Moving back to an older Nikon body.

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by waynecrider, Dec 4, 2005.

  1. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Last night a friend of mine showed me an FE body, and after looking it over I thought it was the cat's meow. Small, light, exposure comp dial, nice easy stop down lever, decent flash sync and solid construction. The one thing that it didn't seem to have that I would like is flash ttl and a higher shutter speed. I love the size of the camera tho and am wondering what body would maintain the size & features, (I like the meter needle) plus give me flash ttl and a higher shutter speed. From the little reading I've done it appears maybe the FE2 or the FA which was apparently the first version of matrix metering, and maybe not that good. What are your choices?
     
  2. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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  3. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    waynecrider
    The FM2 sounds like it would fit the bill, flash synch is 125 or 250 depending on production date but there is no ttl flash. You get a ready light in the finder with the third contact on the hot shoe.
    Nice camera!
     
  4. jvarsoke

    jvarsoke Member

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    FE2 has TTL and 1/2500 max shutter speed. Great little body. I have two. My only complaint is that I can't see the darn needle for night shots.
     
  5. mawz

    mawz Member

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    I shot with an FA for a number of years. The v1.0 Matrix Metering worked pretty well (It's exactly the same as the later F801/N8008 and differs only slightly from the F4's, which has an orientation sensor).

    But the FA, like the FM2 and F3, has that horrible non-lit LCD metering readout.

    I'd look at the FM3a or FE2 now. Especially the FM3a, which has all the strengths of both the FM2n and FE2 (Aperture priority, needle readout, TTL flash, fully manual operation without batteries)
     
  6. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Hmm, that's a pretty subjective statement. The FM2 I have has an an LCD light indicator that reads +/0/- giving you a direct indication of the exposure. Using a flash like the sunpak gives TTL flash. I think what you are forgetting is that the settings (shutter speed and f-stop) on the FM2 are completely manual. Nothing is automatic except the flash brightness when it is used. But, your mileage may vary.
     
  7. bobfowler

    bobfowler Subscriber

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    How do you get TTL flash with an FM2? The FM3A, sure, but the FM2 and FM2n only has a flash ready light in the viewfinder.

    Back to the original post.... I'd look for a clean FE2, F3, or FM3A if you want TTL flash. TTL with an F3 is limited to 3 Nikon flash units (SB-11 (w/SC-12), SB-12. and SB-16A), unless you use the Flash Coupler AS-17. Of course, Metz has SCA modules for the F3 and Sunpak makes F3 modules, as do a few others. I have the Sunpak F3 module for my 120J TTL. It works OK, but the flash won't mount on the camera if I have my DA-2 finder installed. The SC-14 cord allows any of the wacky F3 specific units to be used off camera and maintain TTL flash operation.

    Of all the Nikon flash units, I think the SB-11 is the best for the F3. It has a pretty decent guide nnumber, and depending upon the cord used, will work with ANY camera.

    On the mir site (Photography in Malaysia), they mention the Vivitar F3 flash coupler. I picked one up on ebay figuring that I could use my SB-15 in a pinch. Well, it didn't work out. Seems that with a Vivitar flash that's Nikon TTL capable it's OK, but NOT with a Nikon unit!
     
  8. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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  9. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Aren't the F3's heavier then the FE and FE2's?

    Btw, it appears the cost of FE2's is under $200.
     
  10. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Of course, Nikon F3 is a little bigger than the FE2.

    Of course, it's a little more expensive than an FE2.

    Of course, the FE2 is an extremely good camera.


    The F3 is a much greater value. It is better in every way.


    I'd look at everything relative to the F3: what do you get by not buying an F3 ?

    That sets up a very difficult argument for any camera out there.
    .
     
  11. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    You're probably right Bob. I just set the thing and go.
     
  12. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    If you want a camera that's similar in size to the FE but that offers a faster shutter speed and TTL, your two options in older Nikon bodies are the FE2 and the FA. Both excellent cameras. The FA has the first matrix metering ever put into a 35mm body, and from all accounts the metering is excellent in horizontal orientation and very good in vertical. The FE2 does not have Matrix metering; it's limited to manual and aperture priority.

    I have the FE2, and have had it since the month after it was first released. Top shutter speed of 1/4000, flash sync at 1/250, stepless shutter speeds from 1/4000 to 8 seconds (advertised, although mine easily goes beyond 60 seconds accurately) in aperture priority mode, marked speeds from 1/4000 to 8 seconds. The FE-2 has match-needle meter display that's not bad except in very low light. There are three focusing screens available for it. And it does TTL flash amazingly well. I've set up some very complex flash situations using the Nikon flash extension cords and multiple TTL-capable flashes, and the camera has been a champ.

