Older Nikons

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by lauren_macintosh, May 1, 2011.

  1. I have acquired two Nikon's one is a Nikkormat FTN and a Nikkormat FT2 yes each has a different battery one is mercury the other silver oxide, But I place new batteries in each camera one was a wein battery and the a silver oxide 1.5 volt . But the darn meter on each camera does not wish to cooperate:
    I ran across the following statement that's below , and need some clarification on this statement Thanks to all that respond here:
    F (also unofficially Pre-AI, Non-AI or NAI) — Designation for the first generation of F-mount lenses, introduced in 1959. These were all single-coated, and meter coupling was provided by a prong (known as the Meter Coupling Prong) fixed to the lens's aperture ring. The Photomic T through-the-lens light meter introduced in 1965 worked at full aperture, so the maximum aperture of the lens had to be communicated to the meter by mounting the lens with the aperture ring set to f/5.6, and then turning the ring to first the minimum and then the maximum apertures. (The need for this step was eliminated by the AI system below.)
  2. Mount the lens with the aperture set at 5.6, then turn the lens aperture ring all the way to the minimum aperture, and then to the maximum aperture. This is called indexing the lens. It's also known as "The Nikon Shuffle." After you do this, you should see that the indicator located on the side of the lens mount, in front of the mirror lock up lever on your FTn should indicate the proper maximum aperture of the lens you have mounted. After you index the lens, you can then set any aperture you want and the camera will meter correctly.
  3. Age may have taken its toll. The FTN is from the 1960s. The FT2 was *new* in the early 1970s. Should you find a battery, the chances are slim that the meters will work -- and repair parts are not going to in-stock anywhere.
    Good luck!
  4. The explanation is a bit off, but comes close.
    The cameras both view and meter at full aperture when they use an automatic lens, as most lenses are. When you turn the aperture ring, you see no difference, because the lens stays wide open until you shoot. Since there is no change in light when you turn the aperture ring, the meter cannot measure the change, and must calculate it instead. In order to do this accurately, the meter must be set so that it "knows" the maximum aperture of the lens being used, as a base point. This is referred to as "indexing."
    When you mount the lens on a pre-AI type camera, you will see that the meter coupling claw on the lens engages a pin that couples it to the camera's meter. Later "AI" Nikons accomplished both coupling and indexing automatically using a tab on the back of the aperture ring, but in the later generation pre-AI models, including the Nikon Photomic FTn and the Nikkormat FTn and FT2, the indexing is semi-automatic. You should set the aperture to 5.6, simply to insure that the couplings engage correctly when you put the lens on. Once the lens is mounted and the prong engaged, you need to turn the aperture ring to maximum aperture then back to minimum, which will set the meter correctly. There's a little scale on the side of the lens mount, at about 2 o'clock as you face the camera, which should confirm that the camera is set to the correct max. aperture.
    All the coupled meters on Nikon F's and Nikkormats worked at full aperture, but before the FTN, the indexing had to be done by manually turning a dial, an easy task to forget. For some years I had an original Photomic F, and resetting the max aperture on the ASA dial was one of those things that was easy to omit when changing lenses in a hurry. The "Nikon shuffle" that becomes habitual with FTn's is an easy habit to acquire and a hard one to break. I still shuffle the lens on my F3 unless I remind myself not to.
    Any Nikon lens with a meter prong will work with the pre-AI system, and that includes most AI and AIS lenses, which were provided with the prong for backward compatibility. If you have a non-coupled lens on your Nikkormat, you can still meter, but you will need actually to close down the diaphragm to get your reading, either with the DOF preview button or, on a non-automatic lens, with the aperture ring.
  5. My vintage Photomic FTN (not a nikkormat) has a battery check button which causes a meter swing when depressed. If the meter does not budge either the battery or the meter itself is bad. Check the camera battery compartment for corrosion on the contacts and gently clean with a damp Q tip to remove the powdery stuff. Then use a pencil eraser and carefully shine the spring.
    Before I do the "nikon shuffle" I push up the camera body pin to reset the indexing. I agree with a previous poster that getting it repaired will be a difficult task. I also have a hand held meter which can be used to read the necessary exposure value. You might consider using an off camera measuring method to avoid the hassle of finding a good repair shop and paying the price. Good luck.
  6. Lauren -
    When you say the meter doesn't cooperate, you mean you get nothing at all?
    As you set various ASA speeds and twiddle the shutter speeds and lens aperture, something should eventually move if the metering is alive. As mentioned above, some battery corrosion can be the culprit, or other internal issues such as corroded wires (classic in merc cell cameras) and/or broken wires or dead circuits.
    I have a Nikkormat EL that I bought new back in the 70's and a recently acquired Nikkormat FT2 that both work well, so I may be lucky. They are neat bodies to press into service.
  7. Should you ever use the Nikkormats for flash photography, I offer a word of caution. The shutter speed ring is around the lens mount. When dismounting or mounting a lens and performing the famous "Nikon Shuffle", the speed ring may move from 1/125 to 1/250 (not good for flash synchronization). It happened to me on several important images, thus I no longer have cameras with this feature. In all honesty I found these cameras to have great build quality
  8. Thank you all , the battery compartments are fine and clean will try this Nikon shuffle and will advise of what happens thanks again:
  9. The "dried lube on the resistor ring", issue that stalls these old meters. Can sometimes be loosened by working the shutter speed ring to and fro gently through it's entire range. But first make sure you have a good battery with the correct voltage or it's modern equivalent. And make sure the battery contacts are cleaned with a mildly abrasive material.
  10. It should also be mentioned that the film advance lever needs to be pulled back from its rest position for the the light meter to operate.
  11. Looks like I got two duds : Hey you takes your chances and this is what you get some time : Thanks all
  12. Sorry to hear that since I was hoping one of the thread suggestions would work for you.
  13. Lauren, you can still get the Nikon F with the FTn meter prism worked on, it needs to be calibrated for the 1.5 volt alkaline batteries instead of the 1.35 volt mercury battery, which was discontinued in 1995. If you're interested in having this work done, my tech in Spokane, Washington can do it for you. Look up Alpine Camera Repair and give Glen a call.

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