The Nikon FE2 – AP mode workhorse

The Nikon FE2 has been the film camera that really catapulted my explorations of 35mm film into new and meaningful territories. It’s been my workhorse of film photography for the last 1.5 years, and it’s been fantastic at that 🙂

A few interesting notes about this great little camera:

  • It was released in 1983 … the successor to the FE, and sandwiched between the highly successful, all mechanical, FM2 (1982) and the ultra-advanced FA (1983) which ushered consumer photography into the world of matrix metering.
  • Even though it’s now 2021 this camera has a fast shutter speed of 1/4000 of a second … outstanding !
  • It’s got a helpful depth-of-field preview lever, a 10 second timer, and even an exposure lock !
  • Most importantly it’s got a dual needle exposure read-out system which makes both manual mode & aperture mode operation a breeze 🙂
  • Also worth noting, it also features TTL flash metering and a sync speed of 1/250 … amazing !

For me, the Nikon FE2 has been a no-brainer, and provided me with some of my favourite images of late. It’s handling has been so intuitive, and its form factor a delight … small & easy to travel with, and uses 2 x LR44 batteries that seem to last forever !

I have to delve deeper into the metering … it’s dual needle read-out (see image above, the left hand side) is awesome, and has really helped me nail exposure so easily. With the green coloured needle, I can see where manually set shutter speed lies within the center-weighted metering as indicated by the black coloured needle. It helps over & under compensate with ease … fantastic, and has made photos like these a possiblity:

Alas all good things do come to an end … I began to bump into a few usability issues that made the Nikon FE2 something that I would use less frequently … despite it’s bullet-proof advanced features:

  • I’m right-handed but I’m left-eye dominant … so the film advance lever was increasingly poking into my right eye, and involved me having to use my right thumb to shield my eye somewhat.
  • I’m getting older, and with no diopter mechanism (other than buying an attachment eye-piece), I was noticing that manual focussing with the FE2 was becoming increasingly error prone. In fact I would also say that the K2 styled split-prism sometimes made subjects more difficult to focus, as it got in the way of proceedings at times.
  • The exposure compensation dial requires two hands to operate (one to hold down the release catch, and the other hand to rotate it), over time this became cumbersome, and I began to use the aperture priority mode less, and defaulted to manual mode … which is a shame.

All in all, I’ve had a wonderful run with my Nikon FE2, and I still use it occasionally. It’s been replaced my Nikon N80 (F80), which solved all of the above issues and offered even more advantages, which helped future-proof my film photography.

Thank you Nikon FE2 for helping me push my film photography 🙂

💻 Instagram: @irishanalogadventures