• Nikon FG-20

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Nikon FG-20 - The Lightest Nikon

By: | Apr 12, 2002 11:27 AM


The Nikon FG was introduced to the market back in 1984 and it is the lightest Nikon body that Nikon has ever produced. At just 440g, it is 50g lighter than the Nikon FG and 20g lighter than the Nikon EM.

The Nikon FG-20 is part of my Nikon collection, and I got it from US for just USD100.


Coming from the same family as the Nikon EM and Nikon FG, I have similar concern about the poor build of the body of the Nikon FG-20. Nikon is still adopting a plastic body to ensure low cost and light weight. It simply does not give me any assurance that it will last any impact on it.

The plus point about the build is that it is small and light, making it one of the best camera to carry around.


The only focusing method for the Nikon FG-20 is by manual focusing. Focusing is done easily by turning the focusing ring on the lens.


Similar to the Nikon FG, the exposure metering for the Nikon FG-20 is by TTL center-weighted exposure metering at full aperture. Meter incorporates one silicon photodiode.

Two exposure control modes are provided by the Nikon FG-20, which are

1) Aperture Priority

2) Manual


With the common Nikon F mount, the Nikon FG-20 all Nikkor AI or AIS lenses as well as modern AF lenses with the exception of new G lenses. Non-AI lenses cannot be used with the Nikon FG-20.

The Nikon FG-20 also third party lenses maker like the popular low cost Sigma, Tokina, Tamron... etc. To achieve high picture quality and most important sharpness, none of this cheap lenses maker is comparable to the original Nikkor lenses. I always believe that that extra cost spent on the optics is worthy.


I bought the Nikon FG-20 in August 2000, the same month I got the Nikon FG. I got to test it on the actual day I received it when I have a church event going on the day.

The test was conduct with a roll of Kodak Supra 400.

To start it off, the Nikon FG-20 is a very simple camera to master and use, especially if you have used the Nikon FG before you use the Nikon FG-20. Most of the functions provided is the same and easy to understand and use. I do have the original manual that comes with the camera, but eventually I don’t even need to go through it at all. I managed to master it all by myself.

But for the benefit of beginner, a simple read through of the manual will be beneficial. I loan the Nikon FG-20 to my cousin last month, and with a read through of the manual, he managed to figure all the operation all by himself, without any need to consult me.

The build of the Nikon FG-20 is something that I hate, and it is very much similar in construction compared to the Nikon EM as well as the older brother Nikon FG. Although it does provide a lightweight to carry around but it simply does not feel like it will last forever like the other older Nikon. The film advance lever is very weak, and doesn’t feel strong enough. It gives me the impression that it might break somehow if I try to advance it hard unintentionally.

The LCD metering switched on the very moment you press you finger onto the shutter button and It will remain lighted for a few seconds like the Nikon FM2n while you do exposure adjustment. Unlike the newer Nikon FM10, it is so much more convenience for the user.

Focusing is rather easy with the split-image micro prism. I am used to such focusing technique, so I have no trouble with it. For beginner, it might need some guidance, but with practice, it will proved to be no major issue.

I used the Nikon FG-20 in its Aperture Priority AE mode for the test. The exposure reading obtained by the meter is accurate when compared to my Nikon F3HP used during the same day. Photos taken on the day was all well exposed, with no sign of wrong exposure.

The Nikon FG-20 can be used with a Motor Drive MD-14 or MD-E for film advancing. I used it once with my friends MD-E, and it does not seems to interested me as it add extra weight to the camera.

A irritating “Beep Beep” will activate if the resulting shutter speed fall out of the range of 1/30s and 1/1000s. This will serve as a warning.

Other useful function provided with the Nikon FG-20 is

1) Flash Sync 1/90s

2) Exposure Compensation

3) Self Timer


The Nikon FG-20 is just a product lying between the Nikon EM and Nikon FG. Beside being the lightest camera to carry around with the capability to use Nikkor lenses, I do not see any great advantage of using this baby Nikon.

There are better choices outside if budget is not a constraint. But at selling price ranging from USD80 to USD120, it still has the price appeal to many.

By the way, it does serve well as a cheap backup.

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