5 Frames with a Nikon FE and a Stroke of Luck

By Miguel ángel Mendez

I had a Nikon FE camera many years ago, when they were first released. I remember seeing it for the first time while unpacking a slit lamp, an optical device used in ophthalmology. At that time I worked for the first company in Argentina that manufactured contact lenses and also brought ophthalmological equipment. Some of the equipment, such as slit lamps, came from Japan and came equipped with photographic camera bodies that were attached to the microscope and allowed taking pictures of the different areas of the eye, and thus document and make a diagnosis. I saw various other cameras used for this purpose including Olympus OM1 and Nikon F2s. I was in charge of receiving this kit and installing it in the offices, as well as helping the doctors to use the cameras for the first time.

I remember falling in love with that camera body and buying one as soon as I had the chance. My interest in photography had been born suddenly some time ago, when I saw a Ricoh KR5 in a store near my work, and asked myself again and again how the photographic image was produced. It is my belief that once photography enters your life, you will no longer be who you were. From then came a long story that would be impossible to relate completely here. It was one of almost of obsession with photography and the artifacts that made it possible. Magazines like Popular Photography, Kodak collections and even the trilogy of books by Ansel Adams passed through my hands. Then came the Internet, and digital photography which – except for an old Pentax K10D that still accompanies me with a 50 mm F 1.7 lens – I no long really pursue.

The Nikon brand remained in my heart to this day, but for reasons that I don’t recall, I got rid of the faith. Then, over the years, I bought, not without effort, many of the best cameras that the brand made. I admit that I don’t need another camera to take photographs, but those who suffer from this syndrome will know what I’m talking about, there comes a time when you can no longer say “I don’t like that camera”, they all have the magical power to stop time, to document a moment of joy, of telling a story or turning an image into a work of art that shakes you. My mother is no longer here but I have her photograph, my daughters have grown into adult women and yet my camera has kept their little childish faces.

And here is a brief story of how this particular camera came into my hands.

I was walking one morning to a doctor’s appointment and I saw a green bill on the sidewalk. It was very early and no one was walking down that street, the businesses had not yet opened their doors. I looked in all directions hoping to find the unfortunate person who had lost it but I couldn’t see anyone. I picked up the bill and verified that it was a one hundred dollar bill, I continued walking, still waiting for someone to appear looking for it but that never happened.

When I got home I verified that it was a real bill. It was then that the camera buyer in me was activated and I decided maybe it was fate. That’s how the story of this camera was written. Sometimes things happen unexpectedly.

The photographs seen here were taken at a stop on National Route 2, which took us to the Atlantic coast to welcome the new year. While the family had coffee I went outside and took these quick photos, eager to shoot the FE.

Parada en la ruta rumbo a la costa atlántica.
Tractor cortador de césped en la parada de la ruta.
Árboles en la parada de la ruta.
Foto de hojas de árbol tomada con un objetivo 135 mm F 3.5.
When we continued the trip, I took this photograph with a 135 mm F 3.5 lens.
Una plaza en Buenos Aires.

The film I used was Kentmere ISO 400, and developed at home by me with a nationally manufactured ROMEK PQ7 developer, for 8 minutes. I will avoid sunny days in the future with this sensitivity and this film. The corrections in Photoshop were minimal.

I sincerely hope that readers of this incredible blog find this story and my 5 photographs interesting or entertaining.

PS: if by force I had to be left with only one camera I would almost certainly choose the FE, even before the legendary F3 or the then revolutionary FA, great cameras that I have and have tested.

Thank you for reading.

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About The Author

By Miguel ángel Mendez
Miguel Mendez: Vivo en la ciudad de Buenos Aires . La fotografía analógica me acompaña desde mi juventud y es mi forma de buscar constantemente que decir con una imagen . Me apasionan las cámaras fotográficas, desde las mas básicas a las mas sofisticadas.
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Comments

Gianni Macrì on 5 Frames with a Nikon FE and a Stroke of Luck

Comment posted: 10/07/2024

Buongiorno, ho letto il tuo scritto che somiglia molto alla mia esperienza. Oggi ho moltissime fotocamere, anche digitali, ma la Nikon FE è la mia preferita. Mi accompagna da oltre 30 anni ed oggi la uso solo per il B&W che sviluppo da me. Mi piacciono le tue foto perchè hanno il sapore di un tempo lontano, tranquillo e fuore dal caos della città.
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Miguel ángel Mendez replied:

Comment posted: 10/07/2024

Hola Gianni gracias por tus palabras, es un honor para mi que te hayan gustado , espero poder publicar nuevamente algunas mas que tome hace poco y que creo que le haran mejor honor a esta genial cámara.

