One-Trick Pony


We all have that one friend.

The friend who never takes anything seriously, or has any particularly interesting talents, but still manages to kick ass at being mediocre. And we always call up to hang out with said friend, because we know it will be a fun time.

That’s the Nikon EM.

The EM is a dummy-proof, no frills camera, and just because of that simplicity it’s a real blast to shoot. It’s main functionality is in aperture priority, so there’s a ‘set it and forget’ mindless feel to shooting with it, but you can also choose bulb or 90th/ sec (unmetered), Although, my guess is that if you’re using this thing it’s not going to be for either of those last two options.

I’ve actually owned three copies of this little camera. The first one was a gift from my father-in-law that unfortunately took a ‘dive of no return’ off the kitchen island onto ceramic tile. (This camera has many small pieces on the inside… most of which I saw after this impact). It’s replacement from eBay also met the trash bin after I accidentally broke off the rewind knob opening up the film door. This most recent copy I purchased from eBay will be going back to the seller, because the meter is all wonky and the light seals are shot. If you’re noticing a theme here- (and most likely you are) it’s that they break relatively easy, and there are a shit-ton of these available on eBay.

Curious as to why the shoddy construction (especially for a Nikon product) I learned that between 1979 through 1982 Nikon made a lot of these cameras aimed at the entry level market, and because of their low price point were manufactured mostly of plastic aside from the top plate. Hence the no thrills or spills break-ability, and the easy availability.

So, the question is; will I purchase a fourth copy? Probably. Part of me has a hard time saying no to that question when it’s very possible to find a working copy for 15 bucks or less on eBay. I’ll just think of it as a ‘lease’ until that copy takes a shit, and like all leases hope that it out lasts my few dollar investment before it breaks.

Below are a few images I’ve shot while testing the camera. I don’t actually mind the light leaks, but the erratic meter is a deal-breaker. Thank goodness that the ridiculously awesome picture of my wife came out perfect. That’s a keeper. My wife, I mean.


Click any thumbnail to open the gallery


And below are a few previous images I’ve shot with the other two EM copies I’ve owned.