|Shutter||Four-axis, horizontal-travel focal-plane shutter with metal curtains. X, B, 8, 4, 2, 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, 1/125, 1/250, 1/500, 1/1000, 1/2000 sec. Hybrid shutter with mechanical shutter speeds from 1/125 to 1/2000 sec. and B and X (1/90 sec.), and electronic shutter speeds from 8 to 1/90 sec. Built-in self-timer (with adjustable delay and beeper). Electronic shutter release. Multiple exposures enabled.|
|Viewfinder||Interchangeable eye-level pentaprism. New split prism rangefinder encircled by microprism rangefinder at center of Laser Matte screen.) Thirty-two optional interchangeable focusing screens (13 types) for three metering patterns. Metering indicator, exposure match needle, shutter speed display, aperture display, stopped-down metering needle, and various warnings provided.|
|Power||One 2CR-1/3N lithium 6 V battery or 4LR44 alkaline battery. Battery check provided.|
|Size||147 x 97 x 48 mm|
Body only with Eye-Level Finder FN
There are several really good reviews of this camera below, so I won't rehash what was already said. However, I do want to make a correction. One reviewer stated that a motor drive was necessary for aperture priority. This is not true. A motor drive or winder is needed for shutter priority. All that is needed for aperture priority is the AE Finder. Of the five available finders I own two--the two I think are most important: the AE Finder and the Speed Finder (I have three speed finders). As note above the AE finder allows for aperture priority. The speed finder swivels allowing it to be used as a waist level finder or to be used with googles or other eye coverings. One can see the full screen from 60mm away using the speed finder. The camera with just the eye level finder is an excellent all mechanical camera akin to an Olympus OM-1 MD for example. The shutter fires electronically from 1/60th and slower, or mechanically from 1/90th to 1/2000th. That means it can run without a battery at those shutter speeds (although there cannot be any battery in the battery compartment). The 1/2000th speed is faster than any of the A series cameras (and not surpassed, I believe for FD, until the T90, which is 1/4000th). My copy is from 1984 with the gold lettering for the LA Olympics--this adds a "cool" factor in my opinion, but nothing more than that. Although instructions state not to add or subtract a motor drive or winder while film is in the camera, I believe that is "recommended" rather than vital. I have done it without fogging the film. I have both the winder and motor drive. For the motor drive I have the NiCd super speed pack, the NiCd slower speed pack, and the 12 AA battery pack. But for my needs the 4AA winder is perfect for its weight and adding shutter priority to aperture priority with the AE finder. One of the best things about the New F-1 is that it won't work if you are using it incorrectly. In other words, with AE finder and no winder/motor drive it will not allow the user to try to shutter priority. The film won't advance, and the shutter won't work. Brilliant!
If you are reading this review you might wonder if the camera is for you. Maybe. If you want an advanced camera that you do not need to add equipment for, buy an A-1. If you want a program camera for days that you don't want to "think" photography, get an AE-1P. If you want an all-manual mechanical camera, you can get one of the F-1s with just an eye-level viewfinder (older F-1 and F-1n take mercury cells). If you want a true system camera that is competitive with Nikon's professional film cameras than the New F-1 with an AE finder, Speed Finder, motor drive or winder is the way to go. I adore this system camera. It is a tank that just keeps pushing on even after more than 100,000 shutter movements. I own five FD bodies (New F-1, A-1, two AE-1Ps, and T90) and four EOS film bodies (EOS 3, Elan, Elan IIe, and the 10s), and three Olympus bodies (OM-1 MD, OM-2n, OM-2Sp) and if I could only keep one it would be the New F-1.
It's an awesome piece of metal. I have the PJ screen in it which I just love. Love the partial metering so much more the centre weighted... I actually know what its exposing for. Love the J screen, so bright and clear. There's really no going back. Which is a pain because theres a few gotchas. Like, um... why, why WHY is there no Shutter Priority unless you attach a bulky winder to it? Is there a single good reason for this?? I really miss that feature because I'm not a big fan of Aperture Priority. Theres also no exposure lock. That's also dumb. I guess at heart it's really an all manual camera, and if you use it as such its simply the best. I've not used the winders but I understand you can't take them on or off with film loaded which also seems like a pretty poor design too...
about 3 months ago I spoted this F! in a used case at the local camera store I had loaned my Canon QIII "shooter" to a co-worker for his daugter's photography class. This F1 was in primo condition it previous owner had a great deal of respect for it. I need another camera like a whole in the head , but it was love at first touch. The bulk of my "gear " is Nikon but this gem had to be mine. I have been using the "shiped with " 50mm f/1.4 lens -- picked up a 50mm f/3.5 macro and the mellow-yellow 35mm f/2.0 .... I am rediscovering the world of film once more .. more to follow.. !!!
