Nikon EM, 1979 - Index Page
Nikon Super Compact Bodies EM, FG & FG-20

 
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Nikon EM, 1979

Nikon EM was introduced in 1979. It was the first model in a revised design concept by Nikon to introduce a series of ultra compact bodies characterized by compactness, light weight, easy to use, yet still possesses some quality as other Nikon bodies.


Camera Specification:
Available Here
Instruction / Owner's Manual for Nikon EM -prepared by EEWyn.

Well, although I would not regarded it as a classic Nikon camera but the EM signifies a era where Nikon did attempt to try and repeat the success story of their Nikkormat and Nikon FM/FE models, but more at the success of the simple AE camera like the AE-1 from Canon or the OM-10 from Olympus.

Although that was not a popular decision considered by many Nikon followers, but the 30 years of goodwill did created a sensation when the EM was introduced. The EM, however, represents another category of camera design in the Nikon lineup, with subsequent models, the FG in 1982 and the FG-20 in 1984, these three bodies were the lightest and the most compact SLRs that Nikon has ever produced.

Due to its smaller physical dimension, these bodies cannot share many of the accessories that were designed for the FM/FE/FA and thus has its own dedicated accessories that are compatible among the three cameras. However, these bodies uses the standard Nikon bayonet F-mount, other than certain dedicated accessories such as motor drive/winder, databack etc. that are not compatible, you can actually enjoy and share many other system accessories in macro, copy/duplicating, remote, flash photography or even using its 80 more Nikkor lenses and Nikon Series E lenses plus a host of accessories at your disposal. Well, the latest AF Nikkor lenses can also be used without the autofocus function by setting the lens in the manual focus mode.

Compared with most of other well built and tank-liked Nikon bodies available during the late '70 and early '80, the EM may present a very strong feel of plastic. Yes, it uses a higher than normal level of polycarbonate material (But don't let this upset you, in fact very few modern cameras now use metal as the prime source of material to built camera).

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But beneath the shell, the main structure of Nikon EM is a sturdy metal structure. Made of copper silumin aluminum alloy, this is the very same metal used for the body of the Nikon F3 - Nikon's top-of-the-line professional camera during the eighties. Unlike other die-cast materials, this alloy is less susceptible to blowholes during manufacture; therefore, the casting is stronger and more durable. In fact, the EM's die-cast body has a tensile strength of approx. 33.5kg/mm2 - remarkably high for cameras in this class. Thus, you can be sure that the Nikon EM is as rugged and reliable a camera as you want it to be.

Taking pictures with the EM is really easy. In technical term, it uses an aperture priority automatic exposure control system. In operation, just set a shooting aperture on the lens. Then, focus and shoot. The EM will automatically select the right shutter speed to match the user selected aperture value for proper exposure. If the shutter speed goes outside of the "safe" range of approx. 1/30 to 1/1000 sec., there is even an electronic "beep-beep" quietly warns you to readjust the aperture before taking the picture !

EM topview.jpg (15k)
A view from the top panel will illustrate the clear and simple layout in the control. In addition to AUTO which signifies the AE mode, there are only two manual settings available in the EM. First, a setting of M90 (mechanical speed of 1/90 sec.) and B ("Bulb" for long exposures). Both are mechanical speeds, so they can still be used in case the battery fails -a rare treat by modern standard.

There are a host of other features provided in the EM. As this is essentially a battery dependent electronic camera, it has a few features to comfort the users. First is a battery check button and a red LED allow you to check the condition of the 3V lithium battery which powering the EM's metering circuits. It's easy to change the battery, because it is housed in a readily accessible battery clip in the bottom of the camera. (Instead of the lithium battery, two 1.55V silver-oxide cells can also be used).

Exposebtn.jpg

To provide a user with a greater degree of control even if the EM is only providing aperture priority AE, there are two ways: First is a built-in function where the exposure compensation button (In front of the camera body, press to activate - confirmation by seeing the viewfinder match needle will automatically set two stops in shutter speed compensation).

This is for compensating exposure reading such as underexposure of the main subject when the light is coming from the rear, this button increases the exposure by two steps (Since aperture value is user set, in this case, the EM body controls the shutter speeds, e.g., from 1/250 sec. down to 1/60 sec.).

