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

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During earlier sections, we have discussed the various exposure control in the aperture priority AE, manual mode and stopped down metering exposure measurement. Nikon's current popular Matrix metering is not available. But FE2 built in exposure control should be more than sufficient to handle most of your tasks imaginable. When the night falls, unless you are in long time exposure to capture 'natural' night scenes, most of the time you would need an artificial light source, like a flash. The FE2 flash metering is an vast improvement as compared with the earlier FE.

Hot Shoe explaination.jpg (8k)
* Information contained here (Unless otherwise stated) are shared and also applicable to Nikon FA, where both cameras shared the same shutter, mechanism and sync speed for flash photography. Thus this section may still be copy and paste onto the Nikon FA flash section as shared resources.

(More info: Nikon SB-1 to SB-21 Speedlight/Flash Units) In flash photography, the Nikon FE2 (Nikon FA) easily outshine any of the FM/FE group of models (And many of its competition among other makes). In terms of features, the Nikon FA has the edge with the additional multi pattern (Earlier Matrix) metering and with an extra benefit of Shutter Priority AE and Program AE. The FE2, along with the Nikon FA, were the two among its group that offered TTL OTF flash metering in addition to conventional manual and auto flash (The Nikon FG was the first to offer multimode, but categorized under Nikon's super compacts, neither the current Nikon FE-10 or FM-10 has the TTL flash metering feature). The FE2 features flash synchronization with manual, electronic flash units and bulbs (Pneumatic bulb or tube to trip the shutter). Flash modes in the FE2 was a big plus compared with the original FE's standard manual/automatic flash. It can be accomplished via one of four flash modes, either through Manual (M), Automatic (A), TTL/OTF or bulb mode.

But first of all, what is TTL OTF flash metering ? As you have already know how a manual flash works: the entire amount of flash power will be discharged in the manual mode (Depends on the 'power' of the flash, represented in guide number. You have to divide the distance and guide number to find out the effective f number i.e. 10' divided by a flash with guide number of 20 = f2.0. It is also affected by other variable flash technique e.g. Bounce flash needs compensation as the 'power' has been 'diluted' etc.,; film speed also affects its working range e.g., aperture f4 at ASA/ASA100 will be f5.6 when you change the film to ASA/ISO 200 or the effective distance is double). An electronic flash unit uses batteries to charge a capacitor and its output regulators will cut off the output as measured illumination is received as sufficient for a proper flash exposure. Advantage is, it reduces battery drain and recycle time. Most electronic flash has a sensor built on the flash to sense the reflectance from the subject and regulate the amount of output. The sensor usually locates at the front and should not be blocked during an flash exposure. If it was covered, it will assume distance could be far and regulates full output of the flash. If such flash unit is an dedicated unit (By camera manufacturer or third party makers), flash ready light will be provided in the viewfinder.

Olympus OM2n.jpg
TTL flash metering adds a layer on top of how ordinary electronic flash works. The sensor is now located in the camera body, behind the lens you are using and it measures the amount of light that reflect off the actual film plane to regulate the amount of output from the flash for a proper flash exposure. This technique, pioneered by Olympus in their OM2n (1975) was a technically perfect solution to get an optimum flash exposure. However, it was enhanced further by Nikon in the F90x (F5 as well), as in most cases, the average TTL flash metering works like center weighted average metering, Nikon has manage successfully transferred their patented Matrix metering to the TTL Flash for, multi segments flash metering. Unfortunately, this works only with flash that has dedicated functions in line with specific cameras that have been designed to take advantage of this technique (The very innovative Contax RTS III is the only camera that has TTL flash metering that works independently, regardless of origin).

The Nikon FE2 offers TTL flash metering, the design require a total of three metering cells - two of which locate near the eyepiece and another at the base of the mirror box . The designing concept may not be that sophisticated, but it works independently if you are to compare with the Nikon F3's flash metering (The F3 uses a single SPD cells that housed at the bottom of the main reflex mirror box to perform normal TTL and TTL flash metering). The FE2 has a pair of SPD cells to do ambient metering and another SPD cell at the base, facing the film to perform TTL flash metering during flash exposure.

FE2 backview with cell.jpg (18k)
Since the FE2 has no 'T' Setting, I have to use the cable release to lock it at 'B' to take this shot. The sparkling cell is for the TTL OTF flash metering control and it has to work with the few extra terminals on the hot shoe to relay information with a dedicated flash. Thus, even if the features are here for you. To maximize its capacity and capabilities, you ought to be very careful in making selection to get a compatible flash unit. As some flash units may offer only manual flash mode, some are capable of automatic flash mode (Usually come with manual control), and others may function properly in the TTL mode as well. Unfortunately, as with lens mount, most camera manufacturers designed their flash shoe contact without compatibility with other manufacturers even they are using the standard ISO-type accessory shoe. BUT all flashes can be used in manual or even in many cases, automatic mode - except TTL or some specific proprietary designs.

FE2 Flash Meter.jpg (12k)
The metering cell is rectangular in shape to read the similarly sized film size. Based on heavily center weighted average metering methods. This works very well with many TTL flash that Nikon produced over the years. Others similar flash designed for cameras like F3 has to use a flash coupler - at the expense of TTL, so invest wisely into the right flash. (Actually, current dedicated AF flash from Nikon will function properly with an FE2 in the TTL mode as well, the trick is the terminals on the hot shoe - obviously, with the exception of AF function).

As explained earlier, the sensor only meter the light. The actual computation is done by the camera's CPU for data processing, regulating the right amount of light intensity, relay/cut off instructions and execute the process of a proper exposure. It sounds easy, but the communication is quite complex and sophisticated. For instance, to reduce signal noise, separate two X-contacts lead wires from other lead wires and routing has been rearrange to cross the circuit pattern to the SPD cells, this improve the reliability of the FE2 as well.

Basically, both FE and FE2 needs one way or another with a dedicated flash to work more efficiently in flash photography. The previous FE has two outstanding designs with its flash ready light and automatic synchronization of speed to 1/90 sec. while the FE2 has leapfrog its flash capability with even more advance features: If you have accidentally or wrongly adjust your shutter speed to 1/250 sec and above, it will automatically set to a default sync speed of 1/250 sec while you are in Auto mode., the convenient viewfinder ready light is retained and in addition to that, the popular TTL flash metering is provided as new 'add on'. Is TTL fail safe ? A difficult question to answer as there are many variable factors could affect its accuracy. But generally, you have to make sure the maximum flash-to-subject distance is not exceeded and dealing with a tiny subject in a open background could be tricky. Anyway, the manual flash option is always here to supplement, should circumstances require.
As a day is separated by a day and night. It is advisable to develop some good knowledge in the Fee's flash capabilities to help you master these 'man-made' light source. The next section will outline operational procedures, options of flash and how to handle the FE2 in manual and automatic flash more effectively.

| Next | 911 Manual, Automatic and TTL flash and other info

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