Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Nikon FM2(n) - Instruction Manual Part 4

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Viewfinder Viewing & Focusing

The conventional way of securing correct focus is to turn the lens focusing ring until the image in the viewfinder appears sharp. The K2 focusing screen that comes with the camera as standard equipment has three focusing aids. When focusing with the split image, turn the ring until the image in the two halves becomes whole.

With the microprism grid, turn the ring until the shimmering image appears sharp. With the matte outer field, turn the ring until the image appears sharp. The split-image rangefinder works well for subjects with definite lines, contours and boundaries. The microprism collar is for focusing on fast moving subjects or those with indistinct lines, while the matte outer field is suitable for close-ups or when using lenses with a maximum aperture smaller than f/4.5.

INOUTfocus.jpg INOUTfocus.jpg  
There's another way of securing correct focus. Using the distance scale on the lens, set the focusing ring in accordance with the measured distance. Be sure to gauge the distance between the subject and the film plane indicator.

Note: The FM2 viewfinder covers approx. 93%* of the image area of the actual photograph so the actual picture comes out larger than the image in the viewfinder. The viewfinder also has a magnification ratio of 0.86x with 50mm lens set at infinity which is essential for a comfortable viewing of the whole field of key exposure information such as aperture and shutter speed used, viewfinder LEDs feeding the photographer.

<<--- Vertical framing are quite frequently used composition in portraiture. You would need to use the center 12mm circle to meter correctly for most important elements in your composition. MOST mistake made by photographer is the tendency to focus and shoot WITHOUT recompose the shoot, resulting in poorly balance compostion. You may choose to crop the unwanted blank 'space on top of the subject of interest, but is is always encourage to plan and check compostion inside the viewfinder prior to trip the shutter release button.

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Free image collection 2000. (33k) leofoo® My Esther Gal...

* Note: Pictures taken will come out tamed down in the case of mounted slides or service-size prints from negatives. Among all Nikon bodies, only the professional grade models, such as the Nikon F (1959), Nikon F2 (1971), Nikon F3 (1980), F4 (1988) and Nikon F5 (1997) provide 100% view field.


With any AF Nikkor lenses: Set the lens' A-M ring or A-M switch to "M".

DOFa.jpg DOFb.jpg
Depth of Field Preview Lever

What is depth of field ? When you focus on your subject at a certain aperture, you will find that not only is the subject itself in focus but objects in a certain distance range both in front of and behind it appear sharp.

Objects increasingly out of this range become increasingly out of focus. This "in-focus zone" is known as "depth of field." When this zone of sharpness is larger the depth of field is said to be deep; when it is smaller the depth of field is said to be shallow. The following can be said of depth of field, given the same focusing distance:

1)The smaller the taking aperture (i.e., the higher the f/stop number), the deeper the depth of field, and the larger the aperture, the shallower the depth of field.
) The farther away the subject is from the lens, the deeper the depth of field becomes; the closer to the lens, the shallower the depth of field.
) There's greater depth of field behind the main subject than in front of it.

Note: In the case of lenses with different focal lengths but of the same maximum f/number, the shorter the focal length of the lens, the larger the depth of field, and vice versa. The depth of field at the taking aperture is indicated by the color coded lines having the same color as that of the aperture set and which correspond to the distance scale on the focusing ring. The range is indicated by the distance between the lines. Shown in the photo is an example of the difference in depth of field with a 50mm f/1.4 lens when using different aperture settings at a set focusing distance of 2m. Control of depth of field enables selective blurring of the background elements of a picture either to let the major subject stand out or for overall sharpness, so that all elements in the entire picture field appear sharp. This will give your picture its own character, thus making it different from other pictures. Tips extracted from the Instruction manual: Getting the subject in focus is only one aspect of photography. When you take pictures, be sure to consider effect on depth of field and movement too. This explanation is extracted from the FM2n Instruction Manual (Credit: With the kind permission of Miss Rizza, Sales Manager of Shriro Malaysia, the Local Distributor of Nikon). I do have another section featuring various aspect of shutter speed, aperture and depth of field, if what is appearing in this site still cannot help you cast a clearer picture how these various elements could affect your photography, try there for MORE such supplement !

