October 11, 2014
Curtis showed off a
very extensive collection of "mechanical 35mm SLR cameras" by Canon. It
pretty much covered the entire history of the line of cameras, from the
earliest Canon SLR to the "last" and latest film camera -
manufactured for the professional photographer that insists on
flexibility, versatility, awesome lenses, and the ability to put together
a wide combination of options.
As you can see from the photos, the range of systems/cameras covered
most of the meeting table. Quite impressive!
A detailed synopsis and written history will be added to this page, soon.
The empty table before Curtis got started...
The Canon breech-lock lens mounting. Also known as the "FD" mount. It is
the early version, with the rotating chrome mounting/locking ring. It was
introduced around 1971 and continued in use up to the 1991 "new" F1, and
the 1992 T60, supposedly the last Canon camera with the breech-lock
mounting. Note the 2-pin actuating/reset pins. This differentiates the
FD-series lens mount from the "R" mount.
The Canon Canonflex, introduced in 1959 and in production for one year;
their first 35mm SLR. Note the "trigger" winding lever on the bottom,
seemingly a carry-over from the rapid winder developed for the rangefinder
cameras. Also note the single-pin actuator for the aperture on the base of
the lens. This was the first introduction of the ubiquitous Canon breech
The Canon Canonflex Model R2000 SLR, with the "Super-Canomatic" lens. Also
known as Canon "R" lenses, they were either semi-automatic or preset in
operation of the aperture.
The Canonflex Model RP, with external light meter.
Canonflex, showing the bottom trigger.
The Canon Model RM, with the light meter mounted internally. Note the
honeycomb cell window at the top left.
Rear view of the RM, with the wind lever now brought up to near the top of
the camera. A lot more convenient to operate.
And now - the Bell and Howell version of the same camera.
These are essentially the same camera, one a Mamiya, the other a Canon.
There are obvious detail differences between the two brands.
Bottom view of the siblings, showing more detail differences.
The two versions of the Canon R, as well as the rare swing-up magnifier.
There are some collectors, and "users", that say these are the
best-looking Canon cameras ever made.
The Bell & Howell / Canon EX, with internal (but not TTL) light meter.
Bottom of the EX, showing the bottom plate release, a direct carry-over
from the rangefinder...
Again, siblings: the Bell & Howell / Canon EX and the Canon-branded
The bottom plate of the model EF, with dual release buttons.
Top row: Bell & Howell/Canon
FP - Canon FP
FX - " FX
The pioneering Pellix, with fixed half-silvered Mylar (?) mirror. No
mirror flop, low noise, slightly dimmer viewfinder.
But, the lens mounting included a locating pin arrangement that a) allowed
for the use of special lenses (only mount on the Pellix) and b) precluded
the use of the deep ultra wide angle lenses that would hit the pellicle.
Inside view of the pellicle and the breech-lock mount. Note the deep
locating notch, for Pellix-only lenses.
The "QL" Quick-Loading version of the Pellix. Note also the addition of
the extra lever below the depth-of-field lever. This was used for the
self-timer/delayed release function of the shutter. Of special note
is the fabulous, much sought-after, FL 58mm f/1.2, a very fast lens known
for superb performance.
And, here is the QL mechanism. Simply drop in the cassette, shove the end
of the leader into the right side, and close the back. Loaded! Ready to
use. In my own experience (of 2 different QL cameras), I never had one
fail to immediately load. Wind on 2-3 frames = shoot! Notice also the
rubberized horizontal shutter curtain; just about as quiet as any Leica.
A pristine FT-QL in black enamel - with the equally useful 35/2.5 wide
Rear view of the black FT-QL.
The Canon EX - EE, an experiment in producing a more economical 35mm SLR
for consumers. The camera had a fixed rear lens group, permanently mounted
in the body. The user changed lenses by unscrewing the front group. Only a
limited range of lenses were available. Note the lack of an aperture
setting ring on the lens; the photographer set exposures with the dial
around the base of the rewind knob. An automatic mode of TTL was
The update to the FT-QL, the FTb-QL, in chrome. Note the lens: instead of
the chrome breech-lock ring of the "old" FD mounting, it has a black,
non-turning ring. This is the "new" FD style of lens. It is mounted by
turning the entire lens, after matching red dots.
Another view of the "new" FD lens, showing the red dot used for mounting
alignment. Also, just visible, is the chrome release button, that is
pressed in to unlock the lens when removing lens.
The FTb-QL in black. Not only is the basic color of the camera changed
(black paint over a brass alloy), but also the depth-of-field lever has
changed from angled to flat with a white stripe down the middle.
(The change in colors of the photo is due to shooting under fluorescent,
For the serious professional photographer, the F1. A truly "system"
camera, Canon developed a wide range of options and accessories. The F1
has a well-earned reputation as a workhorse, very robust camera. With the
removable prism, Canon moved the flash connection from the hot shoe of the
FTb-QL, to a special footing around the base of the rewind knob. A
standard PC jack is provided on the left side of the camera's top plate.
Rear view of the F1.
Two F1 cameras; the one on the right has the "old" FD style lens (chrome
ring, but it's an intermediate version, note the rubber focus ring), the
other F1 has the "new" FD lens mount.
The same F1's, showing the differences in the lens mount between the old
and new FD lenses.
Nikon users will immediately notice that the lens mounts "in the wrong
direction". On Canons the index starts at the top and rotates clockwise
approximately 90 degrees. On Nikons, the lens starts with the index at a
"3 o'clock" position, then rotates counterclockwise. This can get
really confusing when trading cameras during a sports event.
The Canon Servo EE Finder, for the F1. The prong, visible in the bottom
left photo, connects to the camera via a slot in the housing, just behind
The Servo EE Finder, mounted on an early F1.
The EF featured a shutter speed dial easily manipulated with a finger,
while holding the camera to the eye.
The EF, rear view.
Bottom of the EF, with the two separate battery compartments.
Another simplification by Canon; the TLb, with reduced shutter speed
range, but fully interchangeable lenses.
Variations on a theme; the wide range of Canon 35mm SLRs, but... there's
Ahh, here's another one!
The late model AV-1, note the large, easily broken, and or lost, battery
One of the most popular SLR Canons made: the AE-1, in chrome and black.
The AT-1, a variation of the AE-1.
An update to the popular AE-1, the AE-1 Program. Note the even larger
battery door and the change in the dials.
At last, the "king" of the Canon empire (at least as far as 35mm film
cameras go... That is, until the EOS line was introduced.). This is the
"new" F1, sometimes called F1n. The most obvious distinguishing feature is
the step of the upper body, under the shutter speed dial. Also, the
press-in button for previewing depth of field. I would venture a guess
that many, many of these true workhorses are still being used by
photographers that have retained an interest in using 35mm film.
Another F1n, kindly provided by Tony, with the very unique "sports finder"
Comparing the standard EE finder with the sports finder.
The unique sports finder could be rotated up or down, to provide the
equivalent of a waist level finder. The eyecup here is not a Canon OEM,
but works with glasses quite well.
The view through the sports finder, showing the metering next to the
The bottom of the F1n, with electrical contacts and mechanical links for
the motor drive.
One of the last 35mm camera models manufactured by Canon to use the FD
The T60 was the last Canon designed to use the FD mount (the FD continued
with the F1n until 1992).
The T80, an electronic film camera designed for auto-focus. Here it is
shown with the AC 50mm lens, one of three AC-series lenses made for use
only the T80. The Model T80 could also use the standard FD mount lenses,
without auto-focus capability.
A view of the T80, showing the complete lack of dials, and just a few
knobs. Note the knurled ring at the lens front, for use in the manual
And finally, the auto-focus FD zoom lens. This lens could be mounted on
just about any camera that used the "new" 2-pin FD lens mounting, and
would auto-focus, as long as the batteries lasted.
And, that's a wrap!
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Houston, Texas, 2014.
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