Nikon FG, 1982 Part II
Nikon Super Compact Bodies EM, FG & FG-20

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Programmed AE (Automatic Exposure) Mode
If you can accept the Nikon EM, there is no reasons why you should not be able to accept the Nikon FG. The FG is more sophisticated in terms of user control features. First on the list is its exposure control. If you have just bought a Nikon FG, don't worry, it is not that difficult. You just have to remember a few steps and start from there. That is all. Just rotate the shutter speed dial (illustrated at the left) to the orange 'P' and set the aperture on your lens to the highest f-number (high f-numbers give small apertures). Then you are ready to try the programmed auto mode with the Nikon FG.

Since it was considered as a 'new feature' in a Nikon during the early eighties, Nikon designed the FG's 'P' (Programmed) mode works like this: all the data necessary to calculate exposure, including film speed, f/stop, exposure compensation (if any), and subject brightness as measured by a sensitive SPD sensor, is converted to electronic signals and fed immediately into the FG's microcomputer which in turns, work out and suggest a programmed combination of aperture and shutter speed.

You cannot deny the fact autoexposure control like the program auto mode used in the FG is a more responsive way of photography compared with manual or even other auto mode such as aperture priority or shutter priority AE. Moments when you'd rather compose than calculate. The FG's metering system handles by microcomputer reads center-weighted brightness, then instantaneously computes and sets the ideal combination of stepless lens opening and stepless shutter speed from 1 to 1/1000 second according to its scientifically prearranged program. In theory, nothing could be simpler than this, more accurate or more dependable. But you will still need to handle and monitor a few things and control such as, setting lens aperture to its minimum value, make sure the shutter speed selected is within a permissible hand holdable level etc.

Pgrm Chart.jpg

Shown at the right is the program chart for the Nikon FG. Metering range if from: EV 1 to EY 18 (i.e., f/1.4 at 1 sec. to f/16 at 1/1000sec. at ASA/ISO 100 and with 50mm f/1.4 lens)


The FG has not provided with an Auto Exposure (AE) Lock. You can use this backlight exposure compensation button to automatically adjust for exposure in situation where contrasty scene requires more exposure to compensate.

You can also make use of the exposure compensation dial for fine control of half stop increments - the third is the conventional method of using film speed scale to fool the meter circuit. But the one touch button here should be convenient enough for more responsive operation should you require to react quickly. In program mode you should set the lens to its smallest aperture in order to make the full range of apertures available. If the aperture is not set to f/11 or a higher f-number, the camera will give an error message - the HI and LOW LEDs will flash. FG's program mode works with all AI-coupled lenses (including AI-modified). This is possible because it uses a kind of 'instant stop down metering'. After the lens is stopped down but before the mirror flips up and the shutter opens, a last moment light metering will determine the final shutter speed. In fact the shutter speed indicated in the finder is only a rough guide (if the lens is not an AI-S type, having a standardized aperture stop down action). If exact shutter speed is important, use A or M mode instead of P mode (if an AI or AI'd lens is used). The 'instant stop down' method was improved in the multimode Nikon FA introduced a year later in 1983. FA will skip this procedure with an AI-S type lens.

Next, Audio warning system, first employed in the EM was retained and refined - which is activated by audio warning lever when shutter button is depressed halfway, it warns audibly of the above over- and underexposures, and when shutter speed is at l/30sec. or below and blur may result; if you find this irritating or when experience grows, this feature can also be turned off.

Well, the camera does have a couple of considerate features to help or remind you to take note of that. Such as inside the viewfinder, there will be alternately blinking warning LEDs in P mode preparation warning: aperture is not at its minimum opening.

Credit: Some of the section within the FG site was updated by: Lars Holst Hansen, in cooperation with Rick Housh

Aperture Priority AE Mode

This is also generally referred as the 'depth of field' or "Portrait" mode. With the FG's aperture-priority exposure automation mode, you select how small (Extended DOF) or large (Limited DOF) you want the aperture opening and the camera's microcomputer picks the shutter speed to match the opening of the diaphragm.

Dial-Aper AE.jpg
To many photographer (Including me), the Aperture Priority AE is a very logical choice, simple and most of all, you can use the DOF scale engraved on the lens or use your experience to set the aperture value. Nevertheless, you get more freedom to express yourself - especially in determining whether your whole photo or just your main subject is in clear focus. The very inconvenience of the Nikon FG, in this case, it lacks a depth of field preview lever when you are using a AE mode such as Aperture Priority AE.

When you are in this mode, the matching shutter speed to your preselected aperture is steplessly and automatically, anywhere from I to 1/1000 of a second. The same viewfinder LED and audio warning systems function on A as on P, making operation surer than ever.

Dial-Manual.jpg    LED Manual.gif
Manual Exposure Control

This is another area where the FG is more superior than the original EM in 1979 in terms of exposure control. As you are aware the EM has no manual mode. The FG also has the option to forego automation altogether and do it your own way on manual, setting both f/stop and shutter speed according to your own desires. The timing of all its manual shutter are controlled by quartz timed occsilator. The eleven speeds from 1 to 1/1000 second will be timed exactly as you set them.

What the camera interferes in your selection of shutter speed and aperture is rather just a guide, the viewfinder's blinking LED alerts you to what shutter speed the FG's computer would choose for the aperture you've set. Well, in a manual mode, you either can follow it. or you can ignore it (Deliberately under- or overexpose, create a blur of movement by setting a shutter speed slower than your moving subject etc.) or override what the computer would select on P or A when unusual lighting effects call for special combinations. But sometimes, manual mode provide a control where you can lock-in a specific setting (Shutter Speed + Aperture) for a given scene for a continuous shooting session without being affected by, say the background or momentarily changing light levels falling onto the subject of interest.

Dial M-90.jpg Additional worth mentioned features available in the Nikon FG


Besides P, A and manual modes, the M90 (1/90sec.) setting enables camera use when the battery is drained, and B is for long exposures. The 'M90' setting on the shutter speed ring is the life saving feature. Together with the time exposure 'B' setting, these two settings are controlled mechanical rather than electronically and are independent of battery power. So, just in case you are caught in such situation, just rotate the shutter speed dial to 'M90' and it should work. Sometimes, the 'M90' is also used to solve 'momentarily unstable behavior' of the shutter mechanism. (It sounds better than 'shutter Jam').

The hand grip design first seen in the Nikon F3 in 1980 was also used in the FG. Instead of a permanent grip, it is offered as detachable grip. You have to remove the grip before you can mount the MD-14 onto the FG. The self-timer lever is located just beside the grip. This gives you approx. 10 sec. before shutter release. It can be canceled any time before shooting by returning it to its original position.

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Quality of the User Manual is is less desirable, but still - it is a Manual in PDF format. Instruction Manual for Nikon FG (Extenal link) 4.1MB in PDF | Alternate Source Instruction Manual for Nikon FG in PDF (External Link @ CLICK HERE

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Credit: My nephew, EeWynwho has helped to convert the Owner's Manual of Nikon EM into HTML format. Also to a smart friend of mine who has just spent US60-00 for a EM body. A contributing site to a long lost friend on the Net. Made witha PowerMac