The Camera Chronicles: My Nikon from Prague / by Deen Schroeder

Not all of my cameras are from far-flung parts of the world but there are a few that have made their way through customs in the suitcases of friends and family. This is the story about my all-time favorite 35mm camera, the beautiful Nikon FE2.

In May last year, my mom attended a conference in Prague and I asked if she could try to find me a cool old camera if she had time between her busy work schedule. She said she would try, provided that I find the store, find the camera and give her directions from her hotel to the camera store.

This seems like a relatively easy task but it really wasn’t and at that time I didn’t know that much about the variety of cameras that might be available in Europe. I cracked my knuckles and started sifting through the Google search results and before long I found a camera store, FotoSkoda.

As my luck would have it, the entire website was in Czech and Google translate really didn’t help that much. I went through the site and at first, it really didn’t look like they carried any vintage cameras. (When looking for film cameras always search for Vintage Cameras, that search term always seems to deliver better results). I did a little more research on forums and figured that FotoSkoda is the best bet, but there would be no guarantees that there would be any decent vintage cameras there.

This store was in the heart of Prague and roughly 3km from the hotel that my mother was staying at, it was perfect. I promptly sent my mom a screenshot of the directions from her hotel to the store and my wishlist of a Nikon F3 or FM. The internet told me that these were classic cameras with real street cred.

I remember when this all happened because it was on a Friday afternoon, I was driving from work in Sandton to visit a friend and I was stuck in traffic on Rivonia road. My mom started sending me WhatsApp messages to say that she was at the store. The fact that she sent me a WhatsApp is key, because she did not have international roaming and the only way for her to communicate with me was when she was in a WIFI area. Somehow, she convinced the store owners to let her use their WIFI to get in contact with me and find out what I wanted.

I was still stuck in traffic and I didn’t know anything about any cameras other than the Nikon F3 and FM2. My mom let me know that they do not have any of the ones I wanted but would I be keen on a Nikon FE2 or a few other options (I honestly can’t remember which ones she had seen). This was stressful for me and I’m pretty sure it was annoying for my mom. I started doing some online research and replying to my mom whilst I was driving.

My mother sent me a photo of the Nikon FE2 and it looked to be in such amazing condition. Before I accidentally drove into someone’s bumper, I took a leap of faith and said, “Get the Fe2.”

I could not have expected to fall in love with a camera as much as I have with this one. It is, without a doubt, my favourite 35mm camera. The camera came with a simple, but wonderful 50mm f1.8 lens and the setup just looks so damn sexy. This simple little film camera from the late 70s works like a charm and everything feels so intuitive.

The FE2 is my go to 35mm camera and I have even taken it with me to the heart of the Namibian desert. I have shot more rolls of film on this camera than any other, and I can’t wait to shoot many more.

My mother was a super trooper and brought back an absolute gem of a camera and even scored a free roll of Fomopan 200. Have a look at the results from my very first roll.