Nikon FE/FM/FA Series Model(s) - Shared Resources
- The Nikon MD-12 Motor Drive -
Basic Setup and Operations - Introduction


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The MD-12 was introduced way back in 1980 replacing the motor drive MD-11 in 1977. Most changes are internal rather than external such as meter off after lifting your finger off the trigger button, the MD-12 will advance the film immediately when you have full depress the button, while MD-11 will only advance the film after you have lifted your finger from the trigger button. Further, battery drainage is continual for the MD-11 unless you turn the power switch off. Certain earlier camera model like the Nikon FM needs you to turn the mode selector to motor advance mode on the shutter release button.(For more detailed write-up, refer to the MD-11 site).

Although externally, it looks identical, you will find the model designation of MD-11 and MD-12 is inscribed behind the respective drive for easy identification between these two drives. The MD-12 has no such clear identification. It hasn't been changed in its specifications since 1980 and as far as I can tick out, there is only twice it has some internal modification with the circuitry that leads to the pilot lamp, all the MD-12 motor drives operates in the same manner, including drive speed, battery requirement and consumption etc. While I have to note there are more changes and upgrades in the remote/time-lapse accessories than the drive itself - but these drives still works with these newer accessories.

MD12-Frontview.jpg (14k)
Note the front remote accessory socket has three pins (But classified under two pins in Nikon compatibility chart). Nikon has many accessories that fit and works with different group of camera models/drive combinations, the AF models has an integral motor winder built within, the 10 pins accessories are only meant for AF SLRs. This apply to remote cord as well. Check the accessory section for the MD-12 for more info. The next section will cover the setup and handling of the MD-12, and recommendation touching on certain related issue on operational convenience and drawbacks.

WARNING: According to Nikon, when the MD-12 is mounted on an FM camera (Serial No. below 3,000,000) *, the camera's mode selector switch around the shutter release button should be set to "M" (motor) - the red line on the selector being aligned with the line on the camera body. This is not necessary with FM cameras (Serial No. over 3,000,000)*, the FE or later models in FM2, FM2n, FE2 and FA (Maximum Speed of 3.5 fps is not achievable, only 2.7 fps is available in FA/MD12 combination), because the switch-over from manual film advance to motor drive operation is made electronically and automatically when the motor drive is switched on.

Nikon FM mount.jpg (12k)
Then, turn the motor drive's power switch to "ON." If the film has been advanced prior to attaching the motor drive, the motor drive will not operate until you make an exposure using the trigger button on the hand grip. If the film has not been advanced prior to its attachment, the motor drive will operate when its power is turned on, and advance the film and cock the shutter ready for the next exposure.The motor drive will stop and the pilot lamp go out after advancing the film one frame only, regardless of the setting of the S-C selector on the handgrip. *Note: The serial number appears on back of the camera body just below the film advance lever for cross reference.

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Instruction Manual : PDF (224k) 3rd Party Power Winder Only for FM2(n)/FE2/FA

Specification: PDF(121k) | HTML Operation manual (PDF Format: 202k)

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Index Page
  Special Application lenses:
Micro-Nikkor Lenses - 50mm~55mm -60mm 85mm -105mm 200mm Micro-Zoom 70-180mm
Perspective Control (PC) - 28mm 35mm PC-Micro 85mm
Dedicated Lenses for Nikon F3AF: AF 80mm f/2.8 | AF 200mm f/3.5 EDIF
Depth of Field Control (DC): 105mm 135mm
Medical Nikkor: 120mm 200mm
Reflex-Nikkor Lenses - 500mm 1000mm 2000mm
Others: Noct Nikkor | OP-Nikkor | UV Nikkor 55mm 105mm | Focusing Units | Bellows-Nikkor 105mm 135mm
Nikon Series E Lenses: 28mm35mm50mm100mm135mm | E-Series Zoom lenses: 36~72mm75~150mm70~210mm

MF Zoom-Nikkor Lenses: 25~50mm | 28~45mm | 28~50mm | 28~85mm | 35~70mm | 36~72mm E | 35~85mm | 35~105mm | 35~135mm | 35~200mm | 43~86mm | 50~135mm | 50~300mm | 70~210mm E | 75~150mm E | 80~200mm | 85~250mm | 100~300mm | 180~600mm | 200~400mm | 200~600mm | 360~1200mm | 1200~1700mm

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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.