Week 57 – Nikon FG

Produced from 1982 to 1984, the FG was Nikon’s entry into the compact SLR market. It features aperture priority and full automatic exposure in addition to manual mode, and it uses all of the standard Nikon lenses. Shutter speed is indicated with a series of LED’s in the viewfinder, showing speeds from 1s to 1/1000. When in either automatic mode, the speeds are infinitely variable and are selected by the camera’s electronics.

Mode (P/A) or shutter speed are selected by the standard thumb wheel on the right side of the camera. In this case the shutter release is located on the center axis of the mode wheel, and the film advance lever pivots around it. Unlike most of the Nikons in my experience there is no battery switch. The camera may be turned ‘off’ by setting the shutter speed to Bulb. There is also a fixed mechanical 1/90 shutter option which requires no battery power and can be used for flash sync.

The FG has an audible warning for slow shutter speeds. This may be disabled using a small switch near the film advance lever. On the left side of the chassis, a knob below the rewind crank is used to set film speed. It can also be adjusted from +2 to -2 exposure compensation.

A standard mechanical timer is located on the front of the camera. (I am always reluctant to use them on older cameras, as they can lock things up if they fail.) It also features a hot shoe with TTL flash contacts.

My FG was a bit of an accident for me. My manual Nikon has always been an FM2. I know it; I like it; I am comfortable with it. At a recent photographers’ meetup event I handled an FE2, and I liked it. I went looking for one.

At about the same time, Dan K (@ZDP189) included the Nikon EM and FG in his list of Unsung Heroes of 35mm. I did some research and discovered the FG nicely splits the difference between the FE and the EM. I was off to eBay. . .

I was successful twice. I landed a nice FG body to use with my F-mount lenses, and then I landed another one by accident on Craigslist. (It came with a Polaroid I really wanted.) The Craigslist one came with an inexpensive zoom lens and a nice 28mm prime. I was surprised to realize that my collection previously lacked a 28mm prime. Problem solved.

For this week I’ve loaded a roll of Portra 400 and taken the camera to extremes. I fitted it with my 300mm zoom to chase a snowy owl at a local bird watching spot, and then I fitted the 28mm to finish the roll. Results coming soon.


Camera Wiki

Manual courtesy of Mike Butkus as usual

eBay – prices are very reasonable.  The short review is that I recommend this one.

In 1984 the FG was replaced by the FG-20. Although nominally an upgrade, the replacement lacked TTL flash metering or Program auto exposure. Buy the FG.