Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Part IV - The LCD Displays: What does it means ?


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The LCD readout in the Nikon FA

(Programmed AE)

(Shutter Priority AE)

(Aperture Priority AE)

(Manual Mode)

Until the frame counter indicates '1', the LCD readout will show "" on P, S and A auto exposure modes regardless of the actual shutter speed set on the shutter speed dial. On manual, the display will read as "". In both cases, the shutter is released at a fixed mechanical speed of 1/250 sec.

Minimum Aperture on the lens

Other Aperture on the lens

Minimum Aperture n the lens

Other Aperture n the lens

Any Aperture n the lens

Any Aperture n the lens and
any shutter speed on the camera

Warning: Aperture on the lens is NOT set at the minimum f-number (f11, f16, f22, f32 etc)

Shutter speed selected by the camera.

Aperture selected by the camera

Aperture selected by the camera

Shutter Speed selected by the camera


The scene brightness is beyond metered - Too bright.

Cybernetically overridden shutter speed shown

Cybernetically overridden shutter speed shown

Warning : The scene is too bright


The scene brightness is beyond metered - Too Dark.

Warning: The scene is too bright

Warning : The scene is too bright for the user selected aperture

Warning: The scene is too dark

Suggested correct expsoure



Warning: The scene is too dark

Warning: The scene is too dark



When lens used is a modified AI Nikkor

When lens used is a modified AI Nikkor

Note: OUT of metering range warning: P, S and A modes; Over/Under Exposure Warning: M Mode. Warning: if Aperture is not set at minimum aperture value: P Mode; If the f stop is not set at f11 or larger f number, 'FEE' is indicated. 'FEE' sign is also indicated on 'S' Mode when correct exposure is not obtained at the aperture setting other than the minimum aperture.

Display Circuit A single LCD visible in the viewfinder is used for shutter speed indication in "M", "A", and "P"; fnumber in "S", "M" for manual mode, and "+" for manual exposure control. The pattern is M 8 8 8 o with the "+" above the "M". A 6-bit output controls the number and letter display and the "+" are a separate 2-bit output. All input gates are controlled by a single gate set by battery check code. This gate's output is pin 7, IC-3 and connects to pin 3, LCD Board. High enables the display; low disables the display. To operate the LCD, clock frequency is divided to 2048Hz at pin 17, IC-3, then to 1024Hz for the voltage multiplier oscillator, and finally to 64Hz for the driver.

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) was first used in the finder information display in the Nikon F3 in 1980. Prior to the popularity of the LCD, most automatic exposure cameras (Especially the Canon, Minolta and the Pentaxes) are using LED instead. Main advantage of the LCD over the LED, according to the NIkon F3's technical manual - it only consumes 1/10 of the power of the LED and hence greatly improves the power efficiency especially in an auto camera. However, LCD has long been used in other devices such as Databack display prior to the adoption as a display method in camera. It has its drawbacks as well compared with LED display, firstly, it tends to become unstable under extreme of temperature changes - Although it will revert back to normal in most cases when rested under room temperature. I experienced the whole LCD turned deep purple (Not the Pop group, ha!) under tropical heat (direct sunlight for extended hours or in the car); while in the cold weather, it dims and becomes very un-responsive. Further, it has a specific shelf life and the contrast range could lower and make viewing very uncomfortable. Beside this, it needs some form of artificial illumination in dim light as compared with the bright and contrasty behavior of LEDs. In fact, in a Nikon F3 camera manual, Nikon acknowledges such facts, and claimed 'a shelf life of 7 years and contrast will lower, replacement can be done at any authorized service centres at modest cost ...". I have no such problem with my Nikon F3T of which I bought back in 1983. The F3's LCD is so simple and direct - only shutter speed information and the 'M80' during first few frames were used more often. But the sophistication of the Nikon FA is another story.

Ahh... these are my personal knowledge of yester-year's LCD technologies. As virtually all modern SLRs are using LCD as primarily readout display method (Come to think of it, what else can substitute the LCD in displaying the enormous volume of information that a modern AF camera illustrates ?) So, the Nikon FA was the second 'major' Nikon body that adopted a LCD viewfinder information display. It can instantly tells you by digital LCD readout the metered shutter speed or aperture for correct exposure in multi-mode auto-exposure operation. The LCD readout shows the metered aperture in the S mode, the metered shutter speed in the A mode, a cybernertic override shutter speed in the P and S modes, and, on Manual. the shutter speed including "" for overexposure, "" for underexposure and "" for correct exposure.Various warning marks displayed include"" for lens aperture setting error in the P or S mode and "" to indicate that the shutter speed set makes it possible to obtain a proper exposure without cybemertic override in the S mode when the lens in use is a modified Al-type Nikhor. There's also "" when lighting is too bright and "" when it's too dark, indicating that both conditions are outside the FA's metering range. Easy to understand, the LCD readout shows, for each FA shooting mode, only the full shutter speed e.g., 60 for a shutter speed of 1/58 sec. The symbol was first seen in a Canon A-1, why is it using this for erroreous message ? Well, the Canon T90 in 1986 also used this for its error LCD display (In fact, it is not an uncommon problems among all electronic cameras, check through the Message Board of the T90 and you will understand what I meant). It seemed like it has became a 'LCD' standard, now we have both Nikon and Canon using it as 'standard' ?

