This guide will show you how to load film into your Nikon FG and make sure the camera is functioning properly. If this is your first time using your Nikon FG, make sure to read through the before you load film section.
Before You Load Film
Check the Batteries
The Nikon FG has an electronically controlled shutter with a mechanical 1/90 sec (M90) backup. In order for the shutter to operate at all shutter speeds and for the light meter to work, the FG needs good batteries.
The Nikon FG uses two LR44 or equivalent batteries. The battery door can be unscrewed with a coin.
Make Sure the Nikon FG Functions Correctly
If your Nikon FG has not been used in a long time, check to make sure the camera is functioning correctly before loading film.
Make sure you are able to cock the shutter with the film advance lever and the shutter fires when you press the shutter release.
Check the lens to make sure the optics are clean and clear. The focus and aperture rings should also turn smoothly.
To check if the light meter is working correctly, the film counter needs to be advanced to the first frame or beyond. Once that is done, changing the lens aperture or shutter speed should result in the meter reading changing.
Prior to the counter being on the first frame, the light meter will have blinking lights at 1/60 and 1/125 of a second. If this persists after the frame counter is past 1, there is a problem with the camera.
Make Sure There is No Film Loaded in the Camera
If there is any film left in the camera, it will be ruined if it is exposed to light. Unlike some cameras, the Nikon FG doesn't have a window to see if film is currently loaded in the camera.
There are two ways to check to if there is 35mm film in the camera.
The first is to go through the steps on how to rewind film from the Nikon FG. This is the same process you'll follow once you're done with the roll of film you're loading.
Another option is to step the camera to bulb mode (The "B" on the shutter speed dial), remove the lens, and then hold the shutter release button down. If there is film loaded in the Nikon FG, you'll be able to see it. If not, you'll see the metal film back plane.
Do Not Load Film in Sunlight
You can ruin your film by loading it in direct sunlight or bright light.
Bright light increases the risk of light piping. When this happens light is able to penetrate through the light seal on the 35mm film canister.
The film is not guaranteed to be completely ruined. You could end up with varying degrees of fogging.
Fogging can produce a range of undesirable outcomes such as a loss of contrast, blown out streaks, or a completely exposed frame. The problem should subside with progressive frames.
For Best Results, Use Fresh Film
Film degrades in quality over time. It should also not be exposed to hot temperatures like those in a car on a sunny day or attic during summer.
Expired film can be used, but you are not guaranteed predictable performance.
For the best results, use a fresh pack of film that is not expired. My recommendations are:
Step-by-Step How to Load Film
Time needed: 1 minute.
How to load film into the Nikon FG. For the pictures, I am using a roll of film found in a used camera that was opened without rewinding the film.
- Open the film door.
To open the film door on the Nikon FG, pull up on the film rewind knob. Leave the knob in the up position so you can load a film canister.
- Load the roll of film.
The film roll gets loaded into the left side with the film leader on the bottom. The film leader is the rounded half-width section at the start of every roll of film.
To make the process easier, tilt the 35mm film canister towards the top of the camera when loading.
- Push the film rewind knob back down.
The rewind knob has prongs that will lock into the film canister. This will keep the film canister in place, as well as allowing you to rewind the film.
You may need to turn the film rewind knob a small amount to get the prongs to fit into the film canister.
- Pull the film leader over to the film take-up spool.
With your left hand hold the film canister in place. With your right hand gently pull the film leader over to the take-up spool.
- Thread the film leader into the take-up spool.
The take-up spool has slots and notches designed to hold the film in place. Carefully insert the film leader and make sure enough of the film leader is inserted to be firmly held in place.
- Advance the film and fire the shutter.
With your left hand, hold the film canister in place. With your right hand, use the film advance lever to cock the camera.
Look to make sure the film leader does not come out of the slot in the film take-up spool.
- Advance the film again. (Optional)
If you are not confident the film is going to stay on the take-up spool, you can repeat step 6.
- Close the film door.
Carefully close the film door. Make sure the film rewind knob is down and the film door has securely latched closed.
If the film you are using came in a box, you can rip one of the ends off and put it in the slot on the back of the film door. This will help you know what film is loaded in the camera.
- Advance and fire the shutter until the frame counter is at 1.
In order for the light meter to work correctly, the frame counter needs to be advanced until it is at the first frame. To do this you will need to cock and fire the shutter several times.
- Set the ISO (ASA) on the camera.
The ISO (ASA) can be set by pulling up on the outer ring of the ASA/ISO dial. It is located under the film rewind knob.
You can also do this step before you begin to load the film. If the ISO is set differently than the film you have loaded, you could end up with images that are under or overexposed.
- You're ready to take photographs.
Congratulations! Your camera is now loaded with film and ready to shoot.
Once you've shot the roll of film, the guide will show you how to unload film from the Nikon FG.
Where to develop film? You can do it at home, or send it off to a lab to be developed and scanned.
How to Know When a Roll of Film is Done?
The film roll is used up when you are no longer able to easily crank the film advance lever. This usually aligns with the number of exposures the roll contains that can be seen on the film counter. Most rolls of film will have either 24 or 36 exposures.
You should then rewind the film back into the 35mm canister. To do this, flip out the film rewind knob and press the film spool lock button on the bottom of the camera. You'll then be able to rewind the film.