Nikon EM, 1979 - Q&A Page
Nikon Super Compact Bodies EM, FG & FG-20

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A little extracts of the Q&A relating to camera operation:
| Instruction Manual of the Nikon EM |

Q: Can I still use the camera even when the batteries are dead or fail to function ?
A: Yes. In this case, reset the shutter-operation mode selector from the green 'AUTO' to 'M90' which will provide a shutter speed of approx. 1/90 sec. The shutter operation mode selector has two mechanical override settings. M90 provides a shutter speed of 1/90 sec., it is also used for flash photography with an electronic flash unit other than the Nikon SB-E or SB-10. B is for long exposures - the shutter curtains remain open for as long as the shutter release button is kept depressed. A tripod is generally essential for B exposures.

Q: Can the EM use all the Nikkor lenses ?
A: Yes and No. Proper lenses usable with the EM are: Nikon Series E lenses, AI type (AI-S included) Nikkor lenses and even with AF Nikkor lenses.
Warning: Non-AI lenses are not usable. Older Nikkor lenses which have been modified for AI operation and AI lenses of other than Nikon manufacture do not provide full performance with the Nikon EM, when used with the SB-E. Auto Nikkor lenses and lenses of other manufacture which do not have the AI feature MUST NOT be mounted on the EM. Attempts to mount such lenses will damage the camera's AI indexing mechanism. * AI modified 55mm f/1.2 and 28mm f/3.5 cannot be mounted on the EM. When using PC Nikkor lenses, it is important to note that exposure meter ing must be performed before the lens is shifted should metering be performed after shifting, it may result in erroneous metering indication. Most AF-Nikkor lenses can be used freely with the Nikon EM except: Warnng: New G-series which lacks the aperture control ring of AF-Nikkor lenses can be mounted on the camera BUT there is NO WAYto control the aperture - So, these lenses are NOT ADVISBLE to be used with the Nikon EM.

Q. How can I be sure the film has been properly loaded and is being advanced?
A. If. as you advance the film winding lever, the film rewind knob rotates in the opposite direction of the arrow engraved on it, you can be sure the film is being properly advanced.

Q: I pressed the shutter release button and everything in the viewfinder turns dark, it was okay for a while later.
A: You must have release the shutter during "AUTO" operation with the cap mounted on the lens or in an extra-dark place, the reflex mirror will remain in the "up" position. To return the mirror to its original position, set the shutter operation mode selector to either M90 or B. It is due to the camera metering was fooled by the covering and assume a long time exposure is required.

Q. Is the EM DX coded ? What is ASA ?
A: No. The EM does not provide with automatic DX coding, you have to set the correct film speed/ASA in relation to the film in use. ASA is a number which indicates the relative sensitivity of your film to light. Your camera must have this information to be able to give your film the proper exposure.

Note: Don't forget to reset ASA when you use film with different ASA ratings; otherwise, the film will not be correctly exposed.

Q. What should I do to remember the ASA rating of the film loaded in the camera ? A. As a reminder, insert the film carton tab which indicates the ASA rating, into the camera back's memo holder.

Q. EM is not an AF camera. What can I use to help focusing more comfortably ?
A. Yes, EM is a manual focus camera. You have to aim your camera at your subject, then compose the picture through the viewfinder, rotate the lens focusing ring until your subject appears sharp in the viewfinder.

There are three focusing aids you can use.

1. Split image rangefinder spot: Suitable for subjects with well-defined outlines. Turn the focusing ring until the two halves of the spot coincide, forming a single image.
2. Microprism ring: For subjects without definite contours, or for rapid focusing. Turn the focusing ring until the image in the ring appears crisp.
3. Fine matte outer field: Fine matte outer field: Ideal for close-ups or when shooting with telephoto lenses. Turn the focusing ring until the image in the field appears sharp.

Q: What is the Beeper sound for ?
A: Exposure warning signal: Should a "beep-beep" sound be emitted, note the position of the needle in the shutter speed scale. If it swings past 1/l000 sec. and stays within the red zone, overexposure will result. In this case, reset lens aperture until the sound stops or the needle "drops" from the red zone; despite the sound, correct exposure is possible. If the needle is around 1/30sec. or below, the sound merely warns you that camera shake may affect image sharpness because of the slow shutter speed. You either read. just aperture until the sound stops, or, if the needles is below 1/30sec., use a tripod to prevent picture blur. The meter remains switched on for a brief period even after your finger is lifted off the shutter release button.

Notes: At approximately 1/1000sec. or 1/30sec., a shrill sound may be emitted; it becomes regular when the needle goes beyond these points. It is possible you won't hear the warning sound in noisy shooting situations.

Q. What shutter speed is best to use ?
A. The shutter speed should be fast enough to prevent camera shake, especially in handheld shooting. In dim light, you may not be able to get a high speed. As a rule of thumb, use a tripod if the shutter speed is slower than a number equal to the focal length of the lens. For example, with a 50mm lens, don't take handheld pictures at shutter speeds slower than 1/50sec., and with a 135mm lens try to use a minimum speed of 1/135sec.etc. Remember, this presumes your subject is not moving. If it does, you'll need faster speeds - in which case you just open the lens aperture.

