Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Nikon FA - Part I


File Size: HTML Page (22k) Loading ...

The NIkon FA is a multi-mode automatic camera. It was introduced in 1983. The same year, the old faithful automatic Nikon FE has an upgrade in FE2 with a revised titanium honeycomb pattern shutter based on the original shutter that was designed for the FM2 in 1982. The Nikon FA shares the same new shutter of the FE2 that has a faster vertical traveling time and flash sync of 1/250 sec as compared with the X200 of the FM2. The Nikon FA has some unique system design as well as exterior apperance, it was the first Nikon body that provides shutter priority automation along with an 'intellegent programmed' mode. Perhaps, when mentioned the FA, most people relate it directly with its metering system. The other major innovation in which a new metering system has been developed by Nikon. It was the first generation of the current popular Matrix Metering system. It was not called Matrix, instead, it was officially referred as 'AMP'', which stands for 'Automatic Multi Pattern metering system.
FA with 20mm.jpg (18k) Loading...
The Nikon FA was the most sophisticated manual focus Nikon camera ever produced. It packs with some original design features by Nikon. During early days of its debut, I noticed there were insufficient product knowledge and awareness being channelled properly to the users relates to Nikon FA's awesome capabilities. Confusion aroses mainly from lens compatibility and metering issue. Most Nikon followers were having such problems to maximize full potential of Nikon FA's metering and the few added automatic exposure control modes required AI-S lenses to function properly. In many ways, one cannot blames Nikon for not outlining the details of such issues. The AI-S was aready selling and replaced the AI Nikkors systematically prior to the FA. It has some improvement done and incorporating further communication methods between body and lens.

Looking backward, one may complainted that there were not many practical functions and benefits to change to AI-S lenses. In fact, it may even sound un-justify to invest into an AI-S lens - perhaps Nikon under-estimated the impact of the arrival of autofocus era (They were not alone..). To me, I would rather speculate that Nikon was intending to replace the AI-spec lenses by AI-S possibly in preparation for a newer breed of multi features SLRs - but was derailed by the sudden swift in market place after the highly successful debut of the first integrated autofocus SLR body, the Minolta Maxxum 7000.
Credit: Image coutesy of
"Ebay - Mathew Duren" <ebay@adorama> URL:, who also operates a popular Ebay Store. Image Copyright © 2003. All rights reserved. Adorama Inc. also can be contact at: Used & Collectible Ebay Department Adorama® Inc. 42 West 18th Street New York, N.Y. 10011 1-212-741-0052 1-880-223-2500 Option 55 Ext.119 FAX: 1-212-675-8715

All those years, Nikon camera has an distinctive disadvantage over the like of Canon or Minolta: The consistent F-mount that provided backward compatibility on its lenses. Features offered in a Nikon camera were less competitive, automatic exposure control like Programmed AE and Shutter Priority AE would not be possible without improve and refinement made to the F-mount. Among the few, Canon was the most aggressive; Minolta, despite the Rokkor lens has such feature embedded, the commercially highly successful X-700 has only three AE modes in Programmed, Aperture Priority AE and manual mode. The Pentax eventually introduced their new mount called Ka-Mount in 1984 and the first of a series of multimode SLRs were Super A and Super Program which also offered Programmed and Shutter priority AE. As all of us know, the Nikon EM in 1979 was the 'testbed' with AI-S feature in the Series E lenses and subsequently, the Nikkor was incorporated with such upgrades quietly started in 1980. All the Series E lenses, as you can recall, are AI-S lenses in nature but none is putting any serious attention to these changes since most Nikon fans regarded them as 2nd rated Nikkors (The E Series optics have only inscribed with 'Nikon' and 'Nikkor' name was never used in any of the E Series lenses). The Series E lenses has removed the meter coupling shoe (Rabbit Ears). The EM ('79), FG and the FM2 (Both in '82) was the first of the series to have a non-retractable meter coupling lever. What it meant was: Nikon cannot maintain its obligation to provided backward compatibilty to the older cameras as that may hinder the progress of product development. Well, Nikon Corporation is an enterprise and not a charity organisation. Changes were made, cookies were there, carrots were there too.. I am not sure how much it would save them in production cost, but I am quite sure that was not the intention, they just want you to re-invest into the new series of lenses.
In business, you don't fight with market trend. Pentax followed the footstep and introduced their Ka-Mount. The model Super program and Super A in 1984 was the first two that offered full fletch multi-mode automatic exposures. Among the top five in Japan, only Olympus never changed and upgrade their Zuiko lens mount, but despite that - Program AE mode is usable on models that have that feature, except the Shutter Priority AE.

