My first camera - Nikon Fm2n 35mm SLR - Questions, questions questions!

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by stuart_young|1, Jul 6, 2008.

  1. I just bought my first ever camera - a Nikon Fm2n. People tell me it's a good choice but the next question is what lens do I buy. I'm skint so
    can only buy one general purpose lens to cover portraits and landscapes day and night... I'm told a 35mm is versatile, but which one do I
    buy? It's a minefields for beginners!

    Also - what other 'bare minimum' equipment do and I need, what film (colour and b&w) do i use and where can I get good prints developed in

    A lot of questions - my apologies! Any help will be gratefully recieved...

  2. Buy a good 50mm manual focus lens, like they used to sell in the good ole' days. A used one shouldn't be too much. Check out The classic Nikon 50mm 1.4 AIS manual focus comes to mind. Doesn't voigtlander offer a manual focus in the Nikon F mount? Then there is Zeiss. Those aren't cheap! But it would be hard to surpass the Zeiss planar in Nikon mount. And it should last a lifetime. And you can always send it into Zeiss for repair if needed. They'll be in business for a long time to come..
  3. I actually never bought a Nikon, although the FM/FM2/FM2n was the model line I oft looked at longingly. I agree, it is a good choice.

    As for lenses, it really depends on how you see and want to portray the world. You choices are wide-angle, normal, telephoto. You would do well with a 35mm, 50mm, 85mm in those choices.
  4. And for film...try Kodak Ultra Color. I can't advise regarding prints in London. But if you really get into this hobby, consider a Nikon 35mm film scanner.
  5. If your budget is really tight look at the f/2 Nikkor primes. These offer a reasonable compromise between price and performance. The 35/2, 50/2 and 85/2 Nikkors in the AI or AI-S mount are very good values. So are the Series E primes.

    Agree with the recommendation for Kodak Ultra Color. I use a lot of 400UC. It's readily available, reasonably priced and produces excellent results. Fuji color print films are also excellent. I don't recall whether Agfa still sells color print film. Also, Fuji and Agfa films have often been rebranded and sold under various "house" labels, such as the name of a drug store or grocery store chain. At least that was common practice a few years ago, tho' I haven't kept up recently.
  6. My favourites with this camera: my most used on trips, sharp and very small, the pankake AiS 45/2.8P. In the other side, if I need a faster lens, AiS 35/1.4. I like to use the PhotoEquip grip.

    If I were shooting portraits very often, I`d use a 50/1.4 lens as an all-round lens, the Nikkor is a bit soft but I like it, some people prefer the Zeiss. An AiS 50/1.8 first version could be also a good choice.

    I use mostly Velvia 100F chrome film and TX400 b&w film @400 ASA.Sometimes I switch to TMZ3200 b&w film @800ASA.
  7. First purchase: A good book.

    "Understanding Exposure: " by Bryan Peterson is good one.
    This book tells you how the meter works and how to get exposure you want in your shots. That may NOT be what the meter in your camera TELLS you is correct. That's a big distinction.

    So is ,

    "The New Manual of Photography" by John Hedgecoe.
    Covers the whole field of photography. You need to know this stuff. It also talks about lenses and shows pictures that detail how they work.

    Next, once you have an idea of what each lens can do, you can make a better decision on what YOU want. The reason I say that is because many people here may suggest different lenses because of what THEY like to shoot. while a 50mm lens will be the best deal for the money for speed and sharpness, there are some here who don't even OWN that lens because the field of view bores them. Some like wide angle lenses because of what they shoot. Some like portrait lenses. It all depends on their style.

    If I were to suggest a lens, for a beginner, it might be a short zoom, rather than a prime, fixed length lens. With that, you can experiment more and you'll learn what focal length suits you're style best. Then you can buy THAT size lens and know you'll use it.

    Keep in mind that just because you have a manual focus camera, it doesn't mean you MUST by a MF lens ! There are plenty of AF lenses that will work fine on your FM2n. In fact, ANY auto focus lens that is NOT a G type lens, and still have the aperture ring will work.

    For MF lenses, the 35mm and 50mm are good. You might look at the 35-70mm AIS zooms as well.

    You will find that as you move away from the 50mm lens focal length, the prices increase.

