Several Questions from new-ish AE-1 user : LUSENET : Canon FD : One Thread

I have just taken up photograpy 'seriously' (i.e. more than holiday snaps and in the search for pleasing images) in the last 6 months. I have an AE-1 and have been generally very happy with it, with the exception of creative flash possibilities. I have a few questions that are nagging and that my local camera shops can't answer. I hope someone here can help.

1. When focusing, I notice that my 35mm f2 new FD and 50mm 1.8 new FD don't appear to quite focus at infinity according to the microprism and split screen when the end of the focus travel is reached. I compared performance with a T series camera in the shop (T50 I think) and its 50mm lens and my lenses gave the same viewfinder appearance on both, i.e. none quite focused out to infinity on microprism and split screen. The effect is very slight and I don't see any corresponding problems with focus on my pictures, even at "infinity" (>200m on 35mm f2) at maximum aperture. Is this normal? Does it correspond to the hyperfocal focusing limit of the lens at maximum aperture or something clever? Or do my lenses and/or camera need servicing for optimal performance?

2. Using a dedicated flash, the shutter speed is automatically set to 1/60s. This prevents 'creative' use of longer shutter speeds. Will this happen with non-dedicated flashes or dedicated flashes connected via an adaptor to the PC socket? My Cobra TWIN30TD A series dedicated unit has a 'slow sync on/off' switch which has no effect on my camera.

3. Regarding 'creative' use of flash again, most flash units I see have one manual and up to 3 auto settings in 2 f-stop intervals. What are my choices for units giving a wider range of fill-in flash possibilities, given the restriction of a fixed 1/60s shutter speed? Or do you find that such a unit gives enough versatility? Are there any intelligent units for the AE-1 that will set a predetermined amount of fill-in, in relation to the available light?

4. What are the slow-sync and fill-in capabilities of the newer and/or higher-end FD cameras? I am thinking of A-1, F-1, T90, possibly T70 and variants.

I will be happy to supply any relevant details you need to answer. Or just guess.


Roger Broadbent

-- Roger Broadbent (, June 09, 1999


I guess the AE-1P should be added to the list in 4.

-- Roger Broadbent (, June 09, 1999.

What you are seeing at infinite focus is common, and not a "real problem". Nothing can be made perfectly, and what you are seeing is likely tolerable error. Even if something is off a bit, shooting at infinity at f4.0 or narrower aperture will yield perfectly sharp images. Remember, you are looking through the lens and focusing at full aperture - the narrowest depth of field. Learn to use the depth of scales on your lenses. Also learn to set your lens for "hyperfocus". These things will help you understand why a lens need not focus perfectly at infinity and still yield sharp results, and a better working knowledge of depth of field. Setting a lens at its hyperfocal point allows one to shoot with a huge depth of field. I shoot my 35 f2 with a depth of field commonly from 3 ft to infinity, everything in perfect focus. A very handy thing to use!

-- Karl Wessendorf (, June 14, 1999.


1. The lenses SHOULD focus at infinity. If it is not off much, it doesn't make a lot of difference. It can be adjusted, what it is normally is that the stop is set slightly wrong. First check your lenses on a couple of other bodies. One common thing is for cameras with interchangeable focus screens is for them to not be fully seated.

2. I don't know which flash you have, but the 199A on an A-1 allows slow speed sync. The switch on your Cobra flash should only make difference if you set the shutter speed to greater than 1/60th. Any higher shutter speeds should still auto set to 1/60th. Realize that you only have front curtain sync, so any slow sync effects on moving subject will have the ghost image occur after the flash image. Moving people will look they are walking backwards. BTW any PC connected flash works like a hot shoe flash on manual.

3. Not much choice in using the flash as a auto fill in with these cameras. You might be better with a Vivtar 285HV which allows a 5 stop range of manual settings.

4. The A-1 with 199A allows slow speed sync, but only front curtain. The T90 with 300TL allows sync to 1/250th, slow sync, second curtain sync, and flash exposure compensation. Some many choices, I end up putting the flash on P. :) The older F-1 doesn't even have a hot shoe.

-- Terry Carraway (, June 14, 1999.

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