Nikon F3 or FE2 -- which would you choose?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by cooltouch, Jan 17, 2010.

  1. cooltouch

    cooltouch Member

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    I've been thinking about this lately. I own an F2 with DE-1 non-metered eyelevel prism. I've owned it for twenty years, and it's never missed a lick. I used to own an F3HP and have used FEs and FE2s before.

    So anyway, I got to thinking that it would be nice to own once again a Nikon with a decent exposure meter, and maybe even an auto exposure mode. I can recall when I first bought my F3HP, I was somewhat leary about using it in aperture-priority mode, especially when shooting slides. But I was pleasantly surprised -- it always did a good job, exposure wise. And the FEs and FE2s I've used worked well in that regard as well.

    But as I continued to think about this, I found that I've gotten stuck as to which would be the better camera for my purposes. I'm just an amateur, so I don't require the F3's ruggedness, and I don't really need its finder interchangeability either -- I already have that with my F2.

    Both the F3 and the FE2 have TTL flash metering, motor options, and interchangeable focusing screens. The FE2, while perhaps not as robust as the F3, has a 1/250 flash sync and a top speed of 1/4000. The F3's is 1/80 and 1/2000 respectively, but it has an 80/20 metering pattern as opposed to the FE2's more traditional 60/40. And I prefer a tight metering pattern.

    One big difference: the F3 can handle non-AI lenses, while the FE2 can't. But I have only one lens -- an old 55mm f/3.5 Micro -- that isn't AI or AI'd. So even that's not such a big deal.

    Plus, just to make things more difficult, they both seem to sell for roughly the same price, when checking out places like fleabay and KEH.

    Right now, I'm leaning toward the F3, mostly because of its 80/20 metering pattern, but I gotta admit that I really like the FE2's match-needle metering method.

    So, I thought I'd toss this question out to members here because I'm thinking that you may have preferences and/or insights that haven't occurred to me yet, that could end up factoring into my purchasing decision.
     
  2. Pumal

    Pumal Member

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    It's tough question. I remember that when the F3 came out; we all kept on using the F2. It took years for the F3 to assert itself. Nikon was so worried that they upped the price of an F2 for a while. Eventually we all came to like the F3. I have to admit the F3 is a great camera, but many times I shoot with the F2
     
  3. fotch

    fotch Member

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    I have a FE which is not the same camera you trying to compare to however, in comparing to my F3HP and F3, my favorite is either F3. I like the FE, just that the F3 feels better or more comfortable to me. I also use mirror lock up although not all the time. I purchase the FE as a back up and like it for that.
     
  4. Leighgion

    Leighgion Member

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    If it were me... FE2, no question.

    I'm not the most gentle with my gear and my FE2 has never given me a reason to doubt it ability to take the knocks and bumps I put it through. Greater durability is nice and all, but if I don't need to pay for it with increased bulk, I see no reason to. The FE2 is a good size for me; solid in the hand, but not a chore to carry.

    While I don't use a flash too often on my FE2, being stuck at 1/80th sync would make me gnaw my arm off. Sync speed that slow basically traps you at a "well, at least the flash works" level. Virtually no upward flexibility, especially if you ever want to do daylight fill.
     
  5. SchwinnParamount

    SchwinnParamount Subscriber

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    I have both an FE2 and an F3. I love both cameras but if I had to give one of them up, it would be the FE2. There are simply more and better features on the F3. It doesn't hurt that the F3 is built like a tank. Finally, and I know this is illogical... but I love the sound of the F3 shutter. It's quieter and smoother.
     
  6. msage

    msage Member

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    I would keep the F2, my favorite 35mm camera. I don't use built in meters much. But I am not you so go for the F3. Great camera.
     
  7. RMP-NikonPro

    RMP-NikonPro Member

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    Get a FM3a! better than both!!
     
  8. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    I have both the F3HP (two bodies) and an FE2, all bought new and all worked quite hard.

    In a nutshell, the F3 is so smooth to use that when I do use the FE2, it's like driving a very old car.

    That said, the match needle metering for very quick over and under exposing, is brilliant on the FE2.

