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Nikon Fe Fe2 Comparison Essay

 

* CW = Center-weighted
** used prices
*** actually up to many minutes in A or P exposure mode
**** Appears to go much longer than 8 seconds in Auto mode. Put the lens cap on, try it, and let me know.
***** NONE of these cameras work with the latest G series AF lenses.

 

Lens Compatibility

Most all AF and manual focus lenses work on all these cameras, except the newest "G" series. The G series lacks an aperture ring and won't work on any of these cameras.

FM and FE: Almost all lenses since 1958, auto and manual focus.

FM2, FM-2n, FE-2, FM3a: Almost all lenses since 1977 (AI and newer), auto and manual focus.

Every lens Nikon ever made from 1958 through today works great on the FM and FE, auto or manual focus. OK, lenses that insert into the camera like the primitive fisheyes and ultra-wides with separate finders can't be used because of the lack of dedicated mirror lockup, but other than those you can pop on a 1962 lens and shoot away, complete with stop-down metering and even automation on the FE.

The FM and FE have retractable AI coupling lugs so that they work fine with pre-AI lenses in stop-down mode. In 1977 conspiracists whined that one lost coupled metering with the pre-AI lenses and had to revert to stop-down measurement, just as I whine today that one gets no metering at all with manual focus lenses on the N65 and N80. Bravo to Nikon here. The FM and FE are the Rosetta Stones of compatibility. They are among the few cameras that take every Nikkor lens made from 1958 through present without modification.

The FM2, FE-2, FM-2n and FM3a all require AI lenses, in other words, anything made since 1977. No, they won't swallow the primitive lenses like 1960's fisheyes and ultrawides that require mirror lock-up. Auto and manual focus lenses are all fine!

Even the newest AF-S lenses couple perfectly to the all these cameras. Even though Nikon deliberately cripples newer AF cameras from making full use of older MF lenses, they are decent enough to continue putting the mechanical lugs on the newest lenses to ensure that they work perfectly with older cameras. Heck, there are still two pilot holes on every AF and AF-D and AF-S lens' aperture ri

ngs to allow the installation of coupling prongs to use on pre-AI camera bodies.

 

Flash

You can use any flash on any of these cameras, except of course flashes dedicated to other brands of camera.

Use an old Vivitar 283, use any Nikon speedlight of any age or flashbulb gun, or use any of the brand new flashes like the SB-28DX or SB-800.

Honestly, use any Nikon TTL flash (about SB-16 or newer) and you'll take full advantage of the TTL flash exposure.

I prefer the SB23 or SB22 for small size.

The TTL flash modes on most of these cameras only works in a range of film speeds up to about ASA (ISO) 400. Back in these camera's heyday TTL flash was a pretty advanced concept, and also ASA400 color film was exotic stuff you'd only used for the purposes of avoiding the flash, so this wasn't an issue. Look out if you intend to use fast film and TTL flash. Even today's FM3a only couples up to ISO 1,000. These are all professional cameras so this isn't much of an issue; it's pretty silly to use fast film with flash since you get better quality for less money with slower film.

 

Specifications

Hey, check out these pages by some dudes in Malaysia. Although some of the dates are a little off, these look far better than my pages do! You'll find all the operational manuals, too.

FM

FM2 and FM2n

FE series

FE

FE2

FA

 

Service

As of August 2007, Nikon has no parts for the FE or FM. There may be limited parts for the FE2.

That's not a big deal; I've never seen an FE or FM break.

 

Recommendations

All of these cameras are sturdy and fully up to the rigors of professional abuse. They are tougher than the amateur F100 that costs twice as much. The F100 has more blinking lights and autofocus and costs more; these other F series cameras are built tougher, need you to focus them and cost less.

I prefer the automatic exposure models like the FE, FE-2 and FM3a The FM, FM2 and FM-2n require manual exposure setting, taking more time.

If you are on a budget then a used FE tends to sell for about $150 - 200. It would be a great choice for anything.

If you are rich, then go buy a brand new FM3a which I guess ought to sell for about $650. It replaces everything any of these cameras do, except for Matrix Metering of the FA.

None of these except the FA gives you matrix metering or program automation. I still prefer the more advanced FA, although only available used, which offers these features.

 

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Nikon FA was planned to incorporate "Matrix metering" and "Multi-mode AE" into the FE body.
Regarding "Multi-mode AE", Programmed AE [P] mode with instant stop-down metering which was already carried out with Nikon FG (1982: refer to Part 12.) was adopted and further, Shutter-priority AE mode [S] was added.
And the high-speed shutter with the top speed of 1/4,000 sec. realized in Nikon FM2 (1982 : refer to Part 13.) was incorporated with a modification to the electronic control type with faster flash synch speed of 1/250 sec.

However, in order to add these new functions, some other things were obliged to compromise. Especially, AE lock seemed to be a complicated one due to the adoption of the instant stop-down metering, so they decided to omit it as "Matrix metering" was introduced.
Further, with the stop-down metering, due to the limit of metering capacity, the speed control of the slow shutter was restricted. In relation to this, manual shutter speeds exceeding 1 sec. were omitted.

Six months before the release of Nikon FA, Nikon FE2 was released. The succeeding model of the FE turned out to be the FE2, but the original plan was that the later FA was to be FE2, the succeeding model of the FE. The succeeding model of the FE was naturally to be equipped with 1/4,000 sec. shutter, and TTL flash control of the dedicated Speedlight but as it was further piled up with new functions, like Multi-mode AE, its cost went up and became not paying with the former price range of the FE.
In addition, above-mentioned compromises of specifications were obliged to make, its characteristics deviated from the succeeding model of the FE.
So a camera with 1/4,000 sec. electronic control shutter and TTL flash control of a dedicated Speedlight simply added to the FE was planned and developed, and it was released as the FE2 (Photo: below left). That seems to be the fact.

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