The New F-1 was officially introduced in March and only started marketing in September, 1981.
Its introduction had long been awaited by the industry as the successor to the Canon's earlier successful entry into the professional arena with the original Canon F-1 - Canon's top of-the-line 35mm camera during the 70's and the model that gained a initial foothold for Canon into demanding professional users' market.
The decade long intense research and development along with careful image building planning, they also actively sought the opinions of professional photographers of all persuasions to accumulate useful input for consideration during the conceptual, designing stage. This legacy of experience and insight into the special requirements of the professional proved invaluable in developing a camera for upgrade: the New F-1.
Undoubtedly, the professional photographic world had a serious contender and a new option to look at other than the Nikon now - which had its clear supremacy before the arrival of the New F-1, despite the original F-1's courageous attempt earlier with the F-1. In many ways, the New F-1 was aimed to better off than its "virtual" rival, the Nikon F3. It is the only professional camera available during the eighties that had shutter priority automation capability. Canon had thus established and held a strong hold in the sports, wildlife and action packed market. The pool for serious users was also expanding in a very rapid pace, after realizing what the New F-1 system has to offer.
Thus, after a generation from the original F-1, Canon System finally gained its status and had the endorsement of users around the globe as a truly professional photographic system, of which, much has to thank for with this awesome camera and its system accessories.
First introduced in Sep. 1981.
Camera type : 35mm focal-plane shutter SLR camera
Picture size : 24 x 36mm
Standard lens : Canon FD f1.2/50mm
Lens mount : FD mount
Viewfinder : Interchangeable Eye-Level Pentaprism Finder
Finder magnification : 0.8x (Eye-Level Pentaprism Finder)
Finder coverage : 97%
Focusing screen : New split prism rangefinder in the center encircled by laser matte screen with microprism rangefinder
32 (13 types) interchangeable focusing screens for three metering patterns.
Metering indicator, exposure match needle, shutter speed display, aperture display, stopped-down metering needle, and various warnings provided.
Metering : TTL full aperture match needle manual metering (SPC employed)
AE Finder FN and AE Motor Drive FN provide shutter speed-priority AE.
Light reading : selectable out of Spot light reading at center (3%), partial light reading at center (12%), center-weighted light reading
Exposure compensation : from -2 to +2 EV
Metering range : EV 1 - 18 (ISO 100, f1.4)
Film speed range : ISO 6 - 6400
Shutter : four-axis horizontal-run focal-plane shutter with metal curtain
Shutter speeds : Hybrid shutter - Mechanical shutter : B, X (1/90 sec.), 1/125 - 1/2000 sec.
Electronic shutter : 8 - 1/90 sec.
Built-in self-timer with adjustable timer and beeper, Multiple-exposure enabled
Flash sync contact : X-sync with German socket with locking pin, hot shoe
Film loading : Camera back with safety latch, slotted take-up spool
Film advance : Film wind lever - 139 deg. stroke, play at 30 deg., ratcheted winding enabled.
Frame counter : automatic resetting forward counting type
Film rewind : collapsible rewind crank
Power source : 2CR-1/3N lithium 6V battery x 1 or 4LR44 alkaline battery x 1
Body dimensions : 146.7 x 96.6 x 48.3 mm
Body weight : approx. 795 g
I've been holding off writing this review for a while. I mean, there's no pressure is there - this camera has been out of production for twenty years. So why the hesitation? Well, the simple answer is that I felt bound to capture something of my enthusiasm for this camera without going over the top on the one hand, or being too dry and clinical on the other. Anyone who's read my review of the A-1 will know that I'm a big fan of Canon FD cameras; what makes this one different?