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DeeDee Yelverton on 5 Frames with a Nikon FE and a Stroke of Luck

Comment posted: 10/07/2024

A great story and wonderful photographs! I especially love this line, “there comes a time when you can no longer say “I don’t like that camera.” :)
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Miguel ángel Mendez replied:

Comment posted: 10/07/2024

Gracias por tus palabras , espero que las proximas fotografias le hagan honor e esta camara y sean del agrado de los lectores

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Danilo Leonardi on 5 Frames with a Nikon FE and a Stroke of Luck

Comment posted: 10/07/2024

I love your article and the photographs, Miguel Angel. The FE is such a wonderful and elegant machine. And what a story about getting it again! In some ways, perhaps the FE was attracted to you as much as you’re attracted to it. Wow! In some respects, the FE is like the OM1 you also mention, but with a better fit and finish. The advance is smooth, not semi-annoying as on the OM1. I reach for my FE all the time.

Your article, and the mention of Popular Photography magazine, brought back memories of my childhood and early teenage years growing up in Rafaela, Santa Fe province, 600 or so kilometres north of where you are now. Popular Photography no longer exists, but it played a big role in my life. My generous parents, encouraging me to read in English, gave me money every month to buy copies of Popular Photography and Modern Photography at our local bookshop. When I began adding back issues, my collection grew very large. During my childhood, the articles posed quite a challenge to me with their grown-up technical vocabulary and discussions of portfolios or exhibitions in faraway places like New York. Nevertheless, my fascination with photography led me to read and reread those columns endless times. Your writing brought all those memories flooding back. Very best wishes.
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Miguel ángel Mendez replied:

Comment posted: 10/07/2024

Gracias por tus lindas y evocadoras palabras , espero sinceramente que sigas tomando fotografías con la cámara que tengas a mano . A veces pienso que ya son una pieza del rompecabezas en que se convierte nuestra vida, están ahí para siempre y no se irán.

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Daniel Emerson on 5 Frames with a Nikon FE and a Stroke of Luck

Comment posted: 10/07/2024

Miguel,
I enjoyed the 'branch of leaves' photo with its strong form and distinct range shades, and I enjoyed the simplicity and perspective of the three mid ground tree trunks. Interesting take of your camera history.
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Miguel ángel Mendez replied:

Comment posted: 10/07/2024

Gracias por tus palabras , siempre son una caricia y un incentivo para seguir haciendo lo que me gusta tanto. te dejo un cordial saludo.

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Paul Quellin on 5 Frames with a Nikon FE and a Stroke of Luck

Comment posted: 11/07/2024

Always reassuring to read about other people's experience of Gear Acquisition Syndrome. Your comments about photography taking a hold of one's life really struck a chord. Sometimes I look around the house and think without photography I could lead a 'normal' and tidy life. Too late for that though. Thank you.
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Miguel mendez replied:

Comment posted: 11/07/2024

No me imagino mi casa sin cámaras desordenandolo todo ya son parte ,estan ahi porque nos hemos hecho buenos amigos .

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Bradley Newman on 5 Frames with a Nikon FE and a Stroke of Luck

Comment posted: 11/07/2024

I was gifted a black FE years ago. It is by far my favorite camera. It's small, it's incredibly intuitive. It just works. And, like you, it came to me as a stroke of luck.
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Miguel ángel Mendez replied:

Comment posted: 11/07/2024

Gracias por tu mensaje. Si coincidimos en eso ,la encuentro muy comoda para medir la luz solo te vas de la luz a las sombras y la camara te informa la diferencia entre las dos mediciones, mucho mas comodo que los medidores digitales como el f3 o f4.

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