A few months ago I bought one of the greatest cameras I have ever owned. The Nikon FM2N, yes the 35mm all manual, fully mechanical camera from the 70’s and 80’s.
So why is it so great?
If you have held or used the FM2 n you would know exactly what I am talking about. it is solid, its heavy and it is a feat of engineering perfection. Ok so not perfection, but it is pretty awesome. I spent time searching one out that was built when I was born (december of 1983) which really makes this camera special to me.
Here a video of me talking about this fantastic piece of kit.
The FM2 n doesn’t need a battery. Yes thats right, no electricity so if you are traveling you NEVER have to worry about recharging. However you can put a 3v battery in and it will meter giving you a + or – in the viewfinder. I however just used a free app on my iPhone and this worked perfectly.
It has the Nikon F-mount for lenses so every Nikon lens will fit on this baby. Although the newer ‘gelded (G)’ lenses will only work at their maximum aperture. Basically the lens needs to have the aperture ring on it so although all lenses fit you are somewhat boxed into older lenses or shooting at f22 or higher. With this in you hand its like stepping back in time, you have to go back to the foundations of photography and it is sooooo fun. A few things happen when you shoot with this camera, firstly it slows you down. You don’t just pop it in ‘auto’ then point and shoot, there is no auto for starters. You have to take your time thinking about the photo you ‘want to take’ rather than clicking and seeing what ‘photo you just took’. If you are an experienced photographer you may say you do this anyway but I would ask you to think of a time the you didn’t ‘just check’ to see if the exposure was ok. We just can’t help it. This vintage camera brings back some needed calm and tranquility back to photography.
The idea of shooting 500 frames in a day or on a trip is shrunk down to 24 or 36 per film. There is no deleting, no just shooting a quick 30 photos just to see if anything comes out. You quickly realise that every photo taken will take time and energy to develop and if you want to delete it you have to physically throw it in the trash. No quick swipe and it disappears into the virtual trash. It will sit there under your desk until it is collected and even then it just moves onto another place, maybe a dumpster or landfill, but it still exists. The only way to really get rid of that photo is to burn it and that seems a little extreme. I think this all sits somewhere in the subconscious so we take time to create a photo that we will not have to burn.Ok so I clearly love it bout is it really practical.
Yes and No…. it all depend on what you are doing. Its small yes but its not as small as a digital point and shoot. Would I use this to shoot for a client, no, because they usually want to see it as it is happening and more to the point I don;t think i could deal with the anxiety whilst waiting to see if I managed to get the right shot. For a day of street photography or a day trip out this camera is wonderful, you friends and family with love it and the photos will be nothing less than magnificent compared to the photos taken on your iPhone.
– No battery
– Compact compared to a large DSLR
– You get the most amazing feeling taking photos.
– The risk of not knowing is actually fun.
– Has metering so you don’t need to be a pro
– Cheap to buy ($150ish eBay)
– All analogue so you need time
– You cannot instantly review the photos
– Costs mont to develop
– if you want to share online you have to digitise
This is not going to be your only camera but it should be one of your cameras. I love it and I think everyone will.