Canon FD lenses: enigmatic pin

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by AgX, Mar 21, 2014.

  1. AgX

    AgX Member

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    That "reserved" pin is found on the very first FD lenses still with chromed filterring up to models from the 80s, maybe even to the very last model.

    In literature I got there is no explanation other than for possible future use. On the net I only found one source, hinting at an indicator of the focal lenght of the lens, staggered in three steps: short, medium and long.
    Even if that would be true, it does not make sense to me.
    What use would that information have had at all? More so as early as 1971?

    In the latest FD-cameras there were AE-programs for those different focal lengths-groups. Did one have such in mind as early as at the start of the FD-range? Hard to believe.
     
  2. dynachrome

    dynachrome Member

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    There were many camera features and designs by 1971 which would only appear later in more camera modes. There were prototypes of automatic focusing (Leitz), "still video" or digital imaging (Kodak), electronic exposure control for Aperture Priority automation (Zeiss Contarex SE), solid state shutter control and metering (Yashica). It was known by then that camera shake was a primary cause of unsharp photos. By transmitting information from the lens to the camera body, some of these problems could be avoided. The camera had to know the focal length of the lens attached to either set an appropriately high shuter speed or to at least warn the user. Konica used a mechanical system to allow the user to see the maximum aperture of the lens attached. Things were very much up in the air on 1971. The process of designng a new camera was time consuming and if the manufacturer waited too long to bring out a new model it might be outmoded by the time it appeared. The first Canonflex model appeared in 1959, the same year as the Nikon F. The Canonflex line was already out of production by the time the Canon FX appeared in 1964. The Nikon F proved to be a very adaptable design, going from a meterless model to a selenium meter model to a CdS meter model, ending with the FTN, which overlapped the F2 for a short time in the early 1970s. The F had no metering with Waist level or Action Finders. In this sense the Canon F-1 of 1971 was more elegant. It had its meter built into the body (except for the Booster finder) and allowed the use of the Speed Finder with metering. By the time the Nikon F2 came out with its DP-2 and DP-3 (solid state CdS and Silicon) meter prisms, its metering was more advaced than Canon's for several years. It was no longer worth Canon's efforts to improve the in-boy meter of the F-1/F-1n and it waited until 1981 to introduce its F-1N with an in-body Silicon meter. During these years Canon offered the AE-1, AE-1 Program, A-1 and other A series cameras. Eventually Canon even made AF lenses with their own focusing motors in FD mount. Canon, when it introduced the FD cameras and lenses, was determined to keep up a technological lead rather than fall behind. The FX had an external meter in 1964. In 1965 the Nikkormat FT had TTL metering and in 1966 the Minolta SRT-101 had it. In that same year Canon finally has TTL metering in the FT QL. The problem is that the SRT-101 had full aperture metering while the FT QL still used stop-down metering. In 1968 Konica had shutter priority automation, full aperture metering and TTL meterng. It would be another three years before Canon had TTL metering and full aperture metering with the F-1 and FTb models. Automatic exposure was a clumsy affair and could only be accomplished (with a fully interchangeable lens system) by Canon with the F-1 and the Servo EE finder. A purpose made auto exposure model did not appear until 1973 wth the EF. When you think about it, Canon went a long way from the time the FD mount appeared in 1971 and when the F-1N was formally discontinued in 1996. It's true that when the EOS 620 and 650 models appeared in 1986 Canon clearly aimed its efforts at the AF market and only a few ew FD lenses appeared after that. This is just what happened to Minolta in 1985 when the Maxxum 7000 appeared. By 1986 when the EOS models had appeared the lens mount was changed and when the user set an exposure mode the lens transmitted its focal length and minimum and maximum aperture settings to the body. With enough time Canon could have adapted the FD mount to transmit some of this information. The EF mount had many benefits including the wider bayonet. This allowed faster lenses to be developed more easily. Eventually Image Stabilization appeared too and over time keeping the old FD mount seemed like it just wouldn't have been able to handle all of the new technology. Early in Canon's FL period (1964 to 1971) Canon saw the need for full aperture metering and was already working on the FD system. As a Canon FL/FD collector and user I still enjoy using many Canon manual focus cameras and lenses. I am partial to the mechanical models. I have no doubt that Canon could have developed the FD mount further but after a certain point it was no longer practical.
     