Depth-of-field preview lever Since once an AI-spec Nikkor lens is attached to a AI-spec camera body, the auto indexing (AI) feature will effectively maintain full aperture of a lens even if you are changing the working aperture.

But CAN depth of field be visually check ? Yes ! When a lens with an automatic diaphragm is used, the image in the viewfinder is viewed with the aperture diaphragm of the lens wide open. However pressing the depth-of-field preview lever will cause the lens to be stopped down to the f/number you select to enable you to examine depth of field before shooting.

The image in the viewfinder in this case will "darken" according to the selected f/number - the smaller the aperture (i.e., the larger the f/ number), the "darker" the image. Components of the picture that appear in focus when the lever is pressed will be in the zone of sharp focus (Although it dims, but you can visually observe objects or background will render clearer than in brighter image). Just be sure to press the depth-of-field preview lever fully. Also, release the lever when you depress the shutter release button. Note: With an "older" Nikkor lens such as any non-AF lens, you can make use of the depth of field scale engraved on the lens mounting ring (The metal ring between the aperture and focusing rings) or on the lens barrel in the case of zoom lenses to determine roughly where the depth of field covers.

<<-- Let's assume after focusing, the subject of interest is at roughly 25 feet away (Red arrow). There are 4 color coded lines on each side of the focusing/aperture index (Black dot) engraved on the lens mounting ring (R). The outer two lines on each side is blue which is corresponded to f16 in blue; the yellow lines is for f11 which is marked in yellow on the aperture; so does the pink f8.0 and greenish f4.0.

The f16 has the broadest depth of field as compared with the rest covering from 10' to infinity. F4.0 has the narrowest among all the color coded indicators covering a shallower distance between roughly 17' to 33 ft. But of cause, in this lens the shallowest depth of field is f1.4, which is the largest aperture value of this lens. Is there the third alternative ? Yes. Use the depth of field table comes with the lens but could be tedious to carrying along wherever you go unless you are engaging 80% of your photographic work in macro or closeups.

Self-timer lever Most often, photographer treat this as a self timing device to release the shutter automatically. This device is useful in self-portraits or when taking a picture of yourself with other people. Set the self-timer by turning the lever as far as it will go in the direction of the arrow shown in the photo. This can be done either before or after the film is advanced.

After the self-timer has been set, press the shutter release button. Reflex mirror will go up and the self-timer will start to operate; the shutter is released after a delay of approx. 10 sec. If you want to cancel self-timer operation after the lever has been set BEFORE it starts to countdown, just simply move it back to its original position with your finger. You can then take the picture the standard way as before. However, turning the self-timer lever when it is already in operation will result in the shutter's being released the moment the lever is back in its original position. Except for B (bulb), the self-timer can be used at any shutter speed.

Now, that is the 'official' usage of a self timer. Many seasoned Nikon photographers make use of the mechanism of the self timer design to minimize vibration caused by possible mirror bounce. Prior to the Nikon FM and FE in 1977/78, ALL Nikon bodies have a useful built-in mirror Lock up feature. Although initially it was intended to accommodate some special lenses that would require the main reflex mirror lock out of the way before they can be mounted; but most people would use it for high magnification work or other specialized photography such as astrophotography etc. which sometimes demand absolute motion or vibration-less. The Nikon FM introduced in 1977 omitted that feature, so do the rest of other mid range models that followed. Today, only the professional level Nikon F series model still provide this unique feature. The FM, FE series models and Nikon FA, FG were designed in such a way that the self timer will flip upward BEFORE the self timer operates - which means it does in a way minimizes vibration caused by mirror movement and similar objective is achieved with mirror lock up which Nikon deleted from the spec sheet. Advice ? For critically motionless pictures, use self timer to operate the shutter release, use something to cover the eyepiece if there is a strong light source behind the camera during such operation.

