Why FD rather than an EOS film camera?

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

  1. Most of us don't like the plastic fantastic look, or feel, of the EOS cameras, and as you stated, the FD lenses are bargains. Not only are they bargains, they rival any new lens today. The FD 85 1.8 is a killer portrait lens, and even the inexpensive FD 135 2.5 "beer can" tele is a fantastic shooter. Besides, the FD cameras were way cooler and built better. Just pick up a FTb or F1 camera some time and shoot it. Pure pleasure.
  2. Ran across this just now. If the claims made were something more than pre-judged opinions....

    • Plenty of us think the T90 or the modern EOS cameras are really good looking. Brassing is never a problem in EOS. :)
    • Some of the old FD primes haven't changed much so the EF and FD versions are similar in capability. That idea fails spectacularly when you get into newer fast and variable focal length designs.
    • Built better? Not my experience. and I own a good run of FD and EF cameras and lenses. There is more metal in the older ones, but that does not necessarily translate into "better".
  3. Well, sort of. The two main differences were
    1. people actually learned how to focus
    2. the viewfinders were clearer and better designed for MF
  4. Older lenses are definitely heavier which isn't necessarily better. ;) They are easier to work on which means I can pick up a lens with a stuck aperture or a bit of haze for next to nothing and have it good as new without much trouble. That's not so easy with a modern lens, - but then again most of them aren't so old yet as to have developed much haze.

    I've come to the conclusion that the low/middle range EOS film cameras don't spark much interest because they are much like modern DSLRs except without the "D". In today's world, people would much rather have a digital camera that looks like an old film camera than a film camera that looks like a digital camera.

    As it turns out, I've decided to head in a different direction entirely. I'm selling all my FD and EOS film equipment. I've just got too much stuff. Instead I got an Olympus OM camera. The theory is that it can replace my SLRs AND my rangefinder since the Olympi are so compact. And I can also use its lenses on my Canon DSLR which was not true of the FDs (ironically). Might be hard to get rid of the rangefinder though. It's one of my faves.

    Trying to shoot the rest of the film in my Elan this week, - it's got a lot of nice features that older film cameras don't. I'll miss it a bit, but the fact is I rarely use it anyway. The AE1-Program is already on its way to Singapore.

    One thing I am learning is that good Olympus lenses aren't quite so plentiful. I may find myself drawn back into the FD fold at some point.
  5. Another factor is the ability to repair older tech cameras. Cameras with parts made of pure unobtanium become worthless because they simply can't be fixed. The same problem occurs with vintage aircraft and not-so-vintage cars. Once the supply of custom built electronics dries up that's it.
  6. At the end of the day, the camera body has a limited effect on image quality, - unless it's defective. But, given that you can't use modern lenses on an FD body, then it's also true than any improvements in optics/coatings would only be found on lenses for EOS cameras (as far as FD vs EOS goes).

    EOS film bodies also have some aids built into them that help you get more consistent results, - Autofocus, improved Auto-exposure, Auto-Bracketing, etc.

    For me personally, the image quality issue gets turned on its head a bit. I won't be be buying and Canon L or Sigma Art lenses anytime soon because this is just a hobby for me. FD lenses were attractive because you can often get high quality glass for a small investment. They won't auto-focus, have image stabilization, or be as light, but they are easier to work on if things need to be cleaned or repaired.

    As I was running a test roll of film through an original Elan I'm getting reading ready to sell, I really appreciated what it has to offer, - more so than the Elan II. But I enjoy the manual focus cameras more for now. I can still enjoy auto-focus and other modern niceties on my DSLR.
  7. I love my EOS 3 but it is unreliable because of its magnetic shutter release. For that reason, and the size of the lenses, I prefer the F-1N.
  8. I own a large collection of FD cameras and lenses and a smaller collection of EOS cameras and lenses. My only EOS film camera is an Elan IIe, a very nice camera that doesn't get any respect. A couple years ago, I sold a mint, almost unused Elan II on eBay at auction, opening bid of $9;95. That's what it sold for! I was stunned. And that's what really woke me up to just how low prices are for amateur orientated EOS cameras. And most other recent vintage electronic film cameras, except for the pro-oriented ones, which are still selling for, well, at least not peanuts.

