Nikon FA FAQ

The Nikon FA is Nikon’s most advanced manual focus camera. I hope this FAQ helps to inform you about this camera and answers all your questions. If you have any additional questions you can email them to me and I will add them to the FAQ. Please keep in mind that this FAQ is new and incomplete, I will be updating it as time allows.

The Nikon FA FAQ is written and maintained by me, Allan Hall


Size-142.5mm X 92mm X 62.5mm
Power-2 X 1.55v silver oxide S-76/SR-44, or 2 X 1.5v alkaline LR-44 or 1 X 3V lithium CR-1 3N
ASA/ISO range-12-4000
Flash sync-1/250sec
Viewfinder coverage-93%
Production dates-1983-1987
Operational Modes

Manual Mode-Full manual control from 1/4000sec to 1sec and B. This works with all Nikkor lenses.
A Mode-Aperture Priority control. You set the aperture, it sets the shutter speed. This works with all AI’d, AI, AIS, E, and AF series lenses.
S Mode-Shutter priority control. You set the shutter speed, it sets the aperture.
P Mode– Program mode, it’s sets the aperture and shutter speed. This works with all AI’d, AI, AIS, E, and AF lenses.

Other functions

ASA/ISO Dial– Just like most cameras this one uses a dial to manually set the film speed from 12 to 3200.
Exposure Compensation– up to +2/-2 stops in 1/3 stop increments.
Depth of field preview lever– Allows you to view what is in focus before tripping the shutter.
TTL Flash Metering– Full integration with TTL flash units (SB-16B etc). Also has a connector for a sync cable.
Timer– Yes it has a timer to trip the shutter after 10 seconds. This can also be used as the MLU (Mirror Lock Up).

Optional Accessories

MD-15 Motor Drive– The MD-15, this motor drive is specific to the FA and will power the camera.
MD-11/12 Motor Drive– This is the same drive used on the FM/FE/FM2/FE2.
Interchangeable focusing screens
Viewfinder correction lenses

General Information

This camera uses a 5 segment matrix metering system for extremely accurate meter readings. Displays in the viewfinder are located above the frame in three sections. First on the left is the LCD display used in all modes, to the right of that is a window allowing you to view the currently set aperture (in A and M modes only) and on the right is a shutter speed window available in S mode. In M mode the LCD displays the currently selected shutter speed along with an M for the mode and a + or – for metering.

The shutter is a Titanium leaf that runs from 1sec to 1/4000sec. Manual modes are available (1/250 and B) by pressing the silver safety button on the back near the thumb crank and rotating the dial to the correct position. Multiple exposures are possible with the lever under the thumb crank near the front. After exposing the first frame simply pull the lever towards you and wind to reset the shutter without advancing the film. The FA also has a cover for the viewfinder, the lever is to the left of the viewfinder. Flip this lever and a cover closes to eliminate any light that may enter the viewfinder and mess up the metering.


Q:What functions does the camera have without a battery?
A:1/250sec and B are available.

Q:How can the Program mode work with AI and AI’d lenses when these lenses do not transfer the information about aperture to the camera body?
A:Simple actually, the camera stops down the lens before making the last split second choice of shutter speed. This means that the last meter reading that is taken of the subject is done with the aperture already set, therefore there is no need for the body to know the aperture.

Q:Is the FA the perfect Nikon manual focus camera?
A:Yes! The FA has all the features one could ever want in a manual focus camera.

Q:Will the FA use the newer EDIF and AF lenses?
A:Yes! But only to the capabilities of the camera itself. (No AF)

Q:Will it use flashes that are not TTL or not fully TTL with the FA?
A:Yes, for example the SB-17 is TTL designed only for the F3, but on the FA the flash works fine without TTL. It will however operate the viewfinder’s flash ready light.

Q:Is this a good camera for a beginner?
A:Yes if you can justify the price. The FA is a fairly expensive body between $350 and $500 depending on condition  and where you get it. While in my opinion the cost is justified you may be just as happy with the Nikon FG which is a much cheaper body. See the Nikon FG FAQ for more information.

Q:Is this a good camera for a professional or serious amateur?
A:Yes. This camera is the professional’s manual focus dream! Unless you need a 250 exposure back or some other such nonsense this camera is everything a professional or serious amateur would ever want.

Q: Does the FA come in black or just chrome?
A: Both!

Q: Does the lack of a mirror lock up button detract from this camera?
A: I do not think so. The few times I have needed mirror lock up (4 or so in 8 years) I have used the self timer.

Q: Can I change focusing screens?
A: Yes! There are several focusing screens available.


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