    Downside: Without batteries, you shoot at either 1/250 or bulb. But in all of the years I've owned the camera, this has never caused me a bit of trouble. Extra batteries for the camera take up no appreciable room in a bag (or pocket, but put them in something if you carry them this way) and I always have extras with me. Very cheap insurance.

    The FA uses an LCD readout for the meter, and offers "P" and "S" modes (Matrix metered program and shutter priority) in addition to aperture priority and manual. The FA is one of the only bodies that uses the extra features of the Ai-s lenses over the Ai lenses (the camera knows whether the lens is a longer lens or not, and adjusts the program metering appropriately). Both will mount and use the same set of lenses (Nikon Ai, Ai-s, and any Nikon AF that has an aperture ring - therefore any non-G AF lenses).

    If you want to stay with a body that's similar in size to the FE, then the FE-2 or the FA are your best choices. If you're willing to go to something heavier, then an F3 (with the appropriate flash setup) is a good, indestructable option. And finally, the F4 is a great camera that basically is the bridge between the old world of Nikon (you can mount and use pre-Ai lenses on it) and the new world (autofocus, enhanced matrix metering, and too many other features to list). Although I love the F3, if size were not a limitation and I was buying today, I'd seriously consider the F4. On the other hand, if size is important (as it seems to be for you), I'd recommend either the FE2 or the FA. If pushed I'd recommend the FE2, but that's only because I've owned one forever and it's never let me down...but I'm sure lots of people could say the same thing about the FA.

    Best of luck to you.
    Dave
     
  13. mawz

    mawz Member

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    Not subjective at all. The LCD used for the readout is truly awful. It's low-contrast with no backlight. The Match Needle metering is notably superior for low-light visibility. Match LED is even better (The more accurate readout, with superb low-light visibility).

    The problem with the LCD metering is not in the concept, but the poor execution. A backlit LCD or numerical LED readout would be far superior. Note that LED arrays are used in modern SLR's for this reason.

    And your Sunpack does not give TTL flash with the FM2, as the FM2 is not capable of TTL flash exposure. The extra contact on the shoe merely allows Nikon Dedicated flashes to communicate their ready state to the ready LED in the viewfinder.

    And to everybody else: Don't forget the FM3a. It's the best of the FM and FE cameras.
     
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  15. johnr55

    johnr55 Member

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    Thought about the FG?

    I have a couple of FG's and an FG-20 to supplement my Leica-R equipment. I wear glasses and always had trouble seeing the full frame on the FM/FE line; it doesn't have the relief that the F3 HP had. The FG is extremely light, offers full manual along with aperture-preferred and program. It has TTL flash metering with the SB-15 flash, widely available. I've got the little motor drive and it'll also use the EM winder. It's no larger than an OM-1 which is why I love it. It has the usual Nikon centerweighted metering that I've used since the 60's, along with a backlight comp button I never use. The readout is in red LED's for shutter speed. The only thing it doesn't have for me is the aperture readout in the finder which I don't mind. I've owned FG's since the 80's and have found them extremely reliable. The only other drawback to this body, in common with the FM2 and FE2 and later, is the inability to run non-AI lenses. All of mine are AI or AIS so it doesn't matter. I've never used the program mode so can't speak for that but the metering with manual or aperture-preferred is spot-on. If you don't want program or TTL flash the FG-20 is even smaller and lighter and just as great to handle. It's a perfect traveling companion and a great platform for those fantastic Nikkor lenses!
     
  16. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    Why complicate things? Go for a plain prism F2 body. Total simplicity and a hockey puck for durability. No meter so no batteries. It uses all the older Nikkor lenses without having to consider how/if they couple to metering. KEH has some of those great early Nikkors for less than 50 bucks each.
     
  17. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    I think I'm going to pick up a handful of good non-Ai lenses before they get trashed by the camera stores that have no interest in saving or selling them. In Japan, those lenses have almost no values now, and that's upsetting me.
     
  18. GeneW

    GeneW Member

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    I recently decided I needed to put new life in my 35mm SLR shooting and went about selling off and/or trading my Olympus OM gear for Nikon gear. I decided on an F3HP with some AI and AIS primes. I can't speak for other models, but the F3 is one very fine piece of gear and I'm happy with my choice.

    Gene
     
  19. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    I wonder if my newer Nikon lenses will work on the F2's, or if there is a mount cutout that is needed?

    Didn't the F2's have an external meter option, or was that available later?
     
  20. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    The meter head will determine whether or not it will couple to your lenses. The original F2 photomic requires the metering prong on the lens, The later F2 Photomic A/AS doesn't require the prong but does need the indexing notch on the lens.
    The meterless F2 will accept any lens with an aperture ring.
     
