Nikon FE and lenses found for $50...

Discussion in 'Collector's Corner' started by elliott_b, Jul 8, 2010.

  1. elliott_b

    elliott_b TPF Noob!

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    This is my first post on the Photo Forum and I'm hoping that it's successful. I'm going to thank everybody in advance for answering my stupid questions and helping me ease my way into the world of SLRs.

    OK, so. I was at an estate sale today when I came across this old camera bag. Inside was an older SLR camera, as well as 3 lenses. The woman selling the items and I both said we didn't know much about cameras like these, so she said $50 and I was more than willing to pay, hoping that I had found a bargain.

    It turns out the body is a Nikon FE. From what I can tell, the lenses are as follows: 1) "Nikon Lens Series E" (50mm, 1:1.8), 2)
    Sigma Mini-Wide" (f=28mm, 1:2.8), and 3) "Sigma High-Speed Zoom" (f= 80~200mm, 1:3.5~4). If the lens descriptions aren't quite right I apologize. I basically just read any text I could find on the lenses themselves.

    So what I'm wondering is whether this whole set up is "good". I know that's quite subjective based on what a person wants to photograph, etc., but I'm curious to see what kind of opinions or experience anybody might have with some of this equipment.

    Also, I've been thinking about purchasing a digital SLR. The Nikon D90 is near the top of my list, and I was wondering whether any of these lenses would be compatible. If so, it could potentially save me the cost of getting a kit lense and allow me to just buy the body. I'm not sure if this is possible though, due to compatibility issues.

    Any comments or information are really greatly appreciated. I'm reading up all I can, but it's a bit daunting to sift through all of the new information and terminology right off the start.

    Thanks again!
     
  2. rite49

    rite49 TPF Noob!

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    First, get the D90, great digital camera. To the FE. I own one, and still occasionally toss some slide film in it and have fun. If it is clean, and works you got a decent deal with the lenses. I would not however, try any of those lenses on a new D90. I had a D80, couldn't use the older Nikkors on it, but my D300 accepts them all.....;)
     
  3. compur

    compur No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Assuming good condition, the Nikon FE is a fine camera and still generally
    respected as a classic. It's one of my favorite Nikon models too.

    There is a Nikon body/lens compatibility chart here:
    Nikon SLR Camera & Lens Compatibility Chart

    ... which indicates that E-series and AI type Nikon lenses (the types that
    the FE normally uses) can be used with some limitations on the D90

    I have a D70 and frequently use earlier manual-focus Nikon mount lenses
    with it.
     
  4. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    The FE and the 50mm f/1.8 Nikon E-series lens are rather good items, assuming that they are in good condition. The Sigma lenses are likely to be rather marginal. While Sigma is well respected today, back in the days of the FE things were otherwise. Sigma's products were generally decent new but not great. The biggest issues were mechanical. They weren't known to survive heavy use well.

    If you choose to use the FE you should check its behavior without a battery. The original FEs would act like they were working even without a battery. The shutter wouldn't open at all although the mirror system tripped normally leaving you to think it was taking pictures.

    After a year or two, Nikon modified the shutter and mirror system. After the change, when you fired the camera with a dead battery or no battery the mirror would lift and the camera would then lock in that position. The VF would be black and you couldn't wind. You could then clear the system by turning the shutter speed dial to M90 or B and, since these two speeds are completely mechanical, continue to use the camera at those speeds, without the light meter of course. Nikon used this system on all later models (FE2, FA, EM, FG, FG20, ...) that used a similar mix of mechanical and electronic function.

    The reason to check is to know which behavior to expect. If you have the early version it is very important that you regularly check the battery (there is a battery test in the camera). If you have the latter you need to know about the dead battery lockup behavior so you don't freak and think it broke. I remember having to calm a frazzled wedding photographer over the phone when she called my camera store in a panic late one Saturday hunting for a Nikon repair shop open on the weekends (there were none in Dallas that were at the time). You wouldn't believe the relief I heard in her voice when I finally calmed her down enough to get her to turn the dial to M90. I heard the mirror/shutter click when she did and her voice became relaxed, all the stress was gone.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2010
  5. elliott_b

    elliott_b TPF Noob!

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    This is all really great information. I'm very pleasantly surprised with the feedback I'm getting here, so thanks everybody.

    I picked up a roll of film today just to give the camera a try. Everything seems like it's operating as it should. Pending whether I decide if I like it or not, I've been thinking about trying to sell everything in order to turn a bit of a profit and put the money towards a D90 w/ the kit lense. Is this feasible, or is it likely that I won't get anything more than $50 for the body and the three lenses?
     
  6. j-dogg

    j-dogg TPF Noob!

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    The series e 50mm f1.8 is a very nice lens. Try to find a Vivitar 55mm-135mm f3.5. Excellent lens pretty hard to find apparently. I can't remember how and I may be wrong but some manual Nikkor primes can be modified to work on a D90. My 35mm f 2.8 has been modded.
     
  7. epatsellis

    epatsellis TPF Noob!

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    I had a Sigma 55-200 APO that was stunning, every bit as good as Nikon glass. It was roughly from the same era, so don't dismiss it right away.
     
  8. j-dogg

    j-dogg TPF Noob!

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    The ironic thing was the Series E lenses were supposed to be their economy lenses but the 50mm f1.8 had image quality that rivaled more expensive glass and many pros shot them.

    If memory serves me correct it was also their lightest prime lens as well.
     
  9. djacobox372

    djacobox372 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You got a good deal... assuming good condition $100 would be the going price for what you describe.

    Ignore the previous poster that said you can't use the 50mm f1.8 on a d80 or d90.. you can, you just won't have light metering--which is only a very minor inconvienence since you get instant results with digital anways. Relying on the camera's meter to choose the correct exposure is a crutch anyway.
     

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