History in hand, my Canon FTBn !

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by robbz_fotoz, Apr 14, 2013.

  1. Recently I was able to find a Canon FTBn in real clean condition. It was actually a trade among friends -- an Elan IIe for the FTBn. It's been recently serviced. I have a few FD lenses that will work well with this body. First impression? Boy, this body is built like a tank, I think even heavier than my T-90. After all the automation of digital and autofocus Canon bodies I am hoping to re-learn some basics. What might I expect with such a camera ? Does anyone else shoot with such a vintage (40 years old !) piece of photo history ? Thank you in advance for your help and commentary. I will be shooting a roll of Tri X this week to get the "feel" of things and get acclimated with the match needle technology.
  2. A 40 year old camera would be a modern camera in my place :)
    They're neat cameras aren't they? The high magnification of the viewfinder and the lack of a split prism gave me trouble w/ my glasses, but I just centered everything in what I could see in there and hoped for the best. Otherwise, nice cameras indeed. My meter never worked right, so that eliminated worrying about switching it off and on. The fact that yours had recently been serviced is a big plus. I compared mine to my earlier FT QL, and while they're very similar I liked the FTbn more. Probably because it was black. Pretty silly reason to prefer one over another, but there it is. These sometimes have dingy prisms w/ little spots, but if yours is good you're probably fine for many more years.
  3. Like Steve said an FTbn doesn't feel like history for me either. It is an older camera. I had a few over the years but always sold them. They always feel unnecessarily big and chunky probably intentionally so to give the user a sense of a good solid camera. I don't like the self timer system. I use the earlier models now since I encountered a nearly complete system at a good price. Usually when these fail, they jam or the shutter gets sluggish at slower speeds.
  4. A well designed and well made camera.
  5. For a CLA'd FTbn, you got the better end of the deal, IMHO. I have three of 'em and they are one of my favorite FD cameras. Love the center-ish (12% I think) metering pattern. A few years ago I restored and recovered my old chrome one after decades of flawless service. I'll never sell it. One fine camera and the FD lenses are excellent, too. Good luck with yours, Robb.
  6. Tom: What's wrong with the self timer? I had one from 1975 to 1984. Great camera and great metering, great film loading system and mirror lockup. The only disadvantage I can saw with it back then was that it was not the same (small) size as the Olympus OM1.
  7. Great camera. I have an FTb and enjoy using it. You won't be sorry.
  8. Wow, that is pretty Louis, and the FTb always gets my vote...and all those dirt cheap FD lenses are the icing on the cake!
  9. well, if there ever was a convenient time for a computer to crash and take a powder, it was just a few days ago. While it was being re-formatted I took my FTBn out for a little get acquainted time. First impression is what a difference 40 years makes in cameras yet how user friendly it all is when you do a little manual reading. I had to put a neoprene camera strap on to add some carry comfort and it helps. I have three lenses to work with, an FD 1.8mm that came with the camera, an FD 135 3.5mm and a 28mm FD wide, 2.8. If I get brave later I'll try my 50mm Macro 3.5. FD lenses sure are affordable now, unlike when I lusted after them when I was first out of college and could barely afford film ! The bottom of the camera is fairly pristine (I wonder who has such a gem and it survives 40 years to look almost brand new ?) so I've been using a thin rubber spacer when mounted on a tripod to avoid marking up the bottom plate. The camera itself is chrome and black, not all black; even though I think my A-1 is rather rakish and sexy in all black, I kinda like the FTBn as it is. Yes, the lack of a split prism threw me as I am used to it ... but after a bit I adjusted and realized I'd really have to take my time with this set up until I gained a little more confidence. But not to worry, I'm enjoying my time so far. The match needle thingie is a REAL throw back as the only camera I ever had with a match needle was my first 35mm, a Hanimex Practika Nova that my brother in law brought back from Southeast Asia. I will be attaching a photo in the very near future, once I make sure this computer is working as it should be again. Interesting enough my trade was brought about when my friend thought the FTB was just "too old" for him and he needed some auto-focus / exposure tech. To each his own.
