Last week, I took a new-to-me Nikon EM film camera to the Eastern States Exposition (the Big E) for some camera-test shots. I wanted to see what this little guy would do – whether everything in the camera worked appropriately, and if I could feel confident in using this camera for upcoming projects.
The Nikon EM is Nikon’s most basic SLR camera, but it has some very deceptively prescient features. It has three speed settings – automatic, 1/90 and bulb – and the 50mm f/1.8 pancake kit lens was on a par with Nikon’s more expensive Nikkor glass. I purchased this EM, along with an additional MD-E film winder – instead of manually advancing the film after each shot, the film automatically advances after each actuation, giving me the blistering speed of 2 shots per second. Look, this camera was built in 1979, two shots a second is freakin’ high-tech, boss…
So let’s run the camera through some casual tests. I started out with a pack of Kodak Gold 200 and an f/16 aperture, so here’s what came out.
Then I tried some indoor shots with a pack of Kodak Portra 800 and a wider aperture, I think I went down to f/5.6 for some of these images.
So is this going to replace my Leica Green as my primary 35mm shooter? No. You do NOT replace a Chevrolet with a Hyundai. And shame on you for even thinking such vulgar things.
That, and I had to massively enhance these pictures in terms of contrast and detail.
But, this Nikon EM proved worthy enough to use for my upcoming photo plans.
And to give you a hint as to what I have up my sleeve …
I’ve ordered a second Nikon EM camera … along with a second dedicated MD-E film advance winder.
I have plans. And I have a good feeling that these plans will succeed.
Even with a 40-year-old basic budget camera.