Lens and purchasing advice for Nikon FM2/n

Discussion in 'Film Camera Forum' started by nickthetasmaniac, Aug 10, 2015.

  1. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac SC Veteran

    Jan 20, 2014
    Launceston & Sydney
    Nick Clark
    Hi everyone, I also posted this over at RFF, but hopefully some people have some good tips here too :)

    I have a bit of a thing for mechanical cameras and I've been seriously thinking about picking up a Nikon FM2 or FM2n. I've mostly shot with Pentax SLRs before, and so don't have a great deal of experience in the Nikon world. The lens nomenclature especially has me completely stumped!

    So, the advice I'm after:
    - Is there anything I should be keeping an eye out while looking for a body? Any recurring, costly issues? Anything that needs frequent servicing or may need to be replaced?
    - Is there any real user difference between the two models besides flash synch (I never use flash)?
    - Any lens suggestions? I will probably just get a 35mm or 50mm for the time being, and don't really have a preference between the two.

    I have fairly general photographic interests, focussing on landscape, travel and street. The Nikon will be complementing a Leica M2 and most likely replace a Pentax MX.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. lenshacker

    lenshacker SC Veteran

    Nov 21, 2014
    Nikon... I've heard of them...

    15630096978_1eb83742fa_o.jpg Nikon_4decadesA by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

    I have the FM and FE2, the latter requires a battery- but very close to the FM2. The earlier FM2 and FM2n use a honeycombed titanium shutter- which (I've read) was discontinued due to the chemicals used to manufacture it. The FM is unique among Nikons to use Gallium Arsenide photodetectors, FM2 used Silicon cells.

    The FM/FM2 is Nikons answer to the smaller sized SLR's like the OM1 and Pentax MX. If you want the best all-mechanical Nikon SLR made: The F2 from about 1973 on is the one to look at. It is full-sized, and the motor-drive for it is big and heavy.

    These days- I use the Nikon Df, still use the Nikon RF's and the F2Sb and F2AS. The difference: ~1978 Nikon changed the meter coupling to "Automatic Indexing" from using the "prong" (Bunny Rabbit Ears). The lenses made before 1978 can be converted. "Factory converted Ai'd" lenses means the aperture ring was changed on the lens; otherwise the aperture ring of the older lenses can be modified for ~$30 or so.

    Nikkor-O 35/2, wide-open, Factory Ai converted

    13984573622_bf23006639_o.jpg Luray Caverns by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

    Nikkor-UD, 20/3.5, wide-open, Ai'd by modifying aperture ring,

    14242869560_a9b242e3fd_o.jpg Pilot-s Day 2014, Nikon Df by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

    Nikkor 50/1.4 Ai, wide-open,

    20115101898_709b9dcfc7_o.jpg Navarre Pier by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

    The best of the less expensive Nikkor lenses: Nikkor-UD 20/3.5 (big, 72mm filters); Nikkor 24/2.8 (older has a long throw, heavier build, the one to get); Nikkor-O 35/2 (and -OC, will need to be Ai'd if not done); 50/2 (any, early ones with -H or -HC need to be Ai'd); 50/1.8 Ai series; 50/1.4 Ai; 85/1.8; 105/2.5; 135/3.5.

    Some other examples by album-

    https:[email protected]/albums
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2015
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  3. MoonMind

    MoonMind SC Top Veteran

    Dec 29, 2013
    Very profound information in the post above. I have just two little things to add: If you can lay your hands on a FM3A, I'd consider that as well - it's a fantastic cameras and manages to provide the best of both worlds, FM* and FE* ... And I have a lens suggestion: the 45mm pancake is very special and also very sharp (though not as bright as other lenses). It's hard to come by, but great to have and shoot.

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  4. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Bill Palmer
    I strongly second the suggestion of an FM3a - the last hoorah of the great Nikon manual focus bodies. I have had two over the years and they are one of my all-time favourite manual SLRs alongside the OM2sp and the Contax RX.
  5. lenshacker

    lenshacker SC Veteran

    Nov 21, 2014
    8327942798_0f871ff92f_o.jpg Panatomic-X, Nikon F by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

    The Nikon F2 is to the SLR as the Leica M3 is to the Rangefinder... a friend told me that over 35 years ago, at about the time that this picture was taken. Used a 1962 Nikon F Photomic "Bullseye" with 43~86/3.5 Ai Zoom-Nikkor.
    taught a 9-year old girl to use the F2a with 24/2.8 Nikkor-NC factory Ai converted. Still have the F2a, traded the lens with an N8008 for a Nikon S4 and S-Mount lenses. Still have the F Photomic Bullseye and lens used for this shot.
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  6. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac SC Veteran

    Jan 20, 2014
    Launceston & Sydney
    Nick Clark
    Thanks for everyone's thoughts.

