Suddenly I'm a Nikon guy...

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by BruceN, Nov 5, 2005.

  1. BruceN

    BruceN Member

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    This is kind of neat: I've always been (and still will be) a diehard Olympus OM user, as far as 35mm equipment goes. However, yesterday my mom came to visit and brought me a present. She said that, since she likes her digithing so much, she didn't need her 35mm stuff anymore. She said that since I'm such a "film nut" I could have her cameras. She then handed me a fairly good-sized bulging camera bag. Inside I found 2 Nikon EM bodies, half a dozen Nikor lenses, 2 Nikon flash units and miscellaneous filters and other accoutrements. Everything is in excellent shape, I just need to redo the light seals on the bodies and buy new batteries for everything. I still love all my Olympus gear, but this is going to be fun! Anyone know anything about the EM's?

    Bruce
     
  2. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    When the EM first came out, as a lower cost consumer body among rising prices for the other bodies, it caught flack for not being a real Nikon from some people. (I can hear the Monty Python guys, "It's a man's life in the Nikon army!") I remember a few with some electronics problems early on, but as far as I recall, that got cleared up. The E series lenses were also not as well built as the standard line, but at least some versions had reputations as real "sleepers", good optical quality and value for money if you didn't hammer and slam them around like a photojournalist.

    Have fun with them, and don't let anyone tell you they don't hold film at the right distance behind some good lenses. If the electronics have lasted until now, you're probably not in great danger of sudden failure.

    If you offered both, I'd take your Oly gear over the Nikon, but that's purely a personal preference.

    Lee
     
  3. kjsphoto

    kjsphoto Subscriber

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    Congrats! I been a nikon dude since I started and love em!
     
  4. BruceN

    BruceN Member

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    That's my opinion as well, but I'm still going to have fun playing with them. :smile:
     
  5. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    The EM was a late-1970's product targeted for the entry-level shapshooter market - the folks who wanted more than 35mm point-and-shoot rangefinder and who were willing to deal with 35mm film cassettes, but who weren't prepared to pay the big bucks for serious SLR equipment. It was accompanied by the inexpensive series E line of Nikkor lenses - Nikon glass in plastic bodies and by a special 2 fps motor drive accessory, the MD-E. It had aperture-priority exposure automation with an electronically-controlled shutter, with one mechanical speed (1/90 second), but did not have interchangeable viewing screens. It was slightly smaller, and ligher in weight, than the other Nikons of the time.

    I have a 100mm series E lens that I picked up at a flea market for $50 - and that is about the best $50 investment I have ever made. It's sharp, fast, and quite compact - a great portrait lens, and reasonably decent macro when coupled with either extension tubes or a bellows.

    My sense is that the EM body was not as rugged as other Nikons of the time. That could be a problem today since I suspect that parts are no longer available. I don't know for sure what battery it used, but both the FM-2 and FE-2 of the same period used either alkalines or lithium batteries - so I suspect that you won't encounter the dreaded mercury battery problem that is common with older cameras.
     
  6. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    You won't have any trouble with batteries for the bodies (3V lithium or two 1.5V lithium batteries), but you'll almost certainly find the cameras limiting. Your only two choices are aperture priority or 1/90 of a second for manual. The body was a step up from point-and-shoot bodies, but a very small step. It was Nikons attempt to attract people who were used to the simplicity of non-interchangeable lens cameras into an SLR system, and is extremely limited in functionality.

    Having said that, the Nikon Series E lenses were very nice lenses. They were heavily derided in the day because they used plastic barrels instead of the tank-like metal of the standard Nikkor lenses, but if you compare the Series E lenses with the autofocus lenses of today you'll find that they are much more rugged than almost everything that's considered perfectly acceptable these days. The optics in the lenses were first rate, although the coatings weren't quite as sophisticated as Nikkor lenses. Just use lens shades and you'll find that the lenses are capable of images as good as any Nikkor lens.

    The Series E 50mm, 100mm, 135mm, 75-150mm, and 70-210mm lenses are all recognized as excellent performers and many of them were re-created in later Nikkor lenses with the same optical formulas. The 28mm, 35mm, and 36-72mm lenses are good, but perhaps not quite as good as the other lenses in the series. (The formula for the 28mm lens, though, was used as the basis for the original AF 28mm Nikkor lens.) None of the lenses were dogs, and they've all held up extremely well over time (despite the warnings of doom-sayers at the time who assured us that plastic lenses would self-destruct in short order).

    I'd say you probably have a nice collection of lenses, and you could probably find a nice Nikon FG body to compliment them if you want a body with more capabilities. The EM is a bit limited for an experienced photographer, but the FG offers just about anything you'd want in a nice, small body. (Small for a Nikon, anyway.) Personally I'm fond of the Nikon FE-2, but it's definately a step up in both cost and physical size...if you're not going to shoot Nikon as your primary system the investment might not be worth it. But don't judge the Nikon system on the basis of the EM bodies...the EM's are fine as sophisticated point-and-shoots, but much too limiting if you're a regular 35mm shooter.

    Congratulations on the nice gift.

    Be well.
    Dave
     
  7. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    Mongo: I agree the FE2 was a great camera.
    I saved a lot to buy one used in 1993, and when I took the trip of a lifetime (From Iquitos to Manaus to Belem via the Amazon) it was stolen and I was left high and dry... not even 1 picture!
     
