Nikon FM

Discussion in 'Collector's Corner' started by malkav41, Oct 17, 2009.

  1. malkav41

    malkav41 TPF Noob!

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    I'm thinking about buying a Nikon FM camera, and wanted to get some input about the camera. I've Googled til the cows came home, but I guess I'm wanting a personal/users opinion.

    Is it a decent camera?

    What would be a reasonable price to pay for one?

    How does the metering measure up?

    Etc...

    Thanks for any input I get,
    Ed
     
  2. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I used a 1977-vintage Nikon FM for many years. It was my favorite camera. I used it extensively with the MD-12 motor drive unit. It has good a good gallium photo diode metering system that uses red LEDs to indicate +/- and dead-on exposure. It uses the then-standard Nikon pattern of 60/40 center-weighted metering, with 60 percent of the sensitivity in the central, scribed 12mm circle of the viewfinder. The light metering is very reliable and dependable,and is adjustable in 1/3 stop ISO increments.

    NOT many people are aware of it, but this camera can be used with the shutter speed dial notched to incremental speeds, meaning if it's 1/90th you want, set the shutter between 1/60 and 1/125...this works across the speed range.

    The FM has an Ai-coupling tab which is liftable, allowing it to do stop down light metering with pre-AI or non meter coupled accessories like bellows, telescopes, or old/cheap lenses with no meter coupling tab. The camera will shoot without batteries,and is very rugged. I am not sure what the current prices are on the used market. KEH and eBay are two good sources to get current pricing.
     
  3. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    This works only from 1/90 and up. Below 1/90 its the usual "gear shift" arrangement.

    Also, there are two variations of the FM. The original version had a shutter release lock incorporated into a collar around the shutter release. You have to lock the mechanical release on the body to enable the operation of the MD-11 & 12 motor drives. The lock also disabled the meter power switch in the wind lever; the motor drive switches the meter on and off. Nikon found there was some user difficulty with this arrangement.

    The FE, the FM's sister, was introduced with the shutter release lock incorporated in the wind lever. When the lever is in the standoff position the meter is on and the shutter release is unlocked. Shortly after the release of the FE, the FM was tweaked to have the same shutter release lock system introduced with the FE. When sold new, at least in the US, there was a small dot in the corner of the box indicating the revised version.
     
  4. compur

    compur No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The FM is one of my all-time favorite Nikon models. I've owned and used FMs and
    similar models (FM-2, FE, FE2) since the late 1970s. They are all great in my book
    and combine useful features and reliability in a compact size. Of course the best
    feature is that they accept Nikkor lenses.

    FM bodies usually sell for about $50-$100 depending on condition.
    A mint one might be more.

    Never had any metering problems with an FM, FE series cameras.
    Lots of details on the FM here:
    http://mir.com.my/rb/photography/hardwares/classics/nikonfmseries/fm/index.htm

    Note that the FM has one exposure mode: metered manual. If you need
    an auto exposure mode choose the FE/FE2 models.
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2009
  5. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Feel free to read the camerapedia.com entry for the Nikon FM, about 95% of which was written personally, by me. I loved the FM! it was a much better peforming camera than its contemporary, the Pentax MX, which I also owned, and which was very similar in operation, as was the Yashica FX-3 which I also owned, but which lacked a depth of field preview button.

    Nikon FM - Camerapedia.org
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2009
  6. malkav41

    malkav41 TPF Noob!

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    So then, I made a good choice in choosing the FM. COOL! :)

    So according to what I read @ Camerapedia, and in Dwig's reply the FM can use Pre-AI lenses. This includes Nikkor lenses with the "Rabbit-Ears", but used in stop down mode. Correct?

    Thanks for the replies!
    Ed
     
  7. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Yes, pre-AI lenses with the solid, non-hole-bearing "rabbit ears" or "buckhorns" are usable on the FM. Metering is by the stop-down method.
     
  8. compur

    compur No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yes and they don't have to have the "rabbit ears" (meter coupling prong).

    When using non-AI lenses:

    - before mounting the lens find the little tab at the 1:00 position on the lens mount.

    - flip the tab up out of the way (there is a little release button beside it)

    - now the non-AI lens can be mounted and used with stop down metering method

    - don't forget to put the tab back down before mounting regular AI lenses

    It doesn't matter if any lens (AI or non-AI) has the meter coupling prong or not with
    the FM because there's nothing on the FM to mate with it. So any lens with Nikon
    mount and an aperture ring can be used including non-AI, AI, AIS, E-Series,
    AF Nikkor and AF-D Nikkor.
     
  9. malkav41

    malkav41 TPF Noob!

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    Well, in the next few days I will be the owner of a Nikon FM!

    This will let me put the Series E 50mm 1.8 lens I have had doing the paperweight routine to good use!

    I thank everyone who replied for the very helpful information!

    UPDATE: I finally got the camera, and it's great!
    Only problem I found with it is the shutter release lock won't turn w/o using needlenose pliers, and I don't want to futz up the black finish on the camera.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2009

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