Alley in Pisa, Italy

by Lars Kotthoff

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I'm new to photography and I just acquired a Nikon FG film camera. There is what looks like to be a serial number on the bottom: 8897319. And was made in Japan.

I know nothing about cameras and I was hoping to find out if this camera is worth anything? Not nessessarily in cash value but I wanted to know the quality of the camera. Is it a good camera to use for professional grade photos? How does it compare?

I ask because I'm in a private art school and will be taking photography courses next semester and they require professional grade equipment.

Thanks!

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2 Answers 2

up vote 3 down vote accepted

When this was introduced, it was a lower-end amateur-targetted model. But, that doesn't mean it's not any good. You're going to have to ask the school exactly what their requirements are for "professional grade". Many photographers have made astounding work with much less — and for that matter, many professionals these days use low-end DSLRs, because they offer great price/performance ratios and can be easily replaced. So, it's important to know the real requirements.

Unlike an digital camera, the film you'd use with any 35mm camera is the same, so for image quality, the body doesn't matter much. What matters is whether you'll have full control over the exposure factors. This camera offers both a full manual mode and some convenient automatic modes (including aperture priority, which many people like) — so that's good.

On the downside, the viewfinder only has 92% frame coverage, and while the finder will be nice compared to many low-end DSLRs today, 100% coverage is nice for composition.

So anyway, it's likely that the body is okay, but it really depends on what they're asking for. A bigger concern is likely lenses — you'll probably want some fairly fast (wide-aperture) lenses. Did it come with a 50mm? Is it f/1.4?

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Thanks! From what you are telling me I think that the camera is qualified enough. Lol. I have to wait until the semester starts to ask the school though. –  mfc Jul 8 '12 at 3:36
    
The lenses I have are: Zoon-Nikkor 35~135mm 1:35~4.5 #220098, Vivitar RL edition 28~135mm 1:3.3-4.5 macro focusing zoom mc No. 09407583 067mm, nikon lens series E 50mm 1:1.8 #3105865, Vivitar 17mm 1:3.5 MC wide-angle No. 37300166 067mm. I have no idea what any of that means. Lol. Are those any good? –  mfc Jul 8 '12 at 3:58
    
Those are all cheap lenses — not so-called professional — but there's enough to give you lots of flexibility. The two prime (non-zoom) lenses will probably give very good technical image quality. The two zooms are essentially identical in function — you should figure out which you like better and ditch the other. –  mattdm Jul 8 '12 at 13:12
    
For figuring out what the letters and numbers on the lenses mean, see photo.stackexchange.com/questions/496/… –  mattdm Jul 8 '12 at 13:13
    
(The serial numbers are generally not interesting information, by the way.) –  mattdm Jul 8 '12 at 19:20
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How interesting, I just found an old Nikon FG that I bought for my girlfriend (now wife!) back in 1983. It was about $450CDN at that time, but I think the US retail price was $335.

A quick scan of eBay seems to indiciate that the present value is about $110US.

It was a very good camera, and we took a lot of nice photos with ours.

However, digital makes everything so much more convenient these days (film is cheap, take as many photos as you like, and "develop" on your computer).

On the other hand, I know there are lots of people who still prefer film.

Enjoy!

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Yeah.. DSLR's are expensive but I'd love to have one! Our school requires us to use all film though. At least for Photo 1 and Photo 2. I believe they show us how to use the digital but want us to develop our own film to really learn about light and color. –  mfc Jul 8 '12 at 3:45
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