    On the FD side, for probably 35 years or so, I've preferred the older manual FD cameras, like the FTb and original F-1. I like the way these two cameras' meters operate and I prefer match-needle metering, which both have. Unlike most other FD cameras, when used manually, the meter responds to changes in both the aperture and shutter speeds (most FD Canons' meters respond to changes in shutter speeds only). The old F-1 and FTb also both use the NLA 1.35v mercury batteries, but thankfully the 1.4v 675 hearing aid batteries are an easy replacement -- and they are cheap. I can buy a card of 40 of them at Costco for less than $10. So what if a 675 may last for only 6 months or less? I usually drop in a new one before I head out on a new shoot if it's been a while since I last used the camera. It's also only fair to mention, I feel, that the New F-1 is a spectacular camera, even if it's missing the mirror lockup function that both the FTb and old F-1 have.

    I can recall that, back in the 80s, users of Canon gear were somewhat regarded as second class citizens, since in the SLR world, Nikon was the undisputed champion. Funny how time has a way of leveling things, though, eh? I've always known that Canon had produced some brilliant glass and that it was at least the equivalent to Nikon in terms of image quality. These days, though, I shoot both Canon and Nikon manual focus and I regard them as equivalent, optically. Each system has its standouts: Canon's 85mm f/1.2 Asph and L and 55/50mm f/1.2 Asph and L, Nikon's 180mm f/2.8 ED, etc.It's all good.

    These days I have several different systems that I use: in addition to Canon and Nikon, I also have Pentax, Minolta, and most recently Contax. Plus I have a good selection of Tamron SP lenses, most of which are superb optical performers, so no matter what system I'm using, I have a nice selection of lenses to use with it.

    But looking over my collection in its entirety, I must say that newer electronic cameras are only a tiny fraction of the total. This was more or less a conscious move on my part -- mostly because of a perceived lack of durability of the newer gear. Take my Elan IIe for an example, or my Nikon N80. Both are fine cameras in terms of features and performance, but each weighs next to nothing because it's made almost entirely from plastic. This may not be a cause for concern because I've seen in many instances proof that modern plastics can take a huge amount of abuse and even resist it in ways that metals can't. But were these cameras made in such a fashion? I dunno and I have no interest in subjecting them to torture tests to find out.
  9. That's the exact camera that I was thinking about when I started this thread. The Elan IIe is a very capable film camera that no one wants. ;)

    It's has a control layout that's very similar to Canon's DSLRs with a both a main dial and a quick control dial. For me that was attractive, - being able to move from digital to film and back using cameras with similar controls. It has enough smarts and ability that I can be confident that 90% of the pictures I take with it will be in focus and properly exposed. But I rarely used it.

    What I've found that I enjoy in film cameras is almost the opposite and I've moved in a different direction. The Elan IIe and Canon's DSLRs are light but huge. I recently picked up an Olympus OM-1, which like your canon F models, uses match needle metering and so does my Yashica medium format camera. The Olympus has an entirely mechanical shutter and film advance which I find a joy to use, - and it's compact. Ironically, using Olympus OM lenses on a Canon DSLR works much better than trying to use an FD lens on a Canon DSLR.
  10. Just noticed this.
    I don't know anyone (at least in my camera collective) who actually uses the "modes" as opposed to the M, Av, Tv, and P settings on EOS cameras, even when including the "Rebel" (XXXD) models. Maybe that's a shame, I don't know.*

    *On the other hand, I was the only person on the PhotoTrek who put up my hand when the question was raised of who liked to do post-processing in Photoshop:)
  11. SCL


    I was an A1 fan in the day, having bought one when they first came out...but over the years I came to really dislike it, and when Canon abandoned the FD line of lenses I, too hastily wrote them off, switching to the Nikon line. Still there, but as really good FD lenses dropped in price, and I became more familiar with the T90, I jumped back in and picked up one for a song. These days it doesn't get much use, but oh some of those lenses...I've been using many on my m4/3 body. A friend ggave me a nice EOS body and lens about 4 years ago, telling me it wasn't working...all it needed was cleaning the battery terminals...but honestly, in use it felt "cheesy" compared to the T90 and FD lenses. To each his own.
  12. Then what was/is the point of all those "modes"
  13. I suppose they are there in the hardware/software shared by all models and are tacked on for actual, real "newbies".

    Sort of on the lines of Bluto's "have a beer, don't cost nothing"
  14. I think the real newbies stick to the green square (fully automatic) on Canon cameras. That's what my wife does. In fact, it took me awhile to pay much attention to the modes but I've started to use them on the dSLR and P&S. The 60D gets used for shooting high-shool sports a lot so I frequently use the sports mode. I have used that mode on an Elan but from an economic standpoint it makes a whole lot more sense to shoot 2+ fps digitally than it does with film.

    Since I started this thread, I've been selling some of my cameras and it's interesting to see what they go for. Right now I have an original élan (EOS 100) for sale on eBay with a ho-hum Vivitar 28-80mm lens. The only reason I'm including the lens is that it's not worth selling on its own. The camera is film tested and comes with a battery and manual. Next week I'll sell an Elan IIe with an equally ho-hum lens. I think the word has started to get out a bit because the IIe's at least seem to be fetching a little more money than they did a couple of months ago. Still less than you'd get for an AE-1 or an AE-1p.

    The starting price for the élan was $12.00 and after a few days I started to wonder if I was even going to get that. It's now got one bid but it wouldn't surprise me if it sold for less than $30. If I had received no bids, I would have kept it rather than try to re-list it. Just not worth the hassle. I wonder if I were to keep the camera for another decade if a different generation of buyers might feel some nostalgic pangs for these Elans and they'd be worth more.
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2017
  15. I think that much of the current market for many film cameras these days is already made up of people like me who are thrilled by the chance to own and use the cameras they were tempted by, but were out of reach financially. When we are gone, people who survive us may not have much in the way of nostalgia.

    Many of my too-large collection of cameras and lenses cost less than a couple of fancy pizzas, if that.

    I suppose there will be a persisting market for the Leicas and a few other old cameras, but even cameras as collectible as Nikon and Canon rangefinders are more affordable now than they were even a few years ago. Even M-series Leica bodies are pretty easy to come by; but the lenses are still very expensive compared to, say, M42 mount lenses.

    Hey, although it's not a first time, I suddenly realized I am taking my OWN post, off-topic:eek:
  16. It's certainly true for me. I'll see a classic camera on craigslist, eBay, or at a thrift store for $10 to $50 and I just can't help myself. It doesn't matter if they need a little fixing up. In fact, I like fixing them up. And though I've picked up a few film EOS cameras along the way, I find them much easier to part with, - even though a couple of them have been functionally very nice cameras. The Rebel was OK too. Just not as nice to use in manual mode as the Elans.
  17. The New FD lenses were made of a polymer resin, a type of "plastic". I think complaints about "plastic" cameras are largely overstated. After all, these polymers are used in the manufacture of many things, including this.

  18. True enough. Metal doesn't necessarily mean quality. Crappy cameras and lenses from the 70's and earlier also had lots of metal. All else being equal, I'd prefer something lighter to something heavier. However, what also changed along with the transition from metal to plastic was the repairability. Older lenses and cameras were easier to take apart and repair/clean. Modern lenses (as an example) are much more likely to have the glass cemented in place.

    And though modern dSLRs and lenses are lighter relative to the equivalents from past years, they aren't necessarily smaller. Bulk is as much of a problem, and maybe more-so than weight. The Elans are huge compared to equivalent SLRs, - though they do have built-in motorized film transport which would have been an accessory in older camera.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2017
  19. I suspect that there are more of the newer models out there.

    But as far as I can tell, all can be found for very low prices.

    Bid low and often, and you can get many old 35mm SLRs for $20 or so.
    There are some popular models that might go for $50 or $100.

    Medium format prices haven't dropped as fast, though.

    AI lenses go for low prices, even though they work on newer Nikon DLSRs.

    Both FD and EF lenses are very affordable, except for the top of the line models.

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