In 1971, Nikon introduced the electronic shutter with the Nikkomat EL. Traditionally a very conservative company, Nikon has traditionally, to this day, introduced new features and gadgetry into “consumer” level cameras, waiting a few years for such functionality to be enhanced and refined before being introduced into its prosumer and professional models. The Nikkomat EL was way ahead of its time, despite being a “popular” Nikon. Almost a decade later, electronic quartz-controlled high-speed shutters later showed up in the FE/FE-2, the prosumer models, and the F3, the revolutionary professional body, that brought the F line into the high-tech era.
This weekend, while shooting with my FE-2, the inevitable happened- the batteries died. Despite being coupled to the MD-12 motor drive, the light meter needle would only respond while pushing the shutter button down half way, and then return to zero. Then, the shutter stuck, while in the middle of an exposure. Finally, the flash sync light erratically flashed.
What do you do? I had no experience with this, as the set of Varta silver oxide cells in the camera were over 2 years old. But I did have another set in the bag. These things have incredibly long shelf lives. But what about the shutter? Moving the shutter speed dial to M250 (yes, the FE-2 has an emergency 1/250th sec. mechanical shutter override speed), smoothly and reassuringly, the shutter closed nicely. Unmounting the motor drive, I opened up the battery chamber with a quarter, and pulled out the dead batteries. In went (2) Varta SR44 silver oxides. On came the light meter, instantly with a push of the MD-12’s shutter release. On came the flash sync light. Yes, one of the many benefits of the electronic shutter is being able to sync as fast as 1/250th of a sec- you can do fill flash with this camera, nicely.
Haven’t developed the results yet, as just last night, I mixed up a batch of D-76 and HCA. But that extra long shutter opening frame may be a fun one to see.
Till the next couple of years? Happy FE-2 shooting! I hope to blog soon about my favorite Nikkor zoom, the somewhat uncommon 50-135mm f/3.5 Macro. This is a shot from Green Hill Park, Worcester, MA, from a couple of years ago, with that lens mounted on the FE-2-
PS- please follow me now on Twitter @ArthurNikonF