Pictured here is an old friend of mine. My Nikon FM2. We go way back. As you can see by the lack of paint in a few spots, she has seen many a roll of film. She travelled with me to England, Scotland, Belgium, Germany and many destinations in the Northwestern United States and Canada. She has dependably and faithfully captured countless images from my early college assignments to professional gigs including weddings and interior design. She tirelessly recorded special events and the early lives of my children.
How I met your mother
I feel like I could gather all my other cameras around in a semi-circle—from the Yashica and Canon rangefinders to the Fuji X100T, the stately Leica M3 and the burly old Rolleiflex—and tell them how I met their mother. My FM2 truly is the mother of all my cameras. I learned most of what I know about photography with her. I was an 18-year-old college student when we met back in 1985. I had just started studying photography that September as part of my program and the only 35mm cameras I had access to (yes, ALL film then... no pixels yet) were the Pentax K-1000s you could sign out from the college lending library or a cheap Chinon I had at home. I actually produced some decent images with the Chinon, but I really wanted a professional camera! My parents generously purchased the FM2 for me that Christmas. I still have the receipt. McBain Camera in Edmonton. $367 for the body only. No tax. My then-girlfriend bought me a 50mm F1.8 lens that same Christmas and a 30-year relationship was born. I became intimate with the FM2 right away and could tackle virtually any photographic task with complete trust and confidence in her. We shared hundreds of rolls of film. That was how it started.
At some point in nearly every long-term relationship, the excitement and energy of new love begins to fade. If you're shaking your head right now and thinking to yourself no it doesn't, it doesn't have to, then you're either 23 or you just haven't been in a long-term relationship yet—with a camera or a person. Anyway, never mind. For now, just know that I became distracted by other younger and more beautiful cameras, and FM2 became neglected. It didn't help that she started demanding attention! A CLA (clean, lubricate, adjust) here, a minor repair there. So when an easily repairable problem turned up with her aperture indexing, I decided it was time to move on. FM2 along with her 50mm, 28mm and 135mm lenses were placed in a cool dark place as it were, and largely forgotten for a decade or so. And who could blame me? There were so many young and sexy cameras out there. And they were all DIGITAL!
OK you already know where this is going. Earlier this year I bumped into FM2 at the storage locker. There was an awkward moment where I found myself filled with guilt and shame over what I'd done to her. But we've got to put these things behind us in life and just move on. I can't say she had aged well languishing in that foam lined metal flight case, but the old feelings were still there. It was time to get reacquainted. I offered her an all expense paid trip to the camera tech, and she agreed. I'd been forgiven.
Repaired and with new seals and a CLA, FM2 is like new again, "good for another 30 years" according to the camera tech. Of course she shows her age. But I don't mind that. There are memories in that wear and tear and it adds character. I've taken FM2 on a couple of dates now, shooting colour cine film, and it's like old times again. A familiar friend, she's as solid, easy going and predictable as she was the day I met her. A dependable partner under any conditions. As I carried her across the threshold for our first date in many years, I thought has she gained weight? But no. It wasn't her who had changed. It was me. Spoiled by plastic and titanium, I was no longer used to the weight of a "real camera." If my Fuji X100T had been there, it would probably have mumbled something like: "she looks, ahhh... bulky". But to me she's just right.
I'll be posting some results from my recent "dates" with FM2 as soon as the films and scans are in. For now here are a few shots of my daughters Alison and Molly, taken back in the day.
Taken with Nikon FM2. Late 1990s.