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  1. #1
    AgX
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    Canon FD lenses: enigmatic pin

    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. #2

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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.

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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.

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    AgX
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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. #5
    AgX
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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.


    Quote Originally Posted by dynachrome View Post
    In that same year [1966] Canon finally has TTL metering in the FT QL.
    In the year before Canon already introduced TTL-metering with their Pellix model.

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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. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by blockend View Post
    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.
    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.
    Ben

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    Quote Originally Posted by benjiboy View Post
    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.
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blockend View Post
    ........The Canon F1 was an excellent camera, but never grabbed a market share in the way the pro Nikons had...........
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mackinaw View Post
    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.
    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.

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