Canon T90 - Twilight, harbinger, and herald

Discussion in 'Canon FD' started by jdm_von_weinberg, Jun 26, 2010.

  1. So much has been written and posted (e.g., about the T90 that it is both unnecessary to describe it in detail; and it would be presumptuous to present it as though it were new to the faithful here on this forum. A search will reveal continuing and on-going posts on this camera, but here's my 2¢.

    I would have posted this on the Classic Manual Cameras forum, except it is not manual. I would have posted it on the EOS forum where it stands as the herald of things to come, but of course it has an FD lens mount.

    So I post it here, with hopes that the enthusiasm of a newbie to the camera will be excused by the old timers.

    The story of its design in the competition between Luigi Colani (a German despite his name) and the Canon design team is famous and told in the Canon link above. The goal was to make a camera engineered for humans, and there is hardly a camera of any marque nowadays that does not show the influence of this remarkable venture.

    Anyway, I had been looking for a copy of this camera for several years now, but had always been the second to the highest bidder. Finally I picked what looked like a nice one that had a starting bid a little on the high side, but less than I had bid on some others, so...
    I got the camera (only bidder) and I have been awaiting it like a kid waiting for the new bicycle to come from the mail order store. It came in the mail yesterday afternoon so I plugged in the 4 AA batteries and a roll of Fuji Superia 200. It's the only film I can get locally that has 24-exposure rolls, but fortunately I've come to appreciate it for good color, sharpness, and grain. I stripped my FD 50mm f/1.4, FD 35-70mm f/4, FD 70-210mm f/4, and my Spiratone FD-mount 20mm f/2.8 from my AE-1P and made up a kit and off to the Campus Lake. I had thought about going someplace new, but it was too hot, most of you here haven't seen my campus lake shots in Classic Manual Cameras, and I wanted to get back in time to get the film processed before the camera store closed.

    First, here is the camera and the lenses.
  2. Secondly, pictures of the wooded walks around the Campus Lake taken with the 35-70mm lens (top) and the 70-210mm lens (bottom). I thought decent sharpness and so on for what are fairly ancient zooms by the standards of modern design. The bottom shot shows some of the fallen timber remaining from our "inland hurricane" of May 2009.
  3. Finally, a couple of shots taken with the most excellent FD 50mm f/1.4. The top one shows my car and the road around the lake from the walkways, and the bottom one is of some wild coneflowers and fauna. This 50mm lens really "pops".

    I did take 4 pictures with the Spiratone 20mm f/2.8, but they were considerably underexposed--I suspect that I failed to mount its twist ring quite right, because it had earlier worked reasonably well on my AE-1P. None is shown here.
  4. I have to say that I was enormously impressed as I looked through the manual and tried out the various features. The T90 doesn't have automatic focus, of course, but otherwise it is as full featured as the early EOS cameras, maybe even more so. I can really understand why so many people have pushed this camera with enthusiasm.
    The pictures are always the test, and the exposures (with the exception of the problem with the Spiratone lens) were absolutely spectacular even in difficult light situations. No "post-processing" was needed here.
  5. JDM,
    Nice write-up of one of Canon's best, I enjoyed reading this post and I always enjoy perusing photographs taken by fellow members. I agree, the 50/f1.4 is a lot of bang for the buck. I've gone on many an outing with that or the 50/f1.8 as my only lens and I've found both to be superb.
  6. Great dissertation, JM, and fine pics, to boot. I just like the design of the beast so much; as you say, it set the trend for a whole generation of Canon cameras. The FD 50/1.4 has to be a benchmark lens, though I think the MC Rokkor-PG 50/1.4 gives it a run for it's money, amongst the Japanese lenses. Thanks for a very interesting post.
  7. JDM, I always enjoy your posts on any forum you post on, and no, I am not holding a grudge against Canon for orphaning the FD system. I just can't invest in every system. I am into Nikon, Pentax screwmounts, Canon FDs, and Minolta MC and MDs. I have never owned an Olympus or Canon EOS.
    You are very articulate, and I am pleased that you now have a T90. I think I trust the T90 metering even more than my recent DSLRs. I enjoyed your photos, especially the one with the flowers taken with the 50mm F/1.4 lens. It really does pop.
    For AA batteries, I always use lithiums. They seem to last forever. When my wife and I went on a Danube river cruise in Nov 2008, I loaded her Canon Powershot A620 and my A650IS with lithiums and they are still going strong, and the A650 is my take anywhere camera. I am retired military, and I can often buy Lithium AAs on base for $5 for a 4-pack. I realize they are quite a bit more expensive in regular stores.
    Like many classic cameras, the T90 shutter likes to be exercised frequently. Even when it is not your primary camera, I suggest activating the shutter a few times on a weekly basis. I also recommend the flashgun (300TTL?) that was designed for the T90.
    Welcome to the club, Bro.
  8. Congrats on getting the T90. A nice upgrade from, and addition to, your AE-1P. Clean looking body and good crisp results. Keep her clicking, the T90 doesn't like to sit around. You might want to check out a few more of the good FD primes to extract the best from her but the T90 also is a good platform to adapt other lenses like Nikkors, LTM and M42's. I prefer the non-TTL Canon T299 flash myself but discovered my EOS flashes work well in TTL mode. Have Fun!
  9. This is a great post, I didn't know all that about the T90! Now you can collect all those fine FD lenses, and so many to choose from. It certainly pointed the finger in the direction that Canon was going, that smooth shape that turned into the EOS.
    I still love the F1 and the FTb's though, always hard to know which to pack.
  10. Thanks. everyone. I really did enjoy shooting with this camera.
    I used rechargeable batteries for this trial. If I take it on a longer expedition, I probably will see if I can find some lithium batteries. The ones I have for my early EOS cameras seem to last forever.