  21. bohica

    bohica Member

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    I kinda went the other way, been using Nikkormats and a FM and FE for years. Just bought a N2020 to get the AIS lens on it. Never used auto focus b4. Looks like it might be fun to play with.
     
  22. images39

    images39 Member

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    Wayne, not sure if you've already made your decision, but thought I'd add a point or two.

    I think the FE is one of the most underrated cameras out there. It's light but not flimsy, I think the controls are laid out perfectly, and it fits perfectly in my hands (maybe not everyone's). Personally, I like the needle and scale display in the viewfinder. I also have an FE2, and it has all the same benefits, but one thing that I prefer on the FE is that it does not have the auto shut-off for the meter. In the Nikons after the FE, the meter shuts off after about 10 seconds. I find this feature annoying, especially if you're taking your time setting up a shot, or following some action though the viewfinder. The meter often shuts off at an inconvenient time, and it's one more thing to think about. With the FE, the meter stays on as long as you have the film advance lever pulled out. Even without the auto shut-off, batteries seem to last me a couple of years or more in this camera.

    But if you want TTL and a higher synch speed than that of the FE (1/125), one of the later cameras might be a better choice. If you like the needle and scale viewfinder display, I think that'll limit you to the FE2 or FM3A. The FM3A is nice, but it's still quite pricey compared to a used FE or FE2. If you don't mind LCD's/LED's, then the F3HP is a nice choice, and it's coming down in price. If you wear glasses, the HP viewfinder is great (it's big and allows you to see the whole frame, even with glasses on). The only thing I don't like is the LCD display with +/- reading, but I guess that's just a matter of what you're used to.

    Good luck,
    Dale
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 27, 2005
  23. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Actually I have not moved on my decision yet, partly due to the holidays and somewhat to indecision. My whole motive is be firmly in one camp and not divided between newer Nikon and an older Canon system which I also own.

    My preference is for needle displays, and I can get around the synch speed. Battery turnoff is also always a pain to me. But what is the battery needs of the FE, and what are the weak points of the camera mechanical wise?
     
  24. images39

    images39 Member

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    Wayne,

    The FE uses a pair of the ever-common and cheap MS76 or LR44 battery. Power consumption is very low. I measure battery life in years rather than hours. As far as mechanical weak points, I've not had problems, but there is one component that can fail/crack over time. It's called the FRE resistor, it's underneath the ISO dial. There aren't any replacements available new, so if it fails you have to salvage one from another FE body.

    Dale
     
  25. firecracker

    firecracker Member

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    I've just received a used Nikon FM body with a 105mm f2.5 non Ai lens that I auctioned off for about 170 USD. But the lens is so heavy and the camera balance is pretty awful. So, I might just get a 50mm f1.8 pancake lens for the body and save the 105mm until I get a Nikkormat or something that weighs for the good balance.

    Meanwhile as a alternative lens, I've been thinking about a Cosina's Ultron 40mm F2 pancake lens, which is not really cheap (at least 250 USD) since it's new in the market. Has anyone had any experience with this lens? I want to hear some opinions about this product, but there are very few reviews available online. They are mostly saying that it's not a great lens, a bit too heavy to be a pancake lens, and the bokeh is harsh because of its aspherical design, etc.
     
  26. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    Unless you really want a 40mm lens, I can't imagine that the Ultron would be worth the money. For less than $250, you could find a used 35mm and a used 50mm, both top notch Nikkors in excellent condition. If you stick with pre-Ai lenses, this is easy to do.

    KEH has a Nikkor 35mm f/2 pre-Ai lens in Excellent condition for $115...this is the version just before Ai lenses came out, so it has the 52mm filter thread and is multicoated. In my experience, KEH's Excellent is close to what most people consider mint. (One of the images in the 2006 Nikon calendar was shot with an F2 and a Nikkor 35mm f/2 lens...it really is a great lens.)

    If you want a normal lens, don't discount the Nikkor 50mm f/2 lens. I have a number of Nikkor 50mm lenses, and the f/2 is actually my favorite. If I needed the speed of a 1.4 I might think otherwise, but I find the images from the f/2 lens to be more pleasing than those from the other Nikkor 50mm lenses. You can get the 50mm f/2 in late pre-Ai (52mm threads, multicoated) from KEH for $65. If you want speed, the 50mm f/1.4 late pre-Ai Nikkor will set you back $79.

    If you want a 40mm lens, then I think the Ultron is your only choice in a Nikon F mount. But if you can live with a 35mm lens, a 50mm lens, or both, then there are a number of very highly regarded Nikkor lenses at those lengths. Plus you'll pay less than you would for the Ultron.

    Best of luck.
    Dave