Nikon FA

A brief outline of the Nikon FA manual focus SLR film camera

This page is dedicated to the superb Nikon FA camera produced by Nikon from 1983 to 1989, although it never had the commercial successes of it's cousin, the Nikon FE, it introduced features which even today are standard on all high quality SLR cameras even though today's cameras are predominately digital.

The FA was the first Nikon camera to use Matrix Metering, this measured five areas of the frame which gave the best automatic exposure and metering that had been achieved to date, the FA was also the first Nikon camera to have shutter priority auto exposure. To make the cameras matrix metering work correctly with program and shutter priority modes required the focal length to be factored in to the exposure calculations, and the camera lens needed a linear diaphragm for optimum performance. Once Nikon started serious development work these new systems they introduced AI-S which transmitted the extra data from their new "E series lenses" and their redesigned existing lenses before Nikon FA was released to allow maximum backward compatibility with the future cameras.

VFM Flash Memory Cards

Many photographers who were annoyed that the latest Nikon cameras needed new lenses when they had purchased new lenses only a year or two ago found to their surprise that their newer lenses were AI-S already!  AI-S is still found on virtually all current Nikon lenses for backward compatibility even though AF cameras get focal length information electronically from AF or chipped lenses and their diaphragms are all linear. The only film cameras that could use any of the AI-S functions were the Nikon FG, FA, F301 (N2000), F601m (N6000) and Nikon F4.


Nikon FA with MD-15 motor drive

Basic specifications of the Nikon FA MF SLR Camera

Production period (later availability via stock)

1983 to 1989
Lens meter coupling type AI-S (Automatic Indexing Shutter)
Aperture coupling range N/A
ASA film speed range ISO 12 to 4000
EV range at ASA 100 EV 1 to 20
Meter sensor type if applicable Matrix and Centre weighed Metering by SPD's
Shutter type and curtain material Vertical Titanium foil focal-plane electronic
Shutter speed range 1 to 1/4000 second + Bulb and 1/250 back up
Auto exposure modes available Shutter & Aperture priority - Program - Manual
Flash exposure type and maximum sync speed TTL OTF 1/250 second
Interchangeable focusing screens K2 split-image microprism - B2 matte - E2 grid
Interchangeable viewfinder heads No
Interchangeable backs Yes - MF-16 or MF-12 Data backs
Film advance method Single stroke lever
Motor drive or Auto winder availability MD-15 (3.2 fps) or MD-12 (3.5 fps)
Film rewind method Manual folding crank
Self Timer Yes - 10 seconds
Battery type and number required Two S76 1.5v silver oxide batteries
Body weight without lens attached 625g

Nikon FA mode dial


Nikon FA back view

Nikon FA camera


Nikon FA top view




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June 2014 Siteseen Ltd.

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