|Nikon FE 35mm SLR Film Camera Body Only|
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|The Nikon FE is an SLR film camera, perfect for both amateur and professional photographers. With 12 mm heavily center-weighted TTL meter, this Nikon SLR camera covers as much as 60-70% of the subject scene. This Nikon film camera offers aperture-priority auto and match-needle manual exposure for bright and sharper images. With maximum shutter speed of 1/125 (electronic) and 1/90 (mechanical), this Nikon SLR camera helps freeze motion for superior detail and clarity. The Hot shoe and PC sync terminal flash sync in this Nikon film camera allows you to capture superb shots in bright sunlight, by getting enough flash power. Weighing 20.355 oz, the Nikon FE is an ideal companion for your traveling photography.|
|Model||FE Body Only|
|Camera Type||SLR (Single Lens Reflex)|
|Lens Mount||Nikon F|
|Focus Type||Manual Focus|
|Shutter Speed||8 to 1/1000 sec|
Average review score based on 54 user reviews
of customers recommend this product
If you shoot film, you have few options for new equipment. Buying used, original build quality is a key consideration given that you may be looking at a 30 or 40 year old camera. Choosing a respected brand like Nikon, Canon, Pentax or Minolta means that you're getting a camera that was built to last in the first place, but also means that you are able find someone to fix it should you have problems. The reality is, though, that it's often cheaper to just buy another if it breaks.
A few Nikons are considered "classics" and are therefore collectible, with prices to match. Some models are "hot" at one time or another because someone on the web has talked them up. This was the case for the Nikon FE, which was subject of a rave review by a well-known photography web site. Here's the real story: the FE is an important piece of Nikon history, and belongs in your collection if you are a Nikon collector. It's also a capable camera if you want a mostly manual body to use with your Nikkor lenses. It's solidly built, reliable, relatively easy to repair, and takes a standard battery. It's comparable to an F3, Nikon's flagship pro camera for many years, for most users. In fact, it actually has some advantages over the F3, including faster flash synch speeds and it's smaller and lighter. But it was intended as an amateur camera, so it doesn't have quite the build quality. The aperture-preferred auto-exposure is similar to the F3's as well, so the shooting experience is comparable. It has a similar line of accessories available, including motor drives, and takes standard flash units without an (expensive) adapter, unlike the F3.
But you will be getting a 30+ year old camera, so why would you bother? Here are some pros and cons (I assume that you want to shoot film, and want a manual-focus camera, so those are off the list):
Cheap and plentiful
Many repairs easily performed
Works with AI/AIS/AF lenses (except AF-G)
Works with pre-AI lenses in stop-down metering mode (FE2 doesn't)
reliable vertical-travel metal shutter, with electronic timing
1/125 flash sync speed (F3 is 1/80)
compact size, relatively light weight
auto-exposure (aperture preferred, same as F3)
single manual speed if battery dies
standard, commonly available battery
meters ISO 12-3200
parts may be unavailable for some repairs
top shutter speed 1/1000 (F3 is 1/2000, FE2 is 1/4000)
no TTL flash
single auto-exposure mode (no shutter-preferred or program)
no matrix or spot metering
no mirror lock-up (useful for macro work)
no quick/auto film load
If you are looking for a manual-focus camera that offers auto-exposure along with exceptional build quality, and don't mind the limitations noted, look for a good FE. Keep in mind that there are many other options, including the FE2, FG, F3 and FA, each with their own pluses and minuses. Outside of that range, the FM/FM2 are similar but fully mechanical, using the battery only for the meter, while the N2000 with it's built-in motor drive and multiple auto-exposure modes offers the most automation in a manual focus Nikon.
Many pros were thankful that Nikon offered these high-end "amateur" cameras at a significant cost savings over the pro models, and used them extensively as backups for their F-series bodies. That a few also used them as their primaries is a testament to their quality, as is the fact that so many of them are still in use.
Nikon was pretty much the only 35mm SLR brand professionals shot in the 60s and 70s, and there was good reason for this. Nikon had very high standards, and didn't offer entry level stuff. Until the 70s, they wouldn't even put the Nikon or Nikkor name on anything but professional quality gear. The eventual consumer grade lenses were called Series E instead of Nikkor, and the non-professional cameras were called Nikkormat. These were still very high quality items.
I have owned or used several 70s film cameras, and the Nikon FE is easily one of the best made. Many of these other cameras like the Canon AE-1, A-1, Pentax ME, are great cameras, and offer the same feature set, but there is a difference in quality.
If you want something with aperture priority auto exposure, full manual, and prefer a better build quality to lower weight and smaller size, the FE or FE-2 is hard to beat. It is also likely to have less problems than other cameras of that vintage.
