Nikon FE

A brief outline of the Nikon FE manual focus SLR film camera

This page is dedicated to the superb Nikon FE camera produced by Nikon from 1978 to 1983, the exterior design is that of the Nikon FM that had been introduced the previous year but the mechanically timed  shutter was replaced with an electronic one, this allowed it to include an automatic aperture priority and effectively allowed it to replace the Nikkormat EL and Nikon EL series of cameras. The main advantages the FE had over the EL series camera bodies were size, ergonomics, reliability and a massive 25% reduction in weight.

The Nikon FE shared the same screens, backs and motor-drives introduced for the FM, however the MD-11 motor drive possessed an electrical design fault which caused the cameras batteries to be drained if the drive was left on the camera even when turned off. Nikon rectified the problem and sold the new motor drive as the MD-12, although the later drive is to be preferred the original MD-11 drive is perfectly usable as long as it is only fitted to the Nikon FE (or Nikon FM) when actually required.

VFM Flash Memory Cards

The Nikon FE was a great commercial success for the company and very positive articles in all the popular photographic magazines helped significantly overcome the prevailing negative "electrical prejudice" that the EL series had suffered from. When, two years later the "electrical" Nikon F3 professional 35mm SLR was released the Nikon FE had already enlightened many photographers to the advantages that could be achieved by the incorporation of electronics. The only remaining obstacle was the professionals fear of battery dependence "in field".


Nikon FE with MD-12 motor drive

Basic specifications of the Nikon FE MF SLR Camera

Production period (later availability via stock)

1978 to 1983
Lens meter coupling type AI (Automatic maximum aperture Indexing)
Aperture coupling range N/A
ASA film speed range ISO 12 to 4000
EV range at ASA 100 EV 1 to 18
Meter sensor type if applicable TTL centre weighed SPD (Silicon Photo diode)
Shutter type and curtain material Vertical metal focal-plane electronic
Shutter speed range 8 to 1/1000 second + Bulb
Exposure modes available Aperture priority and Manual
Flash exposure type and maximum sync speed Electronic flash hot shoe 1/125 second
Interchangeable focusing screens K split-image microprism - B matte - E grid
Interchangeable viewfinder heads No
Interchangeable backs Nikon MF-12 databack (time and date)
Film advance method Single stroke lever
Motor drive or Auto winder availability MD-11 or later MD-12 (3.5 fps) motor drive
Film rewind method Manual folding crank
Self Timer Yes - 8 to 14 seconds
Battery type and number required Two S76 1.5v silver oxide batteries
Body weight without lens attached 590g

Nikon FE shutter speed dial


Nikon FE top

Nikon FE Camera

Nikon FE silver



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June 2014 Siteseen Ltd.

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