Canon FTb - picutures are dark : LUSENET : Canon FD : One Thread

Equipment is Canon FTb, FD 50mm f1.8 or f1.4 no filter Grey sky (bright sun wash). People posed against this background. Their faces are darker than with disposable camera. Facial features disappearing. Shots taken with "circle" for aperture over meter needle. and Shots taken with "circle" top edge touching meter needle. Pictures are consistently darker than with disposable camera. Proper film speed set. Various shutter speeds, but all above 60. Help. and thanks. ( I new at 35mm manual picture taking, what am I missing here?

One note: When I check my battery with the "C" switch, the needle is a good "two circles" above the index point. Maybe the meter needle is showing more light than is acutally available.

-- Tom Koman (, May 04, 2000


The reason for this is simple and is to do with the way the cameras work.

I assume you used a similar film in each (e.g. 400 ISO colour print film).

I assume also that you set the film speed correctly on the FTb - the film speed marked on the film box should appear in green in the little window in the shutter speed dial. It will be marked ASA - this is just the same as ISO as far as you and I are concerned. You must do this manually as the FTb does not detect what type of film you put in.

Finally, I also assume you have the correct battery fitted and that it tests correctly. For an unmodified FTb the correct battery is a 1.3v PX625 mercury battery or 1.3V replacement. The camera may have been modified to take a 1.5v replacement. Exposures will be slightly off if you use the wrong battery. This probably won't matter if you use modern print film.

To test the battery, note the ASA seting. Set the film speed to ISO 100 and the shutter speed to 1/1000s. Move the meter switch (settings 'ON', 'OFF' and 'C') to 'C' and look at the needle in the viewfinder. It should be just above the meter index - a square protrusion low on the RHS. Reset the film speed to the film speed in the camera.

If all these are correct, then the reason is simple. The FTb takes an average reading from the center section of the viewfinder, which is indicated by the grey region in the viewfinder. If this is not representative of the average brightness of your intended subject, exposure will be wrong. I suspect that the sky was the main (or even only??) element in this area when you took the photo.

Your disposable camera did better because it was pre-set to get a reasonable exposure of normal subjects under typical daytime outdoor conditions, such as those that existed.

To get a better exposure, fill the grey area with something the same brightness as the intended subject. You could zoom in on it, move closer to it (but don't refocus), or point the camera at the ground near it. After you have set the exposure correctly for this subject, recompose and shoot.

You should know that the FTb is not alone in being fooled by this - most modern metered cameras will underexpose in this scenario.

See for example Kodak's website for some directions on taking better pictures - these are valid for more or less any camera: ureMain.shtml

-- Roger Broadbent (, May 04, 2000.

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