Canon FD body search

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by kwmullet, Jun 4, 2005.

  1. kwmullet

    kwmullet Subscriber

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    I'm trying to build a Canon FD kit, and want to find a body that has:

    • depth of field preview
    • aperture and/or shutter priority. I couldn't give a flip about programmed-mode.
    • spot metering (wanted, but not essential)
    • uses or can use a battery that still moderately easy to find.
    • viewfinder requirements
      • shows aperture AND shutter speed in the viewfinder.
      • would prefer match needle to just LED. I just find analog more descriptive. :smile:
      • when in manual mode, shows the actual aperture at which the camera is set, not the one the meter suggests. (rules out the A-1).


    I've looked around for a few days, downloading copies of Canon operating
    manuals and scratching my head. I used an F-1 all through my stint in the
    US Navy as a photographer. I think they were either the latter version
    of the original F-1 (F-1n?) or the so-called New F1. I was in from
    1980-85, and I think the latest F-1 came out in 83, so maybe I trained on
    one and use the other out in the fleet.

    Anyway... back to the topic, for a while I thought the A-1 might fit the
    bill, but it has the above problem with showing the meter's indication of
    what aperture ought to be in manual mode, not the actual aperture. As
    far as I was able to tell, the original/earliest of the three F-1 models
    has match needle, but only shows shutter speed. The latest of the F-1
    models shows aperture, shutter speed, and has match needle. The bodies
    seem to go for about US$400 a pop, though.

    Can any of the Canonfiles in the Apug Brain Trust offer any advice as to
    what would be a good body, given the criteria above?

    Thanks,

    -KwM-

    --
    Kevin W. Mullet
    kwm[atsign]themullets.net

    "It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles.
    Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you,
    not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell."
    -- Siddhartha
     
  2. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Sounds like you want an F-1n Kevin. That's what the Navy had back then. The one on my ship had every attachment that existed. The thing was as wide as an 8x10 view camera when all the stuff was hanging on it.
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The New F-1 (F-1N, not F-1n unless you want to accumulate all the gizmos like Alex's Navy camera) has everything you want, but it can be tricky to find the spot metering focusing screens, and they can go for around $60-100 (more toward the $100 side for the bright ones, but the regular one is still pretty bright). You need the AE finder for shutter priority AE and a motor drive or power winder for aperture priority (the drive battery supplies extra power to the camera for this function).

    I've never owned a T-90, but that might work, though I'm not sure about the viewfinder display.
     
  4. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    David do you know where to get the batteries for the old F1n?
     
  5. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Batteries? We don't need no stinkin' batteries!

    Seriously, though, I always use it as a second body, so I don't put any batteries in it. I've always got another camera (usually the F-1N) or a hand meter I can use. You can use Wein zinc-air cells (best price I've found is at B&H) which are somewhat short-lived. There are also mercury cells if you hunt around on the net, but I'd rather not support that business. Another option is to make a battery converter, or you can purchase them for around $30, so you can use 1.5 v. hearing aid batteries.
     
  6. kwmullet

    kwmullet Subscriber

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    sounds very cool so far.

    So, I gather the F-1n's battery only powers the meter and the shutter is entirely mechanical/spring-timed?

    Also -- battery converter? Would a bit of wadded up aluminum foil to take up the extra space be just as functional? If so, what kind of hearing-aid batteries would I use, or does it matter as long as they're 1.5v?

    -KwM-
     
  7. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The original battery is 1.3 v. and the mercury cells decay in a different way than alkaline cells, so you need to use a compatible battery. The converter reduces the voltage.

    With the old F-1n, the battery only powers the meter.

    With the New F-1 (F-1N), the battery powers the meter, is necessary for auto exposure, and powers some of the shutter speeds, but you still have a good range of mechanical speeds if the battery dies. It also takes a currently available 6v battery.
     
  8. Shmoo

    Shmoo Member

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    If you don't mind the center-weighted spot meter, you could try an AE-1 (not programmable).
     
  9. Bighead

    Bighead Member

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    I'd go with an AE-1.... I have three, one is a "program"... Love these cameras...
     
