Nikon FE/FM/FA Series Model(s) - Shared Resources
Nikon MD-11 Motor Drive


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Make no mistake. The MD-11 can fit on your FM, FE, FE2, FM2, FM2n, FM2n/T and even on the FA! This is the first 'serious' motor drive from Nikon other than the motor drives designed for the professional Nikon F series bodies. The earlier AW-1 for the Nikkormat was, as the designation indicated, 'AW' for Automatic Winder', winding at a slow 1/2 sec per frame. Used six 1.5V penlight batteries but it was a very power efficient winder, it can power to 150 rolls of film with a set of fresh battery.

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It has no hand grip and you need to flush the film advance lever of the camera to the body and turn another locking device on the finger guard on the shutter release button to activate the meter.

So much for the info relates to the earlier winder. Now, what do you have here ? - a MD-11. Designed to supplement the FM and FE during the late '70 and patched all the shortfalls of the winder designed for the late Nikkormat EL series models. It is a very straight forward motor drive, as the MD-12 later. Aside from the on/off switch, the MD-11's only other controls are the shooting mode selector, trigger button and rewind slide - it makes motor-drive photography simple and easy even for the absolute beginner. The MD-11 itself is a compact, solid unit. It is made of sturdy, highly durable metal for constantly precise, reliable operation even under the most rugged conditions, just like the FM camera body. Handsomely finished in black to match the camera's finish, the MD-11 can be attached to the camera - regardless of whether or not it is loaded with film - in seconds. A simple turn of the screw, and the two are ready to go. The incorporation of a hybrid IC in the MD-11's circuitry further boosts reliability although it still has a flaw but it opened up a lot of other photographic possibilities, such as makes remote-controlled shooting from extended distances possible.

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Basic features: In fact, many of these are the same with the current MD-12, changes between these two are more on internal rather than exterior, we will discuss on that later. Two shooting modes are available: single frame (S) and continuous (C); accordingly as with the MD-12, the MD-11 is provided with an S/C mode selector that is safety locked for positive changeover, as well as knurled for slip-free manipulation.

When the shooting mode is set to C and the shutter speed to 1/125 sec. or faster, powered film advance is approximately 3.5 frames per second (fps), which is more than fast enough to cover day to day, normal action-type photography; at slower shutter speeds, down to 1/2 sec., the firing speed automatically adjusts to the specific speed selected - the principle being the slower the speed, the lower the firing rate. At 'S', single-frame shooting is possible from 1 to 1/1000 sec. for the FM, 8 to 1/1000 sec for the FE, 8 to 1/4000 sec for the FE2 and FA and of cause, 1 to 1/4000 sec for the current FM2n. 'B' setting, M90, M250, ALL works with the MD-11! The MD-11 has an excellent human engineering factor, it mounts perfectly flush with the camera body to form a perfectly integrated assembly. The grip is so contoured it feels like a natural extension of the photographer's right hand. The controls are simple enough for even a beginner to master. Once the FM's shutter release operation mode selector is set for motor-drive operation, the MD-11's power switched on, and the shooting mode set, all the photographer has to do is press the trigger button. The MD-11 is powered by 8 penlight batteries, all accommodated in the built-in battery clip. Winding torque is approximately 5 kg/cm, assuring stable and constant operation all the way to the peak 3.5 fps firing speed. Nikon claimed as many as 100 rolls of 36-exposure film can be exposed without requiring a change of batteries (Alkaline Cells), but I have never seriously calculate its actual power efficiency in figures. But I do know I seldom has to change batteries and thus, the break down cost per frame is low.

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To use the earlier 150 rolls AW-1 Winder designed for the electronic Nikkormat ELW and EL2 as the yardstick (6 cells powered), it is 33% down, only the later MD-4 for the F3 came close to 140 rolls again with 8 Alkaline.

Note: Within the Nikkormat models, only the ELW and Nikon EL2 has a motor coupling for the automatic film advance feature. None of the mechanical Nikkormat FT series can use a motor drive or the AW-1 winder. The 3.5 fps MD-11 is the first 'true' motor drive for the Nikon Mid compacts, as AW-1 can only perform at a relatively slow 2 fps.