  10. The Canon FTb(n) was my first real camera. Prior to buying a used one, I owned an AE-1, then an A-1. I had caught the automation bug, then I wised up and decided to learn about photography. The FTb was my first, very important step in that regard. After owning one for about a year, I took another step in the non-auto direction and bought an old F-1(n). I was in heaven. Currently, I own four FTbs -- one chrome one and three black ones. And yes, I use them. With pleasure.
    You ask what one can expect. Well, since yours has been CLA'd I think it's safe to assume that the meter is accurate. What you'll find about the meter is that its pattern can be highly useful once you get used to the way it works. You'll note a small rectangle inside the viewfinder, inside of which is the microprism circle focusing aid. Metering occurs only within that rectangle -- about 12% of the image area. Known as "partial area metering" in more modern parlance, its value becomes apparent when having to meter unusually lit scenes. Because metering occurs only within that rectangle, you can position it so as to exclude any extraneous light sources that may upset a proper reading. I found that, with a bit of practice, I could position the rectangle such that it would give me a good average of the scene and that, because metering cuts off cleanly at the borders of the rectangle, I could often dispense with a spot meter to arrive at correct exposure. And back in the day, I shot slides exclusively -- with their rather severe exposure latitude restrictions. In fact, one of the biggest reason for switching from an A-series Canon to the FTb was because I was tired of getting poorly exposed slides, which were due entirely to the A-series metering patterns. Exposure errors virtually vanished once I started using the FTb.
    Another big reason for my buying an FTb and essentially retiring my A-series Canons is that the FTb has mirror lock-up. I was into high magnification photography back then (still am), either macro or long-distance telephoto, even astronomical, and in these situations, damping mirror vibration becomes critical. So the mirror lock-up function was very much appreciated.
    Dunno about you, but I find the QL function to be ingenious, and it works flawlessly. It ends up being a time-saver too. To me, the biggest drawbacks to the FTb were that it did not have interchangeable focusing screens or motor drive capability. But, since both these features are available with the F-1, it wasn't that big of a deal. Once I bought an F-1, it became my first-line camera, but the FTb was always there, usually loaded with alternate film or a second lens.
    As for batteries, I use 675 hearing aid batteries in mine -- they are zinc-air, same as the Wein, but much cheaper. The zinc-air batteries put out abou 1.4v, which is close enough to the 1.35v mercury ones. Most importantly is their discharge profile, though, which is basically a flat line until exhaustion, same as the original mercury's and much different from the useless alkaline "replacements." I buy a card of 40 675s at Costco for $10. Compare that to about $6 per Wein. The biggest difference between the two is the 675 is smaller in diameter, but this doesn't matter with the FTb, since the battery compartment is spring loaded, and the spring will keep the battery centered.
    Have fun with your new acquisition and let us know how things are working out for you.
  11. Michael: thank you for your wonderful "expose" and sharing of your personal experience with your FTB. I am just amazed at this camera. It does everything you need an SLR 35mm camera to do but it "makes" the user do it. Can't be lazy here! I'll try to take a photo later tonight. This camera is time-warpish clean for 40 years.
  12. I've had a FTbn for about thirty five years, but if you think it's "built like a tank" try an F1, it's a King Tiger.
  13. Ben, that may have to wait a while but you're absolutely right on the money about the FTBn. I've had mine for just a scant 4 weeks and knew the minute I picked it up it was built like the proverbial outhouse. Easy to hold though, intuitive (for it's time) controls, but heavy and solid.
  14. Hi, I have a Canon I believe it's the FTbn model and my question is about the red signal indicator in the view finder
    meaning outside the coupling range,mine seems to stay up all the time regardless to the asa(iso) speed or shutter
    speed.the camera is in great shape and almost looks new right outta the box but it just stays up all the time, the lens is
    the FD 50mm f/1.8 S.C does this mean the meter is screwed ?

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