    A good source for lens reviews is
  8. Since you are new, start by dipping your toe into the water first. A 50mm f/2 or 50mm f/1.8 (AI or AIS) are
    good starters. After that, you can find out if you need a wider or longer lens by shooting for a while. Bang
    for your bucks lenses include:
    28mm f/2.8 AIS or 35mm f/2 AI or AIS
    50mm f/1.8 or 50mm f/2
    85mm f/2
    135mm f/2.8 (optional, find out if you need something in this focal length down the road. I didn't)
    200mm f/4

    For a nice all purpose lens which is sharp, the old 35-70mm f/2.8 AF (or AF-D) can be had for cheap. The
    focus feel won't be nice and a bit short too, but it is a nice walkabout lens for the city.
  9. The Nikon 35mm f2 lens is a very good all-around lens to start out with. I'd choose it over a 50mm lens, and you'll also appreciate the extra speed for focusing in low light over the 45mm f2.8 P lens, which I think is over priced and has poor ergonomics for what you have to pay.

    My favorite lenses are (all Nikon) 28mm f2.8 AIS, 35mm f2 AI (prefer the AI version for extra aperture tick marks that the AIS does not provide), 50mm f1.8 (any version), 55mm f2.8 AIS (the f3.5 is also good, but I like the newer brighter f2.8 version), 85mm f1.4 AIS (if you can afford it, it's a real gem), and the 105mm f2.5 AI or AIS (I again prefer the AI version).

    The FM series of cameras are built to last a lifetime. I have an old FM now (I had an FM2n until 2002 when I upgraded to an F100) and use it casually alongside my D300.
  10. Another idea is to browse the gallery and see what shots you like and hope the member posted what lens they used.
  11. I agree the 35 is great to start with but if you are thinking more about portraits buy a 50 f2 for a small amount of money and enjoy a lens that is great across the board. Even at F2 it's decent. A real sleeper.
  12. General consensus..... Get the 35mm f/2 and 50mm f/1.8 to start with. :)
  13. I would recommend a 50mm f/1.8 AIS for starting, those are really cheap and offer outstanding picture quality. FM2 feels best with manual focusing lens. You can use AF primes or zooms there (except G lens, those can't be used with the FM2) but the focusing ring is very loose and the aperture ring is very stiff. Manual lens feel just right.

    Of course AF lens will be more versatile if you buy an AF body later.

    This set up (FM2+50mm) will give you an starting point and you will be able to decide whether you want to go wider or shorter. Fortunately AIS lens are really cheap nowadays and you can get a very decent set up for little money.

    I agree with somebody else that is very important to get a good book and work the exposure. For example, It seems that FM2 tends to overexpose a bit. I find this to be true on mine, so that has to be in your mind when you are going to take a picture.

  14. I would buy a 35mm f/2 ai or ais. This lens gives you a very versatile field of view. Because you also want to do portraits, I would patiently look for a used Nikon 85mm f/1.8. If you get a good enough deal on a used non-ai 85mm you can have it converted to ai for $40 USD. That is the route I took, until I bought the autofocus 85mm.
    The 50mm 1.4 and 1.8 are great lenses, but I think it is inevitable that you will also want a wide angle and a short telephoto, so I'd skip the 50 for now.

    Definitely review the naturgraf website referenced above, it can help you avoid bad deals.
  15. You've made a great purchase. I bought my FM2 10 years ago and didn't have any money for a lens either. ipicked up a crappy, Sigma 37-70 zoom for less than $100 US. But I later got a Nikkor 50, a 28, a 24, and an 85, each for less than $100. What's great is that the demand for manual focus lenses is falling, so in time, you'll be able to pick up good used lenses that will last a long, long time. I took the attached shot three days ago with my FM2n and a 28mm, 3.something.
  16. link to aforementioned pic:)
  17. This camera is the poor man's Leica. I shoot mostly digital today, but I can resist a few rolls of color slides every now and then. Check out E-bay for lenses. I'm almost embarassed about the low prices I paid there for some of the world's finest glass.
  18. Great camera... a brilliant piece of engineering.

    I recommend an AIS 50mm/F1.8. Super sharp and lightweight.
  19. Congrats on picking up such a great camera as your first! Since you said you want "one general purpose lens to cover portraits and landscapes day and night", I would vote for a manual focus 50mm f1.8 as the first lens. There's a ton of those on eBay for very cheap.

    Also, pick up a good bag.
  20. Stuart,

    Hope you are still looking at the responses after the massive amount of good advice you received so promptly. It's good to now the MF film users are following this site still.

