My Nikon FE

I like my Nikon FE. A lot.

I got mine for very little money in very nice condition with a 50mm f1.8 Nikon Series E lens (because I wasn’t paying out for a f1.4 lens).  It is old skool to the extreme, but a true classic Nikon, even down to the circular eyepiece.

The camera works either in manual exposure or aperture priority mode, both of which are aided by the internal light meter. The match needle readout in the viewfinder either indicates the chosen shutter speed in automatic mode, or the required speed in manual mode to get the correct exposure. This gives you the freedom to tune your exposure without taking your eye from the viewfinder and fiddling with lots of buttons. The shutter is electronically controlled, but should the batteries fail it retains a mechanical 1/90th second default shutter speed.

The controls are simple with all you need to take any picture you can image. On the top plate is the film speed dial, exposure compensation dial, shutter speed dial (with automatic ‘A’ mode), shutter release, winding crank and multiple exposure lever. Aperture is adjusted on the lens, and depth of field preview, self-timer and AE lock controls are on the front of the camera. On the back is the battery check lever and a holder for the film box flap to remind you what you are shooting with.

I have shot with Canon manual focus cameras for years now, particularly a Canon A-1, so the FE feels familiar and intuitive to use. It is a little more compact than the A-1, mainly due to not having a grip on the right hand side. The view through the finder gives you the shutter speed and aperture value (a small window that shows the actual value printed on the lens) and has a decent split prism focus aid. The view looks MASSIVE after squinting through my D300 viewfinder, although it can be a struggle to see the whole thing without your eye right up against the finder.

It’s a dinky little thing with the slim Series E lens attached, although it will take just about any Nikon lens, old or new (other than the G series lenses without aperture rings), so I think I it will end up with a 35mm f2.0 AF-D on it most of the time.

I haven’t shot anything with it yet, but I have a stack of Tri-X and FP4 to feed it with, so it is only a matter of time.


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