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A Common Cause for the Nikon "FEE" Error

We sell a lot of used lenses over at our used equipment website: www.theusedcamerastore.com. Most of the lenses we sell are for either Canon or Nikon. We usually get more questions regarding Nikon lenses, however. In 1987, Canon introduced auto focus cameras and lenses, and switched the then FD lens mount to EF (electro-focus). The manual focus, FD lenses were no longer compatible with new, auto focus camera bodies. The mounts were completely different. It is possible to use FD lenses on an EF camera body, but an adapter is required, and infinity focus is only achieved with the presence of a corrective glass element.

Canon FD Mount

Canon FD Mount (courtesy Wikipedia)

Canon EF Mount

Canon EF Mount (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Nikon maintained the same physical mount during the switch from manual to auto focus, however, so things are not so cut-and-dry as with Canon. This creates a bit more confusion among Nikon shooters because they often wonder about the compatibility of older lenses with newer bodies, or newer lenses with older bodies. Many of Nikon's more modern lenses (AF lenses) include a manual aperture ring. Most of Nikon's even more recent lenses, and Canon EF lenses, do not include a manual aperture ring. In this case, the aperture may only be controlled electronically by the camera body.

If you have a Nikon lens and you are trying to use it on a more modern Nikon camera body, you may just run into the camera displaying an "FEE" error. This error is stating that the camera and the lens are not happy with each other. Essentially, the camera and lens aren't "communicating". If the lens is an auto focus (or "chipped") lens with a manual aperture ring, you may not be out-of-luck. Most likely you need to simply change the aperture to the smallest (largest number) value. This is often designated by being colored orange. Once the aperture is set to the smallest value, the camera is able to control the aperture electronically and everything is happy again.  Note that you cannot use the lens if you change the aperture manually from the smallest value. The aperture must be controlled using the camera's functions, and it must be physically set to the smallest value with the manual aperture ring in order for this to be possible.

In order to see what we are describing, we made a quick video (see below). In the video you can see that the camera "locks" up when any aperture other than the smallest value is used.

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