Additionally, the Nikon lens range available for this camera is excellent. This camera can handle older non-AI lenses in stop down metering mode, and can use every Nikon lens until the recent G lenses, with some odd exceptions like the lenses designed for APS and DX.
How about some specs:
Shutter speed 8-1/1000 + Bulb
Without battery Bulb and M90 settings work
Max Flash sync speed 1/125
Hot shoe and PC sync port for flash
~10 second self timer with mirror lock-up
Self timer lever pushed the other way will do exposure lock (not reflected in VF)
Exposure compensation from -2 to +2 in 1/2 stops
ISO settings from 12-3200 in 1/3 stops
Depth of field preview lever on side of lens mount
Compatible with pre-AI F lenses in stop down metering
Compatible with AI and later lenses with an aperture ring and designed for 35mm full frame
About my only want would be a small grip extension on the front, like the Canon A-1. In all, a good solid camera. Nice compromise on the weight and construction of a pro level camera like a Nikon F2 or Canon F-1 vs the smaller size and light weight of cheaper cameras aimed at consumers. This was often a pro's backup camera. All the features you need, but simple to use.
The Nikon FE film camera was the autoexposure twin of the Nikon FM, which was the manual exposure model. I used to sell this camera back in the heyday of the film SLR, though I haven't owned one in years. However, briefly stated, the Nikon FM/FE twins had the same body with the same AI lens mount and the same basic shutter.The shutter itself was a metal vertical travel design with speeds from 1/1-1/1000 sec plus bulb. The meter was a centerweighted averaging design, with exposure compensation of +-two f/stops. ASA settings ran from 12-4000 and both the ASA and exposure compensation were set on the left side exposure dial, just below the rewind crank. The FE differed from the FM only in that it offered aperture priority auto exposure operation: aperture priority being you select the lens aperture, the camera selects the shutter speed. Finally, they were able to mount any Nikon F series lens made, though the older ones had to be modified by Nikon to work with the metering system. Other accessories for the FM/FE included the MD-11/12 3fps motordrive and a series of Nikon flash units which set the camera shutter speed.
The FM/FE series were marketed as the mid priced compact Nikons of their day,placed below the F2 and F3 professional cameras and the Nikon EM amatuer model. Their competition was the Canon A series,(A-1, AE-1 etc) the Pentax ME/MX and the Olympus OM-series cameras. A new FM/FE had that nice high quality glow that came with a well made camera. They were handsome beasts, but though well made, they still appealed more to your aspiring Nikon owner than the general public, mainly because they were priced about 1/4 to 1/3 higher than, say, a Canon AE-1. Aside from that, the FM/FE series suffer from two design features that I personally did not like.
The first was the external meter coupling ring, a feature Nikon borrowed from Minolta. Now, 98 percent of the time this was no trouble, unless you took the camera to the beach and got it near sand. External coupling rings by anyone were always vulnerable to dirt and sand getting behind the ring and messing things up. Usually a good cleaning was all that was required, but while Canon, Pentax and Olympus made sure all their lenses connected inside the lens mount, Nikon (and Minolta's ) external coupling ring was a true disadvantage.
The second item,which applies to the FE itself, was aperture priority auto exposure itself. Granted, most camera manufacturers used it,Canon and Konica excepting. Now a knowledgeable photographer could use aperture priority just fine. Indeed the stepless shutters often engineered into these cameras was a great help, especially with finicky slide films. But, many an amateur would by a Nikon FE, try to take pictures indoors without a flash, then complain about blurry pictures. Why? They never paid attention to the meter needle which no doubt indicated a shutter speed way too low for hand held photography. That's why. (And some of them would never learn.)
Now, would I recommend one. Well, overall, a Nikon FE is a fine camera, but it's also nearly forty some years old. The main problem with cameras that old from everyone is parts and repair. Fortunately it uses MS76 cells so a working model can still be used. However, before you buy, I'd look up the Nikon FE on Stephen Gandy's Cameraquest. He knows Nikons and if you can get one in good condition, with a good Nikkor lens, get some film and enjoy.
The Nikon FE 35mm Single Lens Reflex camera is a manual focus film camera. If you have vision problems and/or don't want to be bothered with getting film developed, this is not the camera for you.
I have bought and sold dozens of Nikon FEs and taken at least a roll of film on each one. Of all the 35mm film cameras I have used, this one seems to be the most reliable. Each time I came a cross an FE that wasn't working, I checked and all it needed was new batteries. [LR44 1.5V (A-76)] It's a well made, easy to use manual focus film camera.
The FE was introduced in 1978... so some models are nearly 40 years old... if you are buying one today, be sure it's in good condition before you lay down the cash. The FE is not loaded with a lot of fancy features. But it's basic design is one of the reasons it's so reliable. As a matter of fact, you can operate this camera (in m90 mode) with no batteries.
