Leaked Nikon Zf images suggest retro mirrorless camera could divide opinion

The Nikon Zfc camera on a grey background
(Image credit: Nikon)

The Nikon Zf is one of the most exciting cameras we're hoping to see this year, but the first leaked images of the retro full-frame wonder suggest it could divide opinion among fans. 

Nikon Rumors has shared three photos of the incoming camera, which is expected to be a full-frame version of the Nikon Z fc, plus the video below. And they show a camera that looks very similar to the hobbyist-friendly Z fc, rather than the more pro-focused powerhouse some have been hoping for.

The camera's close resemblance to the Z fc should bring one benefit for travel photographers – the Zf will, based on the leaked images, likely be Nikon's smallest full-frame camera and also potentially cheaper than the Nikon Z6 II (which launched for $2,000 / £1,999 / AU$3,399 in 2020).

The only minor differences from the Z fc appear to be a slightly bigger grip (if one that's nowhere near as deep as the one on its Z6 and Z7 range) and a new 'B&W' option in the mode dial. The larger viewfinder also suggests that the Zf could also have an improved electronic viewfinder, which would be nigh-on essential for a full-frame camera.   

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It doesn't look like the Nikon Zf will have a top-plate LCD for checking settings, and some other disappointments for pro shooters could be the apparent lack of an autofocus joystick or an AF-On button for back-button focusing (a technique often used by action and wildlife photographers).

Still, earlier rumors suggest that the Nikon Zf's biggest upgrades over the Z fc will be internal ones. It's expected to have in-body image stabilization (which appears to be present on the rear screen of Nikon Rumors' leaked images), two memory card slots (an improvement on the Z fc's single slot), and autofocus performance that ranks alongside the Nikon Z5 and Nikon Z6 II.

With a 24.4MP BSI full-frame sensor, improved build quality and Nikon's first high-res Pixel Shift mode also rumored, the Nikon Zf still definitely sounds like a promising option for keen amateurs. If not a primary camera for pro shooters looking for a retro-flavored Nikon Z8.

Analysis: More of a retro Nikon Z6, than a Z8

While our Nikon Z fc review called that camera "a triumph of design at an honest price", others were disappointed by its build quality, small grip and APS-C sensor. These leaked images suggest the Nikon Zf will address some of those concerns, without being quite as 'pro' as some are hoping for.

Like the Z fc, the Zf will again be inspired by the old Nikon FM2 (above) and the later FM3A, without going into full replica territory. The FM2 was, after all, a fully mechanical, battery-free workhorse that was known for being virtually indestructible, while the FM3A was Nikon's last fully-manual SLR.

The Nikon Zf, meanwhile, looks like it'll combine some of that spirit with the practical trade-offs that come with cramming in the latest mirrorless tech, like IBIS and a big electronic viewfinder. We're looking forward to seeing how much that build quality has improved from the Z fc and if there's now full weather-sealing, but it still looks more like hobbyist tool than a professional one.

Some may have preferred Nikon to go the whole hog and include AF joysticks, bigger grips and more, but the Zf's small size and modern full-frame specs could be a fine combination – if the price is right. According to the rumors, it looks like we'll find out the latter more when the Zf fully launches sometime between August and the end of September.

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Mark Wilson
Senior news editor

Mark is TechRadar's Senior news editor. Having worked in tech journalism for a ludicrous 17 years, Mark is now attempting to break the world record for the number of camera bags hoarded by one person. He was previously Cameras Editor at Trusted Reviews, Acting editor on Stuff.tv, as well as Features editor and Reviews editor on Stuff magazine. As a freelancer, he's contributed to titles including The Sunday Times, FourFourTwo and Arena. And in a former life, he also won The Daily Telegraph's Young Sportswriter of the Year. But that was before he discovered the strange joys of getting up at 4am for a photo shoot in London's Square Mile.