Film for the Fiancee

I would like to introduce you to the Nikon FM2n. Pretty, ain’t she? Originally released in 1983, she was in production until 2001. That’s a long time for a camera!

She has a light meter inside, but other than the meter, she’s all mechanical. Mechanical film winding, focusing, aperture, shutter…she doesn’t need a battery to work. Try that with your dSLR.

Though there are a number of fully mechanical SLR’s out there, the FM2n is special (at least in my book) because it is one of the fastest mechanical SLR’s ever made. Top shutter speed is 1/4000s with a flash sync speed of 1/250s. Compare that with modern dSLR’s that have the same flash sync of 1/250s and max shutter speed only 1 stop higher at 1/8000s.


I got a great deal on this gal. I normally see FM2n bodies on ebay for $150 to $300. I kept on looking to try to get the best deal I could, and then I came across one going for $90 at my local camera store. The problem was that it had a “bent back”.

I checked it out and the bent back was the only problem. The sales guy asked me a couple of times if I was sure I really wanted it. I guess he wanted to be sure I was willing to shell out $90 to deal with a film camera with back cover that was hard to close. But I had different plans.

I got the camera home. Took out a broken Nikon FE that I had been given (for free since it was broken and the original owner had no use for it). And simply switched the backs. It took ten seconds and I had a perfectly functional FM2n for $90. Well…I was a bit proud of myself. Still am I guess.


Next step? Check out the camera to make sure the shutter was running consistent. That’s the problem with old cameras, and mechanical cameras in particular. Parts can grow stiff and shutter speeds can get inaccurate. I loaded the camera with a roll of Tri-X black and white film. Shot it at ISO 800 instead of 400 so I could take pics in a wider variety of light conditions.

The results? See below. Lens was a Nikkor 50/1.4 AIS. An upcoming post will show these shots side by side with D700 images of the same subjects.

I’m really happy with the pics and very happy with the camera. I’m not keeping it for myself though. No no. It’s going to my fiancee. Her first 35mm SLR which she’ll use to learn about photography. I asked her a few times if she’d rather learn on a digital SLR, but she’s insisted on film. My kind of gal. She loves dogs. But this isn’t her dog. This is Izze.

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