canon -f1 : LUSENET : Canon FD : One Thread

hello, I currently own a canon AE-1, I'm thinking ditching it and getting an F-1 soley for one reason:: removable prim. I photograph people and social situations, I'd like to photograph people without disturbing them, therefore, I figure if I remove the prism I can look down at the image and shoot withou pointing the camera at them. My concern is how will I focus accurately? is the image inside the prism sharp and clear enough to focus?

I was told that I may try an Angle View Finder B that attaches to the viewer in back of the camera to photograph people, instead of buying an F1 for that sole purpose.

a new question:: is there a big difference between "picture quality" using an F-1 over an AE-1 ???

-- giselle (, February 26, 2001


The short answer is yes but I'll bet you will be disappointed. The image on the ground glass will be washed out and hard to see. Canon made a waist level finder for the new F-1 to shield the GG but the image is only about 23*35 mm. It will be hard to focus if you have it some distance away. It has a magnifier but you have to bring it up to your eye to use it; something I don't see as very different from using the standard finder. Note also, that the GG image will be reversed right to left which makes tracking interesting.

Canon also made speedfinders for both the F-1 and new F-1. These are right angle finders that are sort of like periscopes. They have even smaller images than the GG.

The angle finder B also requires that you have your eye right up to it which is handy for macro or pet photography but I think is not practical for what you want. It is unusable held down at your waist. BTW, the Canon B angle finder tends to be expensive. If you want a cheaper alternative, look for the cheaper minolta or pentax angle finder - the eyepieces are compatible with the Canon S (square) eyepiece.

Technically, in the limit the F-1 will produce better images as it is better built. Practically no, it will not as you are using it as a point and shoot. The F-1's greatest strength is it's durability and flexibility. It is not any easier or faster to use except where there is a special accessory.

The allegedly best 35 mm camera for your type of work is a Leica M or equivalent; something small and quiet. Except for the size and noise, I don't see an Ae-1 being any less effective than a Leica. I don't believe any have a waist level finder.

What can work well is to get a wide angle lens (24/28 mm?) and learn to use the focussing scale on the lens and practice "shooting from the hip". An AF camera would be even better. Your compositions may at times surprise you when you get the film developed.

If you really want a stealthy camera with a useable waist level finder, look for a TLR such as a Rolleiflex, Yashica or even a Mamiya. Many wedding photographers really like these as they are quiet, have a big ground glass and produce gorgeous negatives. You have to use 120 film though and will go thru film quicky.

Hope this is of some value.

Good luck & cheers,


-- Duane K (, February 27, 2001.

For what you want to do, I second the recommendation for a TLR with a quiet leaf shutter. Waist level focusing takes some getting used to, if you are accustomed to prism, and having a tiny groundglass doesn't help any. I also think that in general, expanding into a new format does more for one's creativity than getting another body or camera in the format you're used to. Working in medium format will improve your 35mm photography.

-- David Goldfarb (, February 27, 2001.

I basically agree with the other posters. We have an F-1 with both Waist Level and Sports Finders. And an Angle Finder for both F and A series. A TLR blows them all away.

BUT, it might work for what you want. If you can find an F-1 to play with, you can try it out. You just push the two buttons on the prism an slide it off.

And you do need the Waist Level Finder because without some form of finder/prism, there is nothing to hold the focusing screen in place. I would also think that the metering would be effected somewhat.

-- Terry Carraway (, February 27, 2001.

thanks for the valueble information, WHAT WOULD I DO WITHOUT THIS FORUM! anyways, I've found a seafull 44 to experiment with, although I don't know much about medium formats, seems like the price of $40 was reasonable. I am definetly buying a wide angle for my AE-1 also . .and I might consider playing around with an f-1 if I can find one for less than 200 dollars. thanks for all the help again!!!

-- giselle (, February 28, 2001.

I know this is rather late but I thought I'd put my two pennies worth into the pot. I have an F1N and I've found that I can use it without the prism just fine.

Obviously, focussing is a little more difficult but if I wear my spectacles I manage adequately. (incidentally, I have the AE prism and can see everything: both sets of scales as well as the whole screen, quite easily)

I was going to sell the F1N on Ebay but it didn't make its reserve so I've decided to keep it. It's a jolly nice little camera and I speak as a committed Nikon user.

-- Harvey Platter (, March 27, 2001.

Just looked at this thread again.

The Waist Level Finder was made for both the older F-1 and the New F-1. They are different models, but both are out there.

We have an F-1n (second model) and the proper Waist Level Finder for it. I had mistakenly picked up a Waist Level Finder for a New F-1, and while it fits, it doesn't work real well. The built in magnifier is out of focus.

And that is one big difference between the two. The WLF for the New F-1 has a flip up magnifier like many TLRs.

-- Terry Carraway (, March 29, 2001.

hello. Question, is the 199a suitable for use with the Canon F-1 original? Is a synchro cord needed? Joe.

-- Joe (, May 03, 2002.

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