Nikon mirrorless APS-C cameras
For those of you following us on this blog, you probably didn’t miss the last article I wrote about the Nikon mirorrless full-frame mirrorless camera using the new Nikon Z mount. Today, we are going to talk about another range of cameras proposed by Nikon, the APS-C mirrorless cameras. At the time of writing this page, Nikon is currently offering only two APS-C mirrorless camera using the new Z-mount, the Z50, and the Z Fc, with the same mount as the FF mirrorless of the brand. This article will obviously be updated when Nikon will offer other mirrorless APS-C cameras. If you are still hesitating for your purchase, I invite you to have a look at the page listing all the Nikon Z lenses available (both for APS-C and FF).
In fall 2018, Nikon followed suit these new full frame cameras (Nikon Z6 & Z7) and offered a new camera with a more modest sensor size, using the new Z-mount: the Z50. Unlike the Z6 & Z7 which are equipped with a full-frame sensor, this entry-level camera uses an APS-C sensor. Nikon is keen to expand its new mirrorless camera ecosystem with this APS-C camera using Z-mount lenses (although the choice of lenses dedicated to the APS-C is more than limited at the moment). In the summer of 2021, Nikon released a new camera, the Nikon Z Fc. As you probably already know, I am not in the habit of detailing in depth every technical feature of a body. But let’s see together what the Z50 offers and the differences with the other mirrorless cameras of the brand, as well as what Nikon rather skipped over to be able to offer a camera with a good quality/price ratio. The Z50 is now in such a position it can challenge its competitors that have already been in place for some time, such as Fujifilm’s XT-30 or the Canon EOS M6 Mark II.
Summer 2022, in order to further expand its range and to focus on young content creators starting out, the brand released a new APS-C sensor mirrorless camera: the Nikon Z30. This is the third camera to use this Z-mount
If you’re still hesitating about making the leap into the world of mirrorless cameras, it might be worth looking at what other brands are proposing. Canon has just announced the release of their first two Canon RF APS-C cameras.
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- 10/22/2022 : Addition of the new Nikon Z30, released in July 2022
Nikon APS-C mirrorless cameras
If you are still hesitating about the body you want, here is our complete guide to help you choose your camera. It includes all the elements to know to do the right choice.
Here’s a quick tour of the Z50’s technical specifications. While Nikon has offered some interesting video features on the Z6 and Z7 cameras, the Z50 is clearly more photo oriented. The first interesting thing to point out is the fact that this camera is built without a low-pass filter, like the Z7/Z7 II – favorite full-frame mirrorless cameras for photography at Nikon. I won’t explain again the importance of the low pass filter, as you can refer to the dedicated paragraph in my article on Nikon mirrorless full-frame cameras. However, note that this is the only Nikon Z mirrorless camera without a stabilized sensor. This may discourage some people, but we do understand that Nikon wanted to do without certain technologies to be able to offer an affordable camera. This body is noted as tropicalized, therefore weatherproof.
Regarding photographic characteristics, this camera features a 20.9mpx sensor, an ISO sensitivity ranging from 100 to 51200 ISO, a burst rate allowing to shoot 11 frames per second in RAW, a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000 and 209 focusing points. Nikon has chosen to place a single SD UHS-I port under the camera. For connectors, there is a microphone jack, a micro USB and micro HDMI jack. No USB-C here, nor even a headphone jack. The autonomy of this camera is almost identical to the Nikon Z6, which is about 300 shots. As for video, the Z50 offers 4K/UHD limited to 30p. For speeds up to 120i/s, you’ll have to turn to FHD.
In addition to a very reasonable price, the Z50 is compact and lightweight (395g) compared to the Z6 and Z7. Its autofocus is also considered to be very responsive, it has a good burst rate, no low-pass filter and the same sensor as the Z6/Z7 (and Mark II), the BSI CMOS. Note that it also has a built-in flash.
Of course, it is not in the same range as full-frame mirrorless Nikon cameras. The resolution of the sensor appears a little low (only 20.9MP), it is not stabilized, the viewfinder resolution is smaller (2.36MP against 3.6MP for the Z6/Z7), a single slot positioned under the camera body, a maximum shutter speed limited to 1/4000 and a smaller number of AF points. Also note the impossibility of placing a grip, an LCD screen resolution twice as low as the Z6/Z7 and the non-detection of eyes in video. Also, another important thing to note in my opinion: the choice of lenses dedicated to APS-C sensors is currently more than limited in Z-mount. But this will surely evolve very quickly.
Nikon Z Fc
Released this summer 2021, the Z Fc is the second Nikon APS-C camera using the Z mount. Nikon keeps developing its APS-C mirrorless range with here a nearly-clone of the Z50, in a vintage-looking body reminiscent of the brand’s classic FM and FE series DSLRs. This new camera clearly targets a younger audience, concerned with the style of their camera, and especially young vloggers.
The Z Fc is built around the same 20.9MP sensor as the Nikon Z50, but features dedicated ISO, shutter speed and exposure compensation dials to go along with its retro styling. Like the Z50, its ISO sensitivity goes from ISO 100 to 51200 and its burst rate is 11 frames per second in RAW. When it comes to video, the Z Fc shoots in 4K, limited to 30p without cropping, and 120p in FHD.
Of course, we still have a few new features that allow it not to be considered a simple upgraded Z50. Firstly, a real time eye autofocus in video mode. For stills, there’s better control over face and eye autofocus. Secondly, a fully articulated screen. The Z Fc is the first Z-mount camera featuring a fully articulated rear LCD. Then, in terms of connectivity, a USB-C power supply has been added. And lastly, you’ll be able to accept firmware updates from a smartphone.
Nikon Z Fc successfully takes the design of the company’s film cameras. It’s not the best in its class, like the Z50, but it’s still a solid, high-performance camera for photography and vlogging. All this for a very good quality/price ratio.