Other than this, there is no exposure compensation dial provided. If you want to compensate for exposure, just press the button and you will activate a 2 stops compensation. If a finer degree of exposure control is desired, (another alternative which is also a conventional way) you can adjust the ASA/ISO film speeds to fool the camera metering for a finer level of adjustment in exposure compensation e.g. IF you intend to compensate 1 stop instead of the standard non-adjustable 2 stops press button, adjust the film Speed from ASA 100 to ASA 50 for over- exposure or ASA 100 to ASA 200 for under-exposure. (You must set the ASA/ISO dial to the ASA/ISO number printed on the film box. Films from ASA/ISO 25 to 1600 are Usable). A forgettable old method but still works fine with the EM.

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Compared with the Nikkormat, or the FM/FE (Even you can compared with F or F2 models), all those Nikon bodies mentioned have not provide with this valid 'modern' feature of metering-on switch. Just depress the shutter button halfway will activates the camera's exposure meter. Inside the viewfinder, the meter needle will react to the lighting condition, drops from its rest position at the top of the scale to indicate the automatically selected shutter speed.

Even after you have taken your finger off the button, the meter stays on for approx. 20 seconds to keep you informed of the meter reading. Although this is nothing to shout about if compared with a modern entry camera, but those days, this EM's feature even came before it was available with the professional Nikon F3, which was only introduced a year later in 1980 after the Nikon EM.

The Nikon EM has a fairly large, bright viewfinder which provides all information necessary for convenient picture taking. Focusing is easy with a fixed (Non-interchangeable) focusing screen with central split-image rangefinder, microprism collar, or surrounding ground-glass area. On the left side of the screen is the shutter speed scale from 1/1000 sec. to 1 sec., plus over- and underexposure warning zones. In addition, there is an LED electronic flash ready-light adjacent to approx. 1/90 sec. The outer diameter of the ring inside the viewfinder is the priority section where emphasis is given more in metering than the rest of areas combined, this 'theory' is called the center-weighed metering used in virtually all modern manual focus Nikon camera bodies.

Viewfinder.jpg


Under Exposure


Over Exposure

If you hear a beeper sound, don't panic. It is just a friendly warning device built into the EM to warn a user of possible camera shake due to prevailing light level demands a slower shutter speed settings OR a reminder where you can check if the aperture value set can be lower to raise the shutter speed to 'acceptable' level without the need of a tripod support. Thus, whenever the shutter speed is not within the range of approx. 1/30 to 1/1000 sec., the EM will emit a high-pitched electronic "beep-beep" sound when you depress the shutter button halfway to warn of such possibilities. Of cause, provided you know how to react to such situation, you can still ignore and depress the shutter release fully to take an exposure.

NOTE: Over If the shutter speed goes above 1/1000 sec. (outside the camera's range), the sound tells you to use a smaller lens aperture. Otherwise, the picture will come out too light. Under If the speed drops below approx. 1/30 sec., the sound indicates that you should use a /larger aperture to prevent blurred pictures. Even if the lens is wide open, you can still take pictures by using electronic flash. For shooting night lights at slow speeds, it's recommended to attach the camera to a tripod.

| Message Board | Questions, issues & Answer(s)

| Back | to 1977-1979 Pictorial History Site
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Instruction Manual for Nikon FG (Extenal link) 2.6MB in PDF Quality of the User Manual is is less desirable, but still - it is a Manual in PDF format. If you wish, you can try the HTML version for the Instruction Mnaual in my site.

Nikon EM, 1979 | Nikon FG, 1982 | Nikon FG-20, 1984
Additional info available on :
MD-14 | MD-E | SB-15 | SB-E
Specifications :
Nikon EM, Nikon FG, Nikon FG-20
Instruction manual for Nikon EM : HTML

EM.gif FG.gif FG-20.gif
| Nikon EM, 1979 | | Nikon FG, 1982 | | Nikon FG20, 1984 |


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Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number:
http://rick_oleson.tripod.com/index-153.html by: my friend, Rick Oleson
http://www.zi.ku.dk/personal/lhhansen/photo/fmount.htm by: Hansen, Lars Holst
http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/hardwares/nikonfmount/lens2.htm
http://www.photosynthesis.co.nz/nikon/serialno.html

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Credit: My nephew, EeWynwho has helped to convert the Owner's Manual of Nikon EM into HTML format. Also to a smart friend of mine who has just spent US60-00 for a EM body. A contributing site to a long lost friend on the Net. Made witha PowerMac