  3. Mackinaw

    Mackinaw Member

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    The purpose of the “reserved” pin has been speculated for decades. Remember that Canon started production of the FD lens line in late 1970 meaning the lenses were probably designed and engineered in the late 1960’s. The state-of-the-art of camera design was primitive back then (by today’s standards) so whatever Canon may have had planned was probably pretty simple (like the focal length indicator you suggest).

    Here it is, 40+ years since the FD lens line was introduced, and we’re still wondering what use Canon may have had in mind for the reserved pin.

    Jim B.
     
  4. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Yes, it's funny that this enigma still exists and that people like me still contemplate over such useless matter...
     
  5. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Dynachrome, that was quite an amount of details. Thank you.

    I would like to add the new mount by Pentacon in 1969 that introduced electrically contacts first.


    In the year before Canon already introduced TTL-metering with their Pellix model.
     
  6. blockend

    blockend Member

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    I only developed a liking for Canon cameras in recent years, after purchasing someone's FD lens collection at an excellent price. Until then, I'd been a Nikon shooter for thirty years. A lot of companies lost their way with the advent of autofocus, but Canon's change of lens mount could have been marketing suicide. They survived because by that point their core market was amateur purchasers, who put novelty above reliability and build quality, and basically wanted the next big thing.

    The Canon F1 was an excellent camera, but never grabbed a market share in the way the pro Nikons had, so Canon chose to sacrifice its professional customers - with a few sops like mount converters - to the accountant's bottom line. If I'd had a big investment in Canon glass in 1986, I'd have been very fed up indeed.
    History notwithstanding, I've come to enjoy using Canon FD lenses, while recognising their modest price (until mirrorless cameras reinvigorated them) was due to Canon orphaning their mount.
     
  7. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    If you only use FD camera body's the mount Isn't "orphaned" I can still use all the lenses I bought forty years ago on my F1' s.
     
  8. blockend

    blockend Member

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    Sure, but Canon no longer make any bodies with an FD mount. You have to buy second hand bodies if you want to use a Canon FD lens, or buy an adaptor, or a mirrorless digital camera, unlike Nikon or Pentax. Were Canon's mount problems insurmountable (sic) in an autofocus age? I'm not enough of an engineer to say. Nikon have gone through various incarnations of manual and digital lenses through half a century, and with a few exceptions, most can be adapted to operate on modern cameras.

    It's one of great ironies that almost any lens can be adapted for use on a modern Canon digital camera without optical compromises, except older Canons.
     
  9. Mackinaw

    Mackinaw Member

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    The F-1 certainly didn’t convince dedicated Nikon F users to sell their gear, but the F-1 did offer the new generation of professional photographers a choice. Remember that the “baby boomer” generation was coming of age in the early 1970’s and the F-1 was a camera that caught the eye of more than a few budding professional photographers. I was around back then and knew professional press photographers who worked for the Miami Herald, Detroit Free Press, etc. and more than a few carried F-1’s. You have to start someplace in establishing a professional reputation and the F-1 did just that.

    Jim B.
     
  10. blockend

    blockend Member

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    Nikon cornered the hire market, meaning professionals could borrow equipment they needed, often on credit, from their local shop. Canon were late getting into that game. I never got the sense of Canon having an ongoing pro heritage, as Nikon had with their F series, until the EOS 1 cameras. Perhaps the UK market in the 70s differed from others, but the only F1 owners I knew were keen amateurs or semi-pros.
     
  11. Mackinaw

    Mackinaw Member

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    No doubt the U.S. market and England were/are different. When Canon dropped Bell & Howell as their U.S. distributor in 1971 and established Canon, USA, they took the gloves off. They aggressively pursued the pro market and were successful in getting their foot in the door. They especially hit the press photography crowd and it wasn't unusual to see F-1's in the hands of young pro's. It helped that they had some very unique lenses that Nikon don't have either (fluorite lenses and aspherics). One picture, taken with the-then new 300mm F2.8 FL-F telephoto back in 1973 or so, really made people sit up and take notice. A photographer, sitting in a balcony and looking down at Henry Kissinger, used this lens to photograph, in great detail, the notes he was speaking from. What was noteworthy was that the shot was made at F2.8. I still remember seeing this pic on the front page of some newspaper. This pic actually caused a minor security furor that had people asking how a press photographer could so easily photograph secret documents. Modern Photography even had an article on how the photographer took the pic. Talk about free advertising.