Multiple exposure lever Taking a picture of different subjects or two or more of the same subject on the same frame means multiple exposures. To make a multiple exposure, observe the following:

1) Take the first shot. (Press the shutter release button.) 2) Pull the multiple exposure lever (1) in the direction of the arrow shown in the photo, as you wind the film advance lever fully (2). The frame counter will not advance; only the shutter is ready to be released again. Although the finger pulling the multiple exposure lever will automatically slip off the lever as the film advance lever is wound, multiple exposure operation will have been performed correctly. 3) After winding the film advance lever fully, take the second shot.

To take three exposures or more on the same frames, repeat the procedures described in (2) and (3). To be frank, the FM2(n) (For that matter, double exposure operations with any Nikon SLR camera after Nikon FM and Nikon FE was a joy to use. The convenient location of the lever also permits single hand operation. Further, when use in conjunction with a motor drive such as MD-12, you can create unlimited number of exposures onto a single frame. Such unique possibility, if I am not mistaken, for quite a while, it was an exclusive feature found only in a Nikon camera. Tips: Use a tripod.

<<-- An illustration of Motor Drive enabled multiple exposures shot. Nothing to shout about, but just to to show you how it looks like with just a few overlapping shots. I have not seen many great images lately arise from such technique. Mail me if you have and I can take off this and replace with yours..

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Free images, 2000 leofoo® .

Note: In multiple exposure photography, the FM2 is designed to reduce film dislocation to the minimum. But it may occur due to film curling, film slack or Inappropriate film winding. Further, it is recommended to provide some allowance for exposure compensation as each exposure may gradual add to the prime exposure which may result in slight overexposure.

Memo holder To remind yourself of the film type and number of exposures on the roll of film in use, clip off the end of the film package and insert it into the memo holder.Of course, you can use the memo holder to store anything, including your name card. It may prove to be quite handy if you often change film types.

Infrared compensation Index When you shoot infrared film, note that the plane of sharpest focus is slightly farther away than that in visible-light photography.

As a rule of thumb, you can compensate for this shift in focus by referring to the infrared compensation index (in the form of either a dot or a line) near the focusing index on the lens barrel. (Some lenses such as those using rare earth glass like Nikkor ED lenses (including the Reflex Nikkor) do not need compensation as the specially manufactured optical glass is so highly corrected that the secondary spectrum are being compensated as well). After focusing the image sharply through the viewfinder, check the focused distance and turn the focusing ring to the left until the red infrared compensation index lines up with the pre focused distance. Be sure to shoot with appropriate filter, such as the R60, etc., (In this photo, the subject-to-camera distance is set at OO). Note: Infrared film may required loading and unloading of film in absolute darkness.

Flash photography A Nikon electronic flash unit will prove very convenient for indoor or nighttime shooting or for use in the daytime as supplementary lighting. The FM2's built-in hot-shoe contact enables direct mounting of the Nikon SB-28,SB-27,SB-26 SB-25,SB-24,SB-22s,SB-22,SB-20,SB-19 or SB-16B Speedlight, requiring no special connecting cords.
When shooting with a flash unit, you should determine the aperture setting that corresponds to the shooting distance after checking the guide number of the electronic flash unit or flashbulb in use. Also, if the speedlight requires the use of a connecting cord, insert the cord into the camera body's sync cord terminal.

