Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Nikon FE2 - Basic Operation Part X

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Manual Flash Mode There are two options here. Either you use a Nikon dedicated flash, or get a third party designed flash unit. Firstly, if you think the TTL flash is not your priority and you feel more comfortable with traditional way of manual flash photography, most flash has a auto or manual mode and can thus be used in the manual flash mode. In manual, you determine correct exposure by either calculate mentally or using the flash's built in calculation dial. You must set the sync speed NOT EXCEEDING 1/250 sec. for proper flash synchronization with the FE2 (Dedicated flash usually has one advantage, it will auto set to default speed - by not exceeding maximum sync speed permits).

Next, equally important is to determine the exact distance from the flash to the subject (To find out, just focus, and then look at the lens' distance scale). Ensure the film speed is corresponding to the film is correctly set, then by rotating the dial and then locate the flash-to-subject distance on the dial, the suggested lens aperture setting will be shown. To do mental calculation, you have to obtain the actual guide number of the flash in measurement either in feet or meters (Very important), dividing this value with the distance will give you the effective f number. Some flash units have a guide number reduction features to adjust the flash output (Lowering its guide number), make sure that lever is not being adjusted. Using manual flash mode also requires you to change the aperture setting each time the flash-to-subject distance changes. If you hardly use flash in your work (says 95%) or cost is a priority factor, okay, you don't have to buy a Nikon dedicated flash and you may go and select from a huge pool of third party flash as alliterative at any retail outlet (Brands don't count much as a factor in this case, a Canon or Minolta branded flash works on a Nikon camera as well - but what is the logic ?). Generally, a simple but reliable Sunpak, Metz or a Vivitar portable compact flash is usually good enough to serve you anything within 12-15 feet comfortably. But since a dedicated flash can give you extra options, if those features provided are of beneficial - it should give them as first priority. After all, virtually ALL manual Nikon flash units have a manual/Auto mode as standard, while TTL and MD are added features for camera, so seriously consider these factors.


How to identify a automatic flash ? The sensor is located in front (To read the reflectance from the subject during a flash exposure and amount of light intensity will be regulated). At the back portion, it usually has a few settings like "M," "A," and possibly a "TTL" - if it is a newer type. You MUST find out which brand is a flash designed to dedicate for; this is usually reflects by the position or arrangement of the contacts at the base of the mounting shoe. As explained, the sensor on the face of the electronic flash unit records the amount of light reflected back from the scene and regulates the power output of the flash when correct amount of reflectance is received and assumption of an 'optimum' exposure can be achieved. The regulation process is through additional contacts between the flash unit and the camera body on the top of the accessory shoe. If you are using manual or solely automatic flash, without features like ready light etc., other than the main hot shoe contact at the center, the rest of the contacts can term as meaningless. I will show you how a mechanical Nikkormat FT3 in 1977 works in manual and auto flash (NO viewfinder flash ready light feature).

