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Nikon FE Overview
The Nikon FE was my second SLR film camera and I bought it in about 1984. I sold my Yashica TL Electro X and moved to Nikon – where I stayed till 2018. I remember some careful research on the other options available, but to be honest I always knew that I wanted a Nikon. I can not remember buying the camera but I can remember using it and enjoying the results. I still have many of the photos I took and I do not remember any disasters. I invested in new lenses and filters and took it with me on holidays and the like. However, I also recall that for some reason photos with Yashica often had better composition and therefore results….
The FE was the replacement for Nikon EL2 of 1977 and is a member of the classic Nikon compact F-series. It is now considered a great second hand buy – see below for examples on eBay.
The FE is a manual-focus SLR with manual exposure control or aperture-priority autoexposure, and electromechanical components. As such, the FE requires batteries (two S76 or A76, or LR44 or SR44, or one 1/3N) to power its electronically controlled shutter. The batteries also power the FE's “match-needle” exposure control system. This consists of two needles pointing along a vertical shutter speed scale on the left side of the viewfinder. In manual mode, a black needle points out the shutter speed recommended by the built-in, open aperture, through-the-lens (TTL), silicon photodiode (SPD) light meter, with 60/40 per cent centre weighting, while a translucent green needle shows the actual camera-set shutter speed. The photographer adjusts the shutter speed and/or the lens aperture f-stop until the needles align.
The viewfinder of the Nikon FE showing the ADR (Aperture Direct Readout) on top and the match needle exposure indicator on the left.
In automatic mode, the FE's black needle indicates the shutter speed automatically set by the electronic circuitry in response to the light reaching the meter. The green needle is used to indicate that the FE is in “A” mode. This system can be traced back to the Nikkormat EL (in the USA/Canada; Nikomat EL, rest of the world) of 1972 and continued until 2006 with the discontinuation of the Nikon FM3A.
The FE accepts all lenses with the Nikon F bayonet mount (introduced in 1959), with certain limitations or exceptions. Full lens compatibility requires support for the Aperture Indexing (AI) feature (introduced 1977), and thus the majority of Nikon lenses manufactured in recent decades will work. During the late 1970s, Nippon Kogaku manufactured approximately 55 Nikkor non-AI and Nikkor AI type lenses. They ranged from a Fisheye-Nikkor 6 mm f/2.8 220˚ circular fisheye to a Reflex-Nikkor 2000 mm f/11 super-long mirror telephoto. This was the largest and widest-ranging lens selection in the world at the time.
View and buy a Nikon FE and accessories on Etsy
RW Jemmett Business Directory Camera a Lens Suppliers
RW Jemmett Business Directory – Film Processing and Supplies
Wiki – Nikon FE
Nikon introduced the FM and then the FE as compliments to the Nikkormat line as mid-tier advanced amateur photographic cameras. These cameras were more compact and lighter than the F/F2 and while the FM was fully manual the FM had an electronic shutter and Aperture Priority auto exposure. The FE offers a shutter speed of 8 sec to 1/1000 with a max speed in automatic mode of 1/125 with electronic flash. When batteries fail it has a fall-back speed of 1/90s marked M90. Also provided is an aperture priority automatic exposure mode which can expose up to 1min. AE lock is also provided but it is hidden on the self timer lever. Push toward the lens for AE lock function. Recommended batteries are 2x 1.55v SR44 silver oxide or 1x 3v 2L44, but can still function with basic LR44. A battery check feature is also available. Batteries must be removedwhen using the optional motor drives MD-11 and MD-12.
The FE has one of the largest ranges for lens compatibility. It can use just about every F-mount lens except a few old style fish eyes and G lens without the aperture ring. Works fine with VR lenses but VR is disabled. The replacement model FE2 cannot use the old style non-Ai lens but the original FE can with the use of stop down metering or manual exposure.
- Type: SLR body
- Manufacturer: Nikon
- Films: 35mm, speeds ISO 12 to 4000 (manual selection)
- Lens mount: Nikon F bayonet AI-s
- Viewfinder: Fixed eye level pentaprism, 0.85x magnification, 92% frame coverage, needle match exposure meter displays shutter speed
- Metering: TTL center-weighted (60/40), meter activated by lightly pressing shutter release button, EV 1 - 18 at ISO 100, f 1.4
- Shutter: Electronic vertical metallic focal plane shutter, speeds: 1-1/2000 sec
- Exposure modes:
- AUTO: aperture priority
- M: manual by selecting the shutter speed and
- B: Bulb
- M90: Manual backup speed of 1/90s
- Exposure memory lock in the self-timer lever
- Interchangeable focusing screens
- Dimensions: 142×89.5×57.5mm
- Weight: 590g
- Battery 1 3V Lithium (CR1/3N) or 2 Silver-oxide or Alkaline Batteries (Size 357 or SR/LR44)
- Motorized film transport with MD-11 or MD-12 motor drives
- Data-back: MF-12 Multifunction Data-Back
- Nikon FE at Nikon's History & Technology site
- Modern Classics Camera series on the Nikon FE Excellent resource with information on the system
- Nikon FE by luis triguez
Manuals and documentation
- Nikon FE and Nikon FE2 at The Camera Site by Reijo Lauro
- Nikon FE instruction manual - English at M.Butkus' orphancameras.com
- Repair manual at Learn Camera Repair
|Nikon 35mm SLR Cameras|
|Nikkorex F | Nikon EL2 | Nikon EM | Nikon F | Nikon F2 | Nikon F3 | Nikon F4 | Nikon F5 | Nikon F6 | Nikon F50 | Nikon F55 | Nikon F60 | Nikon F65 | Nikon F70 | Nikon F75 | Nikon F80 | Nikon F90 | Nikon F90X | Nikon F100 | Nikon F-301 | Nikon F-401 | Nikon F-401S | Nikon F-401X | Nikon F-501 | Nikon F-601 | Nikon F-601M | Nikon F-801 | Nikon F-801s | Nikon FA | Nikon FE | Nikon FE2 | Nikon FE10 | Nikon FG | Nikon FG-20 | Nikon FM | Nikon FM2 | Nikon FM2n | Nikon FM3A | Nikon FM10|
|Nikomat / Nikkormat|
|EL | EL2 | ELW | FS | FT | FT2 | FT3 | FTN|
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