Which FD Body ?

Discussion in 'Canon FD' started by troyammons, Jul 15, 2015.

  1. I like to shoot a roll of film every now and then and I have a few film bodies, but lately I have been picking up a few very nice and sharp FD lenses and would like an all manual manual FD body.
    I used to have an AE1 but never really cared for it. I would like to be able to shoot Aperture mode or fully manual.
    Manual body and a decent top shutter speed swing needle metering etc.
    Which would be a good one ?
  2. "...Aperture mode or fully manual. Manual body and a decent top shutter speed swing needle metering..."
    Pretty much means a New F-1 with AE Finder...
    Canon was (seemingly from the beginning) always a proponent of Shutter Priority auto-exposure in their SLRs starting with the F-1 + Servo EE -> EF -> AE1. It wasn't until the AV-1 that they finally offered Aperture Priority auto-exposure. The A-1 also has an Aperture Priority mode but I believe it does not have a needle and is a bit clunky to use in manual exposure mode (or maybe that was the AE-1). I don't know anything about T-Series so I'm not sure if any of them would meet your requirements...
  3. Concur with the new F-1 with the AE Finder.
    Considering how cheap great film cameras
    are these days, you may as well get the best
  4. The T90 would be the ultimate fulfilment of your needs and offers everything else but the kitchen sink as well. You can get a pretty nice one cheap these days. I have both and would argue that the T90 bests the F-1n by a wide margin.
  5. The T90 is more versatile than the F-1N, with readily switchable exposure and metering modes, but it lacks swing needle metering. The F-1N also enables you to change exposure and metering modes, but only with the use of accessory viewfinders and focusing screens.
    I'd get one of each!
  6. But does the T90 have swing needle metering (OP's request/requirement) like the New F-1?
    It is not my intent to hijack this thread into an New F-1 vs. T90 debate and I am sure if you compare the T90 to the F-1, it has many more features. But two features the T90 does not have are interchangeable finders, of which I especially like the Speed Finder and the ability to use without batteries (admittedly in a limited range of shutter speeds). I know the it has been argued that it is very unlikely to be out in the field without batteries but it still is comforting to know that one can, if necessary...
  7. From past experience, I'd avoid the T90 (shutter magnet issues with dreaded trouble code "ee"and probably the F-1New 1981 version because of aged electronics. My sturdy camera is Canon F-1n second version 1977 totally mechanical!
  8. If you can do without the auto-exposure, I'd recommend the FTb. It's a nice, solid manual camera with match needle metering and pretty much everything you need, other than interchangeable finders. They seem to be going for dirt cheap these days. My FTb (QL) is the only FD body I own, and I've never felt the need to upgrade.
  9. I would choose a mechanical FD camera. The old F-1 is a tank. So is the EF with mechanical shutter and electronic shutter priority. The all-metal FDb is a gem and cheap. Also a tough camera. The only electronic camera I can recommend is the New F-1. New a motor? the F-1s are the way to go.
  10. I agree about the FTb, cheap and durable (I have 5 or 6, including my 1st one from 42 years ago).
    If your budget allows the original F-1 is also a great camera.
  11. The New F-1 will do what you desire but bodies are expensive. The AV-1 is aperture-priority but pretty much ONLY that. It has no shutter speed settings other than a 1/60 for flash. That said, it's cheap, and the needle in the viewfinder tells you what shutter speed is selected, so you can, via the ASA dial, pretty much adjust the exposure to anything you want. Not perfect, but, did I mention they were cheap? :)
    My favorite is the AE-1P. It's shutter-priority but the viewfinder, again, like the AV-1, shows you the selected aperture. So as you look through the viewfinder and adjust the shutter speed you "select" the aperture. No needle in that body though.
  12. +1 Paul Wheatland
  13. Ordinarily I would recommend the T90 for just about anything/everything. But it doesn't do metered manual except in stopped-down mode, and it has a vertical LED scale instead of the swing needle. Reliability? I have five that are fully functional and cause me no problems at all.
