Canon T50 - First Canon T-series camera

Discussion in 'Modern Film Cameras' started by jdm_von_weinberg, Sep 6, 2013.

  1. Canon T50
    First of the T-series FD cameras

    Kadlubek CAN0940
    (justification for it here)
    If it uses film and requires batteries to run, it probably has a home in this forum​

    I was thinking that it was kind of slow around here and I was a little bored. Plus I had been under general anesthesia for a minor surgical procedure and was told not to drive or to make any major decisions for 24 hours. [all seems to be well, by the way]

    Does this sound like a recipe for going on eBay? You betcha.

    Normally, I am not much a "completionist," preferring a "representative sample" of whatever it is that I am interested in. However, under the conditions outlined above, I noticed that there were some old Canon FD cameras being offered for very low prices. I ended up (being of unsound mind) bidding on a couple of them, both of which I won at the 1-2 pizza starting price. One was the original model AE-1 camera (I had the AE1 Program) with a FDn 50mm lens, and the other was a T50 camera with a 35-70mm f/3.5-4.5 zoom and the original Speedlite 244T flash. Now the only T-series camera I don't have is the T60, which Canon didn't make, after all.

    Here is the camera and flash

  2. This is essentially an "automatic only" camera with only manual focus, of course. The body, lens, and flash "kit" were a simple-to-use alternative to the point and shoot cameras that were increasing in sales in the early 1980s. Or as Canon puts it on their "Museum" site ( )

    In the early 1980s, the SLR still dominated. Metering systems diversified as camera makers competed fiercely to offer the better camera. The confusion may have turned off users as more people began to avoid SLRs. In 1981, 35mm SLR production peaked at 7.67 million units. Two years later, this amount shrank by more than 30 percent to 5.37 million units.
    Amid such market conditions, the Canon T50 was introduced as a wave-of-the-future 35mm SLR camera. It was the first T-series camera. The camera was designed to respond to the user automatically. It was easy to use and anybody could take pictures with it. It had a power winder (which was well received on the Autoboy) and TTL program AE. In 1983, the T50 won the Good Design Award from the Ministry of International Trade and Industry.
    It had an automatic (1.4 frames per second) advance with manual rewinding. It also had an innovative vertical metal shutter with the potential for faster sync speeds.

    The Speedlite 244T flash had settings only for ISO 100 and 400 films, and since I had loaded the camera with Fuji 200, I didn't try the flash here. As noted by the vendor, part of the plastic shoe on the flash was damaged anyhow. The flash also has an infrared distance sensor.

    The contemporary advertisement pretty much says everything else you need to know about this one.
  3. As a sort of side bar, all three of the items had a EP-in-a-diamond sticker on them.

    As Wikipedia ( ) notes, this seems to indicate PX (American military post exchanges) purchased goods. The letters may stand for "export permitted", but the use is supposed to have tapered off before the 1983 date of this camera.
  4. Here are some sample pictures.

    My old favorite, the Art Deco Roosevelt-era National Guard Armory, now I find out, sold into private ownership -- I hope they appreciate the building.

  5. As it looks over all at the front
  6. I was told the new Armory had been built out by our airport, so I went out there to see it, but couldn't find it. Did take some pictures of the airport. This is where I learned to fly in a previous life. Now everything, including the whole airport, is behind barbed wire.
  7. And lastly, some peeling paint (if only a little) at a building that would have been appreciated by Mondrian. A nice example of 1950s modernism.

  8. Although Modern Photography didn't often review these simpler cameras, they did do so for this one. Here is the sum up:

    In most respects the T5O is actually more camera than it first appears to be and it can be more than an upscale do-everything model for the don't-want-to-know-anything set. If you already own a Canon SLR and are into the system, the TSO makes a fine second camera. When used with the 244T Speedlite, it provides convenient, no-worry, grab-shot operation at such carefree events as family gatherings and parties. And given its low price and compatibility with a variety of sophisticated remote accessories, we predict it will see some hazardous duty by cost-conscious, dutiful professional photographers as well.​
  9. That's it.
  10. I just can't warm up to the T-series bodies (with the exception of the T90) like I have to the A- and especially F-series. I guess it's the combination of their hybrid design and plasticy feel that gets to me.
  11. I was never a fan of the Canon T series cameras. The T50 was a reworked Snappy point and shoot camera with a prism finder attached to the top. By 1983 many SLR cameras were sold with slow poorly made "standard" zoom lenses. The finder would not have been as bright as that of a Canon F-1 and focusing in anything but the brightest light was difficult. The same amateur who bought his/her last camera with a 50mm lens between f/1.7 and f/1.4 and was able to handle many situations well now had an exciting zoom lens. The range and convenience of the zoom was canceled out by difficulty of focusing it. Out of frustration people who bought starter SLRs with zoom lenses picked up RF/VF type cameras with auto focus and got better results. Modern AF P&S cameras had been around since the Konica C35AF of 1978 and had been improved steadily.
    People looking for easier to use SLRs would have to wait until 1985 and the Minolta Maxxum 7000. Since 1985 improved AF and image stabilization have made shooting with slow lenses a lot easier. In the DSLR and ILC range there is improved high ISO performance which also helps. It's funny that the 1983 review shows the camera with a 50/1.8 standard lens. I'm sure that people who used the camera with a 50/1.8 had a much easier time of it. A friend of mine had a T80 in the mid 1990s. She wanted to use it to shoot pictures of her son playing hockey in a poorly lit indoor rink with a very slow zoom lens. All I could do was recommend fast film. Someone using a camera like the T80 would not have a very powerful flash and any attempted flash use at those distances would not be successful. So there you have it. A set-up not at all suited to shooting indoor hockey pictures. You weren't guaranteed bad results but there was an excellent chance you would get them. To add insults to injury the photos had a green tinge from the fluorescent lighting and were underexposed because the camera metered right off the ice. I won't even mention the blurred images caused by the slow shutter speeds. I'll stick with the Canon FTbN and a 50/1.8 or 50/1.4 standard lens and you can use the T series (except T90) camera.
  12. My most reliable and complete FD camera is my T-70. The A series are great (I have them all) but lack a current date back which I like using on occasion. The T-90 is the Titanic of cameras. Beautiful design, fatally flawed.
    I like your writeup JDM and thanks! Didn't know much about this one.
  13. Here, for the record, are the other reports I have done on the other T-series cameras.
    I think the summing up by Modern Photography was to the point. The T50 is actually a nice film camera for anybody who wants the advantages of a film SLR without the picky details. It was pleasant to shoot with and handled every kind of test (close, far, dark, light, etc.) I put it to pretty well.
    My opinion of the T90 is that it is one of the finest cameras ever made. I wish the "magnet error" hadn't come over mine. The T80 AF works much better than it gets credit for, the Maxxum notwithstanding.
    Unless my judgment is impaired even more than this time, do not expect a future report on the Cosina-built T60 :|
  14. SCL


