Thinking about picking up a FM2

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by spanky, Jul 18, 2008.

  1. Hi Everyone,

    I've been tossing around the idea of getting another 35mm camera as a alternative to my RZ67 for those days where I
    don't purposely head out to shoot but still want a camera within arms reach for the occasional grab shot. I have a
    Pentax PZ-20 but don't want to jump around menus and have to toggle through a bunch of options. Simplicity is the
    order of the day for me. I just want one body and one prime lens either a 28mm or 35mm. I probably won't even
    bother with the TTL meter but will base my exposures on Sunny 16. So when I started thinking of a mechanical
    camera with analog controls I thought of Nikon. An old darkroom guru suggested the FM or FM2 series. After doing a
    little research, it seems like this is a great camera that will fit my needs perfectly.

    So my questions are as follows:

    I plan to purchase one used. I'll be going to a local camera show soon to see what any sellers may have. Other then
    cosmetic issues and lens fungus, what should I look for that may indicate heavy use? Any way I can guesstimate
    the age based on the serial number?

    There seems to be a FM2N model as well. Any difference to the FM2?

    I also see that there is the FM2T with titanium body. At KEH, this body is considerable more expensive then the
    regular FM2 bodies. Any advantage to this?

    Since I'm new to Nikon, is there any series of lens that is considered ideal? I know that Nikon as a long history of
    quality, but technology changes so I'm guessing whatever the newest prime series (35mm or 28mm) will give me the
    best sharpness and contrast.

    Thanks for your replies.

    Be Well,


    PS - I live in LA. Any Nikon factory repair shop around? Just in case.
  2. Oh yeas and one more question. If I recall correctly, didn't Nikon announce a year or so ago they would stop manufacturing film cameras? If so how hard will it become to get parts in the near future?
  3. The pure FM2 differs from the FM2n in the shutter speed dial. The FM2 syncs with flash at 1/200, and the 1/200
    speed is out of the normal sequence. The FM2n syncs at 1/250, and that speed is marked in red within the normal
    sequence. Both models have "FM2" written on the front of the camera, so some people may use the FM2 name to
    describe an FM2n. There were very few real FM2 cameras made; the FM2n is far more common.
    Either is equally useful, except the FM2n might be slightly preferable if you use a lot of flash. The FM2 might
    be a little more valuable to collectors because of the rarity, I don't know.
    The FM2T has titanium in the top and bottom plates, I believe. It's supposed to be a bit more rugged and
    lightweight, but any model of the FM is already pretty rugged and lightweight.
    Also, there's the original FM. It'll be a bit old by now, since they stopped making them around 1982 or so. It
    has a max flash sync of 1/125, and max shutter speed of 1/1000. There are a few other minor detailed
    differences, but for practical purposes, it's essentially the same camera as the FM2n.
    For signs of use, check the film rails inside for wear. That gives a better idea of how many rolls of film have
    been through the camera, while the exterior condition gives an idea of how much the camera was banged up.
    Also, check the mirror foam above and in front of the mirror. The mirror hits this foam when it goes up to take
    a shot. If it's gooey, it'll need to be replaced. That can be a DIY job, or it might be something you'll send
    out for a reasonable fee.
    The FM series will take any Nikon lens that is at least AI and that has an aperture control ring. That includes
    all but the oldest manual focus lenses, and all but some of the newest autofocus lenses. But AF lenses vary
    quite a bit in their feel when focused manually. Many people (me included) prefer manual focus AI or AIS lenses
    for the FM series. There's no generally practical difference between AI and AIS, except for a few lens models
    that had specific modifications with the switch to AIS. Optical quality of the manual focus lenses is generally
    as good as the AF lenses. Mechanical quality is generally better. Focusing action is often far nicer.
  4. can't go wrong with the FM2. Just look for obvious signs of use on the body, inside the film chamber. go through the speeds, listen to the shutter, etc. Most FM2's are the N model, usually have an N before the serial number, and the flash sync is 250 instead of x200 on the original FM2. The original FM had a 125 flash sync. You have Nikon factory service in Torrance, pretty handy. Parts shouldn't be a problem, if not from Nikon you'll be able to to get some from a parts camera or local tech. I had an FM2n and loved it but sold it long ago. My FM body was less than $50 and works great, pretty much the same camera without the higher shutter speeds and flash sync.
  5. I wouldn't worry too much about wear. I'd be more concerned about problems due to lack of use. Either way, go for an FM2N. It's more recent and less likely to need servicing, even if it's been sitting unused for years.

    Before buying my FM2N several years ago (slightly used, looked almost new at the time), I'd handled an FM2 titanium. Seemed a bit precious for a slightly different body armor. I'd leave that to the collectors. The FM2N black finish is very durable and despite the fact that I don't baby my cameras it shows only minor brassing, mostly around the strap lugs and bottom rear edge where it contacts my belt buckle.
  6. Thanks for the quick replies guys. So I'll stick with a manual focus lens which being the rocket scientist I am will presume it will be described as such. I don't plan on using flash either so sync is unimportant.
  7. The FM2n is a nice camera.

