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Nikon FM10: A Hidden Gem in Analogue Photography

I've got a backlog of cameras to review, but today I'm focusing on a more informal piece about a recent addition to my collection.

Dressed in a striking shade of champagne gold, the Nikon FM10 is a mechanical SLR camera that first hit the shelves in 1995. Despite bearing the Nikon name, it was actually crafted by Cosina. This camera is a gateway to manual photography, making it a perfect fit for novices and seasoned photographers alike. The FM10 boasts a robust yet lightweight body, manual focusing, and exposure control, offering a tactile, hands-on approach to photo composition. Its compatibility with a broad spectrum of Nikon F-mount lenses broadens its utility, allowing for a variety of photographic styles and techniques. A symbol of the lasting charm of film in our digital world, the FM10 stands out.

Constructed predominantly from plastic for both its body and chassis, the FM10’s design is both lightweight and cost-effective. This choice in materials sets it apart from the metal bodies of more premium Nikon models, yet it doesn't compromise the FM10’s reliability and functionality as a dependable manual film SLR.

Although positioned as an entry-level SLR aimed at beginners and students, using the FM10 has been surprisingly delightful. Its lightness and compactness, coupled with satisfying tactile feedback upon shutter release, make it a joy to use.

This camera was a generous gift from my uncle, a former journalist and photographer. Alongside it, he passed on a Nikkor AI 35-70mm zoom lens. Unfortunately, the lens has succumbed to some fungal issues, and I haven't yet managed to get it cleaned. As a result, for my initial test roll, I opted for a selection of lenses already in my collection:

- Nikkor AIS 35mm f2.8

- Nikkor Series E 50mm f1.8

- Nikkor Auto Macro 55mm f3.5

For this inaugural venture, I loaded a roll of Kodak ColorPlus 200, my standard choice for test shots. Completing the roll took me about a week; the camera's light build meant it was easy to bring along on my daily outings.

In these photos, you'll notice a very casual approach, as my main concern was to check for potential issues with the camera, such as light leaks. Therefore, I didn't focus much on the seriousness of the photography. Thankfully, the results confirmed that the camera is in excellent condition, with the exception of its light meter – a frequent issue encountered with vintage cameras.

These indoor shots of cats were captured using the Series E 50mm f1.8 lens. An interesting point to note is that it required a significant amount of time to adjust the colour balance of these images, as the original scans had an overly yellow tint.

So, what are my final thoughts on the Nikon FM10? Despite not being directly manufactured by Nikon, this camera impresses with its solid build quality. With a shutter speed reaching up to 1/2000, it's more than adequate for an entry-level manual SLR. I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to delve into the world of analogue photography. This underrated gem ticks all the boxes for what an amateur photographer needs, making it a great starting point for exploring film photography.


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