Titanium vs. Aluminum Shutter in Nikon FM2n

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by FilmOnly, Oct 25, 2008.

  1. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    Which is more reliable: the titanium shutter or the aluminum shutter? Some say the aluminum shutters are more reliable, and I just want to know what you FM2n users think.

    Thanks,
    Glen
     
  2. aparat

    aparat Member

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    I have an FM2n with an aluminum shutter and have never had any problems. It works perfectly. Your question, while interesting, is incredibly difficult to answer without controlled tests. Users' opinions about the reliability of high-precision devices are usually anecdotal and have have little quantitative value.
     
  3. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    How can you tell the difference by looking at the shutter?
     
  4. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Aluminum shutters have smooth blades. Titanium shutters have a honeycomb pattern on the blades.

    Lee
     
  5. resummerfield

    resummerfield Subscriber

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    Thanks, Lee. I have 2 FM2n cameras, and I guess both have the titanium blades. Until now, I didn't know that some versions had aluminum blades.
     
  6. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Nor did I. :smile: I was out of the camera selling business a number of years before the changeover. Apparently the aluminum shutter was adopted when it came out for the N8008 cameras with shutter speeds to 1/8000.

    In checking up on this, I found some internet remarks that the titanium shutter was less reliable than aluminum in cold weather, but with no reference or data to back it up. I have personal anecdotal information about some early failures in three of the early titanium shutters in a shop where I handled repairs sent to Nikon. That was in Minneapolis, but I don't recall what season. I did trust all the shooters not to have done something stupid.

    I also talked with the Minneapolis authorized Nikon repair shop owner about a year into the titanium shutter production. He said he'd never seen one test faster than 1/2750th second when set at 1/4000th. I didn't get the chance to ask him if that might be caused by his measurement equipment not being spec'd to measure that high a speed, but he was an intelligent person.

    I'm not a Nikon expert, and don't claim that my experience is representative of the world at large.

    Lee
     
  7. John_Nikon_F

    John_Nikon_F Subscriber

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    I suspect the reason for the change was not due to reliability, but due to the N8008 shutter blades being cheaper to make. I've had the fortune (er, misfortune?) of owning a couple FM2 series bodies that had damaged shutters. One was an early FM2 with titantium blades that had one blade that kept coming loose when the shutter was cocked. It would fire normally, and was light sealed when not cocked. The other was a late FM2n with aluminum blades. Had definitely had the finger poked through them, and were crudely bent back into shape by whoever put their errant finger through the shutter. The shutter worked, but even if you had the mirror down and a lens attached, you could still see some light leakage through the shutter. That body had other issues that caused its demise, namely a meter that only displayed (+), no matter what setting, due to the ISO dial being fouled up - surprisingly, a repairman was able to fix that and transfer the shutter speed dial assembly to a well-brassed FM2n that I owned at the time, which had similar meter issues, due to a broken resistor element.

    Anyway, what I remember of the early titanium shutters, was that there was a bushing, used in the original FM2 and very early FE2's (and FA's) that would wear out, if there was repeated use of 1/500 and another shutter speed, which would cause the shutter to fire at 1/1000 when set @ 1/500, and I think 1/8000 @ 1/4000. Would cause the shutter to show the "finger" dents in the blades without someone actually sticking their finger through said shutter. By the time the FM2n came out, Nikon had redesigned the blades and the bushing, to prevent that problem.

    With respect to the top speed being so far off, I'll have my local tech check out my FM2n when I pick it up, and see how far off it is @ 1/4000. It's possible that the shutter speed tester that tech in Minneapolis had didn't handle 1/4000 properly. May've been designed for shutters, like the F2/F3 shutters, where the top speed is 1/2000.

    -J

    -J
     
  8. skahde

    skahde Member

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    There are several stories told about this issue.

    Another one is, that Seiko stopped making the blades because of the etching-process involved which was used exclusively for the blades of the FM2 after Nikon stopped making the FA and FE2. This possibly meant orders were to low to keep production running at realistic prices.

    This would sum up to the N8008 blades in fact becoming cheaper because the FM2's blades became an orphan-product.

    In Germany, Nikons official statement was, that the process was not environmetally friendly and had to be stopped (it was not said if this was because of new regulations). Well it was '89, high-time of environmental awareness over here and it is hard to tell if this was a marketing plot for the revised FM2n or another argument for Seiko to stop the line as the environmental requirements for the line may have added considerably to production cost.

    best

    Stefan
     
  9. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I am enjoying these replies...very interesting bits of information.

    In regard to purchasing another FM2n (I have a titanium version already), would any of you say it is better to avoid the titanium version and opt for the aluminum version...or would this be unnecessary, as it is difficult to ascertain whether there was actually any problem with the titanium shutter? To reiterate, my question applies only to the FM2n, and not the original FM or FM2.

    Thanks,
    Glen
     
  10. skahde

    skahde Member

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    I bought my first FM2n at the time of the switch from titanium to alloy blades (that's why I remember the above story) and was a bit converned about the new blades of the "lesser" aluminium. Over the years and two bodies later (one crashed, one stolen) and also owning an FE2 with titanium shutter since '96 I'd say there is little reason to worry. They all do pretty well as long as you don't use them as hard as John does. That's were the F-series really shines.

    best

    Stefan
     
  11. kombizz

    kombizz Member

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    I prefer to have the titanium with honeycomb pattern.
     
