Nikon FE or FM

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by Donald Harpold, May 28, 2021.

  1. Hello
    Just wondering which is "best" as far as reliability and which has best meter, etc.
    Thanks in advance.
  2. Both are excellent and super reliable. In terms of flexibility and meter range the FE is superior, but if you want a camera that can runs without the battery then it is the FM you need. I've used both, own the FE.
  3. I’ll take the FE in a heartbeat. They are probably equally reliable, but the electronic controlled shutter of the FE is likely more precise.
    Ironically, the FE has a superior viewfinder for manual control.
    Above is given all other things are equal - However, for a 40 years old camera, condition should be the deciding factor.
  4. I have the Nikon FM2n , I have had no problems and love this camera , one just has to get used to manual operating procedures again.
    The exposure meter on mine appears to be accurate after all these years.
  5. The FM2n is my favorite 35mm camera. The meter is the only thing that needs a battery so the camera will work mechanically without the battery. I have three FM2n camera bodies. Never had an FE.
  6. The FE and FM are both excellent if they are in working order. The FM is perhaps slightly more desirable in the current climate as it's fully mechanical, but there's not much difference between them in practical use. The FE has interchangeable focusing screens, not the FM.

    The only real reason for getting an FM2 or FE2 would be the faster shutter speeds up to 1/4000. If you are unlikely to need anything faster than 1/1000 the extra cost isn't worth it. Note that the versions of the FE2 and FM2/n with honecomb shutter blades seem to be more sought after than those with plain blades.
    Fiddlefye and robert_bowring like this.
  7. They are both good cameras. Just pick one.
  8. If budget allows, get both. Run color in one and black & white in the other. Both, btw, can use non-AI lenses as well as AI lenses.
  9. Thank you
    I am going to look at them today and will make the choice based on condition and feel.
    Fiddlefye likes this.
  10. Both great cameras, and in many ways very similar in operation. I chose the FE myself.

    Why? I rarely use the camera in really low light situations, and I really like the way the match-needle meter of the FE allows me to gauge proper exposure--and intentional over- or under-exposure--in good light. I also like the fact I *can* use aperture priority, even though I rarely do.

    If I were shooting in low light situations more often, I'd probably prefer an FM series camera--or acquire one to go along with my FE (why not, I have two FEs already, one black and one chrome)--as the LED meter is much more useful in situations where the needle is hard to see.

    One thing I'd recommend, whichever camera you get: find a K3 screen, for the FM3a and put in it. I've pimped out both my FEs with one, and it's a good bit better than the original focussing screen. You may have to do some exposure compensation after, but you'll likely find it a very pleasant upgrade.
  11. I just finished a walk with my FM2n and a Zeiss Milvus 50mm f1.4 lens. It is expensive and manual focus but a really nice lens.
  12. I've had both since sometime in the late 1970s. Both are still working fine, but I'd rate the build quality.of the FE slightly higher than the FM. The FM just feels a bit 'tinny' and sounds more 'clunky' than the FE.

    Battery life is no issue with the FE. A 3v Lithium CR1/3N is worth the extra cost and will last months, if not years.
    Ah! There are two versions of FM. One of them has a screwhead visible at the top of the lens-throat. Undoing that screw allows the viewing screen and its retaining frame to drop down, just like the clip of the FE. I believe that FE screens can then be fitted, but maybe they need removal of their tab.

    My FM is the model with removable screen, but I've only ever released it to clean dust off it.
  13. Yes some FM's had a user removeable screen. I had one and removed the screen for cleaning. But getting it back was a royal PITA with a spring bracket which was a pig to get back,. I probably scuffed the screen and made it worse in the process.
    Last edited: May 29, 2021
  14. It is not like there is an exciting selection of screens to choose from, but by adding a newer screen to the original FE, one can gain a tiny bit of finder brightness - but it is not really a big deal. The K screen is what most people will ever need anyway.
  15. I much prefer a plain type B screen, and that's what I fitted to my FE, and to my F2s.

    I've never seen the attraction of a split-image screen. It, and the surrounding 'twinkle ring', obscure part of the screen for compositional purposes and encourage central placement of the subject. Whereas the type B screen is more of a blank canvas that gives a much better idea of the final picture.
    Last edited: May 30, 2021
    NHSN likes this.
  16. Surprised to hear you are no like most people. Well, live and learn ;)
    bobbudding likes this.
  17. AJG


    The first thing that went away from my Pentax MX and LX bodies was the standard screen with split image rangefinder and micro prism donut. I had previously worked a lot with 16 mm movie cameras (Bolex and Eclair) that had plain ground glass screens and made lots of focusing errors with the Pentax MX until I replaced them with matte screens with a grid that I found helpful for composition
  18. The FM was my first camera - I can't recall whether or not I could/did exchange the original K screen. On my alter FM2 bodies, I most certainly preferred the B screen to the original K; can't recall though if I ever placed an E screen in either of my two FM2 bodies (E was the preferred screen in pretty much ever other Nikon film camera I owned).
  19. Hello
    Update: I did purchase the FE with a Nikkor 50mm 1.4 lens, The camera is in excellent condition and he did put in batteries and the meter worked, I looked and confirmed, but when I got home and put fresh batteriesin it, LR44, (he kept his), I can't get it to work??? Any ideas, suggestions?
    Now I can't remember if it had a different lens on it at the time we checked because the Nikkor lens was loose.
    It was a private purchase at a yard sale so no warranty!
  20. You do have the film wind lever pulled out from the body to switch the meter on?

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