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The Nikon FE2 Review

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The Nikon FE2 is one of the most well-known 35mm SLR film cameras on the market and has been used by photographers from beginners to professionals since the early 1980’s. For many photographers, the Nikon FE or FE2 film camera was their introduction to film equipment. Like the Canon AE-1 Program camera, this SLR film camera is equipped with all of the necessities to learn with; however, it’s also great for professionals because, well – it only has the bare necessities and no extras to get in the way.

Featuring just about all the essential components you would want with an 35mm SLR, the Nikon FE2 is a film photography staple piece and all film enthusiasts should try this camera out if they have the chance!

Matt with Nikon FE2 - FilterGrade

Me with my current Nikon FE2 | mjmolo.com

The Nikon FE2

Since I’ve started shooting I’ve always stuck with the Nikon FE / FE2 for 35mm SLR’s. When my first Nikon FE jammed up and stopped working, I fixed it up and kept using it for another few years like nothing was wrong. Then after my old faithful finally gave out, I researched all different types of 35mm SLR cameras and what did I end up with? The Nikon FE2.

For me it always seemed like that’s all you would need with a 35mm SLR so I never thought to really branch out for my own personal collection. I had tried the Canon AE-1 Program, and found it to be a lesser version of the Nikon FE series. I had tried the Olympus OM-1 and many others, but none of them compared to the Nikon FE series.

When I looked at the camera’s weight, the image quality, the usability, and a few other factors, I began to realize that this is, and always will be my go-to 35mm SLR film camera.

See a collection of some of my favorite photos taken on the Nikon FE2 below:

Superior Image Quality

The very first and foremost thing that you will notice about the Nikon FE2 is the image quality. Obviously image quality will always depend on what lens you are using, but for me, I always found that the Nikon FE2 could always produce higher quality images. Lenses aside, this camera will always remain consistent with its quality.

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For me, one of the biggest factors of a camera is whether or not I can use it while moving around – can I carry it around and shoot fast-paced, quick shots? can I shoot fast AND with strong image quality? These are some of the things I look at, and because of the vast shutter speed settings and accurate lens mechanics, this camera always produces superior images.

Camera Versatility

Another great feature of the Nikon FE2 is the versatility that it offers. Because the camera is relatively lightweight, and also has a quiet shutter, it is the perfect camera for shooting crisp portraits, or deep street photography. Having a camera that is able to do both is one of the best things you can have because you don’t have to carry as much with you. Drop all the stress and extra equipment and only keep the Nikon FE2 on your hip. Keep a flash with you and try out some new things, you never what you can create with the most basic equipment. For me, this was always a true test for an artist – strip yourself down to the basics, no matter what art form, and create something professional. If you are able to minimize your equipment and let your ideas shine, then your work will speak louder, and this is a great way to challenge yourself.

 

When you do end up sitting down for some intimate portraits, this camera will continue to perform. Also, because of its small size, it’s quite easy to keep hidden and discreet while shooting so you are able to capture raw, natural scenes.

Tonal Range

The next feature of the Nikon FE2 is the vast tonal range.

The Nikon FE2 offers long exposures that last as long as 8 sec. and shoots as fast as 1/4000 sec. for bright scenes and fast-paced photography. This range of settings is just another reason why it is one of those cameras that you can keep on you to use for almost anything! The camera also features an ASA/ISO range ranging from 12 all the way to 3200 and even allows you to push/pull your film by 2 stops. For an SLR camera, both of these wide tonal ranges is quite rare to find, and for me, offers some of the best mechanics for shooting in all settings.

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Durability

Lastly, but definitely not the least important feature – DURABILITY.

Like I had mentioned before, when you first put your hands on this camera, you will understand its strong build and its heavy-yet-light qualities. And when something ‘breaks’ you open it up and fix it like new, just like a soldier does with his gun at war. In fact, in the 1980’s many war photographers actually used these cameras to document the tragedies of war.

“Tank Man” by Jeff Widener, 1989 | Bored Panda

One of the problems with this camera is the durability for one reason – once you get used to this camera’s build, other cameras may not feel as sturdy and strong. You can drop this camera on concrete and it might scratch, but it will barely dent.

If you are an adventurous photographer or someone who is clumsy and drops their camera, that’s just another reason to get this camera.

We hope you enjoyed this review of the Nikon FE2 35mm SLR film camera. This camera is a classic and a FilterGrade-favorite – if you have the opportunity to add this to your collection, or just try it out, definitely go for it!

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