    Your best option is one of the F-1 models or the FTb, great cameras. The FTb is fully manual, which has never bothered me. I am embarrassed to say I don't remember if the first two F-1 models have Av modes or not. (I can't recommend the EF; the power switch is located directly under my right thumb and I'm always switching the damned thing off when I lift it to my face to shoot. Apart from that little design feature, it's a good camera.)
    Gotta remember though that just about any camera of that vintage is going to need servicing, so best consider that cost when you shop.
  14. Some good suggestions. A few comments. Yes, the biggest drawback to the T90, besides the dreaded magnet issue, is the fact that, like the A-series Canons except for the AT-1, it tells you what your aperture should be, but it does not have the aperture ring linked to the meter, so you have to look at the aperture ring and set it to where you need it. I've never cared for this.
    Canon does have a few match-needle standouts, though. As mentioned above, the FTb is cheap and a reliable workhorse. In addition to the standard array of features, it has mirror lock up. And its QL film loading system really works. My all-time favorite FD Canon is the original F-1. It too has match-needle metering, an exceptionally accurate meter, and mirror lock-up. Plus it has a top shutter speed of 1/2000. And then there's the New F-1. With the AE Finder FN, you get aperture priority AE. Add the winder or motor drive and you also have shutter priority AE. In manual mode, it has the tried and true match needle metering system, very similar to that found on the original F-1, but it has more info in the viewfinder than the original F-1. BUT! The New F-1 does not have mirror lock-up. An unfortunate oversight, I've always believed. However, it does have a flash hotshoe on the removable finder, whereas the old F-1 requires an adapter to mount a flash atop the camera.
    I own a few FTbs, two old F-1s and a New F-1. They are all great cameras, and you really can't go wrong with any of them.
  15. The FTb, F-1 and F-1n use Mercury batteries. The F-1N uses a modern battery and the T90 uses AA batteries. I had my
    FTb and F-1n modified to use 1.5v batteries.
  16. Someone with a New F-1 can correct me, but my understanding is that the New F-1 will provide aperture-priority auto without the AE finder, but it just won't display the meter-selected shutter speed. The AE Finder provides the AE readout, but not the automation itself.
  17. No that's not true without the AE finder it's matched needle fully manual metering.
  18. As another member has put it well in another thread, the F-1N with the eye-level finder does, indeed, have aperture priority:
    [T]he new F1 (F1N) will work in aperture priority (Av mode) without the AE finder. However, the standard finder will not indicate which shutter speed the camera has automatically selected to use.
    The AE finder will display this information, but apparently that is all it is needed for.​
  19. The FTb, F-1 and F-1n use Mercury batteries. The F-1N uses a modern battery and the T90 uses AA batteries. I had my FTb and F-1n modified to use 1.5v batteries.​
    That's certainly one way to take care of this issue, but what I've been doing for years is using 675 hearing aid batteries. They are zinc air and put out 1.4v, which is close enough to the required 1.35v such that the meters on the FTb and old F-1s are accurate. The 675 hearing aid battery is about the same thickness as the old PX625 mercury cells, but it isn't as wide as they are. This is not an issue with the FTb and old F-1, though, because the caps to the battery compartment are spring loaded and the spring keeps the battery centered. Still if one wants the battery to fit snugly, one can snip off about 1" of ~20ga wire or so, coil it up and fit it down in the bottom of the battery compartment. Another option is to use o-rings of the appropriate size. There's even a guy who advertizes on the 'net who sells little adapter rings for 675 batteries so they'll fit just like the old ones. These rings can be the best ticket for the old Nikon F metered finders and even the Canon EF, which pick up the + voltage from the side of the battery compartment instead of the cap.