The Nikon FE features aperture-priority (AUTO)... that's where you set the aperture and the camera will automatically adjust the shutter speed over a range of 1/1000 to 8 seconds.
In MANUAL mode you adjust the shutter speed where you want it... then adjust the aperture until the black needle overlaps the green needle inside the view finder.
The FE is an excellent film camera choice if you do flash photography. When used with the Nikon SB-10 Flash, (camera set to automatic) the shutter speed automatically sets itself to 1/90 second.
There is also a little oddity about the FE... the film advance lever also serves as the on/off switch for the camera. You have to back the film advance lever off the camera 30 degrees (it will click into place) to turn the camera on. I have purchased at least 3 of these cameras with the seller saying they wouldn't turn on only to find they work fine. It is my theory these people just didn't know how to turn the camera on.
The camera also has the B (bulb) mode for use with a shutter release cable. In this mode you can take long exposure night time shots of stars, traffic and city skylines.
The Nikon FE was a step up from and a lot more expensive than Nikon's FM model (the mechanical version of the FE) and was priced out of a lot of photographers budget. But now you can find these gems on eBay for very reasonable prices.
A few things to watch for when shopping for a Nikon FE
1: SEALS: The light seals keep light from sneaking into the film chamber. Even if a camera has never been used, these seals deteriorate over time and need to be replaced. So always ask the seller about the condition of the light seals. If they are worn out they will be sticky to the touch and leave residue on the film chamber door. Ask your seller about the condition of the light seals.
2: VIEW FINDER:
Ask sellers if the viewfinder is clear and free of scratches. While this would not affect picture quality you don't want to see specs of dust and scratches while trying to compose your shot.
3: LENS SELECTION:
The Nikon FE will accept nearly all Nikkor lenses. It has an adjustable meter coupling lever that allows it to use everything from the old non AI lenses to new autofocus lenses. Note: The auto focus function will not work but you can focus these lenses manually. I have great success with Nikon Series E lenses... they are a good, quality lens that you can find for good prices.
If you do purchase this camera... be sure you get a manual with it, read it and you will be happy with your purchase.
The Nikon FE is a fully manual camera with an aperature priority auto exposure mode. Its a compact, high end consumer grade body with pro features. Some basic features:
It doesn't have explicit mirror lock up but MLU can be engaged by using the self timer. Set the timer, click the shutter button and mirror flips up (the view finder will go black) for the duration of the timer. The frame is exposed at the end of the timer cycle and the mirror returns to normal operation.
The camera has a multi exposure lever - expose the frame, pull the multi-exposure lever while using the film advance lever, the shutter gets reset normally but the frame doesn't advance.
If the battery dies in use, it has a mechanical shutter feature mode that sets speed at 1/90th of a sec - and a flash can be used in this mode.
This camera can use - and meter with - all lenses made by Nikon with the exception of those lenses that require explicit MLU. This includes auto focus lenses. You can even mount newer Nikon "G" lenses but these lenses lack an aperature ring - I wouldn't recommend using these lenses on this camera. You have no control of exposure - it'll always be smallest aperature and your pictures will probably be way underexposed. This is because of the lens lacking a feature NOT because of something wrong with the camera.
Metering is NOT Nikon's matrix metering - it's the earlier center weighted metering mode that predates the color matrix mode. It's still good enough except for the most extreme contrast situations.
It has the ability to set the meter while metering one area, freeze that meter reading and re-compose using that meter reading.
It's rated/documented at shutter speeds of about 8 seconds to 1/1000th. Use the camera in apearature auto mode and it will go from about 1/4000th of a sec up to several minutes - even hours. This makes it an excellent camera for night time LONG exposures. It'll keep the shutter open until the battery dies (literally hours) to get enough light to expose the frame.
The camera has an odd feature to turn the electronics on/off. You have to pull the frame advance lever away from the body to turn it on, push it back to the body to turn it off.
There are at least 3 Nikon motor drives available. The: MD-11, MD-12 and the advanced MD-13.
I have the MD-12 and can't say what features the other drives have but with the MD-12, turn the MD on and the body will turn on automatically when the shutter release button on the MD is pressed - it will shut the body off automatically after a couple minutes of inactivity.
Even when the camera is on the MD, you can pull the manual frame advance lever out to turn it on (instead of using the power button on the drive) and use it manually - so you can use it relatively quietly when needed and return to motor drive usage without having to pull the drive off.
This camera predates DX film cannister coding so film speed needs to be manually set.
I bought this to play with manual features and the auto exposure function that can go for hours - I like night time photography. I have several Nikon fully auto film SLR's and a pro DLSR, the longest shutter time any of them have is about 32 seconds. They ALL under expose night time shots. This old manual camera - with auto aperature feature available - doesn't. It's a great camera for that feature alone. There are some frailties but it's a 30 year old camera. Overall, an excellent camera.