FE2 Experiences?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by snegron, Sep 20, 2006.

  1. snegron

    snegron Member

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    I have never owned an FE2 but have seen some used at prettty decent prices recently. Can the FE2 be used without a battery like its FM2 counterpart? Does anyone have any comments to share about their experiences with the FE2?
     
  2. DBP

    DBP Member

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    It is battery dependent, except for the synch speed (1/250). Other than that, it handles nicely, has a good viewfinder and reliable metering, can take a fast motordrive, and has a wide array of focusing screens. Mine has become my primary SLR, ahead of a Nikkormat Ftn, FG, EM, and a pair of FM10s. I bought mine old and battered and it has held up well, even after the strap broke and it fell 3 feet onto concrete, which slightly bent the motor drive door, but didn't do any damage requiring tools to fix.
     
  3. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    My all time favorite 35mm camera. The best of the best just before the black blobs took over. The problem with an FE-2 is that even a mint one is approaching 20 years old now. 20 year old electronics makes me nervous. I have one at home that still works perfectly but the swing needle no longer works. As long as I trust the camera it picks a good exposure but it's frustrating not knowing what your camera is thinking any more.
     
  4. eddym

    eddym Member

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    I'll agree with the other posters that it's a great camera. It was my main 35mm SLR for several years, until my eyesight slipped to the point that I went to an F100 (my new favorite). The FE2 is still my backup for the F100. The MD4 motordrive is excellent, but I just wish it didn't take 8 aa batteries. That said, they last a long time. I highly recommend the camera.
     
  5. rosey

    rosey Member

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    Are you sure that your FE2 uses an MD4 motor? I'm sure that's a typo. Both of mine work splendidly with the MD-12, but the 8 AA batteries keep them running for more than 30 rolls of 36-exposure film. I doubt it would be that reliable for so long with only 4 AA batts. The motor helps give the rig a very substantial grip, making it more solid and easier to focus when using a zoom, such as the fine 35-105 AIS or the 35-70 constant f3.5.

    For me, it's a tossup as to whether I prefer the FE2 or the slightly more electronically advanced FA with its version of matrix metering. The nice finger grip of the FA makes it a better choice when its MD-15 or MD-12 drive is not attached to save weight, but the drive really helps the FE2 ergonomically.

    I also have an MD-11 motor drive that fits the FE2, but I have been cautioned against using it. It is kept solely for my FE. I understand that the MD-12 had some sort of electronic update that makes it better for the FE2, and that the MD-11 can cause a problem. I am unsure what that might be.

    Of course, I use a lot of zooms, so that's why I like the MD-12 drive on the FE2. Occasionally I don't miss the weight of the drive when I'm armed with the FE2 and just a single-focal-length lens such as the 35mm F2 AIS, 28mm F2.8 AIS or the 24mm F2.8 AIS. It then makes a nice lightweight package.

    Note also that the AIS capability of Nikon glass is absolutely unnecessary for the FE2. The FA can actually use the added functions of shutter-priority or full-program mode, while the FE2 cannot.

    Neither of my FE2 cameras has ever given me a moment's problem and, other than a very occasional, light cleaning and one replacement of the light seals since they were new, I have only changed button cells every few years and have never been disappointed.

    They'll be working fine long after I'm not.

    ken::tongue:
     
  6. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    The MD-4 is for the F3.

    You can safely use the MD-11 on the FE2, but if you forget to turn off the motor drive, you will kill the battery in the camera.

    The FE2 is a great camera. It is esentially an FM3a except that the shutter won't work without a battery (except at 1/250 and B). It's a terrific value and a great manual-focus camera.
     
  7. snegron

    snegron Member

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    I am curious about its power source when used with an MD12. Is it like the F3 that when the MD4 motor drive is used it then uses the power from the MD4 instead of the tiny batteries? In other words, if I remove the small button batteries from the FE2, will I be able to power it entirely with the MD12?
     
