations of Fuji film simulations" so you can have them if you want. I've done it and they are pretty much spot on. They also have sims for Kodak and other notable film stocks.



May 16, 2024 at 12:10 AM
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