Choose a body: FE2 or FM2

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by Roxy Durban, Dec 28, 2004.

  1. Roxy Durban

    Roxy Durban Guest

    Which would you chose?

    And why?
    Roxy Durban, Dec 28, 2004
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  2. Roxy Durban

    BandHPhoto Guest

    <Which would you chose?>

    Having had both, I dumped my FE2 bodies and used a gaggle of FM2n bodies (all
    with MD-12 motors) the last few years I was shooting full time before I came to
    B&H. I found I rarely used the FE2's auto-exposure feature and for me, the
    FE2's meter display in the finder window was annoying. I much prefered the
    FM2n's LEDs. Your mileage may vary.
    - --

    Henry Posner/B&H Photo-Video
    BandHPhoto, Dec 28, 2004
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  3. Roxy Durban

    Roxy Durban Guest

    Thanks for your input, Henry.

    I've also have an FE2, but never an FM2. I mostly shoot in Aperture
    Priority mode, so the FE2 would be nice to have again, but I do remember
    that it did have that poorly illuminated match needle meter on the side of
    the focussing screen.

    I have an F2 but I am looking for something a bit lighter to take around
    with me when shooting casually. Decisions...decisions...
    Roxy Durban, Dec 29, 2004
  4. Roxy Durban

    Wm Gardner Guest

    Hard to explain why but I have always been a big fan of the FE2. Carry
    one as a backup to this day. I guess because it is so reliable, easy to
    use, and so flexible. Can mount any lens I own (no, I do not have any
    "G" lenses and do not intend to buy any in the near future), the
    self-timer can work as a MLU, it is compact, and I like having the AP
    mode available. The exposure comp, granted only needed because of the AP
    mode, is nice too.

    Had a FM at one point so I guess I cannot offer a true comparison to the
    FM2, can see Henry's point about the needle vs. LED though. The needle
    only seems to bother me at night and all I mentioned is true about the
    FM series as well.....guess I always thought the FM2 did not offer
    anything additional (LEDs aside) over the FE2.

    When you boil it down it is probably because the FE2 was my first
    serious (and new) camera and it served me very well. Saved and saved to
    buy that thing. Loved it from the days I got it and used it a ton. Had
    it for a few years and then convinced myself I wanted a F3 (more
    affordable with intro of F4). Missed that FE2 from day one and finally
    bought another a few years later. Every now and again I leave most the
    gadgets behind; grab the FE2, stick a couple of lenses in my vest, and
    get back to a more simple time.......

    Probably does not help much but thanks for the stroll down memory lane.

    Happy holidays,
    Wm Gardner, Dec 29, 2004
  5. The three major differences I can think of are:
    FE2: Match Needle metering, TTL flash, only M250 and B w/o battery.
    FM2(n): LED metering, no TTL, all speeds available w/o battery.

    The FM3A combines the features of both, but at a cost. 18 years ago,
    I chose the FA instead of either one. It that time, it's functioned
    flawlessly, demanding only the expected seal replacements and CLA's.
    Today, I'd probably get an FM2 for simplicity. For those times when
    I want automation, I'd go with a current body like an F100 or N/F80.
    Michael Benveniste, Dec 29, 2004
  6. I have three FE-2's. They've been perfectly reliable and how hard is
    it to carry a spare (marble sized) battery after all? I like the match
    needle a lot as it shows you exactly how far you are off for exposure
    compensation. I use AE for everything except studio shots and
    compensation situations when it's easier to go to manual shutter and
    watch the match needle than it is to mess with the exposure comp dial.
    You also get those nice long timed exposures with the FE-2 for waves
    and waterfalls that the FM-2n doesn't have. BTW, chuck the split image
    screen an get an E screen for it.
    bob.kirkpatrick, Dec 29, 2004
  7. Roxy Durban

    Jeremy Guest

    I'm the same way with my Spotmatics and SMC Takumar primes. Wonderful
    optical instruments! Great tactile feeling when using them, too. May not
    be as fast as today's auto-everything SLRs, but a feeling of total control
    over the images.

    I just bought a Pentax automatic body and zoom lens, and I've already got a
    case of buyer's remorse. No shutter operation if the batteries go dead.
    Lenses that don't approach the build quality of my SMC Takumars. I'll
    probably end up dumping the thing on eBay.

    I absolutely hate the autofocus procedure on my digicam and my 2 P&S film
    cams. That bit about first aiming at the main subject, then holding the
    button halfway down to hold focus lock, then recomposing the shot is a pain.
    Worst is the feeling that the camera is the one in control, not me.

    It is sad to contemplate that there now exists an entire generation of
    photographers that have never handled an all-metal, fully manual camera and
    lens. Perhaps a significant number of them would not like manual operation,
    but there are probably many that might really get into it. They will never
    even know what they've missed.

