I have a used FG20. It is a beautiful camera but there is a problem. The camera only seems to operate in M90 mode. I have changed the batteries and played with the shutter for almost a week now. I have the instruction manual and have reviewed it. I know that if the batteries were not good, I would not be able to hear a shutter movement apart from the mechanical shutter speed. A second problem is the meter does not move. I see it and the needle hangs at the low end of the scale. Suggestions, ideas, etc. appreciated. I like the feel of this carmera so much I purchased an FG on the spot from the dealer when I went in search of a 50mm AI lens. So, you Nikon folks, can you help. I wanted the mechanical and B shutter speed for some longer exposures. Is this a camera destined to become my desk paper weight?
This may sound simple, but I started my photography life with digital, and it kinda threw me a curve on my first manual focus Nikon.
What your describing sounds a lot like all my cameras behavior before I get to the "1" position on the film window.
On my FG, there are two blinking dots for the meter until it hits #1 on the film counter.
On my FE2, the needle stays at the bottom of the scale until it hits #1.
On my F3, the LCD reads 80 until the film is advanced far enough.
Have you tried firing and metering the camera past that point? This is all I can think of right now.
I have to ask first, did you put the batteries in correctly? Check that the polarity is correct. If they're in the wrong way the meter will not move.
I have a Nikon EM which I purchased a few weeks ago. I had the same problem as you describe -- the needle would not budge. I finally figured out that if the light level that the camera is sensing is out of its range the needle will not move. The EM stays at the top above 1/1000th regardless. Take the camera outside on a sunny day and setting a few different film speeds. Move the aperture ring through its settings for each film speed. You should be able to get the meter to move if its working.
If you like the camera enough to get it repaired then I would recommend Garry's Camera. They fixed a Minolta for me and did a nice job even recalibrating for a silver oxide battery instead of the mercury battery. They charge a flat fee and for a Nikon FG it would be $45 + $8 shipping. Their site is www22.brinkster.com/garryscamera.
I recently bought an FG at a garage sale. It was "broken"... it needed batteries ;) - but before I diagnosed that problem, I was a tad baffled by its behaviour (until I figured out how it worked). It only released the shutter at M90, and of course the meter was blank (LCD type). I put in a set of batteries, and nothing happened - I actually referred to it as a paper weight... until I decided to just check things over one more time... and it turns out that in all my wisdom I put the batteries in backwards.
So do check that - its a lot easier to do than one would think.
As far as your camera goes, it is basically acting as if it is not getting any "juice" - right? Or does the shutter release and mirror return at speeds other than M90? In a no power scenario, the sutter will only travel one way and the mirror will stay "locked up" (dark view finder) on all settings but M90. If the batteries are good and in properly... well, it may be a matter as simple as battery terminals. Check for oxidation - a little will be enough to put sufficient impedence to prevent the batteries from doing their job. The next step, if that is not the case, is to investigate any soldered connections - I don't know how handy you are, but that is something best left to a pro, or at least attempted with a repair manual in hand. After that - I am at a loss. The only other thing I can think of is that my FG would get stuck, the meter would light up, but would not move with the apperture ring movement. I found that pressing the battery check button would get rid of the problem, and it has stopped occuring all together - I assume there was some literal or figurative "rust" in there somewhere which went away with regular use.
Do make sure that you have a strong light source, as indoor conditions are tricky - we sometimes do not realize exactly how "dark " it is around us. Go outside or point the camera at a lightbulb. Start with slower speeds and higher ASA, just to make sure youare within exposure range. You mention themeter "hovers" around the low numbers - which is its "at rest" position - high or low? If it rest at the high speeds, you simply need more light - as the meter demonstrates that it travels through its range to arrive at the low values (that is the set up on most cameras I've seen). If its down there because that is where it rests... then we're back to square one.
I would be a bit worried if the shutter fired at all speeds, but the meter didn't meter... that could be more complex, and frankly, probably worth more than an FG20 in monetary terms...
Also, here is a page that I found very useful (there is an FG portion as you will see, the link is for your FG20):
Hope you figure it out - it is a nice little camera when working properly. Nothing fancy, but very compact, light and handy, and (this is coming from a Canon guy...) takes all that great Nikon glass. Even the E-series 50mm on mine, while a bit sloppy construction wise, is sharp as a tack and gives great contrast and colours. And, after all, it is the glass that counts :)
Peter and Gerald. Thanks for the information. I will try the batteries one more time. The M lights up but nothing else seems to function. I am past frame 1; noted that the mirror locks up sometimes and at others seems to function in mechanical shutter speed. I bought this camera for the compact size and I am presently looking for the inexpensive E 85 and 100mm lenses. Maybe even a 135mm. Will keep you posted. In the meantime I am finishing the first roll in the FG w/Agfa 125 and Nikkor f/18 50mm that I got on sale at National Camera Exchange. Luke
I hope you get it fixed - best of luck!