I’ve shot with a Nikon FM ever since I was gifted one by a close friend, I love the FM series and I know everything you need to know!
The Nikon FM and FM2(N) cameras are an incredible series of mechanical SLR cameras that can withstand nearly anything. The lenses available for these cameras are also phenomenal, which is why the Nikon FM series were often the ‘professionals backup camera’. These cameras can be used without batteries but even so, they’re so well made that the light meters usually work for a long time (the same can’t be said for the Pentax K1000 which has numerous common issues.)
If you want to know how to use, what photography it’s best for, common faults and much much more then carry on reading this article.
Nikon FM & FM2N Compared
There isn’t too much that sets the FM and the FM2N apart, the FM2N is clearly a better option but it’s significantly more expensive. We’ll compare the two to see if you really need the 2N or could stick with the cheaper FM.
|Price With Lens (2022)||$200-$250 (£150-£200)||$400-500 (£250-£350|
|Shutter Speeds||1 – 1/1000th||1-1/4000th|
|Build||Very Strong||Very Strong|
|Ease of Use||Easy||Easy|
|Aesthetics||Good||Better In Black|
|Chance Of Fault||Low||Low|
|Use Without Battery?||Yes||Yes|
The three main differences between the Nikon FM and Nikon FM2N are their shutter speeds, flash sync speed and price. Most FM2n’s were made with a titanium shutter curtain which was able to shoot twice as quickly as competitor’s cameras when they were first produced. Also, the FM2n boasted a flash sync speed of 1/250 rather than 1/125, this means you can shoot flash photography in much more different circumstances than with the FM. When it comes to deciding between the FM2n or the FM, the question is really about price, if you don’t think that you need 1/4000 shutter speeds or a higher flash sync then you can save yourself a whole lot of money by just going for the Nikon FM.
Practically all other features are the same for both of these cameras and there doesn’t seem to be any notable common faults because they’re both built so well.
How Much Is The Nikon FM In 2022?
The Nikon FM is around $200-250 or £150-200 if it comes with a lens. For the body only the Nikon FM is $150-175 or £100 -130.
How Much Is The Nikon FM2N In 2022?
The Nikon FM2N is around $400-500 / £250-350 if it comes with a lens. For the body only it is $325-400 / £200-250.
What Kind Of Photography Are The Nikon FM & FM2N Best For?
The Nikon FM Series are the best for extreme temperatures or conditions. They are especially hardy cameras and are known as the ‘professionals backup’, they were even the preferred camera for many professionals. These cameras can be used for many different types of photography, despite how basic the camera’s settings are. Street photography, documentary photography, travel photography, documenting daily life, editorial and portrait photography would all be brilliantly suited to the FM series. The phenomenal lenses available make this set-up a real winner. For instance, the 50mm 1.8 lens can focus as close as 0.45m which can provide you with some amazing portraits.
I probably wouldn’t use this for anything like nightlife photography although you obviously could. You could use this for landscape photography and it would produce great shots but there are certainly better cameras for that kind of work.
What Film Stock Should I Use?
The Nikon FM series deserves a good film stock if you can afford it, something like Kodak Portra 400 or Kodak Portra 800 would be great, or if you’re shooting in black and white then something like Ilford HP5 would be good.
If you want to buy some film and you’re not sure what to buy or where then this article will solve all of your problems.
How To Use The Nikon FM/FM2N?
The Nikon FM Series cameras are quite simple, with very few extra functions it means they’re quite easy to become accustomed to!
To Use The Self Timer, there is a small lever on the front of the camera, just to the left of the lens. You Just need to pull down the lever and press your shutter button.
To remove your lens, there is a small circular button to the right hand side of the lens. You need to hold the circular button while twisting your lens clockwise. To put your lens back on you don’t need to press the button, you simply have to find the spot that the lens will fit on and rotate it anti clockwise to lock it in place.
To control your shutter speed is very simple, when looking at the top of your camera, you’ll see the numbers 1000 – 1 if you’re using the FM or 4000 – 1 if you’re using the FM2N. You simply have to rotate this dial in order to choose the correct shutter speed.
To change your aperture, you just have to change it on the lens, usually, it’s at the base of the lens, it may show numbers from 1.8 to 22 or something similar. Simply rotate your aperture ring to choose what aperture you’d like.
To Lock Your Shutter Button is easy, on the Nikon FM, there is a metal ring that surrounds the shutter button, one has a red notch and one has a black notch. Black means you can shoot and red locks your shutter button. It is easy to accidentally do this and to think that there’s an issue with your camera, so it’s worth checking if you’ve accidentally locked it. On the FM2n there is a small black lever that’s attached to the wind on lever, you can just move the lever and it will lock the shutter button.
To change the ISO/ASA, there is a small window on the same dial as the shutter speeds, you simply have to pull upwards on the outside of the dial and rotate until your ISO matches that of your film speeds.
To open up the film back there is a small switch by the rewind lever that you have to push one way while pulling up your rewind lever. The small switch is there so that your film back doesn’t open up by accident at any point. You have to return the switch back once you close your film back.
To load film is quite easy, once you have your film back open, place your film canister into the left-hand side, pull your film across and catch it onto one of the teeth on the right had side. You have to press a small button on the bottom of the camera directly below where you attach your film, this makes it so you can properly wind your film on. Once your film is attached, I always take a shot and wind the film on while the back is open so I can see that it’s definitely wound on. Once you’re done you can close your back and go shooting!
To change the batteries there is a small circular compartment on the bottom of the camera with a clear slot running through the middle. All you need is a coin to fit in the slot and twist it anti-clockwise to open. If you’re finding it especially hard to open the compartment then the previous batteries may have corroded and the acid may have completely jammed the compartment. In this case, it’s very hard to get inside, previously I’ve tried wetting the area with white vinegar, this breaks down the corrosive battery acid, but it’s a long shot.
Common Faults With The Nikon FM?
Fortunately, the FM cameras are so well built that there isn’t really a common issue. I think that sometimes they can lock up a little and you can find out how to fix that here.
Otherwise, you have to look out for fungus or dust in your lenses as you do with all SLR cameras, fungus and dust are very common, they don’t always make your lens too bad to use, but after a certain point, it’s far too much!
You’ll also probably need to replace your light seals which is very common in old SLR cameras. If you are getting light leaks in your images then you definitely need to replace your light seals which is very easy to do as you can see here.
These cameras are really brilliant, I’ve shot with an FM and FM2n for years and I really can’t fault them. In a world where nothing seems to last, these cameras are still alive and kicking like the tanks they are. If you’re just getting into photography or you’re thinking of switching to one of these cameras, I would always say that you definitely should!
Thanks for reading, lots of love!