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Retro? Not Going Back Quite That Far Share This on LinkedIn   Tweet This   Forward This

30 June 2021

Oh, the retro thing. We can't be the only one who remembers it wasn't what it's cracked up to be. It's great to be young -- unless you're young. It would be preferable to be young when you're old. That's the attraction of the retro thing.

The Nikon Z fc is just the latest fiddling on heart strings, as Herman Melville put it in The Confidence Man.

Compared to the other Nikon Z bodies, the confused offspring of digicam and dSLR interfaces, it has its attractions. It looks like a Z that will handle like a Nikon.

But the real comparison isn't with Nikon's other Z bodies. For us it's with what we already use. For you it may just be what else is available.

That's the trick to overcoming Gear Acquisition Syndrome, by the way. Compare those new features to what you already use. Or at the very least Something Else.

In this case, the small fc body isn't as small as our Micro Four Thirds Olympus E-PL1 with 14-42mm II R kit lens (shown above). And it lacks the hand grip, which we are always grateful to have. In fact, to get a handgrip on our FM or FE, we had to attach the bulky MD-12 motordrive.

Then there's the viewfinder. The Olympus has an articulated EVF, which we greatly appreciate and use all the time. The fc has an articulated LCD, which is to be applauded but not as handy.

Call it a tie, if you want. But we prefer the articulated EVF out in the field, where it counts.

Long ago we mused on the ideal camera design. We decided it was embodied by an old SLR, which had a dial for everything thst mattered.

Today the most popular camera design motif is an output format (the screen) used as an image capturing device (the phone). It was never suited for that function and remains frustrating to use.

The hybrid designs that mix physical controls with multi-level menu systems seem to have been inspired by the idea that if a dedicated control is too expensive for the function, it can be stuffed in the menu system.

What we really want is something simple enough for our muscles to remember: aperture, shutter, ISO controls at our fingertips. With one hand wrapped around a substantial grip so we don't forget what we're doing.

Oh, and in-body image stabilization so all our shots are stabilized.

Which is what we get with the Olympus. Still. So call us a little bit retro if you must but we're not going back to our FM2.

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