Anyone Here Have A Nikon FA Camera?

Discussion in 'Modern Film Cameras' started by Vincent Peri, Sep 9, 2017.

  1. Vincent Peri

    Vincent Peri Metairie, LA

    I'm thinking about getting a couple of Nikon FA cameras, mainly to use the Program setting along with the Aperture priority setting. Does anyone here have a Nikon FA? Anything I should be aware of? Problems? Quirks, etc?

    Thanks for your replies.
  2. I have one, although I admittedly have not used it much.

    I bought mine on Ebay, but was advised to check it and see if the DOF preview/stop down lever seemed "sticky" or "gummy." Apparently that indicates an issue with the stop down mechanism.

    Remember that the FA DOES meter again after the lens is stopped down and uses that to set the exposure, so in P and S modes you should still get correct exposures although not necessarily at the aperture the camera says.

    Also, bear in mind that just due to the nature of the F mount, you need AI-s lenses to reliably get the indicated aperture in P and S modes.

    Aside from those quirks, it's a solid camera built to the same mechanical standards as the contemporary FE and FM series cameras. It's a solid piece with a lot of 1980s technology packed into it. The matrix meter is excellent, although remember that you MUST have a true AI or AI-s lens(AF lenses with an aperture ring are fine also) to get matrix metering. True AI lenses(as opposed to AI converted lenses, whether with a factory kit or home-made) have a raised area on the lens mount that indicates the maximum aperture.
  3. Unless the FA's look matters most, I'd also consider older AF bodies like the N90s/F90x that also function superbly as manual focus cameras.
  4. But the FA is the only one that offers P and S mode with non-CPU lenses (believe the N2000/F-301 and N2020/F-501 offer P mode, neither provides matrix-metering though).

    The two FA I owned both developed sticky/gummy foam surrounding the focusing screen at the top of the mirror box necessitating not only foam replacing but also cleaning of the mirror; never encountered that issue with any other Nikon camera.

    Also worth noting that the FA meter doesn't account for the change in orientation when switching to vertical which can lead to some erroneous metering.

    Had I known about the arrival of the FA on the scene two years down the road, I probably would never have purchased the F3.
  5. As you note, FAs are getting old and subject to age-related maladies that aren't always easily or inexpensively fixed. Its features don't really offset these problems, especially when other options, like those I mentioned, are available for very little money.
  6. The FA acquired a reputation as probably the most unreliable film SLR Nikon ever made. I have to admit that my sample reinforces that reputation and only fires intermittently at the chosen shutter speed.

    If you can find one that has a fully functioning shutter/timing mechanism then you're very lucky. Also check for missing body screws and light-sealing foam that isn't turning to sticky goo.

    An F3 or even an F-8008s / F-801s is a far better bet as a user body IMO.
  7. Never liked the FA when it came out. Had it about 10 years ago for 2 weeks. Got rid of it. It's one of Nikon worst. I think it's just an attempt by Nikon to answer Canon A-1. Don't like the A-1 either but I think at least it's the best of the A series and it's better than the FA.
  8. I have had my FA since new and I refer to 1985 when the FA was released. Yes, the FA has had some Net stories and I may have been one to contribute to that. My FA during a Wedding shoot, over exposed 4 rolls of film. The Mirror box and the aperture control arm failed because of a gear in the mirror box gave up. I discovered that and had a CLA done, Voila! Beautiful, got my FA back. The foam seal issue is standard issue attrition that if one expects more from equipment from that era, your just being cruel. Here's the thing: Once knowing these idiosyncrasies, the real techs doing the CLAs know this. Once addressed, you will have yourself a trick, awesome Camera! Let me be clear; My FA, with MD-15 mounted on a Tripod with Kodachrome filled, were some of the best days of my life! Today we have EKTAR. Why is it that Net people hold Nikons at a different standard than Leica's? Leica's have a screaming number of control issues, everyone takes it for granted. Get real! No, I'm not giving up my FA, in fact I'm about to send it in for another CLA, another, $180, or $200, I don't care! The Nikon FA regardless, stays in the case. Maybe not the most used, but Hey! That's the case.
  9. I love mine, even more than my F2 & F3. It's very reliable, perfect ergonomics and bright finder. I like the digital display better than the FE2 and other bodies analog.
    I bought mine in the 1990's as back up for my F3 and it turned out that my F3 became the backup body. The 1/250 flash synch makes it great for daylight fill flash.
    Only quirk, when your shopping buy one with the grip still attached many people take them off and loose them.
  10. Actually the FA got its poor reputation long before the internet came along.

    Almost from day 1 of its release there were reports in the photo press of unreliable and failed shutters.

    And if you do manage to find a worker and it goes faulty, its a repairman's nightmare to dismantle. A situation made worse by it being long out of production - meaning there are few technicians familiar with it. Not to mention there being no spare parts available.

    A fully working FA might be a collector's curiosity, but as a camera to use.....

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