Well, well, there are two settings on the shutter speed scale that won't show any display in the LCD panel. That is the M250 /B backup mechanical shutter release. Even if the camera's batteries are exhausted, you can still use the 'M' by pressing the M250/B lock button and setting the shutter speed dial to M250. The shutter is mechanically released at 1/250 sec., although there is no LCD readout, Both the M250 and B settings are locked to prevent inadvertent usage. At the back of the camera, just below the shutter speed ring, it has a shutter speed ring lock release button.

| Back | Next | Nikon FA's Metering System

| Back | to Main Index Page of Nikon FA

Other Technical Issues: Part I | Part II

The AI-S Nikkors (related info | TTL OTF Flash Metering | Interchangeable Focusing Screens. The MD-15/MD12/MD11 Motor Drives | 3rd party Power Winder (new) | Flash Units -SB-16 | SB-15 | SB-10 | SB-16B & Other Options | Databacks | Titanium Shutter | Variation : Mr Y K Wong from Singapore contributing 11 images of his Nikon FA GOLD

| Nikon FM series | Nikon FE series | Nikon FA |

W A R N I N G: The New G-SERIES Nikkor lenses have no aperture ring on the lens, they CANNOT ADJUST APERTURES with any of these manual focus Nikon FE series SLR camera models; please ignore some portion of the content contained herein this site where it relates.

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Index Page
  Special Application lenses:
Micro-Nikkor Lenses - 50mm~55mm -60mm 85mm -105mm 200mm Micro-Zoom 70-180mm
Perspective Control (PC) - 28mm 35mm PC-Micro 85mm
Dedicated Lenses for Nikon F3AF: AF 80mm f/2.8 | AF 200mm f/3.5 EDIF
Depth of Field Control (DC): 105mm 135mm
Medical Nikkor: 120mm 200mm
Reflex-Nikkor Lenses - 500mm 1000mm 2000mm
Others: Noct Nikkor | OP-Nikkor | UV Nikkor 55mm 105mm | Focusing Units | Bellows-Nikkor 105mm 135mm
Nikon Series E Lenses: 28mm35mm50mm100mm135mm | E-Series Zoom lenses: 36~72mm75~150mm70~210mm

MF Zoom-Nikkor Lenses: 25~50mm | 28~45mm | 28~50mm | 28~85mm | 35~70mm | 36~72mm E | 35~85mm | 35~105mm | 35~135mm | 35~200mm | 43~86mm | 50~135mm | 50~300mm | 70~210mm E | 75~150mm E | 80~200mm | 85~250mm | 100~300mm | 180~600mm | 200~400mm | 200~600mm | 360~1200mm | 1200~1700mm

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Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number: by: my friend, Rick Oleson by: Hansen, Lars Holst

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A contributing effort to Michael C Liu's Classic Nikon Site.

Credit: Chuck Hester for some of his beautiful images used in this site; Ted Wengelaar®, Holland for his continuous flow of input; Lars Holst Hansen, Danish 'Hawkeye' who shares the same passion; Mr Poon from Poon photo for their input; Ms Miss Rissa (Sales Manager) & members of the Technical Service dept. of Shriro Malaysia, local distributor of Nikon cameras in Malaysia & Singapore, in providing so many useful input to make this site possible. Special thanks to Mr MC Lau, who has helped with his images of the MF-12 databack. Michael Tan, Pertama Photo (603-2926505) for lending his original Titanium Shutter Display Unit. Dave Hoyt who has prepared the introductory page and offer some images of his FE2 in this site.. Hiura Shinsaku, Nikomat ML, Japan for his contribution on all the various images; A contributing site to a long lost friend on the Net. Note: Certain content and images appeared in this site were either scanned from official marketing leaflets, brochures published by Nikon and/or contribution from surfers who claimed originality of their own work to publish in this site based on educational merits. The creator of this site will not be responsible for any discrepancies that may arise from such possible dispute except rectifying them after verification."Nikon", "Nikkormat", "Nippon Kokagu KK" & "Nikkor" are registered tradename of Nikon Corporation Inc., Japan. Made witha PowerMac.