  12. budrichard

    budrichard Member

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    My original FM purchased in 1979 and my FM3a both have aluminum shutters and both have had no problems.-Dick
     
  13. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    Net Legend has it that the very early FM2 w/ the titanium shutter had a bushing that wore out if the shutter was fired repeatedly at 1/500 or 1/4000 (???), and that the blades would crumple when the bushing failed. It also seems if the bushing hasn't failed yet, it isn't going to. Prudent advice would be to just stay away from NIB early FM2's.
     
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  15. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Crumpled/bent blades is what I saw in three early cameras with the titanium shutter that failed. Looked like wrecked Venetian blinds, and like the shutter had hung on one side and kept moving on the other.

    Nikon USA repair refused to acknowledge anything other than customer abuse on the three I dealt with, and the shop owner forced the Nikon rep to personally cover these and any such future failures before he would restock cameras with this shutter. This was probably early days if there was such a systemic problem. We sold large quantities of these cameras, and had all three failures in for repair within a span of a couple of months. Nikon policy on repairs for this shutter may have changed later.

    I'd agree with Nicholas that any of these shutters that have lasted this long would be unlikely to have the problem.

    Lee
     
  16. John Hermanson

    John Hermanson Member

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    Titanium curtains are stronger but they are very easy to (at least) wrinkle. The blades in most modern copal shutters (vertical multi blade shutters) are plastic in some models. Copal (they've been making this type of shutter for decades, as found in old Nikkormats) shutters in Olympus IS-1, 2, and 3, the blades are plastic. The blades will last, it's the RIVETS that hold the blades in that may give way first. Camera comes in with blades pushed in by "fingerpokin'" can be put back on track, then the creases in the shutter blades REMOVED by heating the blade area with a hair dryer. John, www.zuiko.com
     
  17. Davesw

    Davesw Member

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    Some people are referring to FM2n's with titanium shutters. I was under the impression the 'N' was added to denote the aluminum shutter?
    and putting it in the model designation would imply an advantage. that said I have an FM2 and an FE2 and have never had any Shutter problems.
     
  18. John_Nikon_F

    John_Nikon_F Subscriber

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    Nope, the alu shutter came out about 5 years after the FM2n was introduced. Beginning with serial numbers in the 753xxxxx (and 773xxxxx) block for black bodies, and somewhere in the 76xxxxx (and 78xxxxx) serial number block for chrome bodies. FM2n's in the 725-729xxxx, 73xxxxx, 74xxxxx, 750-752xxxxx, 760-763xxxxx?, 770-772xxxxx, and low 78xxxxx serial blocks all have the FE2/FA style titanium curtains. Early FM2's, 724xxxx and lower, have a slightly different honeycomb pattern on the titanium curtains.

    The Copal Square S shutter was first used in the 1962 Nikkorex F/Ricoh Singlex TLS bodies. They were also used in the Konica Autoreflex T series, through at least the TC model.

    -J
     
  19. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    FWIW, I wouldn't panic about the shutter, even if you have an early titanium version. I would guess that at the time we had 3 in for repair at the shop I worked in, that would account for well under 2% of the volume we had sold up to that point, and those cameras belonged to photographers who did a lot of shooting. The one that really focused our attention on the problem belonged to a wedding photographer.

    Lee
     
  20. Davesw

    Davesw Member

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    John, What is/are the other differances between FM2 and FM2N?
     
  21. Jerry Thirsty

    Jerry Thirsty Member

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  22. sam0831

    sam0831 Member

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    Hi FilmOnly,
    I have both blades. But, the only problems I have had at all is with the rewind crank. It slips out of shaft/alignment sometimes when rewinding (humidty/heat expansion, 24 exp vs. 36, dont' know). Major pain in the ass getting it back in, especially when you forgot how you fixed it the last time. It has happened twice on my titanium model, which is older plastic/medal and may be related to it. Don't sweat the blades, shoot and compose my friend.
     
  23. John_Nikon_F

    John_Nikon_F Subscriber

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    Plus the focusing screen being brighter, as well as the hot shoe being of the newer type with the squared off metal spring piece. One interesting tidbit, however, the FM2 will synch @ 1/250, as mentioned on Leonard Foo's site linked above. It's just that the ready light will flash if used with a Nikon dedicated flash unit.

    -J
     
  24. skahde

    skahde Member

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    The "N" is not in the name but in the serial number. The serial number of an FM2n starts with an N. Exceptions are cameras where the top-cover has been replaced (had one).

    best

    Stefan
     
  25. Film Dude

    Film Dude Member

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    They are my favorite cameras. I have used them both for many years with no problems.
     
  26. Film Dude

    Film Dude Member

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    The only difference I've noticed between the two types of shutters is that the honeycomb version can catch a little more dust..harder to clean when necessary...which is very very rare.
    I started using them when the FM was discontinued...in ....a ..what year?...