Nikon FM retrospective review

I had the pleasure of shooting a Nikon FM in the summer of 2015. Originally introduced in 1977, the FM/FE-series of SLR cameras enjoyed one of the highest volume of sales as Nikon slowly introduced new models to the series: FE, FM2, etc. You can still buy the Nikon FM10 today.

Although it is compromised in many aspects compared to Nkon’s flagship F-series, the FM/FE-series enjoyed immense popularity among hobbyists and professionals and that popularity remain strong to this day. Due to its solid mechanical construction, the Nikon FM and its mechanical revisions can be used without batteries and will continue to work for decades as long as film is still being produced. Many websites have reviewed the camera thoroughly with much of its history described in details, so I’ll instead focus on my experiences shooting with it.

Paired with a 50 mm f/2 lens and Ilford HP5+ film, shooting the Nikon FM was a wonderful experience. Film photography required a lot of thinking and planning, it forced me to slow down and observe carefully before hitting the shutter. I was so intrigued by the shooting process that I later signed up for a film processing class at the local polytechnic so that I can have access to a darkroom to experience the post process.

Developing film and printing photographs felt like another world. I recommend every photographer to try it at least once. I am lucky to have had access to an excellent darkroom at my local polytechnic and the patience of a master photographer for an instructor. The experience of prying the film canister open, loading it onto a reel and then pouring chemicals in and out of the canister was pure joy. Seeing how all the darkroom techniques are utilized to print on silver halide paper created a renewed foundation in digital post processing for me. Burning and dodging felt real, contrast filters are awesome, even making the correct crop was very satisfying.

If you have ever wondered why Adobe Lightroom exists, give film photography and darkrooms a chance.

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