  10. kwmullet

    kwmullet Subscriber

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    I've got an AE-1 Program. The viewfinder display only shows aperture and not the shutter speed; in manual mode, it shows the meter's recommended aperture, not the one set on the lens; there's no match-needle indicator. Other than that, it meets all my criteria. :wink:

    Seriously, though, way back years ago when I first started to become unsatisfied with my EF system and wanted to return to FD, we went to the local photo store and priced out used F1s as a birthday, anniversary or some such event-wise present, but they were way more expensive that we anticipated, so we got an AE-1 program. Fits well in the hands, but there's just some things about it that irk me, mostly about the viewfinder display.

    Don't think i've ever used an AE-1 non-program. How does the display differ from the AE-1p?

    -KwM-
     
  11. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Not much from your description of the AE-1P. The straight AE-1 viewfinder shows recommended aperature based upon the shutter speed setting. It does use a match needle but the actual shutter speed and f-stop are not shown in the viewfinder.
     
  12. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    Canon EF is a less expensive alternative, and I believe, displays all the things you need to see (90% sure of that). Also, one of the few (perhaps only?) Mercury era camera that automatically adjusts for 1.5v batteries. But the meter is center weighted, not spot. Want a true spot? Canon New F1 with one of the very pricy focusing screens (in the NewF1 the interchangeable screens dictate the type of meter - averaging, center-weight, spot). Also, one of the most "true" spot meters in cameras of that vintage, from what I understand (most narrow angle of metered image).
    Then there is the T90. Robust, FD lenses, shows all the things you want to see and then some. Ugly as sin. Basically an EOS minus the AF.

    I believe your best choice is the NewF1, given the tru-pro level range of accessories and durability, very fast motor drive, variety of focusing screens and the ability to work fully mechanical if need be from (I believe) 125th of a secon upwards - the slower shutter speeds are electric. The batteries are of a currently available type, so that is another plus.

    The only pro-level feature glaringly absent is the MLU feature (present on old F1 and EF) - but as one of the helpful APUG members advised me, it is actually not needed as the mirror slap is quite insignificant. Given the affinity for these cameras showed by sport shooters with their long lenses, I think he has a point. On the other hand, all other makes offer mirror lock up on their pro bodies, and oddly enough, so does Canon on the EOS series of pro cameras...

    Here is a very exhaustive source of NewF1 info:
    http://www.mir.com.my/rb/photography/hardwares/classics/canonf1n/index.htm


    Funny, I was actually toying with the idea of asking the consensus wether to buy an EF (which I can buy now) or wait for the cash to buy a New F1...

    Currently have an AE1 - its a nice consumer camera with a host of features that are quite useful, but would not come close to fitting your requirements. Excellent cheap and plentiful back up for whatever you do buy, though!

    One tip - for a normal lens, look for the older, "locking ring" type SSC 1.4 lens - its a jewl, and considerably superior to the newer one. Then, of course, there is the 1.2...
    Also, FL lenses will fit FD cameras, but must be metered in stopped down mode for true readings.

    Best of luck,

    Peter.
     
  13. kwmullet

    kwmullet Subscriber

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    Looks like this:

    http://www.canonfd.com/f1n/f1n.htm

    is what I'm looking for. I'm also getting the impression that between the original F1 (FL mount? no hot shoe/funky connectors around the rewind crank, ASA set by pulling up on the shutter speed dial) and the New F1, there were more than one variation. I've run across references to the F-1D, F-1N (numerous things documented as F-1Ns with various differences between them), and a handful of comemorative models.

    Anyway... I'm flying my fighter down the trench... I see the two exhaust ports... I'm switching off my targeting computer... "Use film, Luke! Use film!"
     
  14. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Other than a few special models like high speed cameras, dentistry kits, things made for microscopes, industry/military/NASA cameras with special mods, Olive Drab bodies, one version of the F-1N that I've seen with registration pins for very precise multiple exposures, and Olympic logo bodies, there are three common versions--the F-1, F-1n, and New F-1 (commonly called the F-1N, but not in any official Canon literature that I've seen). You might come across one of the rarities occasionally, but I wouldn't make any plans about acquiring one.
     
  15. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    If you want the actual Canon-official chronolgy of the F cameras, here is the definitive source:

    http://www.canon.com/camera-museum/camera/f_camera.html

    However, for actual technical specs and descriptions of features and systems, the link in previous post is by far the most exhaustive I have found - nice feature of it is also the ability to "jump" to any other Canon FD cmera, described in as much detail.