Nikon AF-TTL Speedlights | SB-20 (1986) | SB-22 (1987) | SB-23 | SB-24 (1988) | SB-25 (1991/2) | SB-26 (1994) | SB-27(1997) | SB-28 (1997) | Nikon SB-29(s) (2000) | Nikon SB-30 (2003) | Nikon SB-600 (2004) | Nikon SB-800 (2003) (updated)
Nikon AF-TTL Speedlight DX-Series:
Nikon SB-28DX (1999) | SB-50DX (2001) | SB-80DX (2002) (updated)

Nikon BC-flash Series | Original Nikon Speedlight
SB-2 | SB-3 | SB-4 | SB-5 | SB-6 | SB-7E | SB-8E | SB-9 | SB-E | SB-10
| SB-12 | SB-14 | SB-140 UV-IR| SB-15 | SB16A | SB-17 | SB-18, SB-19 | SB-21A (SB-29) Macro flash | Flash Accesories | SF-1 Pilot Lamp

Since the FM2's hot-shoe contact becomes active only when an electronic flash unit is mounted, touching it accidentally is harmless. The use of flash units not provided with a hotshoe contact is not recommended because accidental firing is likely to occur due to short circuiting at the contact. When using such flash units, seal the hotshoe contact on the camera body with vinyl tape or something appropriate to insulate it.

ALL FM2 models provide only with an X-contact on top of the accessory shoe for synchronization synchronizes with the speedlight when the shutter speed set is 1/250 sec. or slower.

The smaller contact is for the viewfinder ready light which informs the status of the flash charging. It will blinks if you have accidentally set the shutter speed out of the permissible sync speed range i.e. 1/500 to 1/4000.

With the exception of the original FM2. Where the old model has a separate red "X-200" on its shutter speed ring if you want to use the highest sync speed which was originally timed at only 1/200 sec. However, it will provide proper synchronization at 1/125 sec and below, inluding at Bulb "B" position where the shutter will remain open as long as you keep the shutter release button depressed for creative flash photography such as using the technique of multiple open flash method (You may use this technique with color gel or filters over flash head - but NOT your lens ) to "paint" your picture in dark..

* OId type flash units with metallic leaf spring on mounting portion.

Shutter Speeds








1/30 - 1 sec


Electronic Flash










M, FP and MF Flash Bulbs










Note: When using a special electronic flash unit with provision for time lag, an electronic flash unit with long flash duration, the Medical Nikkor 120mm f/4 IF*, or the Nikon Repeating Flash Unit SB-6 at 1/2 or full output adjust shutter speed down to 1/125 sec. or slower With flashbulbs, set shutter speed at 1/30 sec. or slower.

Flash Ready-light A feature 'borrowed' from the earlier Nikon FE in 1978. When the SB-23, SB-27, SB-26, SB-25, SB-24, SB-22s, SB-22, SB-20, SB-19, SB-16B or even older flash units such as SB-10, SB-15 or even SB-E is attached to any of the FM2 series models, there is a built-in LED ready-light tells you when the Speedlight is recycled and ready to fire or when the shutter speed is set outside sync range, without your having to remove your eye from the viewfinder.

| More info on other Nikon Flash Units at Part VI | Before you shoot, make sure the ready-light is on. The moment the shutter is released, the Speedlight will fire and the ready light will go out. IF you have accidentally set the shutter speed between 1/500 sec. and 1/4000 sec., the ready-light will blink when the Speedlight is fully charged, to warn you that the shutter speed is outside sync range.

Ready Light Status Per Shutter Speed Dial Setting

Shutter Speed Dial Setting

Flash charging complete

Flash charging NOT complete

1/4000 sec. ~ 1/500 sec.



1/250sec.~1 sec.

Lights up continuously



Lights up continuously


Notes: 1) No matter how the shutter speed dial is set, the Speedlight will fire when the ready-light is on the moment the shutter release button is depressed. 2) The ready-light will function regardless of whether the camera's exposure meter Is on or off 3) When the camera's exposure meter is on, the LED exposure display Inside the viewfinder shows the exposure condition of the moment regardless of whether or not the flash tares. If the shutter speed is set at B, the LED exposure display will not be activated Caution: For flash photography, Nikon WARNS unless a Nikon dedicated electronic flash unit is used which they claim operates at a low voltage current. Use of any other flash which operates at high voltages may damage the camera's circuitry and such causes is not covered by the Nikon Warranty. Up to you...

