FM2n Concise Instructions

The following information is transcribed from Thom Hogan's Nikon Field Guide, no longer in print (Copyright 2000 Thom Hogan). Copies sometimes are still available used on eBay.

FM2n Viewfinder Display

Shutter speeds are visible at the center of the left side of the viewfinder.

Apertures are visible at the center of the top edge of the viewfinder. The apertures shown are actually the ones that are printed on the lens. Nikon calls this Aperture Direct Readout (ADR). In dim light they may not be visible, and some aftermarket lenses do not have the necessary aperture markings.

The following exposure symbols appear on the right side of the viewfinder:

  • + (plus) — Scene overexposed by more than 1 stop, close aperture down or use higher shutter speed.
  • o (zero) — Scene properly exposed.
  • – (minus) — Scene underexposed by more than 1 stop, open aperture up or use slower shutter speed.

If the + and o, or the – and o LEDs are both lit, it means an over- or underexposure of 1/5 to 1 stop. You may use an intermediate aperture to get a proper exposure, but not an intermediate shutter speed (the FM2n doesn’t offer stepless shutter speeds).

A small flash ready light is built into the top edge of the eyepiece and is easily visible when looking through the camera, even though it isn’t technically in the viewfinder. This light comes on when a compatible flash is in the hot shoe, charged, and ready to fire. If the light blinks, you’ve probably set a shutter speed that is outside the sync range of the camera (i.e., a shutter speed faster than 1/250 second).

FM2n Instructions

Turning the Camera On and Off

1. The shutter release is locked and the exposure meter off until you pull out the film advance lever (it should “click” into place, extending slightly from the camera).

The camera turns the exposure meter off automatically after 30 seconds of inactivity. Turn it back on by pressing the shutter release halfway. The film advance lever must still be out.

2. To shut the battery’s power off entirely, push the film advance lever in until it is flush against the camera’s body.

Loading Film

1. Open the camera back by moving the camera back lock release (at the base of the rewind knob) clockwise, and lifting the rewind knob up from the camera.

2. Put film into the film chamber (on the left).

3. Push the rewind crank back down until the fork engages with the cassette’s spool to hold the film cassette in place.

4. Insert the film leader into the take-up spool. Slowly rotate the take-up spool using the knurled knob at its base.

5. Use the film advance lever to make sure that the film is properly engaged with the take-up spool and aligned with the film sprockets correctly.

6. Use the rewind crank to take up slack in the film (turn clockwise until resistance is encountered).

7. Close the camera back. (This could be postponed until after a frame has been advanced to make sure that the film is properly engaged.)

8. Press the shutter release and wind the film advance lever to make blank exposures until the frame counter reaches frame 1.

9. Set the ISO value for the film by lifting the shutter speed ring and turning it until the film speed lines up with the red index mark.

10. Trim the end off the film box and insert it into the memo holder on the camera’s back, if desired. This helps you remember what type of film is loaded, since the FM2n does not have a window to show the film cartridge information.

Rewinding Film

1. Press in the film rewind button on the right side of the camera’s base plate.

2. Lift the rewind crank handle and turn it in the direction of the arrow until the film is rewound into the cartridge (you’ll feel a release of the tension on the handle).

3. Open the camera back by moving the camera back lock release at the base of the rewind knob in the arrow’s direction, and lifting the rewind knob up from the camera. 

4. Remove the film from the chamber.

Setting Exposure

The FM2n’s meter is center-weighted, which means that 60% of the total exposure recommendation is based on the larger circle visible in the viewfinder, while the rest of the frame receives only 40%. The camera’s metering range is EV 1 to 18.

The FM2n is completely manual. It has no autoexposure modes such as P, A, or S. Therefore, you, the photographer,  have complete control over the exposure setting.

1. Set the aperture on the lens. The aperture is displayed at the top of the viewfinder screen if a Nikkor lens is used.

2. Set the shutter speed using the shutter speed dial. The shutter speed is displayed on the left side of the viewfinder screen.