For one, it is more of a system camera than the A-1. That has its pluses and its minuses. With the A-1 you have everything you need in the one body. Get the A-1 and a few lenses and possibly a flash if you are so inclined and you're set. With the F-1 it's a bit more complicated. Why? Well - a funny thing about the F-1 is that in order to shoot aperture priority you need to attach a special motor drive AND have the AE head on. That does not spell prosumer to me, it spells hard-core professional. So it all depends on where you are coming from. At time of writing (June 2010) there is no way that any really professional photographer in our given world would be using an F-1 as his or her 'system' camera, so to buy into this way of shooting is kind of an exercise in a romantic notion of film and the classy or rough or fine or natural or whatever you want to call it quality that it can offer. (It's simply another medium really, so take your pick.) So right away you're talking about something a bit romantic - like a classic Corvette. (But let's be honest, would you rather turn up for that hot date with that special someone in a '69 vette or a 2010 Camry?) So if you're a romantic like me, read on.
Photography is about a lot of things. For some it's about capturing the moment (get a Leica), for others it's about perfect composition and exposure (get a Hasselblad), and for others still it's about things like 'framing reality', about adding a visible layer of artifice to the world, and blah blah blah and so on (get a Holga). Whatever your motive, if you are set on film, and you like the idea of a solid-as-fuck (pardon my French) 35mm SLR, then it is hard to imagine any single physical object that will bring you closer to your dreams than a Canon F-1 (the Nikon F2 takes second place, but it's way less warm and fuzzy than the Canon - don't ask me exactly what that means, it's a completely subjective comment but I do feel it when using it, and I do have and use both).
The Canon F-1 sits in the hands like a newborn baby: all instinct takes over and you just get on with it. The screen is bright and clean and clear and very very very finely accurate for focussing (they spent ages on this particularly with a view to macro photography - the machining on this chassis is just beautiful), and there is a feeling of reliability that is (for me) rivaled only by my Leica M3 which cost ten times as much and does no more really (but just try prying it from my cold dead hands).
I wish I could have written this more concisely and less subjectively, but it's hard to put comparisons into black and white. Let me summarise by saying the following.
From Japan in the late 1970's and early 1980's there came two or three incredible instruments of the photographic art: the Canon 'F-1 New', the Nikon F2, and later the Nikon F3. If you like the look of photographs made with Canon FD lenses (blame yourself if you don't) there is nothing on earth to beat an F-1. It is an easel, a brush, a canvas, a palette of paints. Use it, learn it, know it, master it, and you will have no reason other than lack of inspiration to blame if you don't come up with beautiful pictures. Every art has its instrument, and in the world of the 35mm SLR, for my money at least, this is it.
(Footnote: special thanks to JimK for his excellent review.)
Repairing cameras that I could not afford as an apprentice bench tech back in the early 70's started my love affair with the F1, and inspired me to buy a new FTb QL (F1 lite for the financially challenged), that allowed me to start enjoying Canon photography until I was able to buy a beaten to death ex-press corps F1 body, and raise it from the dead by raiding our use F1 parts bin (with the blessing of the boss). That was a first gen F1, and it served me well for years. I would not be surprised if it is still out there in operating condition.
The entire F1 line had fine, precision look about it, no matter where you peeked or poked. They all give the impression that they are crafted out of a single block of steel, and the controls operate and feel the same. Let's face it, Canon had the stones to make their initial entry into the Pro 35mm market at a time when Nikon all but owned it, and already had a well sorted out, established Pro camera line. They had to deliver something spectacular to the market, and they did.
The first F1 was pretty solid from a service standpoint, and most complaints were sorted out in the minor update of the F1n. Still, the march of time continued, and it wasn't until the New F1 that Canon was able to completely revise the few remaining service related problem areas that required more than a minor rework, and also address several core elements that had become technically obsolete, or simply couldn't support the addition of new features demanded by Pro clients to the existing F1 system core.
They delivered in spades, while keeping the New F1 an F1 in all respects. The most important updates over previous F1 models were the change from the ancient CdS metering sensor and circuitry to the modern SPD (silicon photo diodel) system that is still the leading edge technology today, nearly 30 years later. It is far more flexible, offers greater range, it is stable over time, which CdS systems tend not to be, and it's support circuitry incorporated updated components that didn't (unlike classic Cds circuits) rely on critical tuning to battery input voltage, and demand the use of a battery that delivered that exact voltage throughout it's useful life.
