Classic SLRs Series
Interchangeable Film Backs / Databacks
I bought my first databack for my FM way back in 1981. It was a very 'strange' film back. It has a cord that connect and hooks from the top of the film back to the PC terminal in front of the camera. Each time when you finish a roll, you have to detach the connection so that the filmback can be open for unloading the film cartridge. That was the first databack for the FM and FE, MF-12 Databack.
Why was the MF-12 designed that way ?
Because both the FM/FE hasn't got databack contacts on the back of the camera. Shown below is the FE2 with the databack terminals for data communication between the camera and the film back. But since the older MF-12 Databack uses the PC terminal as the primary contact, it also means the MF-12 can be shared as a standard accessory workable on ALL models within the FM/FE/FA (EXCEPT FM10/FE10) - In fact, Shriro confirmed to me that some parts and accessory for the MF-12 is still available as new (As at November 1998). The FM3a should able to work as well, please update this in case you have a unit.
The FM2 was the first FM/FE2/FA series model(s) that incorporated with the databack contacts at the back of the camera for cordless data back communication. A new dedicated databack was brought by Nikon for the newer cameras that has the terminals.
The databack MF-16, can be shared by the Nikon FM2(n), FE2 , FA and the FM3a. But it cannot be used on the earlier FM and FE as both earlier bodies has no such terminals at the back. The MF-12 can still be used on all the cameras mentioned, but you have to make use of the PC terminal in front. I don't have the MF-12 anymore, but I can still remember whenever the shutter trips, the numerals behind LCD panel blinks as per-exposure, ha!
When mounted with a databack on the camera, it looks very rigid. The slightly contoured palm rest (Battery compartment) provides a firm grip with your thumb. The main purpose of a databack is to provide some basic info on the eventual photograph(s).
The MF12/MF16 is a very straight databack. It provides three imprinting modes: year/month/day (up to the year 2100), day/hour/minute, or picture counting (up to 2000); each mode is displayed on the data back in the LCD numerals and printed by LED's, on the photo in red numerals. Serving as a handy clock, a quartz timer with alarm is incorporated.
The concealed control panel, when flip open, will show the adjustment. If you have so basic knowledge in adjusting a digital clock, you shouldn't have any problem handling it.
Things to note when you are handling a databack imprint (Which can be cancelable), follows the instruction at the back of the MF16 to adjust the film speed settings (H, M, L) for proper contrast in the eventual photograph.
The 'Print' button is the execution or cancellation button. Press once to activate or cancel the process. This is very useful as not all images require a data imprint. The LCD panel, will have a flashing 'print' word to indicate imprinting is active. The MF-16 is supplied as optional film back. Simple in operation and very reliable. I haven't seen any innovative functions being introduced since the MF-12. But when you compared with the current databack, this is a very basic databack indeed. Note: A comprehensive databack like the F90 command back or the F5 MF-28 can be mind boggling to use - but also enhance great capabilities in various potentials like freeze focus etc. The camera usually has minimum 4-5 contacts for data communications. The MF-16 in this case, cannot be compared directly. But it serves its main purpose of provide/record only basic essential data: year/month/day or day/hour/ minute on your pictures, or number them. Depends on which type of data you choose, it will be imprinted - clearly, unobtrusively on the finished photograph in red numerals (Provided you adjust the film speed for the right contrast on the eventual print/slides). Oh, the MF-16 is quartz control.
It can record year/month/day or day/hour/ minute on your pictures, or number them in sequence. While the built in alarm clock can be irritating or convenient feature depends how you positive you valued it. Most of the time, users take a positive approach, esp. when you're on a photo-shooting engagement away from home or when you need a watch and perhaps you have forgotten to bring along. Anyway, the alarm clock is cancelable
Updated: The current FE10 & FM10 is not provided with a data terminal and thus, it cannot used with the MF-16 (Neither the size of the bodies fit that as well).
Data Back MF-16 Specifications
Camera usable: Nikon FE2, Nikon FM2(n), FA
Usable film speeds: ASA/ISO 25ˇ400 (color film); ASA/ISO 100ˇ400 (B ~ W film) 6 digits max.; in red;
Type of figures imprinted Data display: By 7-segment, 6-digit (max.) LCD Via MODE button;
Data selecting: No. RESET/SELECTˇ button and ADJUST button Year/Month/Day (up to 2100 A.D.), Day/ Hour/Minute (hour and minute underscored), or no. of pictures (up to 2,000);
Imprint data: ON/OFF by pushing PRINT button
Imprint signal: Via direct contacts on camera body
Audio alarm (dock mode): 20 sec.-long at the time set
Power source: Two 1.55V silver oxide batteries (SR-44 type)
Dimensions (WXHXD):142.7 x 53.2 x 26.5mm
Weight: Approx. 90g (including batteries)
Also check another option at the MF-12, the earlier version.
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Credit: Chuck Hester for some of his untiring effort in te development of these sites; Ted Wengelaar®, Holland for his continuous flow of input; Lars Holst Hansen, Danish 'Hawkeye' who shares the same passion; Ms Miss Rissa (Sales Manager) & members of the Technical Service dept. of Shriro Malaysia, local distributor of Nikon cameras in Malaysia & Singapore, in providing so many useful input to make this site possible. Special thanks to Mr MC Lau, who has helped with his images of the MF-12 databack. Michael Tan, Pertama Photo (603-2926505) for lending his original Titanium Shutter Display Unit. Hiura Shinsaku, Nikomat ML, Japan for his contribution on all the various images; A contributing site to a long lost friend on the Net. Note: Certain content and images appeared in this site were either scanned from official marketing leaflets, brochures published by Nikon and/or contribution from surfers who claimed originality of their own work to publish in this site based on educational merits. The creator of this site will not be responsible for any discrepancies that may arise from such possible dispute except rectifying them after verification."Nikon", "Nikkormat", "Nippon Kokagu KK" & "Nikkor" are registered tradename of Nikon Corporation Inc., Japan. Made witha PowerMac.