    My advice is different to the others and based your 2 main criteria - cost and novice status. Also, I live on the same side of the pond as you so understand that prices have not fallen as much as they should. For lens, go for the 30-70 zoom. Not one of nikons best, but you are developing technique and this is lightweight, cheap and easy to focus. The following site is must for all MF nikon users:

    This is the FM2 page, but scroll down to the bottom for links to lenses. Grays of Westminster are the best for equipment. Top quality at top prices. Campkins in Cambridge are good to deal with, but again, overpriced for the current market. I suggest that you poke around the internet to find equipment/dealers near you. Despite some peoples' views, ebay is a good place to shop.

    As for film, Fuji for colour and Ilford for B&W. I use the new(ish) delta B&W from Ilford as I like the low grain and high contrast. Try the ISO 400. Processing is a problem. There are still places who will send it away for you, but I prefer to do that myself and cut out the middleman and his percentage. Look on the internet for a pro-lab. Remember to send the film recoded/special delivery as the Post Office lost 4 rolls of film from a trip to Mull! I would also recommend you get a CD made when the film is processed. Much easier than scanning in prints.

    Finally, welcome to the world of film where you have to think about what you are doing.

    Andy B
  21. You mention landscapes and in the long run you will probably want a wide-angle lens for landscapes, which for your purposes is a 24, 28 or 35mm lens. For portraits I would recommend an 85mm or 105mm. So, you need to consider what lenses you wish to purchase in the long run. For a two lens kit that will serve you well I would suggest a 35mm and an 85mm. If you decide you want the versatility of three lenses (and I am just talking prime lenses), I would look at a 24 or 28mm, a 50mm and a 105mm.

    The recommendations of a good book or two is a good one. You have to be able to determine correct exposure...your camera has a light meter but the exposure it tells you to use may not be the correct one. The meter is just a tool, and like any tool you have to know how to interpret/use it.

    To start, I would recomment shooting Tri-X - a B&W film - because it has a very good lattitude, which means if exposure is off a little the film is very forgiving. You might also check into having this processed and proof sheets made instead of prints, which will cut your expense as you learn. A "proof sheet" is all your negatives contact printed on one sheet of 8x10 paper. An inexpensive 8x loupe will allow you to look at your pictures, and you should make a habit of closely checking your negatives for proper exposure. That way you can have printed any pictures you want, rather than paying for 24 or 36 of which you might want to keep two or three....

    You made a great choice for a film camera......have fun.
  22. great camera, but I believe it requires AI or newer lenses.
  23. Hi Stuart,
    I see this response is kinda late, but I hope it helps other new comers in future. Btw, even though I am a long
    time fan of this site, this is my first post and I am glad I can offer something meaningful here.

    I am going to address your question in two parts - landscape and portraits.

    First let us address the landscape part:
    I had a 50mm f/1.8 AFD from my D70 lens collection, that I used with the FM2 body (my 2nd) when I got it as a
    'gift' ;). However, as you and several others have pointed out, I felt the need for wider lenses as I shot more
    landscapes with this body. I am a tripod guy when it comes to landscapes (I learnt the hard way to lug it around
    when I travel) - so even though the thought of getting several lightweight primes was appealing (and in turn
    feeding my NAS), it is neither light on the wallet nor easy to carry when you are on a hike with a full size
    tripod or traveling cross country with one or two laptops (and the tripod).

    My search on this site and on google showed me a compromise - so I ended up with the 28-70 f/3.5-4.5 AFD (i.e.,
    with aperture ring) zoom lens. This is an autofocus lens. But you can get it used in mint condition for less than
    the cost of a new 50mm AFD f/1.8. When I use tripods for landscapes at any time of the day or night, I use the
    smaller apertures so max aperture is not a problem here. This lens actually produces good results too, and
    lightweight as well when you compare with other zooms. Well it is not a pancake 45mm lens - but you can get from
    28 mm - 70 mm on one twist... for me, the convenience of 1 heavier zoom beat the total weight of 2 or 3 lighter
    primes to cover the same focal range. your mileage may vary here.

    If you want to shoot portraits, you could go with any of the lenses suggested by others. Typically I use either
    50 or 85 mm focal range while shooting portraits, and any fast AI or AI-S lens will be good for low light
    situations. The good part with the aforementioned zoom is if you shoot iso 400 in good light, you don't need to
    swap lenses, but still shoot portraits at 70mm. For low light situations, yes you need fast portrait lens - you
    can get a 50 and/or 85 (and/or any of the numerous fast primes) for that purpose.

    To summarize, I would suggest considering this 28-70 zoom as a first lens for the fm2.

    Enjoy your new camera! Cheers,

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