When I started pursuing photography back in 1982 the camera industry was a very different place. Enthusiast and professional photographers mainly belonged to the Nikon brand, although Canon did make gains towards the end of the decade. Leica cameras were reserved for the fine art crowd, and Hasselblad cameras were known as medium format king.
1982 was also the year that Nikon released the Nikon FM2 SLR 35mm film camera, available as a body only or in a kit form with the standard Nikkor 50mm F/1.8 manual AI lens. The FM-2 Nikon SLR camera was intended as a camera for serious enthusiast photographers and to serve as a second body for the pro’s. The FM-2 ended up being very popular and was available in two body colours silver (chrome) or black.
Two years later in 1984 Nikon unveiled their much anticipated upgrade to the Nikon FM2, the Nikon FM2n SLR camera. So what exciting new features and technologies were incorporated in the new camera?
Nikon SLR Camera FM2n 35mm
The Nikon FM2n SLR camera offered the new and improved feature of allowing photographers to take advantage of a faster 1/250 sec flash sync versus the Nikon FM2 that featured a slower 1/125 sec flash sync. That’s it.
I doubt that there were many Nikon FM2 users that put their cameras up for sale in the newspaper classifieds and rushed out to pre-order the Nikon FM2n. Nevertheless the FM2n Nikon SLR camera captured a new following of loyal enthusiasts. I myself purchased a used Nikon FM2n at a local camera store when I was a student back in the late 80’s. Loved it and put countless of rolls of Provia, Tri-X and Kodachrome 64 film through it for many years. Owned it and used it for a longer period of time than any digital camera that I have purchased since.
In 1984 SLR photographers were pretty much limited to a few choices from the 5 main camera brands including, Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Minolta, and Olympus. Recent competitors in the digital camera market like Sony, Panasonic and Casio were unknowns in the photography industry back then.
Apple was something I had in my lunch (although a rich friend had a desktop computer by that name), and that same year Nokia proudly introduced one of the world’s first transportable phones, the Nokia Mobira Talkman. Incorporating a camera with a cell phone was of course not even in the cards at the time.
With so few players in the market back then, I think it is safe to say that the senior executives at Nikon and Canon probably long for those good old days as well.
What prompted these thoughts was when I began researching and comparing the new Nikon D600 versus Canon 6D full frame digital SLR cameras, a process that took two weeks to complete based on the amount of research, testing and general information gathering that had to be completed before I could complete the article. The Nikon D600 instruction manual alone contains over 340 pages. To put that in perspective, the Nikon FM2n SLR camera user manual features only 50 pages. Seems there is quite a bit more to talk about with respect to the Nikon D600.
We have of course become used to the many benefits that digital cameras and new technologies offer us.
I once pushed a roll of film to 6400 ISO with less than great results. Today I routinely shoot 6400 ISO and even higher when required, and if a digital SLR camera can’t deliver at these settings it gets labelled as a ‘poor’ performer. Our expectations sure have changed.
While I am writing this I am also waiting for some digital camera test shots taken a short while ago to upload to our ftp server, directly from a 4GB Eye-Fi wireless transfer enabled SD memory card, that serves to both store the images and also provides the actual Wi-Fi transfer capabilities. A different world, no doubt about that.
– What is your favourite camera from your past? Please feel free to share in the comments section below.