    But the winder on the F3 is so silky smooth by comparison.

    If size is an issue the FE2 certainly is smaller and lighter, however I also like to see 100% of the viewfinder, it loses on this point.

    With the price of the F3 bodies so low, I would go for one of them. Plus the accessories if you need some, are limitless, and accessories for the F3 are around in greater numbers compared to any other Nikon body.

    Shed loads of waist level finders, sports/action finders, 6x magnifying finders and the biggest array of viewfinder screens available.

    Either will work well, it's mainly a personal choice.

    Mick.
     
  9. cooltouch

    cooltouch Member

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    Thanks for the insights, guys. Msage, I have no plans to sell my F2 :cool:

    Sorry, no FM3a in my immediate future -- not when I can buy a clean F3 AND FE2 for the price of one of those puppies.

    I too agree that a couple of the attractive things about the F3 are more sensory in nature -- the silky-smooth film wind, the way it rests in ones hand. And yeah, the MD4 has the MD12 beat hands down. Not that much heavier, but almost twice as fast -- although I seldom ever use a motor for rapid shot sequences.

    I'm also not bothered by bulk. For years, I toted around two Canon F-1s with Motor Drive MFs attached, plus a bag full of FD glass. My F2's MD-2/MB2 is actually smaller and a bit lighter than those old monsters were. I actually prefer the added mass because I've found that my exposures are less susceptible to jitter-induced shake. But an FE2 with MD12 has a bit of heft to it, probably enough.

    Good points about the F3's wide array of accessories and MLU. I have MLU with my F2 though, plus I own three different finders and a selection of focusing screens for that camera. But I really like the FE2's match-needle metering. And yes, I find I actually do a fair amount of fill flash, so it would be nice to be able to use the 1/250 flash sync.

    Grrr . . .

    I think the eventual solution is that I will wind up getting both. Best of both worlds and all. I'm still tempted to get the F3 first, though.
     
  10. Nikon Collector

    Nikon Collector Member

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    BOTH! Now you're talking!
     
  11. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    I have never used the FE2 and therefore cannot comment on it.

    I have used the F3 and loved it.

    I still use the F2 because I love it even more.

    If I had to choose between the F3 and the FE2 for an auto exposure body to work with my manual exposure F2, I would choose the F3 only because I am familiar with it. However, in actuality, I am using the F4 as my auto exposure body because I also get an auto focus feature.
     
  12. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    Good points about the F4, however when the F4 was released I was given one to use for 6 weeks. I intended to use it alongside my F3 bodies.

    Well I can tell you that with a heavy 300mm lens attached and walking around a race track, the F4 smooth edged body became very hard to hold. As my hands picked up body oil and sweat from elsewhere, the F4 kept slipping out of my hands too easily for comfort. With an F3 and a drive fitted, the square edge of the vertical part in the front of the camera makes a very good hard edge to hold onto as one walks around holding the camera with one hand at waist height alongside ones thigh.

    On that basis I gave back the F4 and never used one again in that kind of situation.

    I see the F4 as effectively an F3 with autofocus and a built in motor wind, with an optional pack to bring it up to the power of the MD4. It is a very good camera, but if I was thinking along that route I would be tempted by an F5 or F6.

    Having both cameras the OP talked about I can honestly say that the higher shutter speed of the FE2 over the F3 is rarely ever a problem for myself, but then again that is because my subjects rarely require flash these days.

    I originally bought the FE2 to use it with high shutter synchronisation, in this aspect it was brilliant. With the MD12 attached the FE2 is quite a good camera, but the F3 apart from flash synchronisation speed is better in almost all aspects from my point of view.

    One interesting accessory many people don't know exists for the MD4 drive, is the MF18 data back. That data back puts either the date, or a sequential number vertically between frames, no other Nikon data back from that era to my knowledge does that.

    The sequential numbering facility is very good when shooting heaps of film at an event, you know exactly the frame number sequence between rolls.

    Mick.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 20, 2010
  13. RMP-NikonPro

    RMP-NikonPro Member

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    You'll get a FM3a in the End!! just a matter of time! :munch:
    I've had FE's FM's FM2's, Didn't stop me wanting a FM3a!!
    Sold them all!!