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The MD-11's trigger button, which is recessed to "cradle" the tip of the finger, has a total release stroke of 1.1 mm, including a safety margin of 0.8 mm; the latter is effectively assured by the S/C shooting mode selector knob which doubles as a finger guard, and helps prevent accidental triggering.

The trigger button itself is positioned for natural and unstained contact with the index finger of the right hand; this makes even one-hand operation possible.

Like the on/off switch, the MD-11's red pilot lamp is positioned at the back of the unit for convenient reference. Incorporating a light emitting diode, the lamp lights up intermittently to indicate that operation is in progress; it lights up continuously to indicate that the roll of film loaded in the camera has been fully exhausted.

Remote-controlled shooting The MD-11 has a built-in terminal for accommodating the required cord. In fact, it is designed so that it can use most of the accessories for other motor drive units for remote-controlled shooting. These include the MT-1/MT2 Intervalometer, ML-1/ML-2 Modulite Control Set and MW-1/MW-2 Radio Control Unit. What is the major difference between the MD-11 and the newer MD-12 ? Operation-wise, when you press the shutter release on single mode, the shutter will trickle without advancing to the next frame, only when you release or lift the trigger will advance to the next frame on the MD-11. MD-12's single mode, when press release, the shutter will immediately advance to next frame EVEN if finger is not lifted up from the trigger button and get you ready for the next shot. Next is the power saving feature, the newer MD-12 has a internal circuit to turn off the power 60 sec after inactivity. The MD-11 has no such feature and it requires you to switch off the power to avoid draining the power from the cells.

Operation & Control | Accessories Available
PDF(121k) | HTML
Operation manual (PDF Format: 202k) or an alternative source is from here:

| Back | to Index Page of MD-11 | MD-12 | * Alternate 3rd party products: Soligor Power Winder | Y.I.C Power Winder
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Operation & Control | Accessories | 3rd Party Power Winder Only for FM2(n)/FE2/FA
Specification: PDF(121k) | HTML | Operation manual (PDF Format: 202k)

Instruction Manual for MD-12 : PDF (224k) | MD-11 (Operation manual (PDF Format: 202k);
3rd Party labels:
Soligor Power Winder Only for FM2(n)/FE2/FA/ Y.I.C. Power Winder
MD-12 Specification: PDF(121k) | HTML | Operation manual (PDF Format: 202k)

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Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number: by: my friend, Rick Oleson by: Hansen, Lars Holst

W A R N I N G: The New G-SERIES Nikkor lenses have no aperture ring on the lens, they CANNOT ADJUST APERTURES with any of these manual focus Nikon FE series SLR camera models; please ignore some portion of the content contained herein this site where it relates.

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A contributing effort to Michael C Liu's Classic Nikon Site.

Credit: Chuck Hester for some of his beautiful images used in this site; Ted Wengelaar®, Holland for his continuous flow of input; Lars Holst Hansen, Danish 'Hawkeye' who shares the same passion; Mr Poon from Poon photo for their input; Ms Miss Rissa (Sales Manager) & members of the Technical Service dept. of Shriro Malaysia, local distributor of Nikon cameras in Malaysia & Singapore, in providing so many useful input to make this site possible. Special thanks to Mr MC Lau, who has helped with his images of the MF-12 databack. Michael Tan, Pertama Photo (603-2926505) for lending his original Titanium Shutter Display Unit. Dave Hoyt who has prepared the introductory page and offer some images of his FE2 in this site.. Hiura Shinsaku, Nikomat ML, Japan for his contribution on all the various images; A contributing site to a long lost friend on the Net. Note: Certain content and images appeared in this site were either scanned from official marketing leaflets, brochures published by Nikon and/or contribution from surfers who claimed originality of their own work to publish in this site based on educational merits. The creator of this site will not be responsible for any discrepancies that may arise from such possible dispute except rectifying them after verification."Nikon", "Nikkormat", "Nippon Kokagu KK" & "Nikkor" are registered tradename of Nikon Corporation Inc., Japan. Made witha PowerMac.