The Nikon FM was produced for amateurs but was a favorite of professionals, as well.
This camera was Nikon’s first effort to produce a smaller camera. Before this, its camera were full-size models that also were heavier.
|Body, film||Single-lens reflex, 35mm|
|Shutter||Vertically travel, metal focal-plane|
|Years made||Introduced in 1977|
|Photo quality||Excellent, depending on the lens attached|
There is a lot to like for photographers. It uses two 1.5-volt button cells, which power only the meter. If the batteries lose their power, it has no effect on using the camera. That is, the shutter requires no battery power to operate.
There are a full range of speeds, and for that time period, that meant 1/1,000 to 1 second plus B. The camera also had a self-timer.
The camera otherwise is a n0-frills offering, which means that it’s very easy to use. Its size means that it tucks into a camera bag as easily as it sits in your hands.
The viewfinder uses three red LEDs to signify overexposure, correct exposure and underexposure. The viewfinder has a horizontally split image surrounded by a ground-glass collar. The viewfinder is bright, which makes it easy to focus.
At one of my newspaper jobs, which was a Nikon shop, several of the photographers said that carried an FM body in their bag as a backup body. Most were shooting an autofocus body by that time, but being able to reach for the backup camera if the primary body malfunctioned was an option that they wanted.
For amateurs, it was simply a reliable camera that wasn’t overburdened with buttons or switches.
The Nikon FM was released the same year as the Nikkormat FT3. Production of the FT3 lasted only one year, while the Nikon FM was the first of a number of smaller-bodied cameras.
The only feature that was lacking in this camera was a mirror lockup, but because this camera was intended for the amateur market, there wasn’t a big uproar. It was never an issue, and it never affected its popularity.
The Nikon FM does what it is asked to do, and you can’t ask for more than that.