Nikon FE Unpredictable Results - Anybody Shoot With An FE?

dandy67

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Hi, new here, been experimenting with a Nikon FE for about 6 months and the results have really fluctuated between okay pictures & totally unusable pictures. I've rarely gotten a 'great' picture unless I'm shooting inanimate objects with a light kit and tri-x, and I don't know whether it's me or a fault within the camera as it is over 30 yrs old.

First off, I've had difficulty judging exposure using the electronic two-needle system in camera. It seems wonky to me. Seems maybe 95% of the time my photos come out looking 1-2 stops underexposed. I tend to shoot expired film along with new stock, and generally there's not a hell of a lot of difference in exposure and color between the new/old rolls as it all tends to come out underexposed.

So maybe I should buy a light meter and check that exposure against the FE's?

Also put two new batteries in a couple months ago...

...and I don't think it's the lab as the negatives are always perfectly developed.

Only other thing I think could be an issue is that I tend to stack filters for neat lighting effects. I know that doing this influences exposure but I've just assumed the FE's meter would compensate accordingly. Sometimes I'll overexpose by as much as 2-3 stops and still get a dull/dark image.

So I'm not sure what's going on...

...just dropped off a roll of Fuji 400 I shot at 200 and a roll of 200 with every shot overexposed by 1-4 stops just to see what happens.

Any ideas? Buy a light meter?
 

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timor

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Buy a good light meter like Sekonic L-758 and compensate manually for stacked filters. Who is developing your color ? And who is developing your Tri-X ?
 

Derrel

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THe first shot is "backwards", and underexposed. all the shots appear underexposed.

Are you setting the camera's ASA/ISO setting with each roll of film? Is the Aperture Coupling Lever in the "down"position, so it is actually indexing with the lens? Do you possibly have the exposure compensation (the +/- thing) set to Minus?

Sooo many questions. The first shot, the backwards one--is that a scan? What kind of film are you using?

I am seriously wondering if the Ai coupling mechanism is not connected right, or is sticking, and throwing things off. Without knowing your skill level, or your degree of familiarity with the FE, it's difficult to say what's happening. I shot the FE for about a year, then moved to the FE-2 for over 15 years, so I have a few ideas.

What strikes me though is the weird, weak,feeble color in these three shots...the "look" they have is MOST-unusual...it does not look like typical underexposure; it has a very odd, strange, desaturated look that I am not familiar with, and I have managed to have a lot of film screw-ups, lab mistakes, and accidents over the decades.
 
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dandy67

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Yeah 1st one is scanned backwards. Colors/exposure are straight from the scan, which is set to no color/exposure compensation, so what I see is straight from the negs which all seem to be underexposed (by my own hand apparently).

I was using fresh fuji superia 200 I believe, set to 200. Only time I really push/pull is when I'm experimenting with expired film. The film used in the pics wasn't expired. The shot with the window was supposed to be 2-3 stops over because I had a net on the lens, but that didn't work so well.

Now I'm wondering if the coupling pin is the issue because I mix using pre-ai and ai-s lenses all the time, but I always make sure to flip it up or down depending on the lens. I have to check the dof preview on some lenses, but honestly sometimes that works better than just going off the needles. My 50 1.4 seems to be the most 'finicky'.
 

timor

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What strikes me though is the weird, weak,feeble color in these three shots...the "look" they have is MOST-unusual...it does not look like typical underexposure; it has a very odd, strange, desaturated look that I am not familiar with, and I have managed to have a lot of film screw-ups, lab mistakes, and accidents over the decades.
It looks like ORWO color slide film developed in overused chemicals at to high temperature. But in this case is not an ORWO film...
 

Derrel

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Is the Ai-coupling tab on the body still working right, under spring-loaded pressure? With the lens removed from the body,will the Ai coupler "spring back" after you slide it over by hand pressure, then release it? I have seen one instances where that mechanism got very sticky; it was on a "boat" camera that had been exposed to a lot of saltwater spray, and suffered corrosion.

It sounds like if you use pre-Ai and Ai lenses and understand how to flip up the AI coupling tab using the tiny button that you understand the "method" for metering both stopped down and also how to flip the coupling tab down, for use with Ai or Ai-S model lenses.

My question relates back to the three images shown above: those look like they have adequate detail. Are you having prints made? I mean...or, are you scanning negatives? Those three images look to me like they HAVE exposure...are you positive the issue is not with the SCANNER end of the equation??? I mean--the shots look like there is good exposure, since I do not see a lot of blockiness...it almost looks like the scanner is being fed a good negative, but the scanner's not set right.