    I got a T50 attached to a 50/1.8 FD lens (seriously, I bought the lens and the seller threw in the body). Expecting nothing, I tried it out. Not my cup of tea, but it did a fine job on the shots I took. My only Canon left these days is a T90, which IMHO, is a real treasure.
  15. I was a big fan of the T70 and used a pair of 'em for several years. I happened to find a T50 in great shape in a thrift shop and snagged it as well. Good camera, very easy to use. The T50 was the camera Nikon meant to make when it produced the EM (I've said many times before that I've never seen a fully functional EM, and I've seen a couple of dozen since the 1990s). Only problem with the T50 was the same with the T70: eventually the metal lens mount rings tended to loosen; and eventually the power winders failed.
  16. We sold a few of the T50 outfits at the family camera shop. Mostly to those who were upgrading from simpler cameras.
    Thanks for posting.
  17. There is such a tank feel about these early T series cameras.. I can't say I never liked the look of them. But, your writeup is top notch as ever!
  18. To give them their due I find that, with a fast lens, the T series are not difficult to focus in spite of my old sight being far from perfect, though I concede that they were apparently sold with slow zooms. The "plasticky feel" may be on account, at least in part, due to what our eyes tell us; Canon did not hide the construction material; after all the shell of the A series is largely plastic below the chrome or paint finish. The T series seem at least as robust, except of course the T60. I believe the T70 was used as a back-up by some professionals.
  19. This is the one Of the few FD bodies I never owned in my Canon collecting days a couple of years back, for some reason
    they were always a bit overpriced on eBay UK. Partly I think because they often came with the 'rare' 50mm f/2 lens.
  20. The Canon Camera Museum supports Jeff Adler's point, that the T50 and T70 were supplied with one of the F/3.5-4.5 zooms that were introduced at the same time as the T50. They are both currently often offered with those lenses. The same lenses seem to have been supplied with the much later T60. The 50mm F/2.0 was introduced at a much earlier date. Sellers on Ebay in Europe certainly seem to regard the latter as rare as they ask high prices for what is unlikely to be anything special.
  21. I've never even seen a Canon FD 50/2. I'm not sure whether that makes it "rare" or merely unpopular and undesirable. My personal notion of a Canon FD cult classic would be the 50/1.8 SC breechlock, which has the aperture lock feature on the back. Very handy for reversing for macro use on any camera, which is why it's one of the few bits of Canon FD gear I kept.
    I suspect the phrase "50/2" or "50mm f/2" has acquired some sort of mystique due to the association with the Leica Summicron. Even the humble Nikkor 50/2 pre-AI and AI have acquired some undeserved hype due to internet chatter. It's a good lens (pleasantly soft wide open with significant chromatic aberration until f/2.8 or f/4) but primarily a good value when it can be purchased much more cheaply than the 50/1.8 and 50/1.4 Nikkors.
    But that's the nature of a "cult classic". Once a camera, lens or other photographic goodie attains that stature, goodbye, good value.
  22. For the record: in the original advertisement shown above, the lens on the T50 is a 50mm f/1.8. On eBay, it more often has a 35-70mm lens.
    I often agree with Lex, but I am a great deal more positive about the justly, in my opinion, honored Nikkor-H 50mm f/1.8.
    When I got an f/1.2, that one continued to serve as a superb ordinary lens when no photon-pinching was necessary.
  23. A couple of years ago, Adorama in NYC had the FDn 50mm/f2 and they had it priced at a ridiculous $199.99USD. I hope no one bought it! The lens itself looks physically identical to the FDn 50mm/1.8, except the distance scale numbers are silk screened on.
  24. I have one of these, for what they are, they're OK...I just ran another roll of film through mine after 3 years since the last roll and thought of posting here, until I seen this post! :)
    Great job JDM!!
  25. By the way, I heard from the vendor - who had bought these at a post exchange when they were new, confirming the EP marking mentioned above.
  26. I have enjoyed using both the T-70 and the T-90 for over a year now. Back when the T series were being championed some 30 years ago I was deluged by work and life and stopped keeping up with Canon's newest so until my first siting on our favorite auction site I was unaware of the T series Canon cameras. My first impression of the T-70 was it was butt ugly and omg so plastic, compared to my favorite sexy A-1 from just a few years back. Perhaps because it was so cheap, was still in it's original box, even with it's (outdated) warranty card, I found this sucker grew on me (not un like mold) and I learned to enjoy it with a 35-70mm zoom, which was a match for it's T-70 plastic pioneer. This is a good thing, at least for me as I don't worry if I ding it as I use it unlike the A-1 which will brass and chaff much easier. Lots of neat accessories still available but I am still looking for an affordable Command Back without too much LED bleed. The lure of the T-70 led to me to look for a clean T-90 which is sheer overkill, and a techno wonder as long as you avoid that dreaded EEEE error. I find everytime I shoot with the T-90 I read up a bit more in the Canon manual and the HOVE guidebook. Oh, one last note about the T-70 ... enough winder noise to wake up the dead, so don't plan on using it to shoot a wedding.
  27. Actually, the A-1 is only brass-plated on top of plastic(at least on top), although it does have more metal in it than the T-series. ;)
  28. JDM: yes, the A-1s are brass plated on top and straps with metal fasteners would always chaff the corners and cause wear, tear and brassing. That was my experience with my first A-1 body from 1979. After a few short years and constant use it looked like it had been through the wars with David Hume Kennerly not that my photos were prize winners. The bottom plate was buggered too from tripod use too. I noted your "completionist" admission. While I have not been wanting an AE-1, I have always wondered how different it is to use than an AE-1 Program. Perhaps you can shed a little more light from your user experience. Also I have watched a few T-50s here and there, even finding one in an antique store in downtown Philly that seemed to be a cross between the Twilight Zone and a Stephen King novel, so I passed. I have t-70s and one T-90 which I use. I enjoy reading of your experiences from Canon's manual focus camera Hall of Fame. There are actually 4 boxed T-50s for auction currently on our favorite auction site and as always a ton of AE-1s.
  29. Unfortunately, as I addressed each of the AE-1's little problems, in the end, I found out that the thing really isn't workable. Maybe one of these long winter nights I'll get into it more deeply--I actually have the service manual somewhere and figure a less than $15 camera (I got lenses and other gear too), might be a good place to start ....
    Or maybe I'll just get another one, but for now I can't answer your question.

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