Nikon FA front focus adjust

A very short post about solving (at least hoping to have solved it) a front focus problem I had with my newly bought 1987 (probably) Nikon FA (here shown side by side with an Olympus OM30):

Nikon FA vs. Olympus OM30

There is a lot of nice attention to details in the construction of the Nikon FA. With age, however, some of the settings will change. I was unhappy to see that none of my lenses seemed to focus correctly to infinity (the lens barrel would show 6 m when the split prism viewfinder would indicate infinity focus). Thus, a front focusing problem. What to do ?

Since there was also a slight misalignment of the mirror angle itself (image in focus in the center but out of focus in the upper part of the focusing screen was one good diagnostics), I tried to move the only screw that looked like the ‘eccentric pin’ for mirror adjustment mentioned in the FA manual. Turning clockwise for maybe 15° seems to have solved the problem.

Nikon FA mirror eccentric pin

Both the focusing and the lack of  parallelism with the film plane of the viewfinder are gone. I took me several hours to dig some information on this matter (without actually founding a lot) and 5 minutes to actually solve it by using a kitchen knife. There was a risk of damaging the camera, so don’t follow this advice if you don’t feel at ease with fine mechanics. It is important that you first diagnose the problem correctly. Good luck.

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4 thoughts on “Nikon FA front focus adjust

  1. I seem to have the same front focus problem. When I do a very clear focus in the view finder, the final film seems to focus at somewhere near. I don’t know if it’s the mirror’s problem, or it’s just something wrong with the focusing screen. I’ll verify the problem this weekend. By the way, where did you find the Nikon FA manual? I didn’t see anything about ‘eccentric pin’ in my manual.

    • I’m sorry to hear you have a similar problem as mine. The Nikon FA manual I mentioned must have been a repair manual recovered from the web – I cannot find it anymore. As for the “repair”, I was not very confident in what really the pin is doing and it is likely that an adjustment directly to the focusing screen would be a better solution to the problem. Anyway, to see the effect of the modification, I used a small glass plate with a repositionable Scotch 3M tape in the place of film (with an open aperture and 50mm lens f/1.4 wide open).

      I hope you will be able to repair your camera.

  2. Hi,

    I’m experiencing the same problem. I’ll take it to an independent repair shop and I’ll let you know the results. This wonderful camera worths it.

    Here you have the repair manual for the FA (as well as other Nikons): http://arcticwolfs.net/ (and there go to Nikon service manuals tab in the left). There I’ve been also unable to locate the pin (element 239 in the diagram).

    It looks like there are two parts that can be adjusted. The screw for the mirror that you have documented (thank you very much!!!) and there are also 4 variable rings in the focusing screen supporting screws that control the focusing screen height and therefore the distance/focus that should be the same distance to the film plane.

    Hope this will help.

    • Thank you for the link for the repair manual. I would think that focusing screen adjustments would be the better solution but a pro would surely know. Good luck with the nice FA!

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