This Really Melted Focusing Screen Came out of a Nikon FM2

Don’t let this happen to your camera’s focusing screen or sensor.

In today’s case of “things that make photographers uncomfortable,” we’ve come across an image of a Nikon FM2’s focusing screen that was severely warped and bent. If you’ve ever needed proof that you shouldn’t simply point your camera straight at the sun, this is certainly a good one. Chicago-based film photographer Johnny Fabrizio recently shared this photo to the Film Photographers group on Facebook. “I’m really confused by this focusing screen that came out of an FM2,” he wrote along with it. “Anyone have any idea what it is? Why is the split prism an oval? Why is it such a weird shape? Is it just a broken screen? Help!”

What kind of shooting conditions or circumstance could have gotten a Nikon FM2’s focusing screen to be this misshapen? The group members were in consensus in saying it melted or warped with heat most likely when it was used to photograph the sun or even an eclipse. Also, it was most likely used with a telephoto lens and without a solar filter. Quite the bright idea (pun intended).

Fortunately, it’s not a case of neglect on Johnny’s end while shooting, or forgetting about his camera and leaving it to bake under the sun. He also mentions it’s just a broken one that he got in a box of old cameras. Group members were also quick to assure Johnny that the focusing screen can be easily replaced, should he decide to keep it for use. I bet it was quite an uncomfortable discovery, having a Nikon F3 in his analog arsenal. Whether or not this was a casualty of a brilliant idea to photograph an eclipse directly a long time ago, let this be a lesson to all of us. Never ever just point your camera straight at the sun to photograph an eclipse or whatever, especially if you’ve not thought about taking the right precautions or using the right equipment. Also, never leave your gear in sweltering conditions. Just don’t.

Here’s something to reinforce that lesson. Enjoy!

Image from Johnny Fabrizio used with permission