Step by Step: How to Load Film into the Nikon FM2

This guide will show you how to load film into your Nikon FM2. If this is your first time using your Nikon FM2, make sure to read through the before you load film section.

Nikon FM2 LR44 Batteries

The Nikon FM2 is a completely mechanical camera. Batteries are not required for the camera to function. However, if you want the light meter to work you will need batteries.

The Nikon FM2 uses two LR44 batteries or equivalent batteries. The battery door can be unscrewed with a coin.

If there is any film left in the camera, it will be ruined if it is exposed to light. Unlike some cameras, the Nikon FM2 doesn’t have a window to see if film is currently loaded in the camera.

If the frame counter shows a frame number instead of an ‘S’, there’s a good chance film is in the camera. The frame counter resets when the film door is opened, so if there was film in the FM2, it has likely already been exposed.

Follow these steps to rewind and remove film from the Nikon FM2. These are the same steps you will need to follow when you have shot all the exposures on the roll of film you’re loading into the camera.

If your Nikon FM2 has not been used in a long time, check to make sure the camera is functioning correctly before loading film.

Make sure you are able to cock the shutter with the film advance lever and the shutter fires when you press the shutter release. The film advance lever acts as a lock. When it is tucked in along side the film speed dial, the shutter will not fire and the light meter will be turned off.

Nikon FM2 Shutter Locked

Nikon FM2 film advance lever in the locked position.

Check the lens to make sure the optics are clean and clear. The focus and aperture rings should also turn smoothly.

To check if the light meter is working correctly, fold out the aperture lever. Look through the viewfinder and make large changes the shutter speed or aperture. You should see a shift to/from overexposure + to/from underexposure - in the light meter on the left of the viewfinder.

You can ruin your film by loading it in direct sunlight or bright light.

Bright light increases the risk of light piping. When this happens light is able to penetrate through the light seal on the 35mm film canister.

The film is not guaranteed to be completely ruined. You could end up with varying degrees of fogging.

Fogging can produce a range of undesirable outcomes such as a loss of contrast, blown out streaks, or a completely exposed frame. The problem should subside with progressive frames.

Film degrades in quality over time. It should also not be exposed to hot temperatures like those in a car on a sunny day or attic during summer.

Expired film can be used, but you are not guaranteed predictable performance.

For the best results, use a fresh pack of film that is not expired. For the most commonly available and used film, my recommendations are:

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Time needed: 1 minute.

How to load film into the Nikon FM2. For the pictures, I am using a roll of film found in a used camera that was opened without rewinding the film.

  1. Open the film door.

    To open the film door on the Nikon FM2, push the lock next to the film rewind knob and then pull the film rewind knob up. Leave the knob in the raised position.

    Nikon FM2 Open Film Door

  2. Load the roll of film.

    The film roll gets loaded into the left side with the film leader on the bottom. The film leader is the rounded half-width section at the start of every roll of film.
    To make the process easier, tilt the 35mm film canister towards the top of the camera when loading.

    Nikon FM2 Load 35mm Film Canister

  3. Push the film rewind knob back down.

    The rewind knob has prongs that fit into the film canister. They keep the film canister held in place and are also what rewind the film back into the canister.
    You may need to turn the film rewind knob a small amount to get the prongs to fit into the film canister.

    Nikon FM2 Rewind Prong Alignment

  4. Thread the film leader into the take-up spool.

    Gently pull the film leader over to the take-up spool. Thread the tip of the film leader into one of the slots in the take-up spool. It is important that the film is securely held in place.

    Nikon FM2 Film Leader Take-up spool

  5. Advance the film and fire the shutter.

    The film needs to be held taught against the back of the camera so it will advance correctly when the film door is closed. Advancing the film will take out the slack that was needed to thread the film leader into the take-up spool.
    An alternative is to use the film rewind knob to very gently rewind the film back into the canister. If you do this, you need to be careful not to pull the film leader out of the take-up spool.

    Advance the film and fire the shutter on the Nikon FM2

  6. Close the film door.

    Make sure the film rewind knob is down and the film door has securely latched closed.
    If the film you are using came in a box, you can rip one of the end tabs off and stick it in the slot on the back of the film door. This will help you know what film is loaded in the camera.

    Nikon FM2 Close Film Door

  7. Advance and fire the shutter until the frame counter is at 1.

    This is done to advance the film past what was exposed during the film loading process.

    Nikon FM2 Frame Counter

  8. Set the ISO (ASA) on the camera.

    The ISO (ASA) can be set by pulling up on the outer ring of the shutter speed dial and turning it.
    You can also do this step before you begin to load the film. If the ISO is set differently than the film you have loaded, you could end up with images that are under or overexposed.

    Nikon FM2 Set ISO ASA

  9. You’re ready to take photographs.

    Congratulations! Your camera is now loaded with film and ready to shoot.
    Once you’ve shot the roll of film, the guide will show you how to unload film from the Nikon FM2.

Where to develop film? You can do it at home, or send it off to a lab to be developed and scanned.

The film roll is used up when you are no longer able to easily crank the film advance lever. This usually aligns with the number of exposures the roll contains that can be seen on the film counter. Most rolls of film will have either 24 or 36 exposures.

You should then rewind the film back into the 35mm canister. To do this, flip out the film rewind knob and press the film spool lock button on the bottom of the camera. You’ll then be able to rewind the film.