  8. rosey

    rosey Member

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    No, the MD12 does NOT power the FE2. Or the FA. It merely winds the film. The MD15, however, which fits ONLY the FA, will wind the film AND power the camera, making the button cells unneccesary.
    ken
     
  9. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    One thing I used to check before recommending an FE or FE-2 to a customer was whether the user was left or right eyed. The advance lever has to be angled out pretty far from the body to turn on the meter, which poked many left-eyed users in the right eye. This can be overcome with a motor winder attached, which makes the meter operate with the advance lever folded in over the body.

    The local authorized Nikon repair person in Minneapolis told me (in 1983) that he never saw the 1/4000 second shutter speed test faster than 1/2500 second. This was still in about the first year or two of production, and I didn't get a chance to ask if that was a limit of his testing equipment (I'd presume he'd know better than to use inadequate test equipment), nor do I know if later production got a truer 1/4000. In any case, don't be too surprised if you get nearly an extra stop of exposure at 1/4000.

    We also had issues with the shutters in a number of first year production FE-2 and FM-2. The shutter blades would hang on one side and end up looking like a wrecked venetian blind. Nikon refused warranty repair on several of these sold out of the shop I worked in (and gave a number of concoted and changing reasons for refusing warranty repair), but I later production seems to have worked out the problem with the new high speed shutter design. Any cameras with this particular fault should be long dead and gone.

    Otherwise, it's a solid, reliable camera. My wife runs into one of my customers at professional meetings every couple of years, and his FE-2 is still going strong.

    Lee
     
  10. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    I bought an old beat up Fe2 last year I think. Though it has taken some punishment its still going strong I have the MD12 attached to it and that helps controling long lenses as my 180mm AIS. I like the camera with its mirror prerelease and multiexposure capablity which my F90X lacks. It even controls the SB28 flash TTL and that really works.
    The finder in the F90X is better though.
    Cheers
    Søren
     
  11. eddym

    eddym Member

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    You're absolutely right, and I agree with your other points as well. My only defense is that it was almost my bedtime when I typed that! :smile:
     
  12. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    My FE2 is a 1983 model and purchased about a month after they became available. It has the honeycomb pattern titanium shutter of the first model, naturally.

    I got my shutter tested free by the local Nikon repair shop about a month after purchasing it. There was some bad press going around that the 1/4000 speed was just hype and that the shutter couldn't get anywhere the stated top speed. The Nikon repair shop decided to have an open day one Saturday where one could get your under 1 year old Nikon camera's, shutter speeds tested.

    Well, the results were interesting:-

    At 1/4000 the time required is 0.25 milliseconds, my shutter took 0.33 milliseconds. This difference equates to a longer opening time of 32%, which as I understand it in photographic terms, is 1/3 of a stop extra exposure.

    From 1/2000 down to 1/500 the shutter was basically bang on the money.

    At 1/250 the shutter was giving the film an extra 1/8 of a stop extra exposure. The interesting thing about this was that the mechanical 1/250 and the electronic 1/250 readings were identical.

    From 1/125 down to 8 seconds all shutter speeds were exceptionally accurate.

    When the camera was 20 years old I did a film shutter speed test. Whilst not as accurate as a laboratory piece of equipment it told me that the 1/4000 and 1/250 speeds were about 1/2 a stop slow, with most other speeds within 1/3 of a stop correct. 1/3 of a stop is the closest measurement I can do this way.

    Not too bad really!

    Mick.
     
  13. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    So the posts about the 1/4000 speed being slow is kind of having some truth to it. at .33 mS the speed is about 1/3000. At 1/2 stop slow the speed is about 1/1500. At speed of 1 Sec or longer an electronically controlled shutter should be dead on accurate.
     
  14. snegron

    snegron Member

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    I never knew about the 1/4000 shutter innacuracy problem. If I were to get a used FE2, is there a place I can send it to verify/calibrate the accurate shutter speed? Can the FE2 really shoot at 1/4000 or is it not possible even after any calibration work?

    Also, what about the FM2? Does it suffer from the same problem? I have a couple of FM2N cameras and I can only recall two or three times in the past 20 years that I actually shot at 1/4000.

    Is there a test I can perform at home to check the accuracy of the shutter speeds?
     