It's tough to go off of just a few images. And like I said--the color looks weak, but the images seem to me, at some level, to look like the In-Camera exposure was "okay"...but the color is pallid, weak, desaturated, whatever one wants to call it. Makes me wonder how the images would print, conventionally?
 

compur

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Now I'm wondering if the coupling pin is the issue because I mix using pre-ai and ai-s lenses all the time, but I always make sure to flip it up or down depending on the lens. I have to check the dof preview on some lenses, but honestly sometimes that works better than just going off the needles. My 50 1.4 seems to be the most 'finicky'.

When using pre-AI lenses (with the coupling tab flipped up) you must also use stop-down metering, that is, you must take your reading with the depth of field preview lever pushed in. You can't meter accurately using pre-AI lenses on an FE without using the dof lever. Otherwise the meter reading you get only applies if you shoot with lens wide open. That's the whole idea of flipping up the meter coupling tab: the meter is no longer coupled to the lens' aperture dial so you must stop the lens down manually to get a correct reading.
 
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dandy67

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I used the stop-down exposure method for the fuji 200 pic below. It was a 20mm f4 non-ai metered/overexposed for the earth at the bottom of the pic hoping to get the cloud's shadows moving over the mountains to register, but still the image came out underexposed. in retrospect, I think I should've overexposed by 2-3 stops or set the asa to 100.

The picture of the flowers is tri-x 400 @ 200 asa with a white net on the lens.

On the FE you select either your shutter or your fstop and turn the aperture/shutter until the needles line up. The problem I think I may be having is that the needles are unreliable.

I think I'll just start lowering the asa on every roll by 1-2 stops to compensate for this weirdness.
 

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timor

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On the FE you select either your shutter or your fstop and turn the aperture/shutter until the needles line up. The problem I think I may be having is that the needles are unreliable.
Why don't you check FE against reliable light meter ? Or even meter in another camera...
 
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dandy67

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Okay so I figured it out! Turns out the tiny white notch on the exposure compensation ring had become worn off and was positioned at -2.

Also checked against two other light meters and it seems to be fairly dead on. Finger's crossed.

But now I'm curious about how exposure compensation is used. My FE manual says it could be used for micro-photography and for various other things, and I've heard of some people using EC for certain scenes (snow/night) but I'm wondering if using EC changes the behavior of the exposure other than just adding/subtracting a couple stops?


1. Would shooting a scene at 5.6 with +2 EC be the same as shooting the same scene at 2.8 (minus difference in d.o.f.) ?

2. Could EC be used in conjunction with high shutter speeds to compensate for light loss i.e. photographing fast action in low light?

3. Why do old slr's have exposure compensation if you can just as easily turn the asa dial?

Any answers are appreciated!
 

Derrel

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Derrel said:
THe first shot is "backwards", and underexposed. all the shots appear underexposed.

Are you setting the camera's ASA/ISO setting with each roll of film? Is the Aperture Coupling Lever in the "down"position, so it is actually indexing with the lens? Do you possibly have the exposure compensation (the +/- thing) set to Minus? >SNIP>>>

Cameras have EC for the simple reason that the ASA/ISO/Expopsure Index is one,single parameter. In the film days, a glance at the ASA setting could let you know what kind of film was inside of a body; the FE was made before the advent of the rear "peek-a-boo" porthole windows that showed the film cannister's label, and before automatic film speed indexing. If the ASA dial was set to 40,or 50, that body might well have had Velvia in it; if the body were set to 64 or 80, probably Kodachrome 64, and so on. The ASA setting,or the Exposure Index, such as say down-rated Tri-X, set to and E.I. of 200 and slated for minus development would be the "BASE" setting for the metering.

Then, with the BASE ASA/ISO/E.I. set, the Exposure Compensation would be used to offset exposures for backlighting, or sidelighting, or what have you. If for example, you were shooting portraits of a person in front of dark shrubbery, you would most likely set the E.C. to compensate, to say, Minus 1.0 to Minus 1 and 1/3 stops or maybe a bit more; you would STILL REQUIRE the meter to know the "BASE" ASA/ISO/E.I. value !

Pretty simple really.
 

compur

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... but I'm wondering if using EC changes the behavior of the exposure other than just adding/subtracting a couple stops?

No, it doesn't. It just adds/subtracts stops.
 

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