3. Press the shutter release partway and look at the viewfinder display on the right side of the viewing screen.

4. If a red â lights, exposure is correct. If a red – or + appear, under- or overexposure is indicated (respectively). 

5. Adjust the aperture or shutter speed until the desired exposure has been set. 

6. Press the shutter release fully.

Exposure Compensation

Rotate the ISO dial to another value. ISO values are indicated in 1/3 EV stops. Higher values underexpose, lower values overexpose.

Example: Meter on white snow and set the ISO to 1/4 the current value—ISO 25 instead of 100  (a white subject is 2 stops brighter than neutral gray, and the exposure needs to be adjusted accordingly).


Set the correct exposure (o appears in the viewfinder display). Adjust the aperture and shutter speed to the desired amount of exposure compensation. By using intermediate aperture settings you can fine-tune the exposure. You’ll learn where the “1/2 stops” are in the viewfinder’s ADR (aperture direct readout) window. 

Note: You cannot set intermediate shutter speeds with the FM2n.

Setting the Self-Timer

1. Move the self-timer lever on the right side of the front of the camera approximately 75° (away from the lens). 

2. Press the shutter release button. 

3. The mirror goes up and the self-timer begins counting down immediately. The picture is taken the moment the self-timer lever returns to its original position. A full setting is about 10 seconds; intermediate settings are possible, but difficult to predict.

You can cancel the self-timer before you press the shutter release by moving the lever to its original position. After the shutter release is pressed, the self-timer cannot be cancelled.

Note: In B (bulb) mode, the self-timer works only when a cable release (AR-3) is used.

Setting a Bulb Exposure

1. Rotate the shutter speed dial to B.

2. Set the desired aperture on the lens.

3. Press and hold the shutter release for the length of the exposure.

Tip: A tripod and a cable release AR-3 are recommended to prevent blurred images.

Taking Multiple Exposures

1. Take a picture.

2. Move the multiple exposure lever (surrounding the film advance lever) towards the back of the camera as you wind the film advance lever. (Watch the frame counter. If the counter does not advance to the next frame, you have done it correctly.)

3. Take another picture. 

Note: Unless the pictures have complementary areas of black (i.e., picture 1 has detail in an area that is black in picture 2, and vice versa), you’ll need to adjust the exposure to compensate for the multiple exposures.

Depth-of-Field (DOF) Preview

Push the depth-of-field lever (on the right side of the lens mount) towards the camera body and hold it while looking through the lens to preview depth of tield at any aperture. 

Note: Make sure you hold the lever in as far as it will go, otherwise the lens may not stop down completely. 

Changing the Focusing Screen

1. Remove the lens.

2. Slip the tip of the tweezers provided with the replacement screen under the focusing screen’s release latch and pull outward. The latch is at the top of the mirror box area.

3. Hold the tab on the focusing screen with the tweezers and remove the screen.

4. Hold the tab on the replacement screen and insert the screen.

5. Lock the screen in place by pushing upward on the front edge of the screen holder.

Tip: The Type E screen features a lined grid that helps align the horizon, reminds you of the rule-of-thirds points, and helps you detect converging lines when using extreme wide-angle lenses. For general use, it is probably the most useful of the screens.

FM2n Maximum Flash Sync Speeds

The FM2n’s maximum sync speed when used with Speedlights SB-16 through SB-28 is 1/250 second.

Nikkor Lenses That Can’t Be Used with the FM2n

  • Non-AI modified lenses — Camera requires AI modification
  • 6mm f/5.6 Fisheye Nikkor — Requires mirror to be locked up
  • 10mm f/5.6 OP Fisheye Nikkor — Requires mirror to be locked up
  • 28mm f/4 PC-Nikkor — Hits camera’s meter coupling lever
  • 35mm f/2.8 PC-Nikkor — Hits camera’s meter coupling lever
  • 200-600mm f/9.5 Zoom Nikkor — Serial numbers below 300491 are not usable
  • 180-600mm f/8 Zoom Nikkor — Serial numbers below 174167 are not usable
  • 360-1200mm f/11 Zoom Nikkor — Serial numbers below 174088 are not usable
  • 1000mm f/11 Reflex Nikkor — Serial numbers 142361 to 143000 are not usable
  • 2000mm f/11 Reflex Nikkor — Serial numbers below 200311 are not usable 

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