Autofocus wasn't even experimental in 1979 , instead SLRs were manually focused. In the viewfinder of the Nikon EM there is a prism ring and split image indicator, as was customary at the time, plus a time scale with a pointer instrument for checking the shutter speed selected by the automatic exposure system (CdS cell), overexposure and underexposure display. A very decent viewfinder image for the price range. However, the Pentax ME had long had LEDs here, and they were even available in multiple colors. The measuring range of the exposure meter went from 2-18 EV, this was also standard.
|Also, at least at the time,
it was thought of tremendous importance that Pentax had metal
bodies. The Nikon EM had hard plastic shells.
It could hardly be seen or felt. Could such a "cheap
camera" even be called a Nikon? The purists were
outraged, something like this had never happened before.
-- Today we know that the EM is a solid,
long-lasting camera, as long as you don't use brute
(manly?) force to break off things like the rewind crank
or the winding lever, and it still looks good after 40
years if it hasn't been messed around with too much ,
because of course plastic ages less gracefully than sheet
Incidentally, the chassis - new then, standard today - does not existmade of plastic, but a high-strength, yet light copper-silumin-aluminum alloy - just like 1 year later with the F3.
|After all, there
was also a motor drive for the EM (called Power
Winder, 2 fps); only the mechanically more stable cameras
were given this. The others would have carried the
customers back to the store and asked for their money
The EM cost DM 435 new (list price 1979 in Germany, without lens), while a chrome FM was available for DM 525 and an FE for DM 785. It was only cheap when it was sold out (1982), when the price fell to DM 285.
A total of 1.5 million Nikon EMs are said to have been sold! And that, although in a direct comparison she can hardly make a trick against her main - 3 years older - competitor. Only its main switch is a little less clunky and has a more practical shape.
If you also include the "Series E" lenses in the comparison, the EM falls even further behind the Pentax ME with the silky smooth running SMC M lenses.
Conclusion : It sold well because it was a NIKON - and undoubtedly a good looking camera..!