Nikon FE curtain light leak?

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by yellowpascal, Sep 18, 2019.

  1. My Father-in-law has a Nikon FE that I've been using recently. I noticed that it had some light leaks so I had the foam seals around the door replaced but that didn't solved the light leak issue. Today, I took a bright flash light and pointed it directly through the lens and viewfinder and I found two issues.

    1. Shutter curtain allows a little bit of light when the curtain moves down while advancing to the next film.
    2. Light from the viewfinder enter from around the sides of the mirror when it is flipped up, i.e during exposing.

    Do any of you have advice or know any resources on how to fix the shutter curtain and mirror? I'm ok with spending more than the camera's worth on repairs since this is my in-law's and they had this camera for over 30 years.

    I performed these tests in a dark room in a film changing bag with black electrical tape sealing the connection between the flash light and the lens and viewfinder.

    Here are some examples of the light leak.

    White haze in the middle
    pic 1.jpg pic 2.jpg
    Haze on the right side
    pic 3.jpg
  2. The rim that the mirror sets on when open has foam just like the door. It needs to be replaced. The issue with the shutter is more disturbing in my view. That seems to indicate that parts of the shutter are simply worn allowing enough play for them to open up. You might need to have the shutter replaced.

    The FE was my first Nikon and a great camera. My father bought it in the 70's, I think, and I used it well into this century.
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I bought my FE in the year Nikon introduced it, namely 1978, and I still own it today. Nikon replaced it with the FE2 in 1983. Unless it is valuable to you due to sentimental reasons, a film camera that old is probably not worth fixing. You are better off buying another film camera.

    I sold my FE2 years ago but I am keeping the FE since it was my very first Nikon body, after a Nikkormat.
  4. Shun . . . The OP already considered this advice . . .
  5. The light leak can be dealt with, as mentioned, but the shutter issue sounds serious to me too.

    Unfortunately also, a lot of the big independent shops seem to be gone. I might be tempted to try KEH's repair department.

    If it would help a repair tech, I have an FE that is tight and the shutter works fine(at least on M90) but has a dead short in the electronics. I haven't pursued repairing it, but the shutter assembly might help your camera. Of course, the FE was common enough(and from what I understand the electronics did sometimes fail like mine) that a repair shop might have their own boneyard from which to salvage. None the less, if it will help you, PM me and it's yours for the cost of shipping.
    yellowpascal and ed_farmer like this.
  6. There's a shop in Willow Grove PA that I believe will still do these repairs. The name has slipped from my memory at the moment but they should be pretty easy to find.
    yellowpascal likes this.
  7. Thanks for all the replies!

    The foam in the front of the mirror is new but do I need to add foam to the sides too? Not sure exactly where to put it...
    The light leak looks like this:

    Maybe the foam on the mirror is too thick? It seems to me the only place where I can put foam on the sides would be when the focus screen is down but it doesn't seem like foam is supposed to go there and I haven't seen other light sealing guides mention any other areas.
    Front-focus-up.jpg Front-focus-down.jpg
  8. That foam looks awfully thick to me.

    Normally, the sides don't get seals also, or at least I don't remember seeing it on a Nikon. I don't have one handy to check the "proper" foam thickness, but will try to do so this evening if I can remember.
    yellowpascal likes this.
  9. Thanks for the offer! I may PM you if that is a path I have to go down!

    The light leak emit out (upward direction) of shutter curtain aligned to white dotted line. This shutter curtain appears as I am advancing the film lever and the curtain is moving down.

    Is the gap on the curtain too large? Is there any manual fix besides replacing the shutter?
  10. Unfortunately, I think I've gotten attached to this camera... hahaha. I would like to fix it if possible! :)
  11. I'd have to look at one and check to see, but I'd say any amount of light leaking through is abnormal.

    At least as I understand it, one of the appeals of the Copal-type shutter used in these cameras(and nearly every other camera, film or digital, made in the last ~30 years) is that it's a complete module that can be dropped in to the camera. I know at one point or another I had a couple of Canon T50s that died from battery leakage corroding the entire circuit board, and I stripped them down and kept the shutter assemblies with the idea of using them repair more desirable models like the T70 and T80. I still have them around somewhere, but have never done anything with them. (for those that don't know, the T50 is kind of like the EM in that both are intended as fully auto cameras with only very, very limited user manual control possible, although the T50 has powered advance and rewind).
  12. I don't think it's unusual to have light from the viewfinder visible around the edges of a raised SLR mirror. I just tried shining an LED torch into the finder of a completely different SLR (Pentax MX) and looking through the lens mount I can see the light coming around its mirror too. Probably the light coming that way is too weak in normal use to cause fogging of the film during the opening of the shutter. Except during long exposures when its a good idea to blank off the eyepiece anyway.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2019
  13. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I wonder about the availability of parts for something that old. However, Nikon made a lot of those FM/FE cameras back then. Repair shops may be able to salvage parts from damaged bodies.

    I still have my FE mainly because it was the first Nikon body I have ever bought (after a Nikkormat). I haven't put any film thru it in years. I believe it still works but haven't tried it for a long time.
  14. I looked at my FE, FE2. FM and FM2n ...
    1. they all have that same amount of light leak past the raised mirror as in your picture - evidently that's normal.
    2. the only foam strip is the mirror bumper foam, none along the sides or back
    3. your bumper foam is a bit thicker than on any of my bodies
    4. the picture of the shutter gap seems "possibly" wider than my bodies show. It's hard to tell with differences in lighting and perspective angle. However, any "gap" can only occur in mid-stroke of winding on a frame which is fairly brisk transient (the shutter arms and the "gap" hide behind the film gate in the unwound or fully wound state, as you probably have seen).
    5. your fogging seems to also be mostly on the bottom of an image. This is the top of the film in the camera as the image is inverted by the lens when the exposure is being made. That might imply an upper door leak. Many variables here. Hope this helps some.
  15. Perhaps try another film, but pop on the lens cap each time you wind on.
  16. A good idea but you don't need to put the cap on for every film advance. When you load the camera, put the cap on and advance five, six, seven, frames, then shoot the rest of the roll.
  17. Thanks for all the advice!

    Seems like from the comments the light leak from the sides of mirror is normal. I think I will take this to a camera repair store and see how much it will cost to replace the shutter curtain. If it's too expensive, I'll do more experiments with a roll of film to diagnose where the light leak is originating. I might have to just cap the lens every time I advance the film hahah.

Share This Page