Released in July 2022, the Nikon Z30 is the third mirrorless APS-C camera in the series, after the Nikon Z50 and the Nikon Z fc, which target even more vloggers and content creators.
Like its two predecessors, the new Z30 has the same build quality and very similar photography and video capabilities. But… there’s a design for everyone.
Inside this small (405g) body, you’ll find the 20.9MP sensor of the other APS-C mirrorless and the Expeed 6 processor, ISO sensitivity still extends from ISO 100 to 51200 and burst rate is 11 fps. But eye, human face and pet recognition have been improved. When it comes to video, the Z30 shoots in 4K UHD at 30p, and for 120 fps footage, you’ll have to settle for Full HD. A big improvement over the Z50 and ZFc, the Z30 has no 4K recording limitations. As for the connectivity, there is an HDMI socket and a microphone input.
The body looks very similar to the existing Z50 but without the viewfinder and with a new feature, a flashlight. From its big brother, it benefits from a pleasant grip and a well thought out dual wheel control interface. The buttons have been rearranged to make it easier to access the REC button when holding the camera in the front facing position. From the Z Fc, it takes over the articulating rear screen, which engages a self-portrait mode with simplified touch controls that can be used at arm’s length. This feature makes sense when you consider for whom this camera is intended. What’s new is the ability to set exposure compensation in auto mode.
The Z 30 is the least expensive of the series. It’s a great value for the novice vlogger with its compact viewfinder-less video-oriented design.
Nikon APS-C mirrorless cameras - Main characteristics
Here are the main characteristics summarized in the table below.
|Nikon Zfc||Nikon Z30|
|Released date||october 2019||june 2021||july 2022|
|Sensor Resolution||20.9 MP||20.9 MP||20.9 MP|
|Weight (with Battery and Card)||450g||445g||405g|
|Dimensions (W×H×D)||127 × 94 × 60 mm||135 × 94 × 44 mm||128 × 73,5 × 59,5 mm|
|In-Body Image Stabilization||NO||NO||NO|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||300 images||300 images||300 images|
|Image Processor||EXPEED 6||EXPEED 6||EXPEED 6|
|Flash Max. Sync Speed||1/200s||1/200s||1/200s|
|Viewfinder Type & Resolution||Electronic (2.36 MP)||Electronic (2.36 MP)||Electronic (2.36 MP)|
|Wi-Fi / Bluetooth||YES||YES||YES|
|Ecran LCD Articulé||Fully articulated||Tilt only||Fully articulated|
|LCD Resolution||1,02 Mpts||1,02 Mpts||1,02 Mpts|
|Weather Sealed Body||YES||YES||YES|
|Eye AF in Video||NO||YES||YES|
|Low-Light AF Sensitivity||-4 / 19 EV||-4.2 / 19.3 EV||-4 / 19 EV|
|ISO (extended)||100 - 51 200 (204 800)||100 - 51 200 (204 800)||100 - 51 200 (204 800)|
|Memory card||1× SD, UHS-I (compatible)||1× SD, UHS-I (compatible)||1× SD, UHS-I (compatible)|
|USB Version||USB 2||USB-C||USB-C|
|Max Continuous Shooting Speed||11i/s||11i/s||11i/s|
|Video Maximum Resolution||4K UHD 30 i/s||4K UHD 30 i/s||4K UHD 30 i/s|
|Shutter Speed Range (Min / Max)||30 s - 1/4 000 s||30 s - 1/4 000 s||30 s - 1/4 000 s|
By the way, in case you are interested in this mount, we just published a full guide featuring the best Nikon Z wide-angle lenses. We mainly discuss full-frame lenses (that are more numerous) and we already mention wide-angle lenses which we consider interesting to look at for Nikon Z APS-C cameras.
Which Nikon APS-C mirrorless to choose?
The choice is not huge at the moment. Let’s talk about the Z50 first. Then, who is it intended for? I would tend to say: to the amateurs of beautiful pictures who don’t necessarily have the financial means to switch to full frame, but also to semi-professionals who are already equipped with a full frame camera, whether it’s a mirrorless or a DSLR, and who are looking for a compact, lightweight camera with good photographic features. Admittedly, this camera is not stabilized, offers a limited maximum shutter speed (but not very annoying in real life), a single SD port and an overall quality of construction a little below than what is done in the full-frame range. But if we can overlook these points, the Z50 might be ideal for beginners or for your own use. By the way, no camera is perfect, each one has its own flaws and qualities. The most important thing is to find a body that meets your expectations, your needs and of course your budget.
With the release of the Z Fc, Nikon is clearly targeting a younger audience, interested in owning a fashionable camera to share photos and videos on social media. The Z50 already offered excellent still image performance and twenty “Creative Capture” image processing modes, but the Z Fc’s fully articulated screen, powerful AF system and external mic make it an attractive camera for people interested in vlogs. Too bad the sensor isn’t still stabilized.
Among the three in the pack, the Nikon Z30 is clearly targeting young beginner vloggers, promising better quality and more creativity than a smartphone. The video quality is there. The fully articulated touchscreen and headlamp are very handy. The Nikon 16-50mm zoom lens, offered as a kit, is a “good lens” allowing for good quality wide-angle views. Unfortunately, there is still no sensor stabilization, and above all the Z30 does not have a headphone jack. So there is no way to control the captured sound.
I’m coming to the end of this page on Nikon APS-C mirrorless cameras. I hope you have learned a bit more anyway. If you are considering buying a Nikon mirrorless camera, you can also have a look at the article about Nikon full-frame mirrorless cameras.
This page will of course be updated as the new APS-C releases of the brand come out.
Don’t hesitate to tell me what you think of this camera in comment.