Saturday, 27 September 2008

Nikon FE: flawed and faulty

My experience with the Nikon FE has ended in disappointment. Though I loved it's build and handling,and have some nice pictures made with it, my FE is no longer a working camera. But more of that later. Even if it did still work it had a problem that meant it would be hard to trust. That is, when the batteries fail, there's very little to let you know. The meter needle won't swing up to tell you which shutter speed it has selected, but in the heat of the moment, I don't notice that. Especially in low or contrasty light. Press the button and I get a reassuring SLR clunk and assume the picture is in the bag. Wind on and fire again. Clunk. Trouble is, that clunk is just the mirror firing. The shutter stays firmly closed and film stays annoyingly unexposed. While this would normally only happen once a year or so, I'd only find out once the film is developed. Maybe it's only my FE that works this way. Maybe every other FE refuses to fire the mirror when the battery dies, but I've a roll with that I've taken 10 shots on before I realised that my FE had quit on me. I don't know yet if I have any pictures...

Ah yes the fault. My FE eats batteries. I had a Pentax MX (now sold to fund my Nikkor 50mm) that would drain a pair of LR44s in a week. But I fixed that. No, this is serious. The FE eats a pair of LR44s or SR44s in seconds. The batteries are dead sooner than you can raise the camera to your eye. Put a new pair in, take them out and they're dead and hot to the touch. In an instant. First thought was that they were old batteries and I was imagining them coming out hot. So I tried another set. I checked them on the voltmeter first. 1.57v each, fresh out of the Maxell packet. Put them in the FE, camera shows no sign of life, take them out and they read 1.45v. Same with a pair of nearly new SR44 s robbed from my XA2. 1.59v before, 1.45v after. And yes, hot! Somewhere in that very nicely constructed camera there's a pretty serious short. I'm not going to spend out to have it fixed, and I can't honestly sell it on theBay and expect to get a decent price.

So my Nikon FE is dead. A museum peice. It's back to the Pentaxs, anME and my original MX which, so far have never let me down. I'm sad the the FE failed, but not at all sorry to be using the Pentaxs again. They are very nice cameras. The electronic ME btw does the decent thing switches to it's mechanical 1/100 backup when the batteries die, so even if you miss the fact that the meter LEDs aren't lit, at least it still fire the shutter.


toddono said...

Well, that's too bad... it could be something simple, it might be worth opening up since it's now a shelf-piece... any luck online looking for obvious faults?

mel said...

Are you going to sell it? If so, I'm interested.