Friday, August 29, 2014

Spotlight: Canon F-1

The Canon F-1 was made from 1971 through 1976, and was Canon's first fully professional system SLR camera. The F-1 was designed to compete with the startlingly similar-in-name Nikon F-2 (Seriously, how did Nikon not sue?). At the time, Nikon pretty much had a monopoly on the professional slr market, and Canon wanted a piece of that pie. The F-1 was the first camera to feature Canon's FD bayonet lens mount, which replaced the previous breech-lock FL mount, and enabled open aperture metering pleasure. The FD mount would remain standard until Canon introduced the EOS mount in 1987. 

The F-1 is a true system camera, with a variety of interchangeable lenses, prisms, focus screens, and backs. It has a fast top shutter speed of 1/2000th, mirror lock-up mode, and allows for multiple exposures. I found the method for removing the viewfinder and focus screen to be much easier and safer than the Nikon F. The Canon viewfinder slides off smoothly at the light touch of two buttons, rather than Nikon's system, where the viewfinder violently pops off after prodding a very resistant indented button that kills your fingernails.

Canon F-1 sans prism
One other small but important feature I adore on the F-1 is the shutter lock knob. Every camera needs a shutter lock, so that you can keep the shutter cocked without the worry of it going off in your bag. It's shocking to me how many cameras don't have shutter locks. My future father-in-law enjoys being a pain and tripping my Leica M4's shutter when it's hanging over my shoulder. A shutter lock would prevent this from happening!

Anyway, I found the F-1 to be a pleasure to shoot with. My specific F-1 has a shutter capping issue, and the 1/2000th and 1/1000th speeds are unusable. So, I was working with a maximum shutter speed of 1/500th of a second. The camera is a bit large and beefy for a 35mm, but nothing my man hands can't handle. The F-1 feels very solid, and the ergonomics are actually quite nice. I shot a lot of candid photos at the local flea market last weekend, and enjoyed being able to easily slide off the prism viewfinder for the occasional extra sneaky waist level shot.

Here are some of the shots I took on my Canon F-1. I used a 50mm F/1.4 FD Lens and Bergger 400 film.


Katie and I will be getting married here in 1 month!

The wedding planner

Walgreens portrait studio

Well, there you have it. While I'm not a huge fan of Canon cameras, I have to say I had fun with the F-1. It's a well built photo making machine. As always, thanks for looking.