    I hear that the FM3a is not selling very well. It is probably the last fine
    manual focus/exposure camera that is reasonably priced. What a shame.
    Jeremy, Dec 29, 2004
  8. Jeremy,
    I absolutely agree with you about the classic screwmount Pentax gear. Other
    than a homely Kodak Signet 35 and a tidy little Petri rangefinder in the
    50s, my first good camera was a Pentax H3v. I lost that in a fire about 25
    years ago and, after a lengthy search (pre-eBay), found another in mint
    shape. I have added a couple Spotmatics and a mint H1a. I have numerous,
    new, modern autofocus whizbangs that I use for some paying jobs, but when I
    want to really feel the joy of making pictures, I carry the Pentax stuff.
    There is nothing quite like the sensory joy of using a well-made camera with
    a lens that focuses like butter. The optical results equal anything else,
    too, with those splendid Takumars.
    That said, I have just inherited a Leica IIIF and a Leica M3 two-stroke,
    each with a 50mm Summicron. Amazingly, they WERE NEVER USED. I don't think
    they ever even had film in them. I exercised the shutters and everything
    seems fine, including the rangefinders. They are a bit fiddly in actual use,
    but I can see why devotees like them. Their tactile feel is unique and
    likely a joy in using, similar to the reason I'll never part with my old
    Pentaxes. I may run a roll through each of them, then figure out what to do
    with them.
    I think a photog still has total control over his images if he understands
    what the camera is doing for him, but it's quite another thing to have to do
    it all manually. That's part of the fun, and the classic cameras make it
    even more so. And when I pick up the lightweight plastic stuff that is sold
    today, even though it might work just fine, I have no doubt why I like the
    Ken Rosenbaum, Dec 30, 2004
  9. Roxy Durban

    Jeremy Guest


    If you haven't already seen it, have a look at this link re: the Takumar
    normal lenses:
    Jeremy, Dec 30, 2004
  10. That seems so weird to me. That's essentially the procedure I used
    for 25 years before I ever had an auto-focus camera. I used it with
    35mm SLRs and Leica Rangefinders and even a Yashicamat 124G. Okay,
    there wasn't a button to hold half-pushed as I recomposed; but I
    nearly always moved the camera to put the focusing aid over the
    primary subject before I focused.
    David Dyer-Bennet, Dec 30, 2004
  11. Roxy Durban

    Roger Guest

    Can't resist chiming in on this one. I used a FM2n for quite a while
    and eventually sold it. I've regretted it ever since. The reason is
    the LED metering in the FM2n. Most of my photo opportunities are early
    in the morning or in the evening after work. Especially this time of
    year, that means "available darkness" photography. The LED readout is
    one of the best metering systems I've used for those conditions. The
    camera is superb as others have mentioned.

    I replaced the FM2n with a F3(HP). At the time I made the swap, I was
    missing the 100% finders of the pro series cameras. However, for low
    light I should have stuck with one FM2n body. The F3 is another
    good/great camera and worth looking at if you are not heavily into
    flash photography. I still use the F3 but miss my FM2n.

    I hope you find what you are looking for.

    Roger, Dec 31, 2004
  12. Roxy Durban

    Roxy Durban Guest

    This is the way I do my focussing too, whether its AF or MF. I seldom use
    the multiple focus points on my D70 and I hardly ever use the AF-L button.
    Roxy Durban, Dec 31, 2004
  13. Roxy Durban

    Gordon Moat Guest

    Happy New Year,

    Ideally, both of them. I find the FE and FM series of cameras to be more
    complementary in use. The FM3A might be an exception, since it is
    somewhat like both types of predecessor. The greatest difference of the
    older cameras is in usage, rather than details.
    As a few others noted, the FM series uses LEDs for the light meter
    display. Those are actually a great help in low light conditions, and
    can make an FM slightly easier to use than an FE. On the other hand, an
    FE set to Aperture Priority is somewhat automatic ease of use, though it
    can be tough to tell when the shutter speed drops really low. Under low
    light conditions, the light meter in the FE series of cameras works very
    well, but reading the match needle display can be nearly impossible.

    If you find that you want to set the shutter speed more often than you
    want the camera to choose one, then an FM2 is the way to go. I would
    state an earlier FM, though the lack of changeable viewing screen is one
    downside of the oldest version.

    With the FE2, the biggest feature many note is TTL flash control. Unless
    you do much fill flash photography, that is something that might not get
    used often. Even if you use that flash control, you might find in
    practice that TTL flash does not always give you the results you
    expected. Not that it is prone to error, but as with many things of
    automation, what the engineers decided was good could be further off
    than you wanted. The FM3A improves on this slightly by offering TTL
    flash compensation on a separate lever; so if you envision lots of TTL
    flash, get the FM3A over the older cameras.

    All the FM and FE series, except the early FM, offer changeable view
    screens (I exclude the FM10 and FE10 from all these discussions, since
    the build quality sucks). Most people find that the all matte, or the
    matte with grid screens work a little better in some situations.
    Regardless of which camera you get, it is a good idea to get at least
    one of the extra screens.

    The MD-11 and MD-12 motor drives work on all these. They are heavy and
    bulky, and somewhat loud. I find little benefit using these, other than
    the extra weight can be a little steadier for slow shutter shots. There
    was also a dedicated flash for most of these models, though I have found
    that more modern flash units seem to work better. The SB-25 and SB-26
    are excellent choices for the money, and the SB-27 is a nice compact
    modern choice; all of these being better than earlier Speedlights.

    The single Lithium battery seems to last slightly longer than using the
    double cells. The earlier FE and FM have an AI tab on the lens mount
    that can be moved out of the way. That can be useful for the PC Shift
    lenses, or some early non-AI lenses. An even earlier camera called the
    EL2 uses the same light meter exposure control system as the FE. While
    the EL2 does not have a changeable view screen, it does have mirror lock
    up; a feature not found on any of the other cameras in this series.

    The FM and FE are slightly more rugged in construction than the later
    FM2 and FE2, and are somewhat comparable to the Nikon F2. However, the
    FE2 and FM2 have arguably better shutters, and more available speeds.
    Overall, these are some of the most rugged and reliable cameras to ever
    come out of Japan. There are still some well known professionals that
    continue to use these cameras, with some cameras seeing well over twenty
    years of continuous usage. I think it would be tough to make a bad
    choice amongst these.
    Gordon Moat, Jan 2, 2005
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