    Now I've a lovely Back FM3a with a MD12
    Plus a Super Chrome FA with a MD15

    I'm a very Happy Chappy :D :D
     
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  15. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Nikons, Leicas, Hasselblads are all the same ... just one is not enough!

    Steve
     
  16. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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  17. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    I vote for the F3HP. But then you should know what you want.
     
  18. cooltouch

    cooltouch Member

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    Well, actually the whole point of my starting this thread was because I'm trying to sort out which one I should get. Y'all have helped with your advice, and I really appreciate reading about your experiences because this is the sort of info that's valuable. But I think that what I should probably do is prioritize things, and ask myself which of the features I could use the most now. I keep coming back to the F3, and I think it's mostly because I used to own one and was happy with the results it gave, whereas I've only had the chance to use an FE2 briefly. But should familiarity be reason enough for me to choose an F3 over an FE2? Arrgggghhh!

    I suspect what will happen is I'll end up buying the one I can find the best deal on. :rolleyes:
     
  19. John_Nikon_F

    John_Nikon_F Subscriber

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    If you've $250 to spend, head on over to KEH and choose both a BGN grade F3HP and a BGN grade FE2. The main issue I have with the F3 is not the flash synch (I have two other bodies with just as slow a synch, that being my F and my F2A), but the FA-style meter readout, where, you have either "+", "-", or "-+". I'm used to fiddling around with it a bit, so it's no big deal now, but, I do feel much happier when I grab one of the 'mats, my F, or my F2A. I can instantly see how far off I am. That said, I still shoot with my F3P. Even though it needs an overhaul, due to the higher shutter speeds being erratic. I'm just using slower film and stopping the lenses down. May swap the K64 (yes, shooting it, going to do Xpro with it) into it from the F and put the Super HQ 200 into the F, that way, I have a better match.

    -J
     
  20. Kiron Kid

    Kiron Kid Member

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    Michael

    The F3 is a very fine camera. But, I could never get by with it's paltry 1/180'th flash sync. I love my FE-2, it's ruggedness, 1/250'th flash sync and TTL flash capabilities. I still use my FE-2 professionally to this day.

    Kiron Kid (Russ)
     
  21. fotch

    fotch Member

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    To each their own. For me the flash sync has never been a problem, on the other hand, I could not be without mirror lock up, even though I don't always need it. When you do, you do. I have a favorite lens, that has had a high return on investment, that only works with mirror lock up. However, if I did not need this feature, and needed a higher sync speed, would switch to a different body. Having more than one Nikon is the solution. :D
     
  22. Ap507b

    Ap507b Member

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    I own both & see the only reason to pick the FE2 over the F3 is for flash. I prefer the 80/20 metering pattern (find it very accurate & hard to fool) & the LCD display of the F3 to the needle of the FE2. Also think that the F3 handles a lot better when shooting. Prefer the film advance & the positions & operations of the DOF preview and the exposure lock. If I had to part with one, the F3 would be the keeper. Like the F3 so much that I picked up a 2nd one recently. Also, as someone mentioned in an earlier post, maybe think about the FA as well? Have an FA with an MD-15 & really like it.
     
  23. RMP-NikonPro

    RMP-NikonPro Member

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    Get a FM3a!!! Simple!!
    :munch:
     
  24. Kiron Kid

    Kiron Kid Member

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    The self timer on the FE-2 activates the mirror lock-up.
     
  25. Nikon Collector

    Nikon Collector Member

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    Don't you guys get it? With Nikon you cain't get just one. I have 12 and it's not enough!!!!!
     
  26. fotch

    fotch Member

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    :surprised:
    Mirror Lock has to occur under the control of the user, not the timer. For some lens, the mirror has to be up in order to mount the lens.

    Mirror Lock means it stays ups as long as you want and will not return to the down position. It also means you trip the shutter anytime and as many times as you want. You can even use your motor drive for rapid exposure, all while the mirror is locked up.

    I don't think that is what you are describing is it? :rolleyes: