Urban street photography with the mirrorless Nikon Z fc
What happens when two photographers from different generations head out to photograph city streets together with the Nikon Z fc mirrorless camera?
Meet the father and son who spent a day with the iconic-looking Nikon Z fc on the streets of Stuttgart.
Constantin Schiller is a photographer, influencer, and co-owner of a creative agency. Architecture, art, and design are his passions, and he likes to approach them from a fresh angle.
Constantin’s father, Dr Gregor Renner, is an engineer and passionate amateur photographer whose history with Nikon products goes all the way back to the Nikon FE2 SLR film camera. Dr Renner likes to take his time to capture life’s moments, a legacy of his days shooting film and teaching himself the principles of classic photography.
With the Z fc mirrorless camera, there couldn’t be a better link between photographic generations in this family. The Z fc takes its design cues from the iconic FM — the Nikon film camera that preceded the FE2, which Dr Renner used. Could the iconic-looking Z fc, with its alluring blend of innovative Nikon Z tech and old-school looks, be a bridge between the photographic styles of father and son?
Show what you see
For Constantin and his father, the art of image-making is the art of showing everyone else what you see. In an urban setting, it’s all about finding the viewpoint that makes the difference.
The Z fc is a great camera for going out and finding new ways to view subjects. Constantin loves to go for the extreme angles that make his photos so immediately arresting, and he makes full use of the Z fc camera’s vari-angle touchscreen monitor.
A reflection, in water or in a window, is a great way to create a new vision of a familiar location. You can avoid dark reflections by keeping the sun at your back — and shooting at a low angle will increase the amount of reflection in the shot. The touchscreen controls mean you can focus on an area of the scene and snap a photo simply by tapping the LCD.
Experiment with framing
Out on the streets of Stuttgart, Constantin and his father challenged each other to frame photos in different ways. Dr Renner likes to take his time and create the perfect image in the moment, just as it was in his analogue days. He challenges Constantin to slow down and frame his image perfectly, rather than using post-production to perfect the image after shooting.
With the Z fc, you can choose a classic 3x3 or a 4x4 grid using the gridline settings that you can find in the custom settings menu tab. A handy tip is to use the camera’s custom display options to link gridlines to the function button: that way, you can instantly activate/deactivate the grid while shooting.
A 3x3 grid makes it easy to frame the asymmetrical images that Dr Renner prefers — using the ‘rule of thirds’, in which the subject is placed in the left or right-hand third of the frame. Constantin prefers symmetric framing and breaking the rules for creative impact. The 4x4 framing grid is perfect for this: you can use the centre line to place your subject in the absolute centre of the image.
The Z fc also lets you change the ratio of the image you take. Constantin challenges his father to break his own rules and create images with a modern, cinematic aesthetic by choosing the 16:9 (24x14) image area (go to photo shooting menu /choose image area). The wider field of view you get when shooting in 16:9 encourages a more creative approach to architectural photography. 16:9 works best in landscape orientation, like the image on a modern TV — and that means you’ll need to concentrate on details rather than trying to frame the whole building.
Constantin finds that shooting through the viewfinder on the Z fc does make him slow down: “Looking through the [viewfinder] display opened some memories for me […] I took more time for each picture. I appreciated the moment more.”
Go old school!
Constantin loves how nostalgic his dad gets when he’s using the Nikon Z fc camera. Dr Renner says that using the camera felt like he was coming home: he particularly enjoyed using the Z fc camera dials, which let you control shutter speed, exposure compensation, and ISO.
Constantin gets nostalgic too. By fitting the Z mount adapter to the Z fc, he can shoot with his dad’s old AI Nikkor F-mount lenses and take full advantage of their unique character. If you’re using old lenses and focusing manually with the Z fc, you can use focus peaking to confirm focus in the monitor or the viewfinder.
Whatever your generation, the Nikon Z fc is a mirrorless camera that gets right to the heart of what it means to be a photographer.
After all, as Dr Renner says: “For me it’s important that I can provide something for my children, so why not lenses or camera? Then they know what I did, and they can maybe transfer it to the future. For me this is really important, because it’s much more than just taking pictures.”
Constantin agrees: “The Nikon Z fc is old style, but with the newest technology… I’m pretty thankful how my father taught me photography back then, but with the Nikon Z fc there are more options than we’ve ever had. With the Nikon Z fc and its new display, I am able to get more shots and be more flexible.”
Watch Constantin and Dr Renner roam the streets with the Nikon Z fc:
Capturing urban sport on the streets of Paris with the Nikon Z 50
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