The new system regulated it's own voltage needs, and could be satisfied by most any battery selected by the designers, regardless if it's voltage changed over the life of the battery, so long as it met the minimum voltage needed at all times. That one feature alone allowed them to abandon the mercury battery that was used for many years because it's current capacity was sufficient to power a CdS sensor system, and it's voltage output remained flat until it was dead. The SPD system also made a greater metering range of EV 1-18, and a standard ASA/ISO range of 6-6400 possible, as compared to the previous range of EV 2.5-18, and ASA/ISO 25-3200 on the second gen F1n.
Good riddens to the little meter battery, and hello to a world of electronic opportunity. Canon chose the high capacity 6v silver oxide battery that is still very popular today, and also happens to fit dozens of other cameras (T90, F1 data back, RZ67, Bronica SQ, ETRSi, on and on it goes). It also gave Canon lots of power for other stuff. The old F1 shutter was rugged, and reliable, but it had a few service quirks, and it had it's limitations as well.
The New F1 shutter is even more reliable, as a result of analyzing a decade of old style shutter service data, and offers several important improvements as well. The new shutter offers x sync at 1/90 sec, as opposed to 1/60 on the old F1. That might not sound like much, but it makes a big difference in the real world, and higher speeds really didn't happen until vertical travel shutters were introduced (the T90 for example). The new shutter is fired electronically, and offers ultra accurate electronic control of speeds from 8 seconds up to the 1/90 sync speed, and mechanical timing for speeds up to 1/2000 at the top. The older F1 bodies went from only 1 second, to 1/2000 sec, and all speeds were triggered and timed mechanically. Also worth noting is that the circuitry in the F1 is well coated with a water proof electronic varnish of sorts. It was a pain for service techs, but it explains why a New F1 was able to be soaked in the rain, and have as great a chance of being OK after it dried out as an older model F1.
The New F1 offered fully mechanical operation if electronics failed, or if your last battery died. Just pull out the battery, and the New F1 triggers the shutter with a mechanical link as in the past, and offers mechanical control of all speeds from the 1/90 x sync speed to the top 1/2000 speed. How is that for a backup plan?
The new self timer is electronic, and beeps. Nice. The battery cover cover doubles as a nice "action grip". The difference with that little add-on touch on the traditional slab body is tremendous. The New F1 has a real hotshoe on top of the viewfinder, where it belongs, and not as an add on part that covers other controls off to one side as in the past. The new hotshoe even offered exposure integration with Canon potato masher strobes. The AE viewfinder is a work of art, and offers seamless aperture priority automation if you choose to use it. It was so popular that most used New F1 cameras come with it. The new viewfinder system introduced the new "wow" bright laser mat screen surface, and expanded the available screens for the New F1 to 13. By popping in different screens on a New F1, you can select from "average", "spot", or "center weighted" metering profiles.
With the Motor drive attached, you have the option to select EE shutter priority metering as well. In fact, with the AE finder, and the Motor drive attached, you can choose between full manual control, match needle control, aperture priority, and shutter priority shooting on the New F1. Even the viewfinder metering display completely changes between AE and EE control. You need light to see what the meter says? The New F1 has a real battery, and light if you need it. It can also HOLD metered EV while you re-compose a shot.
There are other reliability and feature tweaks that set the New F1 apart from the older series too, but just what I have outlined above should help people considering buying an F1 today to understand that the New F1 is far more than a minor update to the F1 line. It is everything the older models were, plus a whole lot more. If you are just collecting F1 bodies, buy them all. If you plan on using one, buy the New F1.
Some people complain about the lack of a mirror lock up on the New F1, but that is really a non issue. It was included in the old F1 bodies in order to allow one or two specialized old line FL series lenses that poked into the camera too far to clear the mirror on firing to work with the F1. Those lenses were history by the 80's, and you couldn't use a viewfinder with them anyway.
Some people still claim an advantage to having mirror lockup for other shooting, and maybe there are extreme situations where the sheer mass of the F1 beast won't dampen mirror vibration, but I think it's mostly just looking for something to complain about. I use MLU every now and then with other cameras in special situations, but I never missed it on the New F1. At current used prices, the New F1 is a steal.
Enjoy your F1, no matter which one you choose. They are all fantastic photo tools, and just holding one in your hand is thrill. They are all HEAVY though, so be ready for culture shock if you grew up with modern plastic cameras!
I have linked two pics here. One of my current New F1 in full body armor (motor drive with 12 AA batteries), and another of the same camera sitting next to my Mamiya RZ67 "photo brick" studio 6x7 cm camera. The F1 with the motor drive attached weighs about the same as the RZ67 "photo brick"!