  15. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    I was incorrect. 1/2 stop slow at 1/4000 is about 1/3000 and not 1/1500.
     
  16. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    The comment I got from the owner of the local authorized Nikon repair center in Minneapolis in 1983 reflected his shop's experience with both the FM2 and FE2 in the first year or so of production. I went into studio work after that and haven't followed the hardware end of 35mm much at all since I stopped selling it, so I don't have anything more current to add. This was cutting edge shutter technology at the time.

    BTW, the self-destructing shutter problems we saw with the first year of these shutters amounted to something on the order of 1% of the cameras sold through the shop I worked in, 3 of about 200-300 cameras or so over that first year. So it was a small percentage of a decent sized sample. They were identical failures, and in cameras used by photographers with pro level experience and skills, who weren't doing the stupid human tricks that Nikon insisted caused the failures.

    Lee
     
  17. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    A good rule of thumb for older cameras (and not bad for newer) is to try to avoid the use of your fastest shutter speed. Buy your camera based on the highest shutter speed you need, and get one that has one speed higher than that. So, if you routinely use 1/2000, get a camera that has 1/4000. That way your 1/2000 will be accurate, whereas if you get a camera that maxes out at 1/2000, you are more likely to have a slow shutter at that speed.
     
  18. snegron

    snegron Member

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    Just out of curiosity, both of my FM2N's have honeycomb pattern shutter curtains. Did the FE2 have this pattern as well? Also, are the earlier models the ones with the honecomb pattern, or are the later models the ones with that pattern?
     
  19. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    The FM2 was the first camera to have 1/4000 shutter speed from Nikon in 1982, a year later the FE2 followed with essentially the same shutter.

    Both of those cameras ran with honeycomb shutters, later FM2 cameras didn't have the honeycomb shutter, it was plain metal.

    I don't know about late FE2 cameras or later still FM2 cameras, only what I have, which is my 1983 FE2.

    I've just swotted up in my Nikon Compendium, page 44:-

    "Since 1989 the FM-2 has been equipped with the F-801 shutter blinds".

    Mick.
     
  20. Lee Hamiel

    Lee Hamiel Subscriber

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  21. paullgj

    paullgj Member

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    In 2000 I bought an FE2, plus 24, 50 and 135 mm AIS lenses. I should have stopped there, but proceded to buy $$$$ worth of Nikon AF and more recently digital gear. However, to this day, the combination of the FE2, primes, and good slide films gives me the best results. When there is action, and I have to be quick, I'll use the F100. The only one of the susequent purchases that gets a lot of use is a 35 mm f2 AI lens - it has more or less replaced the 50 mm. The 135 mm AIS lens is used a lot for street photography.

    I can't recommend the FE2 highly enough.
     
  22. CorreCaminos

    CorreCaminos Member

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    Bought one new in mid 80s, used it all through college, my first corporate job, my first business venture, and about 18 years later, after it having been dropped several times and traveled extensively by car, motorcycles, and planes, I decided it'd had enough. I retired it and I took a break from photography for about two years.

    Then I went digital but it was not the same. It just felt empty and pointless. I liked the FE2 so much that I considered getting a used one but since I tend to keep cameras for decades, I decided I'd better get something different.

    It's a great camera and, if you find one in good condition, it won't let you down.
     
  23. Simon E

    Simon E Member

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    A talented local botanist/photographer has an FE2 as his main camera from new. He has taken it abroad numerous times, from Central American rainforests and the Mid-West USA to the Mediterranean and Scotland (though that's not abroad), and finds it totally intuitive to use.

    I would suggest that, if it fits your purpose and you like it, then buy it.
     
  24. Nick Merritt

    Nick Merritt Member

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    The only things I am not crazy about with the FE2, and these are Nikon design features that apply to not only the FE2, are 1) no metering until you advance to frame #1 (I like to squeeze an extra frame on at the front of a roll) and 2) the meter needle is quite hard to see in dim light (an LED readout like with the FM/FM2 is much easier to use here). But I echo everyone's praise of this camera; it's a real classic.