But automatic flash has one distinct advantage over the manual flash, because the sensor reads the reflectance, if your flash is not fully charged or decrease in its efficiency (like unused for a long time), it will still yield a pleasant result as its intensity is being regulated and may burst to its maximum power (even if it is not fully charged) to ensure enough light is 'received' back at the sensor (provided the flash to subject distance is within the flash maximum flash range). But this is also its main drawback (see below). Secondly, it reduces waste of energy. Shorter flash to subject distance reflects 'faster' and maximum power may not has to be utlised. Bounce flash is possible and less complex than manual flash. Some bigger and bulkier flash also provide flexible option such as rotate, tilt, zooming or even interchangeable flash heads. Disadvantages ? Oh. Reflectance affects its accuracy. Most flash units have a fixed angle to work with, lenses of different focal length or if the subject is not prominent enough to allow a fair amount of reflectivity back to the sensor (Like a tiny subject in a open background), chances of erroneous exposure can be very high. These are usually represented by heavily over- exposed on the main subject in the eventual photograph or slides. Secondly, it can easily fooled by high contrast subject and in most cases, require some form of exposure compensation. Further, as with any flash, regardless in manual, auto or TTL, it reflects color temperature of a heavily colored surrounding in bounce flash e.g. colored ceiling etc.. The electronic mechanism in automatic flash usually offers more than one automatic setting like: "A1," "A2," etc. in color-coded calculation bar on the dial and the setting switch corresponding to respective film speed, flash to distance and the working apertures. (Later when we go to a flash like Nikon's SB16, you will understand more). Since the FE2/FA's maximum sync speed is 1/250 sec, set at this speed manually at the shutter speed dial or just turn the dial to 'A' (Auto) (In the case of FA, either 'A', 'P' or 'S' modes), the camera will automatically adjust to its default sync speed of 1/250 sec. - PROVIDED the flash unit used is a dedicated unit. Remember, the shutter speed) affects how the eventual levels of details at the background in flash photography. The faster shutter you selected, the darker and less detail at the backgroun. On the other hand, if you want to have more ambient light or details in a photograph about a night scene, slower speed will absorb more light Don't worry, a simple commercially available electronic flash has a flash duration time of minimum a few hundred of a second to as high as 1/60,000 sec., this is fast enough to freeze any action while the remaining time is to absorb ambient light. Generally, you will notice the dial calculator indicates at closer distances presents a smaller working aperture value (Thus, increasing depth of field), while greater flash-to-subject distances require bigger aperture value as indicated by the distance range settings, light intensity disperse and gradually fading out with distance, thus, larger aperture is to compensate the such light 'loss'. Hey, we are dealing with artificial light source, unlike the evenly illuminated 'sunlight in nature - just think the sun as a 'gigantic' flash.

The FE2/FA's 1/250 sec flash sync is still very 'up-to-date'. (The current hot Nikon F5's maximum 'true' flash sync is only 1/300 sec (with custom setting# 20, but he FP mode is very much higher) This is very effective in its syncro-sunlight TTL flash working in daylight or fill-in. The fast shutter speed of 1/250 sec is good enough in most situation, eliminate possible ghost image in broad daylight or freezing a fast and moving action shots.

TTL Flash Photography As successful flash photography is not just as simple as getting a properly exposed picture. Try to interrelates the few facts behind and work your minds out for creativity can be more fun. You can play around with B setting for long exposures, combine with flash or even gel your flash head with color filters, experimenting multiple exposures with combination of flashes or work the way out for multiple flash in the wild or scenic shots etc... Some of those Nikon cameras like the FE2 or the FA that has the TTL flash metering open up a lot of creative potential. Within the Nikon system, there are many accessories like TTL cables that enable you to retain TTL function even with multiple flash setup. Working in close-up or macro ? Nikon has its dedicated TTL Ringlight for even illumination, 3rd party supplier like Sunpak has similar offer. I don't regard the TTL flash as a breakthrough in the FE2/FA but it does open up new opportunities for someone who thinks, and creative idea can be unlimited and awaiting you to explore various photographic potential with greater level of confidence. For a novice, chances of 'spoilt' photographs are lesser, and this may encourage more serious involvement in photography. Regardless of a user of a simple or advance P&S, a entry SLR model, a latest AF SLR - no one enjoys spoilt pictures. This is exactly how a camera manufacturer thinks 'for' a consumer, SLRs are made more compact and lighter (less durable, chances of upgrades are higher, which translates into greater sales and corporate profit); they are made less complicated but has more control (Sounds funny but it is true - it is definitely easier but this groom laziness and discourage creativeness). But personally, I think TTL flash metering contributes a lot in the development of creative flash applications. You see, prior to the arrival of this technology, you cannot expect a photography student to waste one or two roll of slides to test an effect of multiple strobes

