Nikon FE2 vs FM2

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Top-Cat, Nov 10, 2010.

  1. Top-Cat

    Top-Cat Member

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    Ever since I first came across a Canon AE-1P in a vintage store about a year back I've been in love with the idea of manual focus SLR cameras - they look great, they're nice to hold, they have all the features you really need and nothing more, and if you, for some strange reason would happen to be in the middle of Africa or some other remote location with nothing but a bag of film rolls you can shoot pictures for a year without even changing any battery (which isn't really a good reason since I'm a cowardly city slicker, but being a guy and all, we still love those hypothetical reasons).

    Being a digital Nikon user with a fair share of Nikkor lenses I've since then (and even before that) lusted for the FM2, among several reasons being that so many great photographers seem to like to be portrayed with this particular camera, and stories of how it used to be a kind of a press photographers favourite in the eighties and nineties.

    Now I'm off to spend the little money I have left (I'm a poor university student) on an FE2, first thinking - at least it's close, but after a bit of reading, this particular model seems even slightly better, as well as it also looks a bit like a classical Nikon in much the same way.

    So I'm asking, is the FE2 really slightly better? How are these two cameras, and is there any particular reason why the FM2 seems like such a historically important camera?

    (I'm sure this question has been asked once or twice before, but it wasn't all that easy to find just by doing a simple search so I thought why not make it a new thread anyway.)
     
  2. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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    All you need to know about Nikon film SLRs is on this encyclopedic site:

    http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/hardwares/classics/nikonfeseries/index.htm

    And here:

    http://www.nikonlinks.com/

    FYI, the 80s PJ camera was the Nikon F3HP+MD4 motor drive. The FM2 just doesn't quite cut it if you're into retro fashion statements. Not in the same league, not even close.
     
  3. Top-Cat

    Top-Cat Member

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    Yes, I've read a few articles there, I'm just kind of curious as to your experiences.
     
  4. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    The FM2 was the classic press photographers backup camera as it runs without batteries.
     
  5. Top-Cat

    Top-Cat Member

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    But can't most of the manual focus cameras do just the same?
     
  6. r-brian

    r-brian Member

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    The FM2 has a mechanical shutter, the batteries only run the light meter. If the batteries go dead, you can still shoot all day long. The FE2 has an electronic shutter. It will only work with batteries, except for one mechanical speed 1/90. And of course, the FE2 has an AE mode, nice if you don't feel like setting the exposure yourself.

    For me, I sold my FE and kept the FM.
     
  7. CGW

    CGW Restricted Access

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    What's to say, the FM/FE variants are sweet little compact cameras that sold strongly for years. For me, the only real advantage of the the FM2/n is the LED meter readout that's way easier to read in low/no light than the FE(2) match needle.
    Survivalist enthusiasms aside, the FM2/n mechanical thing is a bit oversold since, while operational, it's still meterless sans battery. Besides, the batteries are long-lived in all these cameras and not hard to get. Still, if you want the best MF camera Nikon made, get an F3(HP)--or an F4...
     
  8. Jesper

    Jesper Subscriber

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    The FM2 will run without batteries, that is true, but if you keep a pair of spare batteries in your bag that will not really be an issue.
    The FE2 is a very good camera with size and layout the same as FM2. In my opinion you can use either one.

    In some instances with quickly changing light (i.e rock concerts) the FE2 will be a better choice, but if that is the case one of the models with matrix metering will be an even better choice.
    FM2 or FE2, either one is a good camera.
     
  9. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    That's the difference - full manual vs. an aperture priority.

    Frankly the FM/FM2 is more durable and has a meter in it, also, if that's important to you. I had one as a backup camera during the film days at a daily newspaper, and still use it for my own stuff today.
     