The ultimate system camera from Canon. They took the experience from the previous mechanical versions and enhanced it in this last manual focusing masterpiece. The camera will adapt to almost any shooting situation, and the availability of screens and metering options makes transitions painless. Setting up for a shoot is important, but properly done, you'll have everything you need at hand to make a shoot a success. Canon produced the "L" lenses, and a number of others as well, and they are among the finest made for their time, or since. They are also remarkably consistent in qualities, so their is no jarring changes in quality of the images taken in a shoot. I find myself reaching for my F-1N most often when I get ready for some serious photo work. I also use RF's, the Leica M3 and the Canon 7s, but they are not as good with wides and especially longer tele lenses. One of the finest System SLR's ever designed, and a full helpmate to the working pro.
With the way I've set it up, this camera does exactly what I want and not a single thing more. Indeed, its configurability (via its modular design) is the very reason I bought one back in the early 80's. I prefer it, even now, over anything else made by Canon, Nikon, et al (my Nikon DSLR is a toy in comparison, with more useless frills than you can poke a stick at). I use the F1 in manual mode with a spot metering focusing screen, and it works extremely well this way, giving me complete control without terrible sacrifices in speed of operation. Photographing people? Just meter on the face, add a touch of exposure (depending on the skin colour), compose and shoot. Easy. Shooting things that stand still? Then you have plenty of time (just a few seconds is all you need, really) to take several spot meter readings and decide on an exposure. Also easy. The F1 is an absolute joy to use.
An utterly gorgeous camera, the F1 is extremely well made, in an industrial machinery sort of way - a product of a bygone era (all that lovely metal). It's great to look at and to hold, with excellent ergonomics. And it's rock solid - on the end of a monopod, with an 85 mm f1.2 L lens attached, it is potentially a fearsome weapon! Yes, I do use a monopod - it significantly improves image sharpness in low light, and it helps hold up all that weight. The F1 is definitely heavy and, although I have taken it on wilderness backpacking expeditions, it is not ideal for travel. When playing tourist, for example, I'd rather take an Olympus OM1 with a 50 mm lens, but for everything else, the F1 is my absolute favourite. Especially with that 85 f1.2 L!
I continue to be amazed by the Canon F-1n. I have owned many bodies--from all the major manufacturers--and the F1n is easily my favorite. In 1981, it was ahead of its time, and today it remains a superior product. Its ergonomics are excellent, and are improved with the AE Winder FN or AE Motor FN (I have both). I like having a dial for shutter speed selection, a top speed of 1/2000th, a readily available battery, tank-like feel, plenty of accessories, and a viewfinder that is second to none. I often see people complain about the lack of a mirror lock feature on this camera (and others, too). I wonder how much difference it would make, as the F-1n is such an advanced piece of photographic equipment. For example, the Nikon F100 (another non-mirror lock offender) has been tested in this regard. Its mirror was shown to have virtually no effect upon its performance (cf. http://www.olegnovikov.com/technical/f100/f100notes.shtml).
I wish Canon had offered screw-in lens hoods (as opposed to those goofy bayonet hoods). This would be the only thing I would add to an F-1n system. Nonetheless, I have no reservations in asserting: the F-1n is king.
I have shot New F1s for many years and currently have 2 bodies, 2 winders, motor 4 viewfinders and a lot of screens. This camera is built to last - one of mine once bounced 500 feet down a mountainside in a backpack and despite a few cosmetic dents is still working. this is probably the best Manual Canon body - it's main weakness is the lack of mirror lock up. It will work fine in -40 and will function without the battery. The handling is rather unusual for those used to modern cameras but with practice is easy to use. Unlike the earlier F1s this one has a much better motor and winder system. All of the viewfinders are useful but the speedfinder and the AE prism are probably the most use. If you want shutter priority you need a motor or winder - the winder is probably the best option for most uses as the motor is large and heavy. This is a camera that was built to last - mine are 1985 and 1986 and look like they will last another 25 years
One of the best system camera ever made.
Two major missing features: Flash TTL exposure and AE lock... mirror lock-up would have been nice too!
Very easy to use, handles well and very sturdy. Can be really tailored to any specific need; however, it is less versatile then a T90. Configuring the camera is in itself a pleasure, choosing the screen and the finder along with the lenses best suited for the job is a treat.