The Nikon FA was officially discontinued in 1989. This has made the Nikon FA even more appealing in the used market. To be fair, Nikon did all followers a big favour by retaining the F-mount for their autofocus cameras. There were consideration to maintain backward compatibility. As ALL AF-Nikkor lenses are AI-S in nature. There should not have any problems mounting any of those new AF lenses on your FA. It has given you another reason to grab one as your backup body. This is one of the two Nikon bodies that can use the Matrix metering with any AI lenses. Its 'advanced' features are very much straight forward compared with today's confusing LCD displayed function. It is definitely command a strong candidate for a perfect start off camera. Oh... I have been offered a used but mint condition FA for RM200-00 cheaper than the FE2. Reason given by the shop asssistant: "It needs AI-S lenses to work and it has been here at the shelf for the last one and a half year !" I bought it and took quite a number of shots for the construction of this site. To get yourself familiarize with the FA, use the
main reference map for the body and try to memorise the keywords in operational control and go to the next section. (As at 25th Nov 1998, US$1-00=RM3.80 under the Fixed Currency Exchange Rate).

| Previous | Next |

| Back | to Main Index Page of Nikon FA

Camera Instruction Manual - HTML | PDF (1.4 MB)
Main Reference Map for Body - HTML | PDF (731k)
Specifications - HTML | PDF (245k)

Other Technical Issues: Part I | Part II

The AI-S Nikkors (related info | TTL OTF Flash Metering | Interchangeable Focusing Screens. The MD-15/MD12/MD11 Motor Drives | 3rd party Power Winder (new) | Flash Units -SB-16 | SB-15 | SB-10 | SB-16B & Other Options | Databacks | Titanium Shutter | Variation : Mr Y K Wong from Singapore contributing 11 images of his Nikon FA GOLD

| Nikon FM series | Nikon FE series | Nikon FA |

W A R N I N G: The New G-SERIES Nikkor lenses have no aperture ring on the lens, they CANNOT ADJUST APERTURES with any of these manual focus Nikon FE series SLR camera models; please ignore some portion of the content contained herein this site where it relates.

| Message Board | for your favourite Nikon FA camera
| Message Board | for your Nikon Optics in a shared environment
| Message Board | Specifically for Dispose or Looking for Nikon / Nikkor Photographic Equipment

Shared Resources: MD-11 | MD-12 | 3rd Party Power Winder Only for FM2(n)/FE2/FA | Focusing Screens | Titanium Shutter | Flash Units - | SB-15 | SB-10 | SB-16B & Other Options | Databack | Nikkor lens mount (related info)

Others:- Nikon AF-TTL Speedlights | SB-20 (1986) | SB-22 (1987) | SB-23 | SB-24 (1988) | SB-25 (1991/2) | SB-26 (1994) | SB-27(1997) | SB-28 (1997) | Nikon SB-29(s) (2000) | Nikon SB-30 (2003) | Nikon SB-600 (2004) | Nikon SB-800 (2003) Nikon AF-TTL Speedlight DX-Series: Nikon SB-28DX (1999) | SB-50DX (2001) | SB-80DX (2002)

Nikon BC-flash Series | Original Nikon Speedlight
SB-2 | SB-3 | SB-4 | SB-5 | SB-6 | SB-7E | SB-8E | SB-9 | SB-E | SB-10
| SB-12 | SB-14 | SB-140 UV-IR| SB-15 | SB16A | SB-17 | SB-18, SB-19 | SB-21A (SB-29) Macro flash | Flash Accesories | SF-1 Pilot Lamp

weblibrary.gif   Nikon F | Nikon F2 | Nikon F3 | Nikon F4 | Nikon F5 | Nikon F6 | Nikkormat / Nikomat | Nikon FM | Nikon FE/ FA | Nikon EM/FG/FG20 | Nikon Digital SLRs | Nikon - Other models