    True, zinc-air batteries don't last all that long -- maybe 9 or 10 months -- but then they're cheap. You can buy a six pack of them at the drug store for $5 to $6 or so. I buy mine at Costco. They sell a card of 40 675s for $10. Yep, 40 cents each. So what if they last only 9 or 10 months? At those prices, when in doubt, just toss the old one and put in a new one. I carry several with me when I'm out with my old Canons so I have plenty of spares.
  20. Think I would lean toward the FTb-N.
  21. Canon EF: solid, reliable, has the swing needle feature you are after and 1/1000. It can also operate without any batteries on the shorter times (1/2 to 1/1000).
    The A1 is great with all modes but does not have the swing needle. It does nevertheless have a very clear way of showing the aperture and exposure and even this can be switched off if you want to go into full manual.
  22. The TO wanted aperture priority, the EF doesn't offer that feature.
    If it's only for the occasional film, I guess you'd be happy with AV-1 or AL-1, both true aperture príority cams, but the AV-1 does not allow any manual override (however, indirectly it does via the ASA control).
  23. Canon has made only five swing-needle (or "match needle," if you prefer) FD cameras: The original F-1 (both versions counted as one here), the FTb, the oft-overlooked TLb, the New F-1, and the AT-1. The EF is not a match-needle metered camera. The aperture ring is not coupled to the meter -- same as all the A-series, except the AT-1 and all the T-series, including the T90.
    I have rather extensive experience with all of the above cameras, except for the TLb. I've just never seen the point in owning one. It's missing the top 1/1000 second shutter speed and mirror lock-up, as well as Canon's clever QL feature. My introduction to match-needle metering began with the FTb. I had been shooting automated Canons before then and found that I was becoming dissatisfied with the process because the cameras were doing all the thinking. I wanted complete control in a mechanical camera, and that's what the FTb afforded me, plus having mirror lock up was a real boon because I frequently made use of long lenses and my Canon Auto Bellows. For an all-around workhorse, especially for what it sells for these days, the FTb is very hard to beat. But if you would like even more control, or perhaps refinement might be a better word, then the original F-1 provides this, with its interchangeable finders and focusing screens, as well as a motor drive and/or winder option.
    Something that hasn't been mentioned yet, and which is a feature I consider to be one of the most important found in the FTb and the old F-1 is the way these cameras meter a scene. Only about the central 12% of the image is metered, which is represented by a rectangle visible within the viewfinder. Metering occurs only within this rectangle. Back when I first bought my FTb, I shot almost exclusively with slides and had to deal with their notoriously narrow exposure latitude. A frequent problem I ran into with my A-series Canons was underexposed images because of stray light sources that entered the frame. A bright light source can be in a far corner of the frame and it will still be read and averaged into the overall exposure setting with an A-series Canon, which is often the reason for underexposed slides. This problem doesn't exist with the FTb and old F-1. In fact, I got so used to this rectangle that I could even average the light in a scene, much as one would do with a spot meter, just be selective placement of the rectangle. Of course, this same metering pattern is available with the New F-1, but you need to get a Partial focusing screen for this to occur. Far as that goes, one of the big advantages of the New F-1 is its focusing screen selection, which provides averaging, partial and even spot patterns. Its biggest disadvantage, to me, is its lack of mirror lock up.
    The AT-1 is something of an oddity. As an A-series, it's battery-dependent and doesn't have mirror lock-up. Unlike the other match needle Canons, the shutter speed and aperture settings both control one of the needles and the other is displaced by the amount of light the camera reads in the scene. With the other match needle cameras, one needle is controlled by the aperture ring and the other needle is controlled by both the light value being recorded and the shutter speed selected.
    So, if all you need is just a basic photographic tool that uses FD glass, the FTb is really all you need. If you want to be able to choose focusing screens, finders, and/or motors, then the old F-1 will nicely filll the bill. But if you find you really do need Aperture Priority AE, then you're looking at the New F-1 to fill this requirement, but you lose mirror lock up. The New F-1 does have a much nicer motor drive option than the old F-1, though. Plus, once you've installed a motor drive or winder, you then have Shutter Priority AE.

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