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.