    I had earlier got the AE-1P partly because I was tempted to try out some the bargains in FD lenses, and (he mutters under his breath) partly because of my interest in Spiratone stuff and the AE-1P had a nice working Spiratone winder on it. A clear case of camera gear acquisition syndrome if there ever was one. At the time when these were new, I was still shooting only with Nikons. ;)
  11. JDM, great presentation of your T90 initiation.
    I must say that as much as I love my F-1's, it's my T90 that I almost always use if I'm shooting with an FD body. This is primarily because of its selectable exposure and metering modes.
    It's wonderful that this historic MF film camera is still getting so much use these in these days of AF digital.
  12. Very nice write-up JDM; I look forward to these. The pictures are really nice as well with excellent color. The 50/1.4 is a fantastic lens as you said, both the S.S.C. and the FDn versions. All of this T90 love-fest has been poured on pretty thickly over the last couple of days though, and as usual I succumbed to the 'pressure' and bought the last one KEH had listed on their site. I expect it to arrive mid-week or so.
  13. JDM enjoy your T90. I have had a pair since 1986 and they still work fine - although I try and put a roll of film through each of them at least once every three months. In my opinion the T90 is the best handling camera Canon ever made - everything you need but not too complex. It dosn't have the feel of an F1 but as a working tool it is great. If you get chance try playing with the Multi-spot capability - if you have owned a 1 series or EOS 3 you will already be familiar with it. For flash the newer flashes work fine - both my 550EX and 580 EXII work perfectly on the T() - they just fall back to TTL mode when you half press the shutter button. If not get the 300 TL.
    For lenses JDM you may be surprise how good some of the old FD lenses are. the 50 f3.5 is a great lens and if you like the 70-210 and 35-70 then the 80-200 f4L and the 35 -105 F3.5 will be a major step up. The 35-105 F3.5 (not the 3.5 to 4.5 one) is a bargain used while the 80-200 f4L is amazing.
  14. JDM, I've been pondering your reasons for posting in this forum rather than Classic Manual Cameras, and on balance I think I agree that the T90 finds a more appropriate place here. I owned a T90 for a couple of years and traded it for the EOS100 (Elan); there was really very little practical difference in the capability, features and operation of the two cameras, but the Elan was at the beginning of the EF auto-focus era which presented some great advantages to a working photographer. I still have that Elan, still in fine working trim, along with several other EOS cameras which I've used and enjoyed, including a beautiful EOS 5 which is one of the finest EOS's I've owned, and one of the most responsive cameras I've used.
    Therein lies the rub; the T90 and the EOS 100 are so similar, with really only the autofocus facility separating them, yet we're considering classifying one a Classic Manual Camera and the other, well, something else. When it comes to the FD Forum the T90 has to be acceptable by definition, though in spirit the T70 is about as automated as I feel comfortable with, and I'm more at home down among the AE1's and FTB's. Once we get into the area of multi-exposure modes and a variety of power wind options I feel we're crossing an invisible boundary. I guess that's why I'll probably never own another T90; to me they're a transitional camera between the older SLR's I still love to use, and the EOS cameras which were among my tools of trade for many years. That's not to deny their style, quality and influence; often, when I'm using my Canon DSLR's, I have a flashback to the feel and heft of the T90.
  15. Great shots JDM and enjoy that T90. In addition to being a great camera it's just so fondle-able.
    For some reason the title of your post sounds very familiar - is that a quote from somewhere or did you make it up?
  16. I won't answer for the unconscious mind, but as far as I know, I made up the title.
    Götterdämmerung did come to mind
    As I said on another forum, I've never had a camera that impressed me so much on the first use, but then I've been using both FD and EOS cameras already.
    Of course, I'll never give up on my beloved VEB Pentacon cameras, but most of them are definitely Manual.
  17. Rick, you've summed up perfectly my reasons for having such a difficult time with the T90. I feel as though I'm using an EOS that won't autofocus but still has almost as many features as my EOS 1v. I recently received another T90 from KEH (it was listed as being in "EX" condition but is almost Mint!) and thought I'd give it another try to see if I could appreciate it for the great Canon body that it is. When I think FD I think of the F-1, FTb, etc; even the A-1 is a bit too automated for an FD camera for me, so the T90 is hard for me to wrap my mind around. It sure feels good in the hand though! As far as what you said about the EOS 5 (the A2/A2E here in the US), I must agree. It is one of Canon's best bodies in my opinion and even though it's now 18 years old, I still think it's a great performer. It was my first EOS and one of my sentimental favorite cameras of all.
  18. I have a EOS 5 too, and one of these days, I will continue my series on historical EOS cameras on that forum with that camera. It is a nice camera, but somehow when I shot with it, I didn't experience quite the same "joy" that I found with the T90.
  19. I think that part of the reason the A2 (EOS 5) was such a joy for me was that prior to using it I'd been shooting for a couple of years with an Olympus InfinityZoom p&s camera and had just moved to a Pentax ME-Super. All of the whiz-bang bells and whistles of the A2 were pretty amazing, not to mention the fact that it was also an excellent performer. It still is and I still love it.
  20. I recently returned to the T90 after a brief foray into DSLR territory. What a truly wonderful camera it is. I picked up a 50mm f/1.8 and a 28mm f/2.8 for £35 to go with it, both immaculate. After using consumer class DLRs for a number of years I'd forgotten how wonderful a large, pentaprism based viewfinder is. My only issue is the grid focus screen that it came with. I'll need to pick up a split/prism one from somewhere.
    Anyway, enjoy your T90 JDM.

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