Thursday, May 31, 2012

Out and about with the Canon F-1

Canon F-1 outfit
Over a month ago, a colleague at the Museum gave me a nice present -- his Canon F-1 with the following lenses: 50mm f/1.4, 28mm f/2.8, 135mm f/3.5, and 50mm 3.5 macro lens, plus the extension tube. Now, I sold off all my Canon FD gear over a year ago, thinking that I was up to my ears in SLR systems. However, this nice kit was too wonderful to say "no" to. I did some cleanup of the camera, and put in two hearing-aid batteries, as the mercury cells that the F-1 uses are no longer available. The meter sprang to life, and I was ready to do some shooting.

Now, Canon's F-1 is a lot more similar to the Nikon F2 than the Nikon F. It too, lacks a standard ISO hot shoe over the prism, as prisms are removable. Therefore, there is an attachment for a flash adapter centered over the rewind lever. I don't plan on using a flash with the F-1, so that's not a problem. It's a fantastically sturdy camera that is a far cry from models such as the AE-1. Of course, it is fully manual exposure, and if the batteries die, it still works without metering. Ergonomically, it is nicer than the Nikon F2, and one does not have to fiddle with the "Nikon twist" to get the lenses synched with the metering prong. Okay, so how is the camera in the field?

I took it with me to Toledo in mid-May and shot 2 rolls of film near the Toledo Museum of Art, and another roll in Ann Arbor a few days later. All were Kodak Gold 100 C-41 prints film, which I had developed at Huron camera, and then I scanned the negatives at home on my Epson scanner at 2400 DPI.

Ferns in the Garden, 50mm macro lens.

getting the picture
Getting the picture at the Toledo Museum of Art

Painted Ladies
Painted ladies

Toll House
Toll House


Not that the above images are anything like a real test, but The Canon F-1 and I got along very well, and I can see why it has such a good reputation. It is a pro-level camera that still works very well 40 years after it was made.


hardkoretom said...

Those manual cameras always seemed more fun to me than the automatic ones like the EOS series. I used to use a K1000 and the only problem I had was the light meter was a little leaver instead of 3 leds. Kinda hard to see when taking night shots.

Did you have the same problem with the canon?

Mark O'Brien said...

Here is what the donor of the Canon had to say when I gave him the link of this post:
"Those are great! I'm glad you're getting good use out of it. It was a workhorse for me for nearly 30 years (purchased in Panama City in 1972, probably last used by me in the late 90's or early 00's when I completed my transition to digital. Saw heavy duty in several South American countries and in central and SE Asia, as well of course as in MI. And you're still getting wonderful photographs from it — amazing.


Steve Rosenbach said...

Beautiful camera and great photos! Hope to see you at Photostock - my son and I will be there during one of the days.