    Again, you have to start someplace to establish your professional creds, and the F-1 did just that.

    Jim B.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 22, 2014
  12. dynachrome

    dynachrome Member

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    I forgot that the original Pellix came out about eleven months before the FT QL. It is likely that the later Pellix QL sold better. I don't think Canon users "put novelty avove reliablity." While I generally prefer the breech loch FD enses to the New FD ones, some lenses like the 24/2 New FD were only sold in New FD form. Many of the later Nikon AI and AIS lenses were also less sturdy mechanicaly than similar pre-AI lenses. I don't think Canon's mount converters were ever big sellers. Half of Canon's production must be in my collection now. Canon did not stop making FD bodies in 1987 when the EOS cameras came out. The T90 was available for a while, the T-60 came out in 1990 and the F-1N was available new until 1996. I know the T-60 was really made by Cosina and that many people don't consider it a real Canon product but it does fit FD lenses if you can find one of the bodies which works. I have plenty of Canon FL and FD lenses and also plenty of manual focus Nikkors. It is possible to enjoy using both lines and to get good results from both. I will sometimes use a 35/2.8 PC Nikkor on an F-1 with an adapter.
     
  13. blockend

    blockend Member

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    I agree. There was never any point in camera tribalism, and even less this long after the event.
     
  14. RidingWaves

    RidingWaves Member

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    Laughing hard at this
    "It's one of great ironies that almost any lens can be adapted for use on a modern Canon digital camera without optical compromises, except older Canons"

    No its not Ironic; its the standard operating procedure for that company. They intentionally went out of their way to ensure that the EOS mount was totally incompatible with any FD mount. With just a little effort, the customer in mind and just less of the money grubbing greediness of Canon they could have made the mount dimensions close enough to work. I'm still pissed for the very few pros that I knew who were furious. You'd be too if you just took delivery in 1987 on a new FD 400mm f/2.8 after waiting 2 1/2 years to get it AND had an 800mm f/5.6. THat guy sold those for nothing just to switch to Nikon.
     
  15. miha

    miha Member

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    Is it perhaps similar to Nikon's focal length ridge?: http://www.zi.ku.dk/personal/lhhansen/photo/Fmm.htm
     
  16. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Good Point.

    Better link, explaining the use of that ridge:
    http://www.zi.ku.dk/personal/lhhansen/photo/FLIR.htm

    It does what I thought of in that quote. BUT much later.
    So the question remains whether Canon had such indicator in mind for focal length dependand Setting of shutter speed.
    AND why they did not employ it at their T-models...
     
  17. dynachrome

    dynachrome Member

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    The T models, with the exception of the T90, were based on the chasis of the Snappy models. They were a less expensively made line than the A series. The T70 is the most interesting of these with the exception of the T90. The T90 looks like the later EOS cameras and was the only FD mount model to have TTL flash metering. It was missing interchangeable finders and mirror lock-up. If the EOS models had not been so close to being introduced and if Canon had made a more advanced manual focus SLR then the reserved pin might have been put to some use. Minolta added a pin to a small number of manual focus MD lenses to allow them to work with the focus confirmation of the X-600. The X-600 was something of a test bed and the Maxxum 7000 program must have been well under way by the time it came out in 1983.
     
  18. As someone that has shot the Canon FD system since 1976, I find your characterization of Canon users moderately offensive and to say the least, inaccurate.
     
  19. AgX

    AgX Member

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    The A-1 should have been the first camera to make use of that pin, I guess

    The AE-1 Program should have been the next camera. But that would have made changes necessary at the mirror box against its predecessor AE-1, but most likely the box of a A-1 with that pin feeler would fit.

    The next model should have been the T-70, but that did not even get a DOF-button. Though I guess a focal length indicator would be even more useful for the intended buyer.

    With the T-90 as directed to a photographically better educated buyer, the choice between several program setting may be more useful than that focal length recognition coupled to its universal program setting.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2014