Why FD rather than an EOS film camera?

Discussion in 'Canon FD' started by tomspielman, Aug 22, 2017.

  1. I have both types of cameras and I can answer the question to a certain extent. One reason is that you can get great FD lenses for a bargain. Another is that if you're looking for more of a "classic" SLR, an A-series camera fits the bill. And I also realize that some people aren't really that interested in FD cameras but instead use FD lenses on modern digital cameras.

    Maybe my real question is why is it that even mid range EOS SLRs like the Elan can be had for almost nothing while less capable FD cameras sell for much more? For example, this past weekend I bought an Elan, two lenses (one pretty nice one), a great camera bag, and a decent tripod for $50. I was really only interested in the tripod and figured I could easily sell the lenses and the camera on Ebay to cover the costs. But checking the prices on eBay for an Elan made me wonder if it was worth the bother. I can still cover my costs with the lenses, so it's not that big of a deal, I was just mildly surprised.

    I already have an Elan IIe. There are things I like about it, but since I don't use it that much, I find the multitude of controls a little confusing. The Elan is a bit simpler and seems like a nice camera. Both have very quiet film transport. Both have similar controls to modern Canon DSLRs and can take the same lenses. Both have auto-focus, AEB, and other features to help make sure you get the shot. They also have aperture priority modes which most canon A and T series Canons do not.

    So why all the love for FD film cameras and none for EOS film cameras?

    I would ask this question in the EOS forum but they seem to talk mostly about digital cameras.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2017
  2. It's not exclusive to Canons.

    Check the price of something like an Nikon N8008 vs. an FA. The N8008 was their first "prosumer" autofocus body and is overall a very capable camera with good lens compatibility(albeit not as good as early EOS bodies). Its autofocus is a bit clunky, but it's what you got in the 1980s(and is not much worse than an F4). The FA was Nikon's answer to the A-1 and was the first multi-mode body they made. I think I paid $25 for an almost perfect N8008s, and close to $100 for my FA. Get into 1990s cameras and things become even more dramatic-a nice F100(a $1K camera when it was introduced in 1999) can be had for $150. Go down a step to something like an N80 and you see better prices than on comparable Canons(like the Elan series) but not THAT much better.

    I think the bottom line is that a lot of folks who want to use film either want a full-blown "classic" feeling camera(even though after using F-1s, F2s, etc the A series feels cheap to me) or they want the best they can get. Manual focus Nikons still bring good money even for the lower end bodies, as do the F4 and F5. Similarly, all the EOS 1 series cameras sell decently as does the EOS 3. If I wanted to shoot film in EOS, the EOS 3 would be my camera of choice, much as I like the F100 for a "modern" Nikon F-series body.
  3. I guess that makes sense, though I still find prices a bit perplexing. I had a T70 for a few months and while it's a decent camera for its age, it's not a T90 and it's a bit... ugly, as well as being noisy and slow. And yet they'll often fetch a higher price than an Elan, - though still pretty cheap. The Elan 7 is an exception. Those are more popular.
  4. I have a good number of manual focus Canon (A-1, AE-1, AE-1P, EF and Canonflex) but no EOS so I can't speak for the case of Canon. Actually I found the Canonflex has the most charm and I likely to use it most. I have both Minolta AF and MF. Among the AF are the 9xi, 800si and 7. I might use the 7 but would care for either of the other 2 although they were the top of the line. Now I would use the XD-11 often and sometimes the SRT-101 as they are fun. None of the AF cameras can fetch any where near the Minolta XK with the 58mm f/1.2 MC that I also have.
  5. I didn't keep my T70 for that long either-it was a sort of "place holder" for me until I got a T90.

    It's a good camera in its own right, but I agree that it leaves a lot to be desired next to a T90.

    Still, in a sense it is the successor to the A-1 and if I recall correctly it has select shift program(something Nikon didn't do until a fair bit later). It's smaller and lighter than an A-1 with a motor drive attached plus has power rewind.
  6. I agree with Ben. The clever electronic SLR's of the late 80's and 90's, you can hardly give them away now, whether Pentax, Canon, Nikon or Minolta. People seem to want a more classic feel and more manual operation. Another factor may be batteries, as many AF SLR's require the expensive and getting harder to find camera batteries like the 2CR5, CR2 etc. The ones which run off AA's seem more desirable.
  7. Yeah, I thought about batteries too, but I'm not sure that's really it. The mercury batteries that power light meters on some old cameras are a much bigger problem and that doesn't seem to hold prices down much. My Yashica 12 and Canonet QL Giii both used those damn things and I could sell those for 5 to 10 times as much as an Elan. Besides, you can use AAs in an Elan if you have the optional grip.
  8. I guess I didn't realize that CR123s and the like were becoming scarce, although it makes sense as one of the major uses for them has dried up.

    At the moment, I have on lay-a-way the fancy new(er) Nikon 105mm Micro with two of the little SB-200 flash heads. Apparently those use CR123s, and even though they're small flashes I expect that they'll still put a decent amount of drain. I'd prefer a couple of AAAs even if the life were shorter. In any case, it looks like I may need to find some lithiums and stock up.

    At least I can use an AA-powered SB-800 as the controller for the little flashes(as either an additional flash or in SU800 emulation mode) in place of the CR123-powered SU-800.
  9. To be sure, I cannot recall anyone here bagging on the Canon EOS film cameras! Nor should they- that's an outstanding system, and I own some of it myself.

    When I chose to shoot 100% film for the recent Europe trip there were a number of reasons for going with an all-FD kit. First, and this sounds odd, is that the FD cameras and lenses are usually more compact and lighter: compare a New FD 85/1.2 L to the EF equivalent and see for yourself. Second, I truly enjoy real optical viewfinder manual focusing and for that the old lenses just have a more precise and satisfying feel. Third, there is no need to haul battery chargers around...more weight and bulk savings. Fourth, it's less expensive. Fifth, and this is really subjective, is the aesthetics and tactile feedback of FD gear...it still inspires me.
    jeff_deas likes this.
  10. I've had 3 different FD camera bodies, 2 EOS film bodies plus a hodgepodge of lenses. The AE1-P is definitely the most compact body and the Elan is definitely the bulkiest. The Rebel was in between but lighter than any FD body I've had. Lenses seem to be all over the place with FD breech mount being the heaviest and some of the EOS zoom lenses being the bulkiest. Other EOS lenses I have are both light and compact but not high on the quality scale. None of my film cameras have rechargeable batteries.

    I agree that the most compact combination I could bring on a trip if I wanted multiple lenses is the AE1-P. There is a caveat though. It doesn't have a built in flash so I'd need enough light for the 50mm 1.4. If I need to bring a flash along, then it isn't so compact anymore. Truth is though that in most situations on a trip where I'd want a flash, a smart phone camera is good enough.

    This past year I didn't have any long vacations but a few short trips. Two 3 day ski trips and a 4 day trip to San Diego. I brought an SLR (the AE1-P) on one of the trips but never used it. I brought a rangefinder along on two of them and I got my favorite pictures with that. There are trips where I definitely want the option of multiple lenses but that's not as true for me as often as it used to be.

    And yes, there is definitely something very satisfying in using a film advance lever.
  11. I have 4 FD bodies. EF, AE-1, A-1 and AE-1P. I have sufficient lenses. 28mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.8, 135mm f/2.5 and 200mm f/2.8. If I pick one to use may be it's the A-1.
  12. I have pretty much the whole A and T series FD cameras as well as a fairly complete run of the mainline EOS film and digital cameras.
    Of all these, the T90 (when it works) is one of the highlights. I have done reports here on these.

    I think the pricing is more a matter of specific models than one of an overall trend for any particular series. I have paid more than "pizza" prices for only a few special models (T90, EOS 1, EOS 3, etc.)

    The "Elan", Rebel, and other auxiliary "lines" are very much their own story - some models are sought after for specific characteristics (quieter shutter, etc.).

    pricier EOS film camera
  13. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with the film Rebels(I used one a bit after I bought an Digital Rebel). I find spooling the whole roll of film onto the take up spool when you load it annoying, but at the same time it's great if you have a brain fart and open the back with film loaded. It also makes rewind super fast, albeit at the expense of ~30 seconds to load a new roll.
  14. I have both canon EF aka Black Beauty and EOS 55.

    While it's nice to use the EF, I think the EOS system is superior in terms of making image quality. What I mean is, pair EOS with current Canon L or Sigma Art primes and you will be blown away by the results.

    I'm not saying EF wont produce good photos... but with EOS, it makes everything a lot sweeter. It's hard to miss anything like modern DSLR.

    Honestly, using EF for me is more on the nostalgic feel of using film camera and that's it.
  15. My opinion

    EOS - too many silly options - mode this - Eos mode that. By the time you figure out what mode to use, the moment is gone

    FD - Easy. Set the shutter, the aperture, focus and shoot. OK, it does require that you know what you are doing.

    Eos - Plastic

    FD - solid (at least the older cameras)

    EOS - Your batteries are dead - hang it up

    FD - F1, FTb, EF Batteries are dead? So what. You've taken these shots enough times to know what the exposure should be without having to rely on electronics.
  16. I don't think that battery should be an issue. Always bring spare or fresh ones. I assume we all have camera bag or case ? It wont hurt to bring spare batteries.

    In 5d mk2 or 1ds camera, I shoot 400 to 600 images for 1 battery charge. That includes peeping and checking photos on LCD. On EOS film, how many shots do we have ? 36 ? 72? 108 ? Are we consuming 1000 shots in one go to drain the battery ?

    My point is, there's something special about film camera's. Particularly using the analog ones. But in my opinion, EOS cameras are superior when partnered with moderns lenses.

    Imagine this, if you have to take portraits of your 4 yr old daughter while walking on the beach with a Portra 400 or Fujifilm 400h film on EOS 3 with EF 135 F2L lens :)

    How sweet to have an autofocus at f2 aperture. isn't it ?
  17. Glenn: I have a similar way of looking at it. I'm far more likely to run out of film than have a battery go dead. For that matter it's just as easy, if not easier to carry a spare battery as it is to bring extra film.

    Autofocus is often very nice to have and so is AEB, continuous shooting, and nearly silent film transport. Plus I can use the same lenses with my DSLR. And yet the Elan II is my least used camera. The reasons? Probably because it's bulky, has complex controls, and I have better lenses for my FD camera (an AE1-P). So I suppose I answered my own question as to why EOS cameras like the Elan don't generate much interest.

    There might be a better EOS option out there for me. I've had a couple Rebels but I found that using them in manual mode wasn't very convenient. The Elan II at least has separate wheels for aperture and shutter.
  18. Or, your autofocus endlessly hunts back and forth, refusing to lock in a certain focus point, and you miss the picture entirely, or get a nicely exposed blur.

    Autofocus is great, I use it all the time on my digital EOS camera, but there are also times it just doesn't work.
  19. AF does bring its own set of problems.

    One of the issues is not so much directly related to AF, but more to the fact that with slow zoom lenses becoming popular, modern camera viewfinders have VERY finely ground screens. These make the finder bright(enough) for use with slow lenses, but you can't really rely on focusing by eye on the matte parts of the screen. I can focus pretty well on an F-1, T90, F2, etc with a matte screen since even at f/1.4 the screen has enough contrast to "pop" nicely when in focus. My F5 came with an "L" screen, which has a 45ยบ split image-that's actually a decent scarce screen for that camera, and was a nice treat.

    On most AF cameras, though, you really should put an active AF point over the object you're focusing and use the in-finder indicator(s) to guide you as to when its in focus.

    Also, you need decent contrast for AF to work. Newer cameras are getting more and more sensitive and also are adding stupid numbers of AF points(I think my D800 claims over 100). Still, though, you need to bear in mind where the most sensitive one is-when in doubt use the center point.

    Some do have an AF assist illuminator, which is usually just a bright bulb that doesn't do much more than annoy your subject. Most better dedicated external flashes can project a red "grid" that does give some contrast for the AF to lock.
  20. All True. Even though modern lenses and cameras can focus manually, the designs are optimized for auto-focus. Older cameras did manual focus better. The split screen on my AE1-P works well for my eyes. I have a rangefinder which I've grown to like over time, but it was hard to get used to.

    The Elan I have has eye control which is kind of cool but it's one of those features that can also get in the way. I remember trying to get the stupid thing to work with a remote and it just wouldn't fire. I couldn't figure out why until I remembered that eye-control was on. It wouldn't focus without my eyeball looking through the viewfinder. Then I had to remember how to turn it off.

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