Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Nikon FA - Part VIII


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What are the main selling points of the FA ? Frankly, to those who were still have some reservation with automation, advantages presented in the FA may sound fragile to them. But it has filled the vacumm within the Nikon system where a shutter priority camera bodies was heavily missed. Key elements are still its 1/4000 sec and the 1/250 sec. The Shutter Priority AE somehow was an attractive element in combination with the upper shutter speed range it offers. The shutter speed dial, as you can notice - only posted with 13 settings from 1 sec to 1/4000 sec. with M250 and the Bulb, it is 15 settings in total. The FE-2 was more generously came with 1/4000 sec with the lower speed scale to 8 sec, with the additional M250 and Bulb mode, there are a total of 18 settings, it was flexible for you to handle virtually any imaginable photographic situation. But the FE-2 was weaker as compared with FA's dual metering system offered. While on the exposure control mode, the FA is far more superior and flexible as compared with FE-2's manual mode and Aperture Priority AE. The flash capabilities are at par for both bodies. But even if the FE-2 has various departments inferior to the FA, strangely enough - chances are higher for me to meet with a FE-2 user than a FA's user.

Nikon F3.jpg (10K)
Barely after 3 years after the Nikon F3 was introduced, the Nikon FA would really need some convincing reason to come so close with a price tag to the professional body (With DE-2 eye level Prism). The F3 has two variations introduced around the time where the FA was introduced: The F3 Titan and the F3AF with a pair of dedicated AF Nikkor lenses. That could have diverted attention to the issue of justification and price difference between the two bodies.

Price factor was one - it was priced only RM80-00 cheaper than the professional F3 basic body during those days but it was selling at a much higher premium than the simpler FE-2 and the fully mechanical FM2n. With the F3's apparent weaknesses in its slower flash sync of 1/80 sec, top shutter speed scale of 1/2000 sec, a sole auto exposure mode and single way of heavy center-weighted metering system, the Nikon FA's multimode features and the top sync/shutter speed indeed became very attractive and logical subsitute as back up bodies to the proffesional F2/F3. The pros has long been looking forward for an Shutter Priority AE Nikon bodies, and has finally got one option in the FA with resonably rugged body to withstand robust day to day use. I don't think most Nikon FA users disagreed with the quality around viewfinder prism, it has a distinctive moulded plastic look and feel. Even if the two pieces body was an aluminium die cast alloy, the viewfinder - although shaped unconventionally flatter but shown a more modern approach in its design than most Nikon bodies, has made and cast a feeling where it might lead you to believe the body was a polycarbonated type structure as well. Well, personally, I don't think Nikon handles the viewfinder issue very well and created more negative impact than cost saving measure they adopted (It reminds me about an similar case where the Nikon F4's Multi-metered viewfinder has Nikon's name silkscreened and imprinted on, Errr...which I thought Nikon could have done better than that to show a little quality and respect of their own 'tradename', disagreed ? The subsequent Nikon F5 'repaired' that image).

The viewfinder prism that has raised so much of protest was an one piece moulded polycarbonated shell. It was treated with additional layer of adhesive coating. It has been reported that the coating on the top cover of the Nikon FA camera tends to peel off. Nikon tested the adhesive capability of the coating to determine the cause of the peeling. Nikon announced after intensive factory testing, the phenomenon of the coating around the screw at the side of the top cover 'peeling off' was not of inferior materials, rather - it was the excessive tightening of the screw at the side which has caused such defects.
Prism Illus.jpg (7k)

Relative: Enlarged view of the viewfinder prism assembly, highly educational to see how it looks inside: Jpeg file (50k)

Viewfinder Area.jpg

Spot where the top cover is secured to the main body, the coating around the screw hole peels off.
Test results conducted by Factory: "As a result of the various tests made on the units in stock, Nikon determined that the adhesive capability of the coating is not defective. This phenomenon is due to the stress generated by the screwing action. Investigators determined that the peeling occurs only around the screw hole. Accordingly, Nikon concluded that the adhesive is not defective, and no corrective action need to taken".

The Nikkor lens issue can be considered as another. Anyway, as far as the Lens mount issue is concerned, I don't think the FA has any significant disadvantages over the rest of other Nikon models(except the F3) as its F-mount after all was provided with the non-retractable meter coupling lever (Which prohibited normal functioning of the Automatiuc Indexing with Non-AI lenses). Fortunately, the FA was the only two Nikon bodies (The other model was being the mighty Nikon F4) that need only a minimum specification of AI to enjoy all its Matrix metering system and various additional exposure control methods in Shutter Priority and Programmed AE - and I feel these factors are more important than the advantage of dual program modes that can function only with AI-S lenses. Lens speed indexing post makes the difference: By mounting a lens of AI or AI-S type, it senses the lens speed. when modified Al lens is mounted, the lens speed is regarded as f2.8 and center-weighted metering is activated. Just that simple.

A handful of Nikkor lenses may exhibit some differing data displays in the LCD, this was made official in the manual for models produced after 1984: "September 1984, LCD PANEL INDICATES F32 INSTEAD of F22: It is noted that since the lens speed is fed into the camera as F4.5, not as F3.5, the LCD panel will indicate F32 when the smallest aperture F22 is selected and aligned with the green index, where the aperture is stopped down by 5 1/3 f/stop to F22 2/3. This matter will be soon inserted in the instruction manual."

The automatic film advance section in the Motor drive was another. FA works adequately well with either MD-11, MD-12 motor drives and it has its own 'dedicated' MD-15 motor drive. While on the other hand, the MD-15 was not compatible with other Nikon bodies. Performance varies depending on combination of how you set up your FA with any of these drives. I am not sure how fast the FA runs on the MD-11. But performance was so-so in the FA/MD-12 combination with a 2.7 fps speed scale. With its own MD-15, FA film advance speed boosts to 3.2 fps.

To sell a Nikon camera without an mechanical back up speed in the early '80 can be very difficult. The super compact Nikon like the EM in 1979 was given a back up speed in 1/90 sec as well. The electronic F3 has it in 1/60 sec too. I remembered the Nikon F301 that came with a body integrated motor winder to provide automatic film advance was the first Nikon that came without such a feature. The Nikon FA, like any other Nikon bodies marketed during theat era, came with a same 1/250 sec mechanical shutter speed as well. Apart from comforting those who felt uncomfortable with total reliance on battery cells for an important assignment or still doesn't want to invest into a MD-15 (Doesn't make any sense...if the job was that important), the Mechanical 1/250 requires no electronic input and is simply an escape if there is battery failure or other malfunctions. The last ten years, no one complaints, Nikon is happy as a feature is saved, production cost has lowered - some 'careless & unfortunate' users suffer.

FA with E lens.jpg (25k)
| Back | Next | I think you may get bored if read further... those issues that have not been highlighted here, please use the message board creatively instead.

Nice view, huh ? I bought this body just to 'bake' this site for you. I have to disposed this to my staff at cost. And he is a happy FA owner now. Condition is: He has to prepare the instruction manual both in HTML and PDF format for all of you in this site, cheerio! By the way, Victor is his name...

| Back | to Main Index Page

| Back | to Main Index Page of Nikon FA

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

Nikon Auto Focus Nikkor lenses:- Main Index Page (under constant construction)
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)

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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.