  8. Jersey Vic

    Jersey Vic Member

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    NOW I UNDERSTAND THAT DANTE REFERENCE!
     
  9. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    Ouch! That must have hurt. I've been fortunate...I bought my FE-2 the month after they were released and I've still got it (and it still runs like a fine watch)...but having equipment stolen on vacation has got to be painful. You definately have my sympathies.

    Be well.
    Dave
     
  10. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    I guess what hurts the most is that i don't have a single pciture from the most incredible trip of my life!

     
  11. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    Yes, but you do have the memories. Harder to show around at a party, but probably worth more to you in the long run. I realize that's little consolation.
     
  12. mawz

    mawz Member

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    The EM's a nice little body, pretty much comparable to the lower-end Pentax M's. My first SLR was an EM with the Series E 50mm. It was Nikon's first Cosina-built low-end manual focus SLR.

    Note that the Series E lenses are single-coated. Apart from that, they range from good (the 28mm) to superb (the 100mm, the 75-150 f3.5 zoom).
     
  13. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    I came to be a Nikon owner by accident - I bought a "broken" FG from a guy two doors down at a garage sale he was having... for $5 bucks (with a Nikon flash!)! A rubbing of the contacts and new batteries, "fixed" the camera. Its a great consumer grade camera, my wife loves its compact size and I found it takes great pictures. Why the story:
    I would definitely part with one of the EM's (unless sentimental vaule comes into play - both) to obtain at least an FG. Personally, I find it to be on the minimum end of what I need out of an SLR, and the auto-only EM would not cut it. (Note, the FG20 is a basically an EM+, not the same as the actual FG).
    What kind of glass do you have in that goodie bag?
    I can tell you this much, the 50mm E series lens I got on mine is sharp as a tack, as good as any 50mm lens I have used save for the Canon f1.4 SSC - but its not really a fair comparison. It is pretty flimsy-feeling, but hey, mine has yet to fall apart or give me any trouble at all. And as Dave pointed out, flimsy is a relative term - it still lookslike a bank vault next to a new EF mount Canon 50mm f1.8...
    Great gift!
     
  14. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    When Nikon introduced the EM, a low-priced electronic automatic-exposure control camera, I added it to my Nikon arsenal. The main reason that I liked this camera was that because of the low price, it was expendable. If I damaged it, I could just throw it away and get another one, or if I lost it, I would not be losing a camera of great value. In 1981, Popular Photography magazine advertised the EM body for $126.95.

    Here are some of my notes about the EM:
    1. Fixed viewfinder
    2. Fixed view screen
    3. No interchangeable back
    4. Has a hot shoe, but no flash PC connection.
    5. No depth of field preview.
    6. No mirror-lock up.
    7. Has self-timer
    8. Uses AI and AI converted lenses.
    9. Does not need the prong (rabbit ears) on AI and AI converted lenses to function.
    10. Cannot use pre-AI lenses
    11. Accepts auto focus lenses but unable to use the auto focus feature of the lens (photographer must manually focus the lens).
    12. Unable to use lenses that do not have aperture ring (G lenses)
    13. Has built-in center-weighted light meter.
    14. Must advance the film to the first frame before the built-in light meter will work.
    15. “AUTO” setting provides aperture priority metering only.
    16. Flash syncs at 1/90th second (M90 setting)
    17. “B” is bulb setting
    18. When the batteries are dead, the camera will still fire on 1/90th of a second when set on “M90” (mechanical 1/90th second).
    19. When the batteries are dead, the camera will still fire at 1/1000th of a second when set on “AUTO.”
    20. The built-in light meter in my EM tended to underexposed Kodak Ektachrome 400 film. I compensated by setting the ASA to 300.
    21. Backlighting, snow, fluorescent lights, night scenes with streetlights, and scenes with a lot of open sky result in underexposed images. Compensation was possible by using the blue button near the film rewind to increase the exposure by two f/stops. (Note: the button is silver in some EM models)
    22. The blue button near the film rewind is also used to test the battery.
    23. When my EM batteries got too cold, it stopped functioning.
    24. When my EM got wet in the rain, it stopped functioning. A drying out and a change of batteries usually got it working again.
    25. If the rewind knob were accidentally pulled up, the camera back would open and expose a minimum of 6 frames of film. To prevent this from happening, I always sealed my EM with black electrical tape.
    26. The EM body, an aluminum alloy metal frame surrounded by polycarbonate, was able to withstand everyday wear and tear very well.
    27. I was able to equip my EM with a low-priced motor drive. At the time, a motor drive for my F2 cameras was too expensive.
    28. The film transport mechanism tended to slip when loading film; therefore, I always double checked to make sure the rewind lever rotated when the film advanced.
    29. As the camera ages, it tends to develop light leaks. The leak is likely to occur near the hinge of the camera back. To repair, remove the old foam and replace it with new foam. One source of foam and instructions for repairing the leak is Jon Goodman on eBay (user name Interslice).


    I no longer used the EM as my expendable Nikon body. Instead, I use the F70/N70. At today’s low film camera prices, I am able to get an F70/N70 body on eBay for less than $100.
     
  15. Gerald Koch

    Gerald Koch Member

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    Be aware that the EM has an usual "feature", the meter will not turn on initially until you have wound off 2 to 3 frames. I assume that this is to get you past the film leader. However, it often confuses new owners into thinking that their meter is bad.