So, since I got my FM2 I wanted to compare it to the FE2. I like the FE2 because I really find it convenient to have an auto mode. And, as I mentioned in my other comparison, I really like the match needle type of meter the FE and FE2 have – as opposed to the LED meter that the FM and FM2 have.
I need to get some of the foam replaced in the shutter box where it has deteriorated – that may make the shutter sound a little softer. This FM2 sounds a little loud, when I compare it to the FE2 (or the FM or FE, for that matter).
The FM2 was very revolutionary – at a point when Nikon, Canon, Minolta, Olympus, Pentax and other camera manufacturers were highly competitive. I actually like the Olympus OM-2 as a direct competitor of the FE2, but that’s for a different post.
Aside from the auto exposure mode, The FM2 and FE2 both offer 1/4000 of a second fast shutter speeds, both have a 1/250 flash synch, and both have user changeable focusing screens. Both accept a motor drive, and both accept accessories like a data back. We take it for granted today, but before digital cameras, data backs were used to print date and time data on each exposed image – today our images have date, time, location and other data encoded into the image. Something that was difficult in the film age. If we wanted to record info about our images, aside from what a data back could provide, we had to keep a log of what we were shooting – we actually had to keep notes on paper!
Even though I like the FE2 auto exposure and metering features, I still like the feel of the FM2 better. The FM and FM2 both feel very solid in your hands, and the shutter just feels better.
One of the things I really like on more modern cameras (like my Olympus OM-4) is the built in diopter adjustment. With the FM2 and FE2, as with all other Nikons of this period, you need to add an adjustment lens to the eye piece. You can buy adjustment lenses in various strengths (-3, -2, -1, 0, +.5, +1, +2, +3, etc.) and add them to the camera to help with focusing if you don’t have perfect vision.
Now, here’s something that I do appreciate about the FE2. The electronic shutter can be set from 1/4000th of a second all the way down to 8 seconds manually, or in auto mode. Some contemporary models (like the Olympus OM-2, for example) electronically controlled the shutter down to 60 seconds or more, when in auto mode. Now, the one feature that’s nicer on the Nikon FE2 is the ability to manually set a shutter speed down to 8 seconds. So, the Nikon allows more flexibility in manual mode – which is something that, I think, Nikon put a high value on – and thus had a very large and loyal following among professional photographers.
One other thing, that I wasn’t aware of, is that Nikon automatically sets the shutter speed to 1/125 until your exposure counter gets to “1” in auto mode – so for the first couple frames (that you usually skip over – or, if you’re like me, you try to sneak an extra frame by starting from one notch before “1”). This is a good thing, so as you advance to frame 1, you don’t accidentally get a multi-second shutter speed. Not necessary on the FM2, since there is no auto exposure that might unexpectedly cause a long exposure.
So, there’s my 2 cents worth of observations on the FE2 versus the FM2. Both excellent cameras back in the late 70’s into the 80’s. An exciting time in the history of photography!