Nikon FE – Silky Smooth SLR

Favorite SLR – The Nikon FE

This may be my absolute favorite SLR camera.  I enjoy my Minolta SRT 100 and the Canon FTb is rock solid.  But as soon as I took some photos with the Nikon FE, I actually felt like I was a photographer with a real tool in my hands.  It balances well in my hands and the shutter release felt both silky smooth and dependable (if that’s possible).

There’s Another Nikon in the Box

As I sat on a sunny, front porch in the Forest Glen neighborhood in Chicago, Lennie kept saying:

There’s another Nikon in the box, another Nikon.

Since Nikon is on the front of the camera and the tiny letters FE are on the back of the camera, I guess it wasn’t obvious that I was purchasing a Nikon along with 10 other cameras and lenses that bright summer day in 2013.  It was my best camera deal ever.  But my surprise Nikon FE may be the best camera among my 42 pounds of cameras for $100.

Basketball Court Photos

This June day Kilbourn Park’s basketball court was full of players.  I think there were 4 games going on (one full court, two half court games).  Schurz High School had just ended and all the students were gravitating to the park.  There must have been over 25 people on the court with another 25 teenagers on the edge of the court watching.

I walked up to a corner of the basketball court, sat down, and readied myself for a fast break photo under the hoop.  Using ASA 400 speed film, I set the aperture to about F/8 and focused on the basketball rim.  I set the shutter speed to about 1/125.  My theory was even if the focus was a bit off, the F/8 aperture would be forgiving.  I remember purposely using portrait (vertical) in various photos.  I wanted to make sure I had the players and the hoop.

Graceful Basketball Layup

This player stood out from the rest.  He’d still the ball, race down the court, and enter my camera frame.  Click.

Graceful Basketball Layup

Graceful Basketball Layup

Quick Layup Under the Basketball Hoop

This player was quick to rebound and quick to score.

Nikon FE, June 2013, Basketball at Kilbourn Park, Quick Layup

Wesley Woods, Lake Geneva

Every year my wife and I travel to a church camp for a little fellowship, food, and some photos.  I normally bring along one of my cameras.  This year I brought along the Nikon FE.

Wesley Woods on Lake Geneva

This is what it looks like.  Trees, a pier, tiny beach, and a lot of Lake Geneva.

Nikon FE, June 2013, Wesley Woods

Nikon FE Exposure Problem

I still don’t know if this is a Nikon FE exposure problem.  Perhaps if I had bracketed the photo with different apertures it would have been better.

Nikon FE, June 2013, Wesley Woods Pier, Exposure Problem

Love my Nikon FE

I can’t think of any other SLR in my collection I’d rather have for a shoot than my Nikon FE.  And recently, I learned that it takes great night photos.  You can be sure I’ll take the Nikon FE for a Chicago night stroll in the near future.  Thanks for reading my Nikon FE review today on What is a Film Camera.



Nikon FE – Silky Smooth SLR — 4 Comments

  1. oh, I think I have confused myself with the Nikon Fe, it’s a manual-focus 35mm film SLR with electronic shutter with two mechanical backup speeds. I was thinking about the Nikon Fe,FM,and FA all together. Sorry for the mix-up………..

    • Don B:

      Your comment is correct: manual focus, electronic shutter, M90 backup speed.

      I saw your other comment about having trouble finding this camera with its high prices.

      I recently purchased a 2nd Nikon FE body for $12.50 on eBay plus $12.50 shipping. The seller had trouble getting it to work with batteries. But I purchased the camera because I knew the camera was clean. Sure enough, it fired up nicely with batteries so I have a second Nikon FE body for $25.

      To find a bargain Nikon FE I would search eBay or a Craigslist looking for a “Nikon FE – Needs Repair” sort of listing. Many sellers don’t know how to get the Nikon FE working because they have trouble with using batteries correctly. Purchasing a “junk Nikon FE” is always a risk but if the price is right, it’s a good risk to take.

      Good luck in finding your Nikon FE and thanks for visting.


  2. I agree with your comments about the Nikon FE. It was a good camera for my wife with her smaller hands. It wasn’t as heavy as the F2 & EL which I used myself. It lasted nearly 20 years, then I had to repair it in 1998. The computerized ribbon joining the metering to the shutter & aperture controls had to be replaced. It was a very expensive repair; almost $300? because the strip was getting scarce. I fixed it for sentimental reasons as it was my late wife’s camera. It then worked for another couple of years. I still have it but I found a FE2 body later to use in it’s place.

    • Mark,

      (Sorry for my late reply.)

      The Nikon FE was and is wonderful. I still remember the time I took photographs with it on a Chicago basketball court, thinking to myself, this camera fits my hands perfectly.

      But your devotion to your late wife’s camera (my condolences) proves why I built this website in the first place.

      Each camera has a story of ownership, or the fancy word auction dealers use: provenance.

      Although I don’t purchase cameras as much as I once did (per my wife), I’m always attracted to the cameras in garage sales that “come with a story”.

      We love our film cameras not simply because of how they perform. We love our film cameras because of our loved ones (a grandpa, our wife, and old friend) who used them.

      Best Wishes,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *