Nikon FE vs. Nikon FM

So, these are 2 of my favorite Nikons from the past. I like the feel of both, but I’ve been going back and forth in my mind about which camera I like better.

So, to start, let me review the basics. Here’s the features these bodies both have as a basic comparison.

First, they both have a 1/1000 second fastest shutter speed, however the electronic FE has shutter speeds all the way down to 8 seconds. They are both almost identical in size and the way they feel in your hand, and they both build the on/off switch into the film advance lever – so when it’s pulled our away from the body it’s on, and when it’s pushed back flush with the body, it’s off. This is pretty simple, and it works well.

The ASA/ISO setting is a little more complex on the FE – since it allows for +/- 2 stops of exposure compensation – useful in the auto exposure mode. The FM uses a more traditional shutter speed/ISO setting dial which is, I think, a bit more intuitive.

Double exposure works similarly on both, but I think the FE is a bit easier to do double exposures with, since it’s able to be done with one hand, and the FM seems to require 2 hands to accomplish the double exposure. Not a big deal though.

The FE does offer an aperture priority auto exposure mode, which can be nice, and I do like the FE metering system slightly more than the FM red LED approach to metering. The FE has a needle that needs to be lined up with a second needle to gain proper exposure. I just like the look of the needle approach better. Maybe the LED saves battery life. It’s definitely simpler to build over the needle method… at least I would think it would be since it doesn’t involve any moving parts.

Both bodies feel about the same in weight, but the shutters feel a little different since the FE is electronic and the FM is all mechanical. The FE feels a little quieter and smoother when shooting – but I like the mechanical feel of the FM better. I like the feel of some gears moving when I click the shutter. I like the sound of the shutter at slow speeds – the FE doesn’t make any sound at all when set at 1 second, except for the shutter opening and then closing.

In conclusion, I think I like the feel of the FM better than the FE. This is not a technical review, but just a summary of features, and what I like. If the FM had the FE needle meeting system, it would be perfect. Let me know what you like or dislike about these cameras.

I’m going to do the same thing with the FE2 and FM2 someday in the future.

Find more information about the FM and FE here:

Nikon FM Information Page

Nikon FE Information Page