2other Nikon cameras in my collection:

 

JapanNikon FG [1982 - 1984]

 

Overview

Although not immediately obvious from a quick glance, the FG was a further development of the EM ... and it packed in many additional features. It was Nikon's first multimode AE camera.

graphThe A setting is for Auto aperture-priority exposure mode. P is Program mode, where the camera's microcomputer selects both the aperture and shutter speed for any strength of lighting. The lens should be set to f/11 or the smallest possible aperture to fully exploit this mode. A blinking viewfinder LED alerts the user to select the smallest aperture - if they have failed to do so. The third option is Manual mode, in which the meter remains active but the user can select any combination of shutter speeds and lens apertures.

Other highlights include step-less shutter speeds from 1 to 1/1000th second (in P and A modes). Manually selected speeds are accurately quartz timed, and there's an under/over exposure warning beep (as found on the EM, and in addition to the viewfinder warning LEDs), but the FG's beeper also indicates slow shutter speeds (below 1/30th), and can be switched off if a beeping camera isn't to your liking. B is obviously a mechanical speed, so also functions as a meter off-switch. The meter is otherwise activated by a half press of the shutter release.

Nikon FGThe FG is also equipped with TTL OTF (off the film) flash metering - when used with a dedicated Nikon flash unit. This is accomplished via an SPD cell at the base of the Mirror Box, which faces backward and measures light reflected from the film plane.

The Nikon FG was aimed at the amateur user, and lacked the bomb-proof robustness of other models. I know that Nikon aficionados look down on this camera, but it was nevertheless very well specified, and a glimpse into the future of cameras ... including Nikons yet to come.

According to a advertisement in a November 1983 edition of SLR Camera, a large mail order camera seller offered the FG for £194.40, with an f/1.8 Nikkor lens. The price of the lens separately was £59.00, making the cost of the FG body £135.40. In 1983, the average UK weekly wage was about £195.00.

 

 

Specifications

Lens mount: Nikon F bayonet.

Diagram of Nikon EM viewfinderFocus: Fixed eye level pentaprism and approximately 92% of the frame coverage. Fixed Nikon K-type focusing screen with clear-matte/Fresnel field and central split-image rangefinder spot surrounded by micro-prism collar and 12 mm diameter reference circle which denotes area of center-weighted metering. Finder magnification 0.84X (50mm lens set at infinity). Viewfinder information comprises shutter speed scale with LED display, under/over exposure warning signal, and flash ready light when used with Nikon Speedlight.

Shutter: Electronically controlled vertical-travel metal focal-plane shutter. Step-less speeds from 1 sec - 1/1000th sec. on P (Programmed) and A (Automatic) modes; 11 speeds l - l/l000th sec. on Manual. Quartz shutter speed timing with mechanically controlled, 1/90sec. at M90 and B settings. Cancellable self-timer of approx. 10 sec. exposure delay.

Meter: TTL center-weighted full-aperture measurement via one silicon photodiode (SPD). Meter switched on when shutter release button is pressed halfway, and stays switched on for approx. 16 seconds after finger is lifted off button. During blank exposure before the frame counter reaches 1, the 1/60th and 1/125th LEDs light. The meter will not work until the frame counter is at 1 (this is stated clearly in the user manual, and not a misinterpretation - like that relating to the EM).

Exposure: P (program) light intensity feedback type; step-less shutter speed and aperture set automatically. A (Automatic) aperture priority automatic with step-less shutter speed set automatically. In Manual mode the camera suggested shutter speed LED blinks, while the use selected speed lights continuously. Program dial has a locking button. Beep-beep under/over exposure warning sound, activated when shutter release button is pressed halfway if shutter speed is approx. 1/30 sec. and below, or approx. 1/1000sec. and above. Can be turned off via audio warning lever. Exposure compensation of +2EV to -2EV by 1/2 stop increments. Exposure compensation dial has a locking button. A front mounted button adjusts exposure by +2EV (like the Nikon EM): in P mode the adjustment is one stop on the shutter speed and one on the aperture, in A mode the adjustment is two stops on the shutter speed.

Film Speed: 12 to 3200 ASA.

Flash: Hot shoe only. X-sync speeds of up to 1/90th sec. with electronic flash. With any dedicated Nikon Speedlight flash sync speed is automatically set to l/90th sec. when shutter speed/mode selector is set at P or A.

Film Advance: Ratchet type rapid wind lever. 144° advance angle.

Frame Counter: Automatic count-up and reset.

Rewind: Via crank and bottom release button.

Size: 136mm (W) x 87.5 mm (H) x 54 mm (D).

Weight: 490g.

Battery: Two 1.5V silver-oxide batteries (LR44 type).

 

My Camera

I bought my FG for £23.00 in September 2015, without a lens, but it did come with a winder (a Nikon MD-E). I knew I would be out when the eBay auction ended, so I put in an early bid with no expectations of winning the camera ... leading to shock when I returned home to find I had to cough-up twenty-three quid (Gulp). It's the most expensive camera in my collection, but £23 is a pretty low price for one of these (especially with a motor drive attached, user manual, a viewfinder and body cap, and batteries fitted in camera and drive), and I have been after one for ages.

The MD-E winder, designed originally and specifically for the EM, attaches to the bottom of the camera easily (screws into the tripod bush). Pictures are taken using the camera's shutter button, and wind-on automatically follows exposure. When you hold the shutter button down, it shoots continuously at two frames per second (2 fps). An LED on the back of the MD-E lights up each time the camera fires and glows continuously when the film is at an end and needs rewinding. The MD-E uses six AAA-type batteries, and also fits the FG and FG-20. With a fresh set of alkaline, it can handle 50 rolls of 36-exposure film (that's 1,800 pictures).

My FG appears to be fully functional, and in good condition. The viewfinder is very clear ... which is unusual; there's normally some sort of debris in an old camera. The light seals and mirror damper have perished to the point of non-existence, but I like replacing these. Yep ... I got a bargain for sure!

I like this camera. It's lightweight, and the size of an Olympus OM-1 (the exact same size actually): it's just got so much packed into its little plastic/metal body. I was going to re-sell the motor drive, but it's kinda cool. I might have to keep it. It certainly makes me appreciate how compact my motor driven Contax cameras are in comparison. The photographs show the camera fitted with the zoom lens borrowed from my Nikon EM.

The final camera in this Nikon range was the FG-20: a cut-down specification FG (which is a bit sad, and it isn't a model that holds any appeal).

 

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