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The Canon F-1

Type 35MM SLR
Shutter range 1 sec - 1/2000 sec
Shutter type Titanium horizontal travel
mechanical focal plane
Meter type CDS semi spot (12%)
Meter Range EV 2.5 - EV 18
Exposure system Full aperture manual match needle
lens Mount Canon FD manual focus
Battery 1.3 volt M20 (#625)

This was, for decades, Canon's offering to the professional photographer. Though not always the most feature laden, the newest, or the flashiest of the line, this camera was arguably the best professional grade model you could buy. This was Canon's "system" camera. As such there was an extensive line of accessories with which to extend it's capabilities, and add flexibility to the unit. The basic camera is an all metal, brass bodied unit, with a mechanical focal plane shutter, and manual match needle exposure system. Like all FD cameras, the F-1 was capable of full aperture metering.
    This camera features a metal curtained shutter, made of a super thin sheet of titanium, with a top speed of 1/2000 of a second. This is a horizontal travel shutter, with a synch speed of 1/60 of a second, and mechanically governed speeds going down to 1 second, plus bulb. The shutter can be cocked in a single 105 degree throw of the advance lever, or in a series of smaller arcs. As with all of the F series of cameras, the shutter is independent of the battery.
    The standard viewfinder of the F-1 has a central focusing aid consisting of a split image rangefinder surrounded by a microprism collar. Around the focusing aid is a slightly darkened rectangle which indicates the borders of the meter's measurement area. The metering system of the F-1 is what Canon calls a semi spot system. The entire sensitivity of the meter is concentrated within the boundaries of the central rectangle, 12% of the image area. A manual camera, with what amounts to a built in spot meter, is a marvelous tool for high contrast situations, such as night scenes. It is also perfectly satisfactory for less demanding situations. The meter has a sensitivity at ASA 100 of EV 2.5 to EV 18.
    Outside of the image frame area of the viewfinder, off the right are displays for the shutter speed, and exposure information. The shutter speed is shown beneath the exposure scale. The exposure scale is similar in practice to that of the Other F models, but differs in appearance. The needles are the familiar straight, and circular ones of all of the manual exposure Canon's, but are enclosed in a manner which gives the appearance of being a bar graph. There is a reference mark, for use during stopped down metering, and a red border on top and bottom. The circle is linked to the aperture, and is one stop in diameter. The straight needle is linked to the shutter speed, and light level. Getting the straight needle anywhere within the circle will give an acceptable exposure.
    The controls are in the expected places, with the shutter speed dial to the right of the pentaprism, the winding lever all the way to the right, and the shutter release in between. A locking collar on the shutter speed dial set the film speed. To the left of the pentaprism is the rewind knob, and the contacts for the optional hot shoe adapter. Also here is the small window which provides light for the viewfinder display. The meter on off switch is on the back of the camera, below the rewind knob. There is a multifunction lever on the front of the camera, to the right of the lens, which stops the lens down to preview depth of field. This same lever also locks the mirror up, and sets the ten second self timer.
    The F-1 will take the entire series of FD, as well as FL lenses, common to the whole F series of cameras. This in itself gives a considerable amount of versatility to the unit. The camera will take either the older, turn to tighten style, or the newer quarter turn lenses. Many photographers prefer the older style for it's self adjusting tension, and ability to compensate for the inevitable wear of the mount. All of the FD lenses have metal bodies.
    In common with the FTb, and the EF, the F-1 can use the CAT (Canon auto tune) flash system. This is an integrated electromechanical system of camera, flash, and lens. A ring is attached to the a nub on the lens focusing ring. A cable runs from the ring to the flash unit, while the flash unit itself is mounted on a special hot shoe with three connectors instead of the usual one. The ring transmits focus information to the flash unit, which in turn sends this information to the meter. The meter needle adjusts position according to the focus information, and it is up to the user to match the aperture needle, in a manner similar to that used during normal metered photography. the system was quite the advance for it's day, and still has some merit, even in these days of TTl flash systems, and auto exposure.
    Where the F-1 really shines, in comparison to the other members of the Canon F series, is in the system which can be built around it. This starts with the interchangable viewfinders, which can alter the metering, and viewing capabilities of the basic camera. There is a waist level finder, a booster finder for low light, and a servo finder, which makes this an automatic camera. The prism is easily removed by depressing a button on either side, and pulling straight back. This is the same method used to  give access to the focus screen. There is a wide selection of screens, as well as a motor drive, data backs, and film backs which will allow hundreds of photos to be taken without reloading. When added to the FD series of lenses, and the automatic flash system, there are few circumstances under which this camera could not get a photographer an acceptable image.
    The F-1 was my second F series camera. My first was the marvelous FTb, which is still my favorite camera. The F-1 is missing the hot shoe, and has a 1/2000 of a second top shutter speed, but it is otherwise functionally identical to my FTb. As such, I am very pleased with it. The use of these cameras becomes second nature, after a while, and there are few things more reassuring than knowing you have set the shutter speed, and focus yourself, and that the camera will not attempt to override your settings. In this series of cameras, I think Canon defined what a true photographer's camera ought to be. everything else is just bells, whistles, and fluff.