    However, I strongly suggest my favorite all time Nikon manual camera, the now classic Nikon F2.

    If you purchase the least expensive Nikon F2 Photomic, with a DP-1 prism finder, there will be dozens of fantastic Nikon
    non-AI manual lenses available to you, selling for almost nothing, at places like eBay. These non-AI manual lenses are
    not compatible with the majority of Nikon Digital camera bodies, so you can get these fantastic lenses really, really,

    Non-AI lenses are not compatible with the FM2n, either. So,you will have to buy the more sought after, more expensive
    Nikon AI or AIS lenses for the FM2n.

    The Nikon F2 is a professional body, the FM2n, while being a nice camera, is not a professional grade camera body.

    The Nikon F2 is absolutely the best made Nikon manual camera body ever manufactured and you can buy an excellent+
    sample for the same price or less than a Nikon FM2n in a similar condition.
  8. Marc

    Others above have described the main differences between the FM series, the FM2, the FM2N series, and the FM2T with regard to flash synchronisation speeds. Serial numbers are the higher the number, the younger the camera. The FM2N series have a "N" preceding the serial number. The FM2T has a "T" preceding its serial number.

    The FM2 and first version of the FM2N have titanium shutters. The subsequent versions of the FM2N (and the FM2T) have an aluminium shutter (from the Nikon F801/N8008).
  9. The FM, FM2 or FM2n is a nice fully manual camera, but I think people put too much emphasis on the fully manual part. These cameras are the match-LED versions of match-needle cameras of old. If the light or the subject is changing, your exposure will often be less accurate than if the camera was tracking it for you. They're recommended for students, and I think they're a good learning tool, but they're also not built to the same standards as the pro bodies. The minute I got an F3HP, I never used my FM again. Sure, it needs a common LR44 type battery, but even with a dead battery you can still fire it at 1/80 second. Given the dismal values of film SLRs today, you could get a decent F2, F3 or F100 for a reasonable price, and they're all far better cameras.
  10. Thanks for suggesting alternatives Robert and Conrad. I just checked out KEH and the F2 photomic bodies seem reasonably priced until you get into the newer AS models which take the AI lenses. I'm heading out to Samys Camera in Hollywood today. I'll take a look and see what they have.
  11. As Conrad mentioned, get yourself a good F3HP...You WON'T be sorry. I have one, and it's by-far my favorite 35mm camera of all time.
  12. I've had an F3HP and FM2N for several years. Can't say I prefer one over the other for general photography. Each has strengths and weaknesses.

    BTW, my only concern about getting an F2 would be factoring in the cost of a CLA. It's a much older camera than the FM2N and might not be a bargain at the same price if it also needs servicing. OTOH, it's a beautifully crafted camera, so well worth considering.

    F3HP vs. FM2N:

    1. Viewfinders: F3HP is great, FM2N ain't bad at all. I prefer the F3HP for architectural studies, landscapes and nighttime photography from a tripod. For casual nighttime handheld use I prefer the FM2N.

    2. Meter readout: F3HP is a miserable joke, tiny, dim gray LCD. FM2N red LEDs are bright, easy to see in any light, day or night. Guesswork? Nah, not if you're comfortable with the film you're using. The FM2N LED readout is too often criticized for not being precise enough when the fact is the F3 is no better. Neither is an analog needle and frankly, analog needles are grossly overrated. They're difficult to see in dim lighting and few of us need that sort of precision. If we did, we'd be using a handheld incident or spot meter, not TTL metering.

    3. "Pro" build? Countless pros and serious amateurs have slogged through miserable conditions with the FM-series. They hold up just fine. The F-series are better; that doesn't mean the FM-series are inferior.

    I think the intangible is pride of ownership. If that's a factor for you, and this is the last 35mm SLR you'll ever buy, then get what really appeals to you. Other than that, there's not much the other cameras can do better than the FM2 or FM2N.
  13. You may want to check this for more info:

    I love the fm2... Is a joy to use with MF lens, and you can operate the controls very fast. Is no silence, but on a normal street you won't get noticed.
  14. Thanks Lex. I'm seeing a lot of F2 and F3 bodies with non functioning meters. These are going for less money of course and since I don't plan on using the meter the cost is brought down to where a FM2N would be. I'm just curios though if there was a issue with these meters that Nikon never hammered out or something else. I'm still debating between the two.
  15. Mark, I wouldn't bother with an F3 with anything non-functioning. Even if it's just the dim gray LCD meter readout that's faded out. Since the F3 is heavily dependent on electronics, if anything electronic goes wrong, everything is suspect.

    I'm not saying you shouldn't consider the F2 or F3. Just be prepared to factor into the budget the cost of a CLA and possible parts replacement costs.

    An FM2N is probably the most practical purchase among the entire Nikon manual focus lineup. The FM3A is younger, but not cost effective. The FM2N is young enough that it probably won't need any servicing, and the used prices are very reasonable.

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