Are you a long-time Canon user who goes back to your film photography roots once in a while? Or, are you just embarking on your film photography journey? Whichever the case, among the cameras you’ll find yourself considering or shooting with are Canon FD mount cameras. The mount was rendered obsolete in the early 1990s with the introduction of the Canon EOS cameras and the Canon EF mount. Still, we have the film photography revolution to thank for making it possible for us to experience a bit of Canon history through the FD mount cameras. If you don’t have one yet, allow us to recommend five of the most popular cameras that you can choose from.
When it was introduced in 1971, the Canon F-1 was the company’s first truly professional SLR system, and the camera that ushered the Canon FD lens mount. In fact, Wikipedia also reminds us that it was marketed as a direct competitor to the Nikon F and Nikon F2 SLR cameras. The Canon F-1 also boasted of having one of the largest selection of accessories of any 35mm SLR camera in history.
Today, long-time Canon fans and film photographers still revere and recommend the Canon F-1, even if it’s a little pricey most likely due to its historical value. However, it also often comes as a steal with extra lens or accessories, as is the case with this Canon F-1 with 50mm f1.8 and 28mm f2.8 lenses going for $165 on eBay.
While not as popular as the first three mentioned above, the Canon FTb still makes for a great 35mm SLR camera for film photography beginners. Introduced in 1971 alongside the Canon F-1, the mass-market camera intended primarily as a camera for the advanced amateur photographer. As such, it came with many of the features and the same build quality of its pro counterpart minus interchangeable prisms, focusing screens, or motor drives.
As mentioned in this review on the Film Photography Project, the all-mechanical 35mm SLR remains a top choice as a student camera. It’s recommended for its Quick Load function, match needle metering system, and a power switch for conserving battery power (only for the meter). If this sounds like a camera you want to embark on a film photography journey with, we spotted on eBay a black Canon FTb with 50mm f1.8 lens going for only $45.
Canon AE-/AE-1 Program
When the so-called analog resurgence kicked off, among the cameras that enjoyed a renewed popularity are Canon AE-1 introduced in 1976, and its auto version, the AE-1 Program introduced in 1981. The two cameras were at the forefront of Canon’s amateur SLR offerings and ushered the company into the emerging market for electronically controlled SLR cameras.
In the last two decades, the two cameras made film photography easy, hip, and fun for everyone. Since they’re affordable and mostly easy to find in thrift stores, yard sales, and online stores, these cameras remain among the most recommended cameras for anyone who wants to get into (or get back to) shooting film. If you fancy any of these two, you can grab this Canon AE-1 with 50mm f1.8 for $140, and this Canon AE-1 Program with 50mm f1.8 with case and flash for $179.99.
Additional Reading: The Canon AE-1: The SLR That Helped Make Photography Simple
Released in 1978, the Canon A-1 was also a historically significant Canon camera, being the first SLR to have an electronically controlled and programmed auto exposure mode. It followed the footsteps of the Canon AE-1 as the company sought to completely overhaul the entire Canon SLR series, and became the standard bearer of high technology for the amateur A-series SLRs. According to Wikipedia, the A-1 in particular represented Canon’s bid to outdo Nikon by offering more features at the cheapest price.
As with the Canon AE-1 and AE-1 Program, the A-1 also remains a top choice for 35mm film SLR cameras today. It’s also relatively easy to find and get for cheap. If you have this on your list, you can grab this Canon A-1 with 50mm f1.8 lens off eBay for $81.
Last but not least is the model that most Canon photographers consider as the best FD mount camera: the Canon T90. Introduced in 1986, it was the top of the line in the T series, the company’s last series of manual focus 35mm SLR cameras. Thus, it was also both Canon’s last professional-level manual focus camera and the last professional camera to come in the FD lens mount. While it was overshadowed by the EOS system just a year into its production, the T90 continues to be regarded highly for the many concepts it pioneered in high-end Canon cameras, especially the industrial design, user interface, and high level of automation.
All that said, the Canon T90 is the best and most sophisticated Canon FD mount camera you can still get your hands on — at great prices as well. Whether you’re just getting started with film photography or looking for a more advanced option, you can grab this Canon T90 with 50mm f1.8 lens off eBay for $159.
Cover photo by Emilio Küffer