Nikon FG light meter's LEDs are too dim

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by giovannibarbaro7, Apr 15, 2019.

  1. As title says, the LEDs on a Nikon FG I just gifted to a friend of mine are not bright enough to be seen while photographing under the sun

    They can be barely seen while indoor or in the night, but they can't be seen when there is any type of strong illumination

    Do you know what may be the cause for this failure? Can we fix it our selves and if not how much would it cost to let it repair by an expert?
  2. Check if the correct battery was used?
    (two SR44 or LR44, or one CR1/3N)
  3. Yeah we are using 2 LR44 of 1.5V, so the batteries shouldn't be the problem :/
  4. Then i fear that the led'd are aproaching the end of their lifespan…
    Unlike old fashioned lamps , led's tend not to give it up at once, but start performing less when they get older ….
  5. Check the condition of the battery contacts. The batteries may be OK, but if there's some resistance in series with them, then battery condition counts for nothing.

    One LED being low in brightness could almost certainly be a LED fault, but all of them? Unlikely.
  6. Do you have any video tutorial that can help me check the battery contacts? I'm new on this world and this friend of mine is not a very "Do It Yourself" person
  7. The best way I know to "check" the battery contacts is to just proactively clean them. I like a soft pencil eraser.
    rodeo_joe|1 and mag_miksch like this.
  8. There are special glass-fibre 'pens' you can get to clean contacts. Basically you need to rub the -camera, not battery - contacts with a mild abrasive. Do not use sandpaper or emery paper, it'll remove the chrome or nickel plating.

    Alternatively, you can polish the contacts using a cotton bud (Q-tip) dipped, but not soaked, in a liquid metal polish, and then buffed with a dry cotton bud.

    However, there may be corrosion in the wiring harness between battery compartment and switch or other circuitry.

    The on/off switch is linked to the wind on lever I believe, and in most Nikons is housed in the base of the camera. This makes access to the switch an easy matter of removing the base of the camera. If any electrical corrosion extends beyond that, then it's better to leave it to a professional repairer, which may make the camera beyond economic repair, unfortunately.

    Hopefully a quick rub of the battery contacts, and maybe 'working' the on/off switch a little, will revive the LED brightness.
  9. While oxidized battery and switch contacts can cause all sorts of mischief, usually its binary: the camera works or it doesn't (or intermittently). A fully electronic camera like the FG would probably not exhibit merely dim LEDs (and no other symptoms) if the battery or switch was a problem. It would more likely dysfunction sporadically in obvious ways (meter accuracy, shutter not firing, mirror locking up). But hopefully you have some sort of fluke that can be cured with a simple cleaning.

    After cleaning the contacts and switch, if the camera works perfectly but still has very dim LEDs, there might be a fault in the chip or circuit that controls the display. This would not be economically feasible to repair: nice clean fully-functional FG bodies typically sell for $79 or less nowadays, so you could just replace it and sell off the dim FG "as-is". Another possibility is the camera might be working normally but is just not suited to you and your friend. Some cameras with LED dot scale displays can seem fine to most users but too dim or unreadable for others. I owned an FG briefly some years ago, but can't remember with certainty how bright the display was (I do remember loving the huge bright finder screen: the largest of any Nikon I've ever used- even bigger than Olympus OM1).

    But many (many) years earlier, I had problems when I traded my first Olympus OM1 for the then-new Pentax MX, I loved the OM1, but the CdS needle meter was hard to see in low light, and I thought the equally-small MX with its LED meter and even smaller lenses might be an improvement. It wasn't: I was disappointed to discover the MX LEDs were dim in low light and near-invisible outdoors in daylight. So I returned it and bought another OM1. Fifteen years later, when I could finally afford a used Nikon F2AS, I instantly bonded with its always-visible +0- LED display.

    I'd recommend comparing your FG with another FG to check whether your display is dysfunctional or normal for that model: if both seem equally dim, then the FG is not a good choice for your friend. In that case, try the similar Nikon EM (or slightly more expensive Nikon FE) which use the same scale display but a long needle instead of LEDs to indicate shutter speeds. This is highly visible in general photography, less so if you do a lot of low light work. A well-stocked used camera dealer like KEH with good return/exchange policy would let you evaluate another FG, and if no go let you exchange it for an EM or FE.
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2019
  10. I used to recommend cleaning contacts with pencil erasers until I read this thread, in particular Joseph Wisniewski's post that follows mine. Don't use erasers for this!
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2019

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