    The F2 is bigger than I'd like, and while an FM3a would be fantastic, I expect it's beyond what I'm willing to pay...

    Thanks especially for the lens suggestions, I'm beginning to get an idea of what to keep an eye out for :)
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  7. trisberg

    trisberg SC Veteran

    Jul 5, 2011
    New Hampshire
    I think you would be happy with an FM2n and a 50mm 1.8 lens to start with. A 35mm AIS or even the 35mm AF lens would work too. I liked the 35mm f2.0 AF since it's light weight and focuses really close. If you would like a nice compact zoom lens the AIS 28~50/3.5 lens is pretty light weight and fits well size wise with the FM2n.

  8. lenshacker

    lenshacker SC Veteran

    Nov 21, 2014
    What's interesting about the FM/FE/FM2/FE2/FM3a: they are the same size as the Nikon Rangefinder cameras.

    "Coincidence? I Don't think so for the SLR's, just the Rangefinders..." (that was very bad...)
  9. lenshacker

    lenshacker SC Veteran

    Nov 21, 2014

    $50 for a black Nikon FM. Could not resist. I have one that is Mint, bought it "new old Stock" long after it went out of production, was found in the back warehouse of Penn camera. So for $50- got a good looking/not beat up user. Good camera to loan out for anyone wanting to try film. As opposed to the Black Nikkormat FT-3...

    Just one other piece of Nikon history- the F2 was the Last hand-assembled Nikon SLR. The Nikon S3-2000 and SP-2005 were also made by hand, 20 years and 25 years after F2 production ended. Nikon had to bring back some of the older employees to make the 21st century Rangefinder cameras. I have the repair manuals for the F, F2, S2, and SP. A re-issue of the F2 would be "Cost-Prohibitive", the SP-2005 was over $5,000. So an FM for $50- Double-Wow.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2015
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  10. lenshacker

    lenshacker SC Veteran

    Nov 21, 2014
    The $50 FM arrived- I will replace the light seals this weekend. Meter is perfect, "A good Photo-Diode last forever"...

    Put the 35/2 Nikkor-O on the FM and the 3.5cm F1.8 on the S3. The two best 35mm lenses that Nikon ever made.

    20664701876_1e769b7ac7_o.jpg fm_s3_2 by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

    20068406124_5227c70b2d_o.jpg fm_s3 by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr
  11. lenshacker

    lenshacker SC Veteran

    Nov 21, 2014
    A Nikon "Cult" lens, the Nikkor-S 5.8cm F1.4. This is Nikon's first F1.4 lens for the SLR, and is very similar to the optical formula of the Leitz Summarit and 1st generation Summilux. It shows the "Swirlies" due to residual astigmatism as you will find in many Leica lenses.

    11917838064_70a1dc4e2d_o.jpg nIKKOR58_F14_2 by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

    The Summarit split the last element of a classic Planar into 2 elements of lesser power; the Nikkor split the front element of the classic planar into 2 elements. Rendering is the almost same.


    11917668483_313407a084_o.jpg DSC_0896 by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

    11917668133_ecf6c8bf8d_o.jpg DSC_0900 by fiftyonepointsix, on Flickr

    Softer and low-contrast, sets it apart from later Nikkor lenses but very close to classic 1950s Leitz optics. Never made in Ai, so would have to have the aperture ring modified, ~$30 these days. I use this one on a Nikon F Photomic Bullseye and the Df.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2015
  12. Arbib

    Arbib SC Regular

    Aug 18, 2015
    all those N-Ai lenses will not work on an FM2/n... the Ai pin can not be raised out of the way.... but you know this already..
    I like the slightly newer Nikkor S 50mm f/1.4, still has an old timer classic bokeh... but not swirly wide open. And will need to be Ai'd also.

    Doesn't show bokeh... but shows colors and redering
    CC-Lr-015-2015 Jun 19-DSCF9517-Sodalis Pk Nature-XE2-N5014 by Peter Arbib -My General Galleries, on Flickr

    Shows some bokeh
    CC-Lr-012-2015 Jun 19-DSCF9514-Sodalis Pk Nature-XE2-N5014 by Peter Arbib -My General Galleries, on Flickr
  13. RT Panther

    RT Panther SC All-Pro

    Dec 25, 2012
  14. Arbib

    Arbib SC Regular

    Aug 18, 2015
    I see you are really liking that Df..
    The 85mm f/2 is one I want…
    What lenses did you take these with?
  15. nickthetasmaniac

    nickthetasmaniac SC Veteran

    Jan 20, 2014
    Launceston & Sydney
    Nick Clark
    I may have located a decent silver FM2 in my price bracket, which will mean that I'm in the market for an appropriate 50mm (as discussed above) :)

    Send me a PM if anyone has anything of interest!