  10. LyleB

    LyleB Member

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    My first real camera was an FM2. LOVED that camera. It is what a camera is supposed to feel like. It was stolen. To make a long story short, I replaced it with an FM10 (what I could afford at the time) years later picked up an FM2n off ebay. Have since added a FE and FE2 (plus a bunch more, they are so cheap relatively speaking) The FM, FM2, FE, FE2 are all the same class and quality of build. They all look very similar. As others pointed out, the FM/FM2 are fully manual except the meter. I wouldn't worry about that though, the little batteries last for years, not a lot of drain.

    Out of all my cameras, film/digital/P&S/Rangefinder/Medium format/TLR, the FM2 is still the favorite and feels best. Guess it's just because that was where I started and all I used for years. I feel like I'm involved with the picture having to adjust the focus, set the focal length, adjust the aperture on the lens, dial in the shutter speed, then re-adjust and fine-tune focus and aperture before triggering the shutter.

    No reason you won't totally enjoy your FE2. Is it better? No. Different? A little bit. Sometimes the auto exposure is nice.

    Have fun.
     
  11. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Get the FM2.
     
  12. djacobox372

    djacobox372 Member

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    I very much prefer the match needle over the led meter... it's a much quicker read, as it tells you the correct exposure, not just if your over or under.

    As for the led being more readable in low-light, that only really matters if your shooting long exposures with a tripod. In light bright enough to shoot hand-held, the match-needle meter is very readable.

    The FM2 costs nearly twice as much on the used market compared to an FE2, not really worth it IMO.
     
  13. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    Both are good cameras - it's hard to go wrong. Whether the FE2 or FM2 fits you better depends on whether you value the near immunity from batteries with the latter or the aperture-priority automation of the former. Both take the same motor drive and indeed the same batteries (the FM2 needs them only to power the light meter).

    Frankly, though, I'm tempted to recommend to you to get an F3HP instead. They're not very costly - a hundred dollars or so will buy you a nice user - and share many features of the FE2. The maximum shutter speed may only be 1/2000 instead of 1/4000 but one seldom needs the latter. The flash sync speed of 1/90 rather than 1/250 can be significant for some (I rarely use flash). The advantage of it, however, is that it's a professional camera - with that beautiful build quality and heft that you sound like you're wanting. The shutter is rated for about three times as much shooting as the FM/FE-series cameras (although many used examples will be former pro cameras and might have some miles on them).

    I use my F3HP more than my FEs or my FM2n. I like it better, despite its limitations.
     
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  15. Top-Cat

    Top-Cat Member

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    That's probably one of the most sensible things I've ever read on APUG (no offence or anything, but I mean - face it, we're analog photography enthusiasts - we love doing everything ass backwards).

    I honestly think it's going to be one of those cameras that I'll actually have some practical use for (kind of like my fifties folding camera - awesome for shooting medium format since it's only a portion of the size of my bulky 645 system camera) - and when you're buying analog and used, the price should be right, I mean, no point in spending loads of money just because it's some collectors item like a Leica, Hasselblad or an FM2.
     
  16. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Not to distract from the question at hand too much, but F and F2 pro bodies are selling for peanuts these days, as are the amateur-level Nikkormats, and as are the pre-AI lenses that go on these cameras only. I have a kit consisting of a silver F Photomic T, a black F Photomic FTn, a Nikkormat FTN, a 24mm 2.8, 35mm f/2, 50mm f/1.4, and 135mm f/3.5, two lens cases, two Nikon filters, and Nikon F cable release, and I have spent under $600 for all of this. This is an insane price for pro-level Nikon equipment. At these prices, it is hard for me to recommend anything but an F or F2.
     
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  17. mesh

    mesh Member

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    Buy both if possible ;-) I had my FM2 as a kind of a backup to an FE2. Frankly I really enjoyed the AE and the needle v LED's. That said, I have had issues with FE2 electronics and firmly believe the FM2 to be the overall more reliable camera. Here is Australia until (surprisingly) recently, they were the camera of choice by most of the Antarctic Division and Police Dept. Classic bombproof camera. Ideally the F3A is the way to go of course ;-)... best of both worlds.
     
