The best camera ever?
(I woke up thinking about this today, but this post is only of interest to photographers and camera collectors)
In 1986, Canon brought out a new top of the range SLR manual focus film camera. It was designed in Germany, and really looked sleek and desirable.
I already owned three other Canon cameras at the time; the basic T50, the slightly better T70, and the older and heavier A1. So, I couldn’t justify the expense of buying this new professional model.
But I really wanted one.
Two years later, it had come down in price enough for me to rationalise getting one. I already had plenty of compatible lenses, so bought it ‘body-only’.
This was a film camera, not digital. It took four AA type batteries in the base, and all picture taking and composition had to be done through the optical viewfinder. There was automatic film advance and rewinding, so no film lever to spoil the look of it. Canon had added the luxury of multi-spot metering, and shadow and highlight control. There was also the ‘safety shift’ feature, which adjusted shutter speed or aperture to make sure you got the shot in awkward lighting conditions.
Despite being aimed at professionals and serious amateurs, it also retained the ‘Program’ option, for easy point-and-shoot photography. A window at the top supplied extensive information about settings, saving the need to look through the viewfinder to see them.
The back of the camera was an object lesson in simple design, with everything you needed, and no more.
It was very solidly built, and though weighty, never felt awkward or heavy in the hand. It could be bumped and dropped, and still work, making it a hit with some professionals.
Despite already owning some lenses and a flash that all worked on this new model, I bought a 24mm wide angle lens, and a 400mm telephoto prime too.
I have never enjoyed using a camera so much, before or since.
Many years later, in 2000, I felt that I now needed autofocus, as my eyesight was not what it was. I traded the camera in, with all the other bodies and lenses, and bought a new Minolta film SLR with one lens, a 24-105mm. As the man in the shop took away all my traded kit, I felt a real pang of regret watching it go.
This summer, I decided to buy one again. I got a decent used version on Ebay, and a compatible lens from the website of a camera shop.
I doubt I will ever use it. Film is a lot of hassle and expense these days, and my eyes are even worse.
But I just love to look at it.