Notes: There are no clear rules of needing a fast shutter speed to freeze action, slow speed can also yield similar result with even enhance effect, but since we are assuming the purchaser of EM is 'new comer' to photography, we just have to use the commonly acceptable 'advice'

Q. When is the exposure compensation button required ?
A. To obtain a correct exposure when the main subject is side lit or backlit. In this case, keep the button depressed as you depress the shutter release button, the shutter speed needle "drops" by about 2 steps (i.e., from 1/250 sec. to approx. 1/60 sec.). Note: All metering suggested by the camera metering circuit are based on 18% gray to meter a scene, under unfavorable lighting situation (Like a subject in front of a white wall or shooting against window indoor etc.), this can fool the camera meter and exposure compensation may required to correct the exposure reading. The Nikon EM's built-in exposure meter uses Nikon's through-the-lens (TTL) center-weighted exposure metering system. The meter "reads" the light over the entire focusing screen, but favors the central 12mm-diameter area outlined on the screen. This is where the main subject is likely to be positioned, and allows the photographer to make precise exposure readings of the selected subject area, as well as provides for overall balanced exposures.

Q. What should I do if I make the mistake of opening the camera back before the film is fully rewound ?
A. Quickly snap the camera back closed. You may be able to save a few frames, but this is not guaranteed, especially if the back is opened in bright light.

Q. What is a film plane indicator ?
A. Rarely used nowadays with modern macro work. This is mainly used in close-up photography to determine the exact subject-to-film plane distance. It is visible when the film winding lever is pulled out, and positioned precisely on the film plane - 46.5mm from the front surface of the lens mounting flange.

Q. Can the EM use on infra-photography ?
A. As long as the EM light seal around the camera back rail is still in good condition. Both Nikon Series E and Nikkor lenses have an infrared photography focusing index for shooting with black-and-white infrared film. The image is first focused through the viewfinder, then the lens focusing ring is turned until the distance in front of the white focusing index is realigned with the red infra red index.

Q. Why do I need to cover the eyepiece when I am in self timer operation ?
A. The Self-timer provides an approx. 10-sec. exposure delay. In operation, slide the lever away from the lens as far as it will go, cover the finder eyepiece with the palm of your hand to prevent stray light from entering, then depress the shutter release button. The EM has its metering cells located near the eyepiece, if there ia a strong light source behind the camera (EM has not provided with a eyepiece shutter to block such light source). Also please note that the timer is designed not to cock accidentally and requires slight pressure when you start to stroke it. After use, gently nudge the lever back into place since it always stops just before the starting position.

Q. How to visualize Depth of Field since the EM has no depth of field preview lever as with the FM/FE or the FA ?
When you focus on your subject, you will find that objects both in front of and behind it also appear to be in focus. This "zone" of focus is called depth of field. In general, to control depth of field, use the lens aperture ring selectively, remembering that the lower the number of the aperture set (i.e., the wider the lens aperture), the "shallower" the depth of field, and vice versa. Yes, EM has not DOF preview lever but you can also use the color-coded depth-of-field indicators (Virtually all Nikon Series E and Nikkor lenses have that detailed illustration in color, but not so lucky for the AF Nikkor lenses owners). The wider the gap between two identical colors (which match the color of the lens aperture number in use), the deeper the depth of field, and vice versa. Remember, when selecting an aperture based on depth of field, the shutter speed will change accordingly. Be careful that you don't use a shutter speed which is too slow for handheld shooting or for moving subjects.

Q. Can the EM use with the MD-12 ?
No. EM (For that matter, the FG and the FG-20 as well) has its own dedicated winder and motor drive. The winder is a slower speed automatic film advance device than motor drive. The MD-E, makes motorized shooting easy for everyone. You have a choice of single-frame shooting or continuous shooting of up to about two frames per second. If you are looking for a faster motor winder, then you can have a look at the MD-14 which yields a faster 3.2 frames per second speed - in fact it rivals the MD-12 in rapid film advance. Both devices have a red LED (light emitting diode) lamp at the back to indicate that motorized shooting is in progress. And the motor automatically stops when all the frames have been exposed.

Q. How about flash ?
A. SB-E was its companion flash unit designed for the EM. However, other Nikon dedicated flash will provide similar result like ready light and auto sync speed control. Please referred to your local Nikon distributor for full compatibility reference.

Update: An Italian visitor named "luciano" mailed recently with his remarks on his personal view relating to operational sequence of the metering in Nikon EM: Click here to read. I am not sure what he claimed is right, and thus I cannot put any extra comment because it has been a long time I last used an Nikon EM.

| Next | to the SB-E Flash & Auto Winder MD-E

Instruction Manual for Nikon FG (Extenal link) 2.6MB in PDF Quality of the User Manual is is less desirable, but still - it is a Manual in PDF format. If you wish, you can try the HTML version for the Instruction Mnaual in my site.

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Nikon EM, 1979 | Nikon FG, 1982 | Nikon FG-20, 1984
Additional info available on :
MD-14 | MD-E | SB-15 | SB-E
Specifications :
Nikon EM, Nikon FG, Nikon FG-20
Instruction manual for Nikon EM :

EM.gif FG.gif FG-20.gif
| Nikon EM, 1979 | | Nikon FG, 1982 | | Nikon FG20, 1984 |

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