  18. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Either one is fine.
    Opinions are like other portions of the anatomy. I like the FM2n, so there!
    KEH has both of them starting for less than $100 in BGN condition, so $$$ shouldn't really be a consideration.
     
  19. aroth87

    aroth87 Member

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    I have an FE and love it. The match-needle is great, outside of low-light situations. But I'd love an FM as well. Or an F, or F2, or F3... Despite having an FE, I like not having to rely on batteries with my Yashica Mat so I'll probably opt for a full mechanical body the next go around. I'll definitely keep the FE though. The FE and 50 Series E can be slid into a jacket pocket, making it too convenient to be without.

    Adam
     
  20. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    Get the FM2, it can work with no batteries if you were out in the desert in Afghanistan. Come to think of it it's what Steve McCurry used to get the Afghan Girl shot . . . ;-)

    Get the FE2 as it has aperture priority and TTL flash.

    Of course the best solution is to get the FM3A as all shutter speeds are available without batteries like the FM2. With batteries it has TTL flash, aperture priority and meter needle like the FE2. It is newer than both by a significant number of years as it was introduced in 2001 and should therefore last that much longer as it was built like the FM2 and FE2 in quality.

    [​IMG]

    But if you do get the FM2 or FE2, consider getting the FM3A's K3 split image focusing screen as it never blacks out!

    BTW, not only do you have to have extra batteries with you, but a nickel size coin too!
     
  21. Top-Cat

    Top-Cat Member

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    How is the build quality and materials used in the FM3A?

    I mean, it's such a new camera, considering the development of mass production and design, that pretty much signifies that they might have turned to cheaper materials - does it have the same metal body that the older models use?

    Anyway, it's going to be the FE2 for now, since that's the one I'll be getting for a decent enough price (something around 85 bucks - which is a good price considering I live in one of the most expensive cities in the world).

    Just kind of curious as to how it is compared to the other cameras according to your experiences here - from what I see here, there doesn't really seem to be a bad model among the classical Nikons.
     
  22. 23mjm

    23mjm Member

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    Well I say--get the FE-2 I have a huge sentimental attachment to the FE-2 though. It was the first camera I purchased--in 1984, got her NIB. She held up well over the years shooting countless rolls color, B&W, and slides. Two years ago she finally died :sad: not the electronics or the shutter, but something in the film advance mechanism. I picked a new used one up of eBay for $120 or so.

    But with all that said you can't go wrong with either the FE-2 or FM-2. I like having the option of Aperture Priority and the TTL flash metering really works well. In a previous post someone stated the shutter speed with out a battery defaulted to 1/90 which isn't true it's 1/250 same an the max flash sync.
     
  23. Nicholas Lindan

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  24. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    I've had both these cameras (FM2, FE2), I bought the FM2 new around '96 and got the FE2 2nd hand around '01 I think. The way I shoot, they're almost the same, both have the 4000 shutter and 250 sync. The FM2 has a nice meter readout +0-, the FE2 has a needle which can be tricky to see in dim light, but I'd always put it on auto when that happened. I sold the FE2 and kept the FM2 purely on the grounds that I don't need two cameras, I think I chose to keep the FM2 because I bought it new. Regarding batteries, they last an age in the FM2, I've replaced mine three times in maybe 14 years. I keep a spare set in my bag just in case, but they tend to go out of date before I need them.

    The FM3a is sort of a mix of both these cameras. A nice review on that camera with a nicely written introduction here:

    http://joshmadison.com/notebook/nikon-fm3a-review/
     
  25. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    My FM2 has never let me down.

    My FE2 has.
     
  26. mablo

    mablo Member

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    FM2 and FE2 are both very good choices. I've had both and liked them both. Can't say which one is better. FE2's AE is of course nice to have but you can use FM2 almost as fast if you have some kind of an idea of what the exposure could be. FE2 does have TTL but that's the old "key lighting only" TTL which is not too much better than a usual Thyristor flash you can use with both models.