The Nikorrmat/Nikomat FT-2 SLR camera
Basic Camera Operation - Part III


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Centering the Needle

This is how it looks when you are peeping through the viewfinder of a FT2. At the side is the meter indicator to show you whether it reads and suggest a correct, over or under expsoure for a given scene. The shutter speed selected is diaplyed at the bottom.

Sample Image.jpg
The center rings and outlines are for focusing aid and the 12mm circle to indicate the center weighted metering area of 60%. To determine correct exposure, adjust the aperture and/or shutter speed until the meter needle in the viewfinder is centered (the - and + marks let you know whether you are under- or overexposing).

A second meter needle is conveniently located on top of the camera for use with the camera held at waistlevel or mounted on a tripod. Eor fine adjustments of less than one f/number, use the aperture ring as it permits reliable intermediate settings.

Meter Window.jpg
Under extremely low light conditions the meter needle may center at the "B" setting on the shutter speed dial. If so, correct exposure time is 2 seconds. If the needle moves erratically or cannot be centered even after all possible aperture-shutter speed combinations have been tried, then the light is too bright or dim for the meter's range.

Effective range (coupling range) varies according to the lens and film speed used. For example, with the 50mm f/1.4 lens and a film speed of ASA 100, it extends from f/1.4 at 1/4 second to f/11 at 1/1000 second.

Getting the Right Exposure

The central part of the focusing screen should always be aimed at the main subject when centering the needle. Otherwise unimportant bright or dark areas may give an exposure reading which is too high or too low, resulting in under- or overexposure.

1. Measuring the bright area in the center of the screen will cause underexposure of the main subject. This is especially true if the main subject is lighter than 18% gray or under a backlight situation. Just meter the open-up a stop or two to compensate for the expsoure readings.

2. For correct exposure, first measure the light striking th main subject (In this case, note the shutter speed has been decreased (equivalent to open larger aperture value) then compose and shoot.

If an off-center composition is desired, first measure the light striking the main subject and set the aperture and shutter speed to center the needle. Then move the camera until the desired composition appears in the viewfinder.

For subjects of uniform tonal brightness, a reading may be taken from any part of the subject. However, if the subject is contrasty (sidelighted portraits, for example), measure the light falling on the most important part of the subject in which detail is desired in the final picture.

For landscapes including large areas of sky, tilt the camera downward during measurement or fill the center of the finder with the main subject to prevent underexposure of the main subject caused by the bright skylight.


Steady camera holding is important for best results, since even the slightest camera movement at the moment of exposure can result in an appreciable loss of sharpness, especially at slow shutter speeds. The photographs show the best way to hold the camera for rock-steady picture-taking.

Wrap the fingers of the right hand around the camera body so that the index finger rests comfortably on the shutter release button and the thumb fits between the body and film advance lever. This way you can stroke the film-advance without removing your eye from the viewfinder. Cradle the camera in the left hand for additional support, with the left thumb and index finger grasping the focusing ring. The camera may be switched from horizontal to vertical format in this position.


Nikon's standard manual focus Microprism/split-image screen where the center-weighted metering is outlined with the external 12mm circle.

Focusing is always done at full aperture with Auto Nikkor lenses. This gives the brightest possible image on the focusing screen for easy viewing and composing. It also minimizes depth of field so the image snaps in and out of focus distinctly.

The Nikkormat FT2 focusing screen consists of a matte Fresnel field with a central 3mm-split-image rangefinder spot surrounded by a doughnut-shaped 1mm-wide microprism for rapid, accurate focusing. Look through the viewfinder and turn the focusing ring until the two halves of the central rangefinder image coincide to form a single, sharp image, or until the image in the microprism appears sharp and crisp. This focusing screen is suitable for subjects with both straight lines and ill-defined contours. However, when used with lenses having a maximum aperture smaller than f/4.5, or in close-up photography, the rangefinder spot is likely to darken. In this case, focus on the surrounding matte field.

Focus.jpg (9k)
The lens can also be prefocused using the distance scale engraved in both feet and meters on the lens barrel. Line up the white indicator line on top of the lens barrel opposite the camera-to-subject distance as measured or estimated. This technique is useful for candid shots of elusive subjects when time does not permit through-the-lens focusing.

How the through-the-lens metering in a SLR works: Click here to see the equivalent of a Nikon FM.

Shutter Release

For sharp pictures, correct shutter releasing is just as important as steady camera holding. A quick, jabbing movement of the finger on the shutter release button will result in camera movement and blurred pictures. Hold the camera steady as shown previously, relax and squeeze the shutter release with a gentle, even pressure. For long time exposures with the camera mounted on a tripod, use a cable release.

Shutter.jpg (8k)
The picture shown here was coupled with a soft release. The actual shutter release button is threaded to accept the Nikon F and Nikkormat or any third party cable releases. For hand-held exposures at speeds slower than 1/30 second, greater sharpness can be obtained if the shutter release is tripped by means of the Self-timer.

Set the self-timer mechanism in motion, hold the camera steady and wait for the timer to trip the shutter.

Caution: When mounting the camer'a on a tripod, do not over-screw the tripod thread into the camera tripod socket as it may damage the camera baseplate. The depth of the tripod socket is about 5.7mm.

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History & Background of Nikkormat Cameras
Nikomat" Picture Library of Japanese local version
Outline the major key features and differences of various models

The Camera Bodies | FT | FS | FTn | EL | FT2 | ELW | FT3 | EL2

| Main Reference Map |
HTML Format: FT | FS | FTn | EL | FT2 | ELW | FT3 | EL2 | AW-1 Motor Winder
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Copyright © 1998. HIURA Shinsaku ® ; Nikomat ML, Japan,
in collaboration with
leofoo ®. MIR Web Development Team.

* Credit: A Great thanks to Mr Denis Pleic for his volunteering effort to reedit content and and patching some grammatical mistakes found in this section of the PIM site. Miss Rissa (Marketing) & Edward (Techical) of Shriro Malaysia, distributor of Nikon cameras in Malaysia, in providing so many useful inputs to make this site possible. Mr Hong, Ipoh for lending me his FT2 to take some of the images used in this site. This site is created for his eldest son, Yuen who has picked up his father's hobby and the FT-2. My friend, John Walls from Florida, US for his images of the FTn body and the Zoom Nikkor 43-86mm.

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