A Street Nikon SLR?
I've already shipped off an old autofocus lens to KEH to help pay for an upcoming switch to the Nikon camera system. I do have a rangefinder with a 45mm lens, and I wanted to get something that could switch lenses and be used mostly for street photography (24mm lens) and the occasional portrait work (maybe 85mm or 135mm lens - I'll defer the decision until a later date). So, being rather unsatisfied with the Canon FD lenses I had, I decided to try a Nikon system. After nitpicking the features left and right, I decided on an FE2. Chrome body, relatively light, a fast sync speed (for any portraits that use off-camera lighting), and a neato match-needle system that gives you a lot of info about the exposure.
Now, just a day or two before the quote is going to be finalized, I find myself really wondering if I should get an F3 (HP) instead. It's sure to be less discreet, but I wonder if the extra heft will help steady my shots. Also, it is considered a "pro" camera, so perhaps I won't have to worry as much about the shutter failing? But, the meter isn't very informative and I hear the LCD is prone to failure. And also, that slow sync speed might prove to be a real hassle if I start adding some flash or other lighting.
Basically, I'm wondering if the FE2 is the right choice given my intended applications. Any thoughts?
P.S., I would have preferred an FM3a, but the lens I shipped out isn't worth that much.
Frankly, I'd skip the F3 and go for an FE or FE2 for manual focus Nikon bodies. They're very inexpensive and tough. I'd favor an FE simply because it can accept NAI lenses. Affordable F3s are getting hard to find in anything other than bonked-up condition--whatever you hear about their durability, they're not any less immune to heavy use/abuse.
Another option is to go for an F90x/N90s. They're very inexpensive and work well for me as a fast handling street camera with manual lenses. The built-in winder is nice(no need to break off eye contact) and the viewfinder is bigger and brighter than the FE/FM variants. Just park it Aperture priority and shoot. Electronic focus confirmation is another plus. I use a 45/2.8 AiP on mine(all matrix flash/metering functions work, thanks to the built-in chip) and find it a near-perfect for fast candids.
The FE2 is a nice camera and you will probably be happy with one of those.
If you wear glasses you might prefer a F3HP.
Don't switch because you think the Nikkor lenses are better than Canon. They are about the same on the whole (some focal lengths may be a bit better from on and some from the other so don't switch systems and expect magic)
I do wear glasses, though I have looked through a Nikon FE2 finder and didn't see too much of a problem with it.
Re: lens quality, I have handled both Canon lenses and Nikon lenses, and the Nikons feel slightly better, ergonomically speaking, to me. I have heard many claims that optically, the two systems are nearly identical, and I believe it.
Remembering the decision-making process, I guess I misspoke above - really, I wanted to make the switch mostly due to the various different camera options that Nikon has. When looking to replace my AE-1, I didn't find any Canon bodies that I wanted.
In that case you seem to be well prepared, and I think you will like either one.
You might want to have a look at the FA. It is close to the FE2 in size and weight and it has the added option of matrix metering (the first actually).
I have all three of them and am happy with them all. Perhaps I would recommend the FA above the FE2.
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I prefer the F3 for general photography but since you said street photography I would pick the FE2 because it's slightly smaller size and is available in chrome. Both of these factors makes it more discreet. I found that I actually can hold the smaller/lighter FM/FE more steadily than the F3.
I agree with all of this. I'd only add that the F90x/N90s has an option, if you're using Nikon speedlights, of using shutter speeds above 1/200th (it's a manual setting and I can't recall what it's called but I did use it occasionally in daylight conditions)
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If it matters to your style of shooting, a waist level finder can be used on the F3 so you won't have to lift the camera to your eye. Also, the action finder allows you to view the finder without pressing your eyes to it making it easier to follow the action.
The other significant difference is the F3 has a none standard flash shoe. There are special flashes for it that cover a range of uses. Also, there are adapters to allow you to use standard shoe flashes on the F3. However, to use standard shoe TTL flashes on the F3, you need the special (expensive) AS-17 adapter.
The F3 does outweigh the FE2 760g to 550g but the FE2 has been proven reliable through the years that the weight saving did not come at the cost of build quality.
I have a F3HP, FM, FM2, FE and FE2.
My least favorite is the F3HP. I find the LCD exposure indicator difficult to see. I must concentrate on specifically looking at it while shooting.
The lighted LED of the FM and FM2 is probably the easiest to use without needing to really pay attention to it. Good for getting some quick shots. May be best, in my opinion, for quick street shots.
The FE and FE2 do give you the most information and are easy enough to use in daylight. Once it gets to dusk or dawn shooting, however, they are very difficult to see.
Can't beat a N90s for a cheap, very well built automatic.
The N90s is great, for the price they can be had at it is very, very tough to beat.
Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO
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