    As an aside, the most expensive F1 (I believe it was the New F1) I have come across was a body with a serial number that "spelled" out Frank Sinatra's birthday - the auction was into the $2000 US + range with days to go... Whatever floats your boat, I guess... :wink:
     
  16. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    All of the F1's had the FD mount. The earlier TL & FT had the FL mount & stop down metering.
     
  17. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    Very true, but the FL lenses will fit - as I mentioned earlier and Shaggy pointed out above, unlike the FD lenses, they WILL require a body that can meter stopped down. You are fine with all the A and F bodies (inluding the EF)
     
  18. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    If you are looking for obscure FD parts, particularly New F-1 focusing screens, high-end lenses, and rare lens adapters (which cost more than camera bodies for the lenses to be adapted), kevincameras.com has a surprising horde of them. After too many years of looking around, I finally ordered the SK screen (Bright Laser Matte for long lenses/spot metering) from him for $135. The one I normally use is the SE screen (split image+microprism/spot metering), but now that I'm using the Canon almost exclusively for birds, the screen optimized for tele lenses makes more sense. I've also got the stock AE screen (split image+microprism/averaging), but almost never use it.
     
  19. kwmullet

    kwmullet Subscriber

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    I'm looking around at FD and FL lenses in case I can score an F1n body. One thing I notice is that the prices for FL (not surprisingly) tend to be lower. Am I correct in assuming that the only operational downside of using FL lenses on an F1/F1n/F1-new or AE-1 program would be that I'd have to use stopped-down metering? Would I have to worry about the aperture not closing down to the selected f-stop during exposure?

    Also -- really stupid question here, but I'll open myself up just the same.
    Is "stopped down" metering just the act of depressing or locking down the depth of field preview, taking your meter reading, and using that instead of what your meter reads with the aperture wide-open for focusing? (I'm also assuming that unless you focus and shoot with the DOF closed down, this precludes using any automatic exposure modes.)

    ignorantly,

    -KwM-
     
  20. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Yes, with stopped down metering, you meter at the shooting aperture and try to get the meter needle to line up with the index mark in the finder. I find wide open metering to be more accurate in general. At low light levels, in-camera meters can become non-linear, and when you use stopped down metering, you're reducing the amount of light striking the photocell, so you create a lower light level condition, and you might find that the stopped down reading and the wide open reading don't agree.

    Unless there is some particular FL lens that you really want, there are still plenty of pretty cheap FD lenses, both with the older breech-lock system and the later bayonet system (sometimes referred to as FDn), so I'd go for the improved functionality of the FD lenses. Some people prefer the sturdy feel of the older chrome mount ring, and others prefer the updated optics and coatings of the later bayonet mount lenses. Most of mine are the later versions.
     
  21. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    The only thing I would add is that the exception to the rule seems to be the 50 mm 1.4. The older SSC version is by all accounts superior in durability and optical performance, as well as being sharper wide open and even brighter to look through due to the larger front element. Other than that, buy the newest lens in the best shape you can get - within your budget.

    EDIT - Sorry, just realized I was not making myself very clear there: my comment refers to new FD vs old FD, not FD vs FL . I always looked at it this way - FD lenses are what I use, but its nice to know the FL's will fit if need be. It seems that the coating technology has come a long way between the FL and FD range - the FL's seem to be quite sharp, etc., but much more prone to flare, some claim contrast issues and colour balance. The flair is the only thing I can attest to myself. And the price difference is not that big, really.
     
  22. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    And just to add to that, there are a few legends only available in the old FD mount, like the 35mm/2.0 with the convex radioactive front element (said to be really sharp but just for B&W, because it tends to have a greenish color cast), and some of the early aspherical lenses that preceded the later "L" lenses, but if you're on a budget, these probably don't fit it.
     
  23. bohica

    bohica Member

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    mercury batteries have a constant voltage while alkaline jump all over the place, they make the meters in older cameras very arratic, the solution is either zic air or the 1.6 volt silver oxide batteries with a converter to drop the voltage
     
  24. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    The adventage is, a lot of FD bodies were designed after the mercury battery revolution - and the one notable that was not is the EF - which stands out by virtue of having a voltage compensating circuit built in.

    As far as lenses go, I just had a chance to have a close look at a 20mm f2.8 SSC - and, wow, what a lens! To have such a straight image at such a short focal is truly remarkable! It is not very fast - but quick enough, and I have seen them go for less than $150 on eBay. If you need or desiresuch a WA lens, this one is definitely worth a look!