Sunday, July 6, 2014

Nikon FM - "It IS Your (At Least My) Father's Camera"

So which camera to talk about first.  That's easy, a Nikon FM.   Why this camera you ask?  Because it was my dad's.  I think this was my Dad's last SLR before he migrated to smaller point & shoots and then to digital.  My dad was a passionate photographer.  He always had a camera in his hand or around his neck until the end.

He was a Nikon man and I think that's why I migrated to Nikon years ago.  He had tons of kit, and we even had a darkroom in our house at one time.  One of his cameras was the Nikon FM.  The camera was produced from 1977 through 1982.  It was / is a completely basic SLR.  The only electronics is a simple light meter with a +/O/- meter on the right side of the viewfinder.  Everything else was manual.  Focus was assisted by a split screen circle in the middle of the viewfinder.  Line up the top / bottom split image in the viewfinder and you are in focus.  No battery is required to use the camera unless you use the simple light meter.  The camera takes all Nikon F bayonet lenses.  Speed range from B-1000, ASA range from 12-3200.

I got this camera about 6 months ago from my sister.  A few years back, before my dad passed away he boxed up & stored a lot of his stuff including most of his camera equipment.   My sister, who had been storing some of the boxes recently gave me a few.  The boxes she gave me had assorted photography gear including cameras, darkroom equipment, etc.  The Nikon FM was in one of the boxes.

I recently took the FM out with a 24 shot roll of Kodak Max 400.  The camera had probably been in storage without cleaning for a number of years so I wasn't sure of the condition.  All the moving parts seemed to work, but not sure of the seals.  The viewfinder is really dirty inside but that is more of a nuisance. I put a couple of batteries in the camera, but couldn't determine if the light meter worked.  I used the lens that was on the camera when I got it, a Nikkor 50mm f/1.2.  

No problems, I took it out anyway and used the Sunny 16 rule adjusting aperture from there.  Guess what, it worked.  There were a few light leaks and color shifts, but that might be the film.  

Bottomline, the Nikon FM is a classic SLR design.  Solidly built & very heavy.  This beast is all metal and can probably take a beating.  The shutter sound is a classic "clunk".   I enjoyed shooting it, and even more love the idea that I can use a camera that my dad used to use.


  1. Nice tribute, Steve. Hope you will bring dad's (and one of yours) cameras to the lakehouse when Luke and Lauren introduce the family to Oliver. Not too many people can claim they've had their photo taken by a Vogue published photographer.

  2. As a followup to this post, I've been using the Nikon again, and the light meter DOES work. That's groovy.