A classic camera! The Nikon FM is an advanced mechanically-operated, interchangeable lens, 35 mm film, SLR camera. It was manufactured in Japan between 1977 and 1982. I inherited one a couple of years ago, around the same period I started Lomography with my Diana F+. And I know I’ll keep this camera until the day I give it to my own children.
The FM is the replacement for Nikkormat FT3, which had been introduced only a few months prior. It introduced an entirely new compact, but rugged, copper-aluminum alloy chassis that would become the basis for Nikon’s highly-successful range of compact semi-professional SLR cameras.
It accepts all Nikon F bayonet mount lenses, with certain limitations or exceptions. I have a Nikon AF NIKKOR 28-70mm 1:3.5 – 4.5D lens mounted on mine.
The FM is constructed almost entirely from metal and uses a mechanical shutter. It is manual-focus-only, with manual exposure control.
- shutter speed ranging from 1/1000-500-250-125-60-30-15-8-4-2-1-B
- ISO range: 12-3200
- a cable release thread on the shutter button
- It has also little switch allowing multiple exposures
- a standard hot-shoe for any flash (the Diana F+ flash works like a charm and adds a great look to the camera) and flash sync plug for electronic flashes
- a self timer
Being mechanical the FM doesn’t need batteries to operate (though two 1.5 volt LR44 or SR44 cells are required to operate the light meter). The metering system comprised a gallium-arsenide-phosphide photodiode (with 60/40% centre-weighting) that metered through-the-lens at maximum aperture. Its reading was displayed by a “center-the-LED” system using vertically arranged LEDs next to +/O/- markers on the right side of the viewfinder that indicated overexposure, correct, or underexposure, respectively which allows you to take perfectly exposed shots, also very practical for multiple exposures.
The FM has a “full information” viewfinder. In addition to the metering LEDs; the viewfinder also displays the set shutter speed and lens aperture to give context to the LEDs. A fixed K-type focus screen with 3 mm split-image rangefinder and 1 mm microprism collar is fitted perfect for those sharp images.
Time has proven this camera to be tough and reliable and it is now regarded as one of the finest SLRs of its generation. I cherish mine strongly because it has not let me down a single time.
Here is a selection of shots taken with my trusted Nikon FM: