In praise of the lowly Nikon FE

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by kivis, Nov 25, 2011.

  1. kivis

    kivis Subscriber

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    Cheap, sturdy, Meter turns on in a wink. Shoots all day. Batteries last forever. If you love film and love Nikon's, I can't find fault with these little jewels.:cool:
     
  2. ColdEye

    ColdEye Member

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    I am actually waiting on one to arrive. I am slowly rebuilding my nikon gear as it was stolen (seriously, why steal an old film camera?). I was initially going to get an FM, but to hell with my fear of battery operated stuff. :smile: can't wait for it to arrive and use it.
     
  3. kivis

    kivis Subscriber

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    I carry (2) 1.5 volt batteries in my wallet. Takes up no room. Never used them yet.
     
  4. echoism

    echoism Member

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    I love my Nikon FE. The FM was my original camera, but I wanted the AE for when I was feeling lazy, and now I use it much more. The only thing I wish it had was LED lights instead of (or addition to) the needle for metering for low-light situations.
     
  5. KanFotog

    KanFotog Member

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    I just got one recently, and though the first roll of film hasn't come out yet, I can definitely say it feels fantastic to shoot with it.

    Having shot an F80 for almost a year I figured it's time to get more hands-on experience in terms of metering, focus etc.

    The one thing about FE that bugs me is I can't see the meter clearly when the scene is dim/dark. Especially if the meter-scale side of my finder has a dark object while the rest is quite reasonably bright.

    Since you guys have been shooting the FE for a while, would you say swapping the default K screen with K2 (from the FE2) would make it any easier to use? As I gather, it makes the finder bright and all you have to do is set a +0.5 compensation.

    Cheers,
    Som
     
  6. ColdEye

    ColdEye Member

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    I also have a question. All of my lenses are non ai lenses, and I know I can mount them on the FE, but can I use auto mode with non ai lenses? Or is it always going to be stuck wide open (metering wise), unless I press the dof preview before pressing the shutter?
     
  7. rmont2

    rmont2 Member

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    I have shot with my FM(s), FM2n(s), and FE2(s) since the mid 90s and they have never let me down nor had me wishing they were more. The only things I change is the lenses that I carry around from time to time I tweek the basic kit. When I'm out shooting, I usually carry an FE2 and a FM2n when I want the different metering.
     
  8. BobD

    BobD Member

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    The proper way to mount non-AI lenses on the FE is to first raise the little coupling lever on the lens mount (located at about the 2:00 position). Press the button beside it and lift it out of the way, then mount the lens. Metering would then be done by stopping the lens down to take your reading. If you don't raise that lever the FE won't meter correctly with non-AI lenses unless you stop the lens down (except when you happen to be shooting wide open).

    The same is true for the FM but not for the FE2 and FM2 which don't have that little lever on their lens mounts. They were intended to be used with AI lenses only.

    The Nikkormat EL/ELW models do provide AE or normal metered-manual without any stopping down required with non-AI lenses or any Nikon mount lens having the meter coupling prong.
     
  9. kivis

    kivis Subscriber

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    No metering with non-AI lenses on FM or FE. FE(2 and FM3a) drawback is the dark needle on the left. I do not think changing the screen will help. Often I have to turn camera a few degrees to the right to see shutter speed chosen, but you get used to it, The FM (2) got it right with a black on white shutter speed reading. Small quibble for $80 or less.
     
  10. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Have 3 of 'em. Tough, light, fast-handling. Among Nikon's best.
     
  11. CGW

    CGW Member

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    You'll see a slight but not dramatic increase in brightness. If anything, you might consider swapping the K screen for a matte B or matte+grid E screen. The split-image focus spot turns into a black hole with slower lenses and stop-down metering--really annoying for macro work when you check DOF.
     
  12. FilmOnly

    FilmOnly Member

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    I love my two chrome FEs. Overall, they are my primary shooters. Indeed, they are as reliable as can be. The design and features suit me perfectly. I just love the one-switch operation with the venerable MD-11.

    A question for fellow FE users...I gather the FE/MD-11 setup requires the two 1.5-volt batteries in the camera? I did not notice this subject mentioned in the owner's manual, and so I thought I would ask.
     
  13. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    Yes! Unlike the F3 the FE (FE2, FM3a in auto) does require the batteries in camera to work.
     
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  15. al5256

    al5256 Member

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    I bought an FE in 1981 then added two chrome bodies a few years ago. I use K, K2, and K3 screens with these. Last year I got a very cheap Nikon EM from auction-site. Surprisingly f/3.5, f/4.5 lens focusing is easier than FE in this little body although fixed screen in EM should be equivalent to FE – K screen. My Nikon Em’s speed are not accurent in the slow side but doesn’t matter too much for street photography.
     
  16. kivis

    kivis Subscriber

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    How is it that focusing is easier on the EM?
     
  17. CGW

    CGW Member

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    The FG is a sleeper that packs a lot features into Nikon's smallest ever film SLR. With 50mm and 100mm E series lenses, it's a great, almost pocket-size, outfit. Preferable to the EM.
     
  18. Ian C

    Ian C Member

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    For the way I use 35mm cameras the Nikon FE is the most bank-for-buck Nikon ever.

    The film speed is fast and easy to set as opposed to the tiny hard-to-see dull red dot that doesn’t contrast much relative to the surrounding material of the FE2 and FA. I also find adjusting the ASA on the FE camera faster and more intuitive than the “lift-and-turn” film speed adjustment of the newer Nikons.

    The meter comes on and stays on by moving the cocking lever back from its spring-retained storage position, unlike the meters on the FE2 and FA that must be switeched on by partially depressing the shutter release button and that wink out after 16 seconds (inconvenient at times).

    I also really appreciate the metering out to 8 seconds as it’s useful for early morning and late afternoon shooting in low light. That was especially appreciated with ASA 25 Kodachrome and Technical Pan and ASA 32 Panatomic-X in low light. The FE2 and F3 have the same long speeds, but the FA is limited to metering to 1 second—far too limiting for me.

    Yes, the F3 can be fired without batteries, but only at approximately 1/80 second—not terribly useful in most cases and that non-standard speed makes figuring exposure inconvenient (about 1/3 stop less than 1/60 second).

    I rarely use speeds faster than 1/1000 second so the FE is ideal for my 35mm shooting. The only thing I give up is the 1/250 second flash synch speed of the FE2 and FA. For the most part that’s not too limiting. I don’t find the lack of TTL flash control much of a hindrance. I’ve tested my sensor-controlled auto flashes with my Minolta Flashmeter IV and have been pleased with the accuracy of their light output.

    The small size and low weight of the FE is appreciated. That makes it a good choice for my backpack when cycling.

    The analog meter display is useful in that it can be read in fractional stops by estimating the distance above or below the nearest marked speed. That isn’t possible with the digital display of the FA and F3.

    Even now we can still find nearly pristine Nikon FE cameras and they’re often in excellent condition with “low miles.” Occasionally I find a pristine example at a modest price.

    For the sharpest possible shots, it’s hard to beat tripping the self timer. The aperture closes and the mirror snaps up simultaneously dumping all vibration at the start of the 10 second countdown. Then when the shutter fires, it’s soft and inconsequential to sharpness.

    All of these things make the FE one of the best camera values for the money and now they can be had at bargain prices.
     
  19. al5256

    al5256 Member

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    Hi,
    The EM split image somehow has more tolerance to off-center placement of the eye when I use f/3.5 lenses. It has more tolerance than K screen on my oldest FE. K2 screen (needs +0.5 exposure compensation on FE) is very bright but split image darkens just like K screen. The split image on K3 (needs +0.5 exposure compensation on FE) never darkens but gets translucent when I use f/3.5-4.5 lenses.

    I bought a Nikon EM body for $10, it was fully functional except the slower speeds and the foam was really sticky. I changed foam using Mr. Goodman’s (Interslice) directions but the mirror damper foam placement is more difficult than an FE. I advise Nikon lovers to buy EM bodies otherwise they are going to trash in these days.
     
  20. tessar

    tessar Subscriber

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    I've had an FE for 30 years, always dependable. BobD is right about the non-AI metering. I have a 35mm PC, which is a pre-set (not automatic) lens, let alone a non-AI. Just stop it down to shooting aperture and there you go.
     
  21. CGW

    CGW Member

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    The old 35/2.8 is an oddball lens. Though technically a NAI lens, the aperture ring is on its nose. They clear the AI tabs that other NAI lenses can't, making them useable on most F-mount bodies.
     
  22. Someonenameddavid

    Someonenameddavid Member

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    The Nikon EL2/Nikkormat EL/ELW were battery eating monsters. But you might be able to pick one up cheap.
    David
     
  23. kivis

    kivis Subscriber

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    Therefore we praise the Nikon FE.
     
  24. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    Not lowly, simply s
    uperb in my book.
     
  25. mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

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    Agreed! It's my favorite camera -- my fourth one just arrived in the mail last night and it's a beauty with new seals and a proper CLA. After using my F100 over the past year, it's nice to have such a small body in my hands again. I also love the intuitive controls on the camera -- even blind, I could set every control on that camera, something that is not as easy to do with the newer cameras and all their menus.
     
  26. Pumalite

    Pumalite Subscriber

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    I've had three for years. Never a problem.