Since I have used Nikon DSLR for many years. In fact, ever since my interest in photography started, it was only natural that my first analog SLR was also a Nikon. Otherwise the main requirements I had for a used SLR was that it had to function without the battery and be solid. That one have to focus manually and set the shutter and aperture was no problem for me because I think I learn a lot more if the camera is all manual. I landed quickly on Nikon F series and FM2 matched perfectly with my requirements. After a long (and good…) search session on ebay.com, an excellent item from japan appeared in my mailbox. In addition, I had got myself three lenses 35, 50 and 85 mm, which should cover most situations the camera should be used for.
Type: 35mm single-lens reflex (SLR) focal plane shutter camera
Film: 135 film cartridge.
Shutter speed settings: 1s ~ 1/4000s, Bulb
Viewfinder: Eye-level 93% coverage with shutter speed, f/number, and LED exposure display for exposure. Split-image micro prism focusing screen (K2).
Exposure meter: TTL center-weighted full aperture exposure measuring system
Frame counter: S, 0~36. Automatically reset.
Film sensitivity range: ASA/ISO 12~6400
Self-Timer: Set/cancel type provided. Approximately 10s.
Multiple exposure lever: Provided, disengages frame counter for correct count
There are a lot of lenses that fit this system, but I chose three different Nikkor AF-D lenses to go with this camera house. 35mm 50mm and 85mm. This camera house is not made with autofocus however I chose these lenses because I could also use them on my digital cameras. Nikon FM2N takes all Nikon F bayonet mount lenses that supports the Automatic indexing feature (AI). Nikon-made AI lenses of this type are the AF-S, AF-I, AF-D, AF, AI-S, AI and E types. The three focal lengths 35mm, 50mm and 85mm worked great for me. 35mm for landscape, 85mm for close portraits and details, and 50mm for everything in between. The lenses are small in size and all together is packed quite compact. And that is important to me because I am hiking a lot, and wants a lightweight backpack.
Other accessories worth mentioning
Interchangeable focusing screen: Matte/Fresnel with focusing spot (B2) and matte/Fresnel with focusing spot and etched grid lines (E2). Split-image rangefinder/microprism system K2 is standard
Motor Drive: The use of the MO-12 motor drive unit with the FM2 enables automatic film advance when the unit’s trigger button is pressed.
Flash: Speedlight can be directly mounted onto the FM2’s built-in hot shoe. Sync cord terminal.
Remote: Screw thread cable release
What I liked
- Due to its titanium honeycomb curtains it can go 1/4000s at its fastest. This is super fast especially for a camera made in the 80ties. I can take photos indoors on a higher ISO speed and continue outside without overexposure. At least to a certain degree. And it also give me the possibilities for a low depth of fields shot even in daylight.
- The focus screen area is large and I find it easy to obtain correct focus.
- Since the camera is fully manual, I can operate it without batteries. I very often run out of batteries when shooting in the cold arctic… The batteries is for the light meeter only, and the camera will function without it. A little harder to get correct exposure though.
- The camera is very solidly built, and I can imagine it will withstand some beating.
- All in all the weight and size of this system is low. I can easily carry it with me on my hiking.
What I didn’t like
Well, actually I can’t pinpoint any major problem with this camera system. But I can say that his camera is not for the person who depend on full automation. Another disadvantage is that analog photography has become increasingly popular in recent years and camera prices have unfortunately increased to values higher than I think they are worth. I have also read that the left-eyed people will have a problem with the film advance lever. The lever needs to be out in order to take a shot.
This is a very robust and steady camera. Easy to use and very convenient to throw down the backpack. However, after all the film rolls I have run through the camera, I have come to the conclusion that I prefer a larger format. That is no fault with the camera, only a limitation in the film format it uses. I find the full frame format (24mmx36mm) to be limited when making digital scans, and the grain can be a bit too much. And especially prominent at higher ISO film. Of course, there are cases where I’m looking for exactly that grainy expression, but if I have to choose, I prefer the medium format over the full frame format. So far, I have not made darkroom prints from the 35mm format, so I have no experience of how the resolution and grain appear on the paper. Hopefully, it will change soon because I want to build a darkroom with an enlarger.
Here are a few photos taken with the Nikon FM2N :
Source: Nikon FM2n manual.