It was a book I read about Steve McCurry's career as an photographer. One of his famous pictures is the photograph he took for The National Geographic of an Afghan girl with the bright green eyes, You probably have seen it before.
“Steve McCurry used this camera when he took a picture of the Afghan Girl”
In this book he told us that he uses a Nikon FM2 during those days because it was a fast, durable and light camera which is great when you shoot in war zones.
At that moment I was looking for a new camera which should have exactly those qualities. The reason was that I was using a Nikon F4s which was quick and durable but certainly not light,
On eBay I started to look out for these cameras and did some research on YouTube to get to know the camera a bit better. The different types were mentioned quite often. Especially the Honeycomb-Pattern Titanium Shutter which were supposed to last 100.000 exposures in stead of the normal 50.000 and enabled for the first time in a regular commercial production SLR camera to break the 1/4000sec shutter speed barrier.
The FM was introduced in 1977 as a mechanical manual camera with a built in three LED + 0 - meter. It was replaced by the FM2 in 1982 by adding a brighter screen and faster shutter speeds to 1/4000, only to be upgraded in 1984 by the FM2n with a 1/250s flash sync.
”The M stands for Manual”
There were one more option I had to choose from, do I want a chrome or black camera. As you can tell I prefer black as it does not stand out as much. Finally I found my camera for $450,00 in Japan via eBay in black with titanium shutter.
As soon as it arrived I ordered the right strap which I had seen on instagram, a nice simple black leather strap with waxed cord bindings, the 120cm Bronkey Tokyo (see first picture).
“A nice leather strap finishes the camera of quite nicely”
The camera is very easy to handle. The LED light meter tells you very clearly if the exposure is right, over or under exposed. Turn the shutter speed dial and/or lens aperture ring until the LED lamp for correct exposure lights up. Focus on the subject by rotating the lens focusing Ring. The FM2n uses a K2 split screen focussing screen.
The knobs and buttons are placed very comfortably and logical. On top you find the shutter speed dial and the shutter release button. The shutter speed dial is also used to select the ISO speed of the film in your camera.
The camera locks when the advance lever is flushed against the camera body, so the film advance lever doubles as a shutter release button lock.
On the bottom of the camera you'll find the battery chamber lid. You'll need a 3V lithium battery like the CR1/3n to activate the light meter.
You could still take pictures if the battery runs out, just without an active light meter.
“It's fully mechanical and operates even without a battery”
Rewinding your film is also manual labour, just press the small film rewind button on the bottom of the camera and rewind the film by lifting the film rewind crank and turn it in the direction of the arrow.
This is my favorite camera for light travel. it's straightforward and very durable. it will reliably operate in temperature extremes of −40°C to +50°C. This camera will become your friend in no time. It has never let me down and it's just plain fun to take pictures with it.
“It will reliably operate in temperature extremes of −40°C to +50°C.”
Some pictures taken with the Nikon FM2n