So…. I’m sure someone has asked you this question, especially if you have been shooting for a while: what is your favorite camera?

I’ve had quite a few cameras over the years in many different formats. Each camera has memory tied to it.

IMG_6262

If I had to pick just one camera as my all time favorite … it would have to be a black body Nikon FM2N. I made thousands of images with this camera when I worked as a photojournalist in smaller market daily newspapers. This single camera is responsible for a good portion of my portfolio.

By the numbers:

  • Nikon FM2N, black paint edition 35mm camera
  • Shutter speeds B to 4,000 of a second
  • Original top flash sync 1/250th of a second
  • ISO settings 12-6400 (film speed)
  • Manual shutter speed and aperture settings
  • Manual wind and film rewind
  • Hot shoe flash and corded flash sync
  • Accepts most AI and AIS lenses in Nikon N mount
  • Accessory: MD-12 motor drive for auto film advance.

What I love about it

There is nothing automatic on this camera. All the inputs from shutter speeds to focus are done manually. The only part of the camera powered by a battery is the light meter. It is an amazingly robust camera that feels great in the hands and controls are all smooth and responsive. Almost any lens made for the Nikon N mount will fit on this camera, including modern auto focus lenses (manually focused of course). Two little LR44 batteries run the light meter. If the meter dies, the camera is all mechanical and will work without batteries including all the shutter speeds and 1/250th flash sync. Hook up the MD-12 and you get auto advance, helpful when walking backwards and taking pictures, or trying to get sports action images.

Camera history

After thousands of images the leaf shutter broke. One of the rivets on the blades gave way, and it was leaking light after each exposure. Inside this FM2N is now a FM2 (non N) honeycomb shutter with a reduced flash sync speed of 1/200th of a second.

The motor in the MD-12 motor drive failed and was also replaced. Works great.

Motor drive and camera show all the signs of a well loved camera. Lots of brass, missing paint, scuffs and leatherette missing.

The unfortunate end

A few years later it took a fall from the photo desk at the newspaper and landed upside down on a tile floor. The pentaprism flattened and it broke half of the return mirror. Instead of sending it in for another surgery, I decided to retire the camera. With all of this trauma, the camera still fires as smoothly as it did when in use. A testament to the fine mechanics in a Nikon camera.

A new beginning

Although I retired this black body FM2N, I purchased a silver body FM2N to take it’s place. It accompanies me on photo shoots with the original MD-12 motor drive.

IMG_6412

What is your favorite camera? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks!

Retro Snapper is devoted to film and analog cameras. We write stories, review equipment and have an Etsy store full of retro camera goodness.