Nikon FE and friends

Nikon FE, circa 1979

My materialization powers have not deserted me – I have made my magic work again. Keen readers will recall that I found a Nikon FM with a pristine 50mm f1.4 a couple of weeks ago for $5. I have been using my incredible powers of summoning to make some tasty Nikkor glass appear in my favourite shop since then. A couple of times I have failed (and made some gorgeous Canon AE-1 and FD glass appears instead), but today, a Nikon FE body, a Nikkor 50mm f2 prime, a Nikon Speedlight SB-18 and a Tamron Adaptall II 200mm f3.5 fitted with a Nikon AI mount adapter appeared for me, again for $5 each. Yes – twenty bucks for an operational FE and some lovely glass, with a working 1983 vintage Speedlight, complete with its original case and instructions thrown in.

The FE is the sister of the beautiful Nikon FM. Introduced in 1978 and running in production until 1983, it had automatic exposure capability via aperture priority, and “full disclosure” view finder very similar in function to that of the preceding Nikkormat EL camera. The 50mm f2 Nikkor it was fitted with is an Ai lens, and precisely the same as the 50mm I had delivered with my Nikon FM 34 or so years ago. It was also introduced in 1977, (along with the slightly earlier FM body) and was superseded by the f1.8 variant after a year, making it somewhat short-lived. I have not seen an f2 in the flesh since I got rid of my old FM kit in about 1990 or so. It is a 6 element double Gauss or Planar type lens, and very, very sharp.

The FM/FE bodies served Nikon well, lasting from 1977 through to 2006 with minor progressive modifications along their 30 year evolutionary lifespan. I am very glad to have got back in touch with my Nikon side from so long ago – I have missed them. This is an image from 1978 of a long-dead friend of mine, shot on an FM with the 50mm f2 as my new camera wears:

I know little about the Speedlight other than it is absolutely unmarked, has its JCII sticker intact and also has the original vinyl case. Oh, and it works too.
The Tamron 200mm f3.5 Adaptall II lens is beautiful. Complete with original caps, it wears the Adaptall system Nikon interchangable lens mount. An interesting parallel with this lens is that I had an earlier Tamron 200mm f4 in 1976 for my old Nikon F. This find means that I now suddenly have access to another half-dozen primes (24/28/200/500mm) and zooms (of all sorts) of Tamron Adaptall lenses for my small Nikon collection too, in itself this is another great find just on its own.
There is just one thing that I yearn to know – why do people throw these treasures out? WHY?
The joy of frugal camera acquisition is a truly great thing.



  1. Nikon stressed that ISO 6400 and up to 12 800 would be comfortable to shoot at so they are setting up some not-exactly-moderate expectations. Nikon says its because the cams for photojournalists who dont want or need 1080p. But video does take advantage of the D3Ss hunger for light so the dynamic range is wide as hell with High Sensitivity Movie mode and the D3Ss video mode is overall more capable than Nikons previous video-shooting DSLRs with full aperture control faster AF in live view and a stereo input. A new algorithm also alleviates some of the weird video problems Nikons had before supposedly.

  2. I really dont know how, but my sister found this post, and showed it to me on FB. I recognised the silhouette immediately- I met Andrew not long after that shot was taken, Im guessing at his 21st at the farm? Anyway, I married him a few years later. A very evocative shot. He also loved photography, and he and his son were lucky enough to have their photos published in Australian Rallysport News. We have just had the 14th anniversary of his passing, so, many thanks for this little memorial.

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