Date: Wed, 06 Feb 2002 18:17:16 EST
From: Xxxxxx@aol.com
Subject: comment
To: <leofoo@mir.com.my>

Hi. On the part of your page that is the "pictorial history of Nikon," Where you have the descriptions of the slr models, under the descriptions for the fe10 and the fm10, you write "Both the FE10 & FM 10 are not officially sold in the US market (I don't know why...)."

In a post on photo.net (
http://www.photo.net/board/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=000Fx4), a person posted this: Kasie, you asked whether Nikon actually makes the FM10. The answer is no. The camera is badged by Nikon but made by Cosina (they also make Vivitar's Series 1 19-35mm wide-angle zoom) in factories in China (Minolta factories in China also produce the economical manual models, such as the X300). Naturally, quality control of this camera is not perceived to be as 'perfect' as the Japanese-made ones, but in fact quite acceptable.

Nikon FM10.jpg (11k) Loading..
But what really gives the FM10 the feel as if they would come apart in no time is the thin plastic material used on the body. Dropping the camera on a hard floor will definitely crack itself wide open like Humpty Dumpty, which is unlike the F-series pro-cameras, especially the F1, which are so well-built that they will probably crack the floor when dropped.

FM10s are produced mainly for the Chinese market which has an enormous and growing middle class that hungers for 'branded' consumer goods like Nikon cameras. Although these people are affluent by Chinese standards, their level of income falls way short of what people made in, say, Hong Kong and Singapore. And being a middle class with a nouveau riche mentality, their demand is really for the famous brand-name rather than the function and quality of the product. Case in point: fake Rolexes and Gucci bags; Chinese tourists love them, even though they are sold openly as badly made fakes.

Strangely, probably because it's a Nikon, the FM10 becomes quite popular in UK and found its way there even though the cameras were never meant for markets in the developed Western countries. From what I've read, the FM10 has replaced the Pentax K1000 as the recommended equipment for college photo students in the West, since it's full manual and so affordable.

Of late, the Nikon FM10 has seen major competition from the Chinese-made Centon K100, which is, as its name implies, has the Pentax K-mount and is essentially a modernized polycarbonate-bodied version of the Pentax K100. One reason for its popularity over the more famous Nikon, besides being ridiculously cheap, it is also its much better built (more survivable in a drop test than the Nikon, but don't try it!).

It's a paradoxical irony that the Centon is better built because it's meant for export out of China to 'rich' countries, whereas the Nikon is more weakly built because it's meant to remain within the local 'poor' Chinese market.

Examples of cameras meant for markets in East Asia and not those in Western developed countries (but may eventually find their way there):

1) Nikon FE10 -- the aperture-priority automated version of the FM10 (or the 'cheapo' version of the FE2, just as the FM10 is the 'cheapo' version of the FM2). 2) Canon EOS 888 -- a black plastic thing with very simple control, essentially a point-and-shoot EOS with the built-quality of a typical point-and-shoot compact camera. One of its early TV ads featured Jacky Chan!

Interesting note: Before the Nikon F601 (the non-US made N6006) was discontinued, its production was transferred to factories in Thailand, and suddenly, from being one of the most popular cameras in Hong Kong, nobody here wanted it any more. Even the shopkeeper at the camera shop where I took a friend to told my friend to get the F70 instead of the F601 when she was trying to choose between the two. The shopkeeper simply explained in loud Cantonese, "F601, made in Thailand; F70, made in Japan!!"

Japanese note WWII.jpg
Postscript: No offense intended to any Thai friends reading this story, which does not reflect on Thailand's manufacturing capabilities, but rather, on Hong Kong people's snobbish mentality (I'm a Hongkonger). Well, 40 years ago, any product that featured "Made in Japan" was laughed off as a joke, and today, anything not made in Japan is treated with a degree of skepticism

<<<<<- - --- A valueless Japanese military note issued during the World World II in Malaysia. But they managed to rebounce and spring boarded as one of the world economic superpower since then - so did their products which automatically bear a quality status.

30 years ago, Singapore-made Rollei cameras are considered second-grade Rolleis. Today, the island republic produces some of the most advanced hi-tec optical equipment in the world. The same applied to Taiwan-made computers some 20 years ago, and now everyone buys Acer computers with confidence. Today, China and Thailand churn out cheap cameras that lacks snob appeal. In 20 years' time, who knows, their cameras and other consumer products could well be the most sought after items by the worst snobs.


- Elliot Chow -
< Xxxxxxx@aol.com >

Note: If you have anything that you wish to express relating to Elliot's article, make good use of the respective Message Boards for Nikon FM2 series and Nikon FE2 Series cameras

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