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  1. #1

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    Titanium vs. Aluminum Shutter in Nikon FM2n

    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. #2
    aparat's Avatar
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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. #3
    resummerfield's Avatar
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    How can you tell the difference by looking at the shutter?

  4. #4
    Lee L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by resummerfield View Post
    How can you tell the difference by looking at the shutter?
    Aluminum shutters have smooth blades. Titanium shutters have a honeycomb pattern on the blades.

    Lee

  5. #5
    resummerfield's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee L View Post
    Aluminum shutters have smooth blades. Titanium shutters have a honeycomb pattern on the blades.

    Lee
    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. #6
    Lee L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by resummerfield View Post
    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.
    Nor did I. 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. #7
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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

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by John_Nikon_F3HP View Post
    I suspect the reason for the change was not due to reliability, but due to the N8008 shutter blades being cheaper to make.
    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. #9

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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. #10
    skahde's Avatar
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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

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