Nikon FE CLA

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by chip_chipowski, Aug 26, 2014.

  1. Hey folks, I have a Nikon FE I have been casually using for the past year or two. I have run several rolls of film through, with good results. However, I recently noticed a problem that seems to be occurring more frequently. While in the auto exposure mode, the camera sometimes will go into a "bulb-like" setting. In other words, the shutter will open and then I have to turn the camera off to close the shutter. I have never used the true bulb mode on the FE so I don't know if the camera is in bulb or just recording a very long exposure. The problem generally occurs when I am not paying attention to the needle on the left of the finder (which correctly hovers near in the slow shutter speed territory when this phenomenon takes place).
    I think it is a camera issue, as it has occurred with different lenses. The problem usually occurs when I am shooting a lens wide open.
    I am wondering if anyone can attempt to diagnose my problem? I like the FE a lot, so I would consider getting a CLA if I can get it done for less than $150. I'm aware this is more than the market rate for a replacement FE (but how do I know whether the replacement is as good as a CLA'd body?). Any insight will be much appreciated.
  2. Chip--don't know the diagnosis of your FE--have you tried a new battery? Sometimes that works wonders...If you decide a CLA is in order--Jim at Vermont camera works is really excellent. His work is superb, and on the FE2 and F3s I've had him CLA--the charges are usually under 100 plus return shipping. Of course, everyone's camera is different.
    You might try a call to him and see what he says.
    Here's the website--
    Good luck! The FE is a great camera.
  3. Paul, that's an excellent idea! Worth a try.
    And I will keep Vermont Camera in mind if battery doesn't do it, I appreciate the recommendation.
  4. Often discussed among some Nikon FE "faults" are a that low battery will operate the meter and open the shutter but not close it. One other point, you do mean you are getting over-expsoures, right? It's not that the shutter closed OK but the mirror simply failed to drop down. Just to be clear, if your exposures are correct on the film, then the implication is a sticky foam mirror damper. (Not being demeaning here, just trying to sort it out.)
    For example, here and other locations ...
    I love my FE. Two years ago on vacation I stopped in to see Jim M. at Vermont Camera. He's a most affable, competent & neat man and a really neat "store". Two & 1/2 thumbs up!.
    ... another Jim M.
  5. Hey Jim, that is a good point to clarify. Yes, the camera is over-exposing in these instances.
    Nice to hear that my FE's symptoms are consistent with low battery.
    And of course all of you Jim M.'s would get along so well ;)
  6. Okay, update.
    I just put in fresh batteries and I noticed I can recreate the behavior described above. In AUTO mode, I can reproduce the following effect: starting at a small aperture like f/8 or f/5.6, I can rotate the aperture ring towards wide-open and see my shutter speed needle move from slow shutter speeds to faster shutter speeds, as would be expected as you increase the aperture. So far so good. But when I get to maximum aperture (f/2 on my 50mm sample), I can get the shutter needle to dip down towards "B" if I gently pressure the aperture ring in the open direction. Is this normal behavior?
    I hope my description makes sense. Basically I am starting at a small aperture, clicking larger and larger until I get to wide open, and then sort of gently pressure the ring just past the final click stop at f/2.
  7. Hello again, Chip--sounds to me like the resistor ring is dirty and/or corroded. Pretty common on the older Nikons--I have an F2 suffering from the same malady.
    Wouldn't hurt to give Jim a call at Vermont and see if he can further diagnose the problem, and he'll tell you if a CLA will help or not. Good luck--the FE is an excellent camera.
  8. I'd concur that it's probably a poor contact fault on the resistor track that monitors aperture position. The maximum aperture position gets most use, so is the most likely place to get worn out and/or dirty. A quick squirt of contact cleaner might well sort the problem out, but obviously the track or FRE has to be exposed first.
    FRE stands for "Functional Resistor Element" BTW, which is a fancy name for a variable resistor track. Have a look at this thread -
    Apparently people have fixed the problem without exposing the FRE, and using WD40! I would not recommend following that procedure, since it's just not logical to attack the mechanical coupling ring in such a way - especially with something as penetrative as WD40. The FRE is actually located under the top-plate at the rewind knob side of the camera. However the diagram and link on that page shows you what you're dealing with. The full repair manual can be downloaded from here:
    Chip, I'd look at the condition of the foam rubber seals around the camera back and in the mirror box before deciding whether to throw money at repairing that FE. Chances are the black foam is turning to goo, and its replacement plus fixing the aperture resistor may make the camera uneconomic to repair.
  9. Well, the foam repair is $10 from a gentleman by the name of Jon Goodman. It will take you about an hour, most of which will be spent using the tool Jon supplies to scrape the old foam residue out of the grooves for the film door. I've done all my cameras with Jon's kit (contains replacement foam for the mirror and door seals) and can wholeheartedly recommend him. He's a great guy and sells an excellent product.
  10. Thanks RJ and Peter - new foam was installed within the last couple of years, so this is not an issue.
    Thanks to the recommendations above. I contacted Jim @ Vermont Camera and I am currently deciding whether to repair or replace. Leaning towards the repair.
  11. Now I am talking myself into an FE2.
    The faster shutter speed options would be welcome. Anyone have comments to supplement Dr. Alford's comparison??
  12. Btw - anyone interested in the FE/FE2 line should take a look through the comment section on Dr. Alford's article, linked in my previous post. A treasure trove of user testimonials.
  13. Chip -
    If you think you need 1/2000th (seldom) or 1/4000th (very rarely) or going the TTL flash route, then it's FE2 time.
    If you have or will be acquiring a brace of non-Ai lenses, then the FE makes sense.
    One minor consideration ... age. FE bodies are 31-36 years old, whereas the FE2 bodies are 27-31 years old. Eventually, most electronic stuff fades/drifts/dies.
    The feel/handling between FE + FE2 is pretty darn close otherwise. As prices fell to a rock bottom some several years ago, Ebay & camera flea markets forced me to get an FE and an FE2; same for an FM and an FM2n. (Yeah, yeah, I know, I really need all these bodies!) :eek:)
    Either way, they're darn lovely, precison built machines that allow you to concentrate om making good photographs without distracting menu/sideline clutter
    Jim M.
  14. Thanks Jim, I've decided FE2 is the one for me. Now I just need to decide black or chrome ;)
  15. I'm a big fan of repair when technically possible. Keeps an old camera working and out of the junk pile.
  16. At high ISO, large aperture, and slow shutter, the resistor disk wraps around. That is, you are past the EV range of the meter. It could even be that it would do that slightly past the largest aperture, but if so it should also do it if you decrease the shutter speed or increase the ISO.
  17. Thanks for posting the link to VT camera, I'm going to use them to CLA my FM3A.

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