NOTE: A few of the Nikon AF flash units have an odd spec of omitting "M" (Manual) flash setting and making them a specific AF-ONLY strobes. Technically, as long as there is a hot shoe contact on the accessory shoe and couple well with the main contact at the contact of the flash mounting foot, it should works to trip the flash to fire at a 'default' output. I don't own such AF flash and it is hard to comment further, if you own any of the unit, use the Message Board post your findings and share your experience with others (Please DON"T MAIL ME) . But come to think of it, in the first place - WHY Nikon removed such a basic essential feature on a Nikon-made flash unit ? It won't take an arm or leg to include that little basic feature. Obviously, another typical stupid decision made at meeting room tailored for the marketing personnel to squeeze consumer's wallet ...

Combination Chart of Nikon FM2 and Nikon Speedlights

Flash Models


Camera's Ready light

Usable Flash modes









SB-24/5/6, SB-28



Auto, Manual, Repeating

SB-20/2/2s, SB-27



Auto, Manual








Auto, Manual, MD




Auto, Manual, MD




Auto, Manual, MD

SB-11/14, SB-140

SC-11 Sync Cord


Auto **, Manual

SC-13 Sensor cord


Auto **, Manual

SC-23 TTL Remote Cord



SB-10, SB-E



Auto, Manual

SB-6 Repeating Flash

SC-6 sync cord



AS-2 coupler SC-9 extension cord


Auto, Manual

Ringlight SR-2

sync cord (provided)



Macro Ringlight SM-2

sync cord (provided)



Medical Nikkor 120mmf 4 *

2 pin sync cord SC-20 (provided)



3 pin sync cord SC-22 (provided)


* Not available in EU countries.
With SB-140, usable only for visible-light flash photography.
Flash output is determined by the lens ASA/ISO ring setting. The focusing ring is coupled to the diaphragm, so as the lens is focused, the aperture is simultaneously set to provide the correct exposure.

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Standard production Nikon FM Series models:- Nikon FM | Nikon FM2 | Nikon FM2n | Nikon FM10 | Nikon FM3a |
Known variants:- Nikon FM Gold | Nikon FM2/T | Nikon FM2N Tropical Set | Nikon FM2/T Limited Edition | Nikon FM2N LAPITA | Nion FM2n Millennium 2000

Shared Resources: MD-11 | MD-12 | Focusing Screens | Titanium Shutter | Flash Units -SB-16 | SB-15 | SB-10 or other Options | Databack | Nikkor lens mount (related info)

Others:- Nikon AF-TTL Speedlights | SB-20 (1986) | SB-22 (1987) | SB-23 | SB-24 (1988) | SB-25 (1991/2) | SB-26 (1994) | SB-27(1997) | SB-28 (1997) | Nikon SB-29(s) (2000) | Nikon SB-30 (2003) | Nikon SB-600 (2004) | Nikon SB-800 (2003) Nikon AF-TTL Speedlight DX-Series: Nikon SB-28DX (1999) | SB-50DX (2001) | SB-80DX (2002)

Nikon BC-flash Series | Original Nikon Speedlight
SB-2 | SB-3 | SB-4 | SB-5 | SB-6 | SB-7E | SB-8E | SB-9 | SB-E | SB-10
| SB-12 | SB-14 | SB-140 UV-IR| SB-15 | SB16A | SB-17 | SB-18, SB-19 | SB-21A (SB-29) Macro flash | Flash Accesories | SF-1 Pilot Lamp

Instruction Manual: Nikon FM (HTML | PDF) | Nikon FM-10 (HTML) | Nikon FM2n's User's Manual available only in HTML format (6 parts) | Nikon FM3A (HTML)
Nikon FM, FM-10, FM2, FM2n and FM3A / Main Reference Map: (HTML) Nikon FM, FM2, FM-10, FM2n (Applicable to FM2T, FM2 "Year of the Dog"; Millennium 2000") and Nikon FM3A

