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The Nikon FA was introduced in 1983 and its production stopped in 1987. It is an electronic professional manual focus camera featuring two program exposure modes, shutter priority mode, aperture priority mode, TTL flash mode and, of course, manual mode.
Besides its elevate grade of automatism, this camera was the first in the world to use Matrix metering, which was at the time called by Nikon AMP (automatic metering pattern). In practice the silicon cells of the photometer measured the light dividing the frame in 5 separated zones, so scenes with high contrasts, like a person against a very bright background could be correctly exposed even in auto exposure modes. Despite the fact that nowadays practically all digital reflex feature this kind of metering system, calling it with different names according to the brand, it was invented by Nikon and sported for the first time with the FA.
Anyway a dedicated button on the bottom right side of the body allows anytime the traditional Nikon's center-weighted measurement, just modified in order to give even more importance o the center (75/25 instead of 60/40).
The camera electronics was fed by two 1,5v silver-oxide button cells (SR-44, or cheaper LR-44 or even the cheapest A-76 work just fine). There isn't a battery test, but when batteries are fresh, the small lcd screen in the viewfinder stays active for 16 seconds.
Along with this camera, Nikon also produced a dedicated motor drive, the MD-15, which overrides the batteries inside the body, allowing the alimentation for both the motor and the camera itself by four AA batteries.
The camera is very solid and reliable, as it was designed mainly for professional use, so no surprise that it weights 650 gr. . The body is made of metal (silumin alloy) while the prism and the bottom cover are made of plastic. It allows to mount all AI and AIS manual focus Nikon lenses, as well all the autofocus lenses with the exception of G-series lenses, as they lack of aperture ring on them. Previous non-AI lenses cannot be mounted without the risk of getting stucked with consequent damage of the camera. All in all it still represents an actractive and convenient purchase for people who can live without autofocus and want to enjoy the marvellous manual lenses by Nikon. Even if it is true that tecnology avances, this camera has everything a photographer could possibly need: the only weakness I can think about is that Nikon doesn't repair these bodies anymore, but anyway, when it works, there are no reasons why a professional tool of 29 years ago couldn't give professional results even now, if used properly.
- Nikon FA at Ken Rockwell's website
- Photography in Malaysia - Nikon FA
- Nikon FA instruction manual - English at at M.Butkus' www.orphancameras.com
- Nikon FA Statistic Price Info's at AuctionPriceTracker
In French :