Nikon has been producing quite a number of flash units for their cameras. From the early days of BC-4/BC7, SB4 to FE's dedicated unit, compact SB-9 and moderately sized but a very popular SB-10. Most were equipped with automatic function apart from manual flash output setting. (Later I will try to get all the numbers of the SB-flash series and see if that helps you to see the development of flash photography - which usually reflects on what are the features in a new flash provides). But anyway, the SB-10 has no TTL features incorporated. The early Nikon F3's SB-12/SB-11/SB14 were the first batch of TTL flash provided by Nikon. But since the F3 has a very different flash coupler and not the standard ISO-type accessory shoe and even if you mount those flash on the FE2/FA, you cannot get the TTL feature in your camera to work other than manual and automatic flash. Along with the debut of FE2 and FA, Nikon brought a new series of TTL flash to the market, if I can still recall, it was the SB15 and followed by the SB16 'system' flash - this flash is still available as new until today. So, I would just explain a little on this flash.

| Next | 10/11 SB16 | SB15 Flash

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Additional Technical Info relates to the Nikon FE2 (7 Parts)

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Others:- Nikon AF-TTL Speedlights | SB-20 (1986) | SB-22 (1987) | SB-23 | SB-24 (1988) | SB-25 (1991/2) | SB-26 (1994) | SB-27(1997) | SB-28 (1997) | Nikon SB-29(s) (2000) | Nikon SB-30 (2003) | Nikon SB-600 (2004) | Nikon SB-800 (2003) Nikon AF-TTL Speedlight DX-Series: Nikon SB-28DX (1999) | SB-50DX (2001) | SB-80DX (2002)

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Index Page
  Special Application lenses:
Micro-Nikkor Lenses - 50mm~55mm -60mm 85mm -105mm 200mm Micro-Zoom 70-180mm
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Others: Noct Nikkor | OP-Nikkor | UV Nikkor 55mm 105mm | Focusing Units | Bellows-Nikkor 105mm 135mm
Nikon Series E Lenses: 28mm35mm50mm100mm135mm | E-Series Zoom lenses: 36~72mm75~150mm70~210mm

MF Zoom-Nikkor Lenses: 25~50mm | 28~45mm | 28~50mm | 28~85mm | 35~70mm | 36~72mm E | 35~85mm | 35~105mm | 35~135mm | 35~200mm | 43~86mm | 50~135mm | 50~300mm | 70~210mm E | 75~150mm E | 80~200mm | 85~250mm | 100~300mm | 180~600mm | 200~400mm | 200~600mm | 360~1200mm | 1200~1700mm

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Recommended links to understand more technical details related to the Nikkor F-mount and production Serial Number: by: my friend, Rick Oleson by: Hansen, Lars Holst

W A R N I N G: The New G-SERIES Nikkor lenses have no aperture ring on the lens, they CANNOT ADJUST APERTURES with any of these manual focus Nikon FE series SLR camera models; please ignore some portion of the content contained herein this site where it relates.

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A contributing effort to Michael C Liu's Classic Nikon Site.

Credit: Chuck Hester for some of his beautiful images used in this site; Ted Wengelaar®, Holland for his continuous flow of input; Lars Holst Hansen, Danish 'Hawkeye' who shares the same passion; Mr Poon from Poon photo for their input; Ms Miss Rissa (Sales Manager) & members of the Technical Service dept. of Shriro Malaysia, local distributor of Nikon cameras in Malaysia & Singapore, in providing so many useful input to make this site possible. Special thanks to Mr MC Lau, who has helped with his images of the MF-12 databack. Michael Tan, Pertama Photo (603-2926505) for lending his original Titanium Shutter Display Unit. Dave Hoyt who has prepared the introductory page and offer some images of his FE2 in this site.. Hiura Shinsaku, Nikomat ML, Japan for his contribution on all the various images; A contributing site to a long lost friend on the Net. Note: Certain content and images appeared in this site were either scanned from official marketing leaflets, brochures published by Nikon and/or contribution from surfers who claimed originality of their own work to publish in this site based on educational merits. The creator of this site will not be responsible for any discrepancies that may arise from such possible dispute except rectifying them after verification."Nikon", "Nikkormat", "Nippon Kokagu KK" & "Nikkor" are registered tradename of Nikon Corporation Inc., Japan. Made witha PowerMac.