Nikon Auto Focus Nikkor lenses:- Main Index Page
Nikon Manual Focus Nikkor lenses:- Fisheye-Nikkor Lenses - Circular | Full Frame | Ultrawides Lenses - 13mm15mm18mm20mm | Wideangle Lenses - 24mm28mm35mm | Standard Lenses - 45mm 50mm 58mm | Telephoto Lenses - 85mm105mm135mm180mm & 200mm | Super-Telephoto Lenses - 300mm 400mm 500mm 600mm 800mm 1200mm |

Nikkor Link.jpg

Index Page
  Special Application lenses:
Micro-Nikkor Lenses - 50mm~55mm -60mm 85mm -105mm 200mm Micro-Zoom 70-180mm
Perspective Control (PC) - 28mm 35mm PC-Micro 85mm
Dedicated Lenses for Nikon F3AF: AF 80mm f/2.8 | AF 200mm f/3.5 EDIF
Depth of Field Control (DC): 105mm 135mm
Medical Nikkor: 120mm 200mm
Reflex-Nikkor Lenses - 500mm 1000mm 2000mm
Others: Noct Nikkor | OP-Nikkor | UV Nikkor 55mm 105mm | Focusing Units | Bellows-Nikkor 105mm 135mm
Nikon Series E Lenses: 28mm35mm50mm100mm135mm | E-Series Zoom lenses: 36~72mm75~150mm70~210mm

MF Zoom-Nikkor Lenses: 25~50mm | 28~45mm | 28~50mm | 28~85mm | 35~70mm | 36~72mm E | 35~85mm | 35~105mm | 35~135mm | 35~200mm | 43~86mm | 50~135mm | 50~300mm | 70~210mm E | 75~150mm E | 80~200mm | 85~250mm | 100~300mm | 180~600mm | 200~400mm | 200~600mm | 360~1200mm | 1200~1700mm

Tele-Converters: TC-1 | TC-2 | TC-200 | TC-201 | TC-300 | TC-301 | TC-14 | TC-14A | TC-14B | TC-14C | TC-14E | TC-16 | TC-16A | TC-20E

Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number: by: my friend, Rick Oleson by: Hansen, Lars Holst

| Back | Main Index Page of Nikkor Resources
| Back | Main Index Page of Pictorial History of Nikon SLRs

| Message Board | for your Nikkor optics ("shared" because I do wish some of you to expose to other's perspective as well. Isn't it a sad sate to see photography has to be segmented into different camps from the use of various labels)

about this photographic web site

MIR Logo.gif
Home - Photography in Malaysia


A contributing effort to Michael C Liu's Classic Nikon Site.

Credit: Chuck Hester for some of his beautiful images used in this site; Ted Wengelaar®, Holland for his continuous flow of input; Lars Holst Hansen, Danish 'Hawkeye' who shares the same passion; Mr Poon from Poon photo for their input; Ms Miss Rissa (Sales Manager) & members of the Technical Service dept. of Shriro Malaysia, local distributor of Nikon cameras in Malaysia & Singapore, in providing so many useful input to make this site possible. Special thanks to Mr MC Lau, who has helped with his images of the MF-12 databack. Michael Tan, Pertama Photo (603-2926505) for lending his original Titanium Shutter Display Unit. Dave Hoyt who has prepared the introductory page and offer some images of his FE2 in this site.. Hiura Shinsaku, Nikomat ML, Japan for his contribution on all the various images; A contributing site to a long lost friend on the Net. Note: Certain content and images appeared in this site were either scanned from official marketing leaflets, brochures published by Nikon and/or contribution from surfers who claimed originality of their own work to publish in this site based on educational merits. The creator of this site will not be responsible for any discrepancies that may arise from such possible dispute except rectifying them after verification."Nikon", "Nikkormat", "Nippon Kokagu KK" & "Nikkor" are registered tradename of Nikon Corporation Inc., Japan. Made witha PowerMac.