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Nikon Auto Focus Nikkor lenses:- Main Index Page
Nikon Manual Focus Nikkor lenses:- Fisheye-Nikkor Lenses - Circular | Full Frame | Ultrawides Lenses - 13mm15mm18mm20mm | Wideangle Lenses - 24mm28mm35mm | Standard Lenses - 45mm 50mm 58mm | Telephoto Lenses - 85mm105mm135mm180mm & 200mm | Super-Telephoto Lenses - 300mm 400mm 500mm 600mm 800mm 1200mm |

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Index Page
  Special Application lenses:
Micro-Nikkor Lenses - 50mm~55mm -60mm 85mm -105mm 200mm Micro-Zoom 70-180mm
Perspective Control (PC) - 28mm 35mm PC-Micro 85mm
Dedicated Lenses for Nikon F3AF: AF 80mm f/2.8 | AF 200mm f/3.5 EDIF
Depth of Field Control (DC): 105mm 135mm
Medical Nikkor: 120mm 200mm
Reflex-Nikkor Lenses - 500mm 1000mm 2000mm
Others: Noct Nikkor | OP-Nikkor | UV Nikkor 55mm 105mm | Focusing Units | Bellows-Nikkor 105mm 135mm
Nikon Series E Lenses: 28mm35mm50mm100mm135mm | E-Series Zoom lenses: 36~72mm75~150mm70~210mm

MF Zoom-Nikkor Lenses: 25~50mm | 28~45mm | 28~50mm | 28~85mm | 35~70mm | 36~72mm E | 35~85mm | 35~105mm | 35~135mm | 35~200mm | 43~86mm | 50~135mm | 50~300mm | 70~210mm E | 75~150mm E | 80~200mm | 85~250mm | 100~300mm | 180~600mm | 200~400mm | 200~600mm | 360~1200mm | 1200~1700mm

Tele-Converters: TC-1 | TC-2 | TC-200 | TC-201 | TC-300 | TC-301 | TC-14 | TC-14A | TC-14B | TC-14C | TC-14E | TC-16 | TC-16A | TC-20E

Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number: by: my friend, Rick Oleson by: Hansen, Lars Holst

W A R N I N G: The New G-SERIES Nikkor lenses have no aperture ring on the lens, they CANNOT ADJUST APERTURES with any of these manual focus Nikon FE series SLR camera models; please ignore some portion of the content contained herein this site where it relates.

| Back | Main Index Page of Nikkor Resources
| Back | Main Index Page of Pictorial History of Nikon SLRs

| Message Board | for your Nikkor optics ("shared" because I do wish some of you to expose to other's perspective as well. Isn't it a sad sate to see photography has to be segmented into different camps from the use of various labels)

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Credit: To all the good people who has contributed their own experience, resources or those who are kind enough granting us permission to use their images appeared in this site. Mr. MCLau®, who has helped to rewrite some of the content appeared this site. Chuck Hester® who has been helping me all along with the development of all these Nikon websites;LarsHolst Hansen, 'Hawkeye' who shares the same passion I have; Ms Rissa, Sales manager from Nikon Corporation Malaysia for granting permission to use some of the official content; TedWengelaar,Holland who has helped to provide many useful input relating to older Nikkor lenses; Some of the references on production serial numbers used in this site were extracted from Roland Vink's website; HiuraShinsaku from Nikomat Club Japan. t is also a site to remember a long lost friend on the Net. Note:certain content and images appeared in this site were either scanned from official marketing leaflets, brochures, sales manuals or publications published by Nikon over the years and/or contribution from surfers who claimed originality of their work for educational purposes. The creator of the site will not be responsible for may discrepancies arise from such dispute except rectifying them after verification."Nikon", "Nikkormat", "Nippon Kokagu KK" & "Nikkor" are registered tradename of Nikon Corporation Inc., Japan. Site made with an Apple IMac.