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Erratic New F1 AE metering

Ryck Lent , Apr 11, 2010; 02:52 p.m.

As a long-time FD system user (old F1, AE-1 and even an EF since 80s) I finally acquired a New F1 recently with Speed Finder and AE Finder FN. I'm getting erratic meter readings and am not sure where the problem lies. Read the manual, a number of threads here and even the Ken Rockwell rant ... I do find the New F1 a little more complex than expected, based on instincts from the older bodies. This critter has a lot of gimmicks.

I can't seem get the hang of when the meter is indicating correct shutter speeds under AE -- aperture priority mode. There's no motor drive involved. With the meter switch set to Normal, using the AE finder, at various times the meter needle is active but shows very slow speeds. After fiddling with battery check, lens stopdown button, suddenly it will read accurately. All the usual consistency checks (other cameras, light meters, light sources, multiple lenses, batteries) show no problems.

I found this problem especially frustrating when shooting at a skating event, where I was counting on the AE function with large aperture lens (200 2.8) to help isolate and freeze skaters. Experience suggests 125 - 500 at 2.8 - 4 for the high speed film (Fujicolor Press 1600) in use, yet some were down at 1/2 to 1 sec -- a long time for the finder to be dark while follow-focusing figure skaters!

Camera is used, and this may be a manifestation of poor contacts somewhere in the system ... but there are a lot of places to check and in any case, it's quite erratic. Just out of curiosity, are there TWO meter needles in the system -- one for the match-needle aperture and another for the shutter speed AE?

Any tips or hints for a New F1 neophyte?

Responses

Alan Swartz , Apr 11, 2010; 03:11 p.m.

I have no certain answers for the inconsistent readings. Undoubtedly there is an electrically intermittent connection somewhere, perhaps in the camera, in the prism, or at the mating contacts.

But there are two meter movements. The shutter-speed needle you see in aperture-priority mode is in the prism. The aperture needle, seen at the right side of the focusing screen, is in the body.

Ben Hutcherson , Apr 11, 2010; 03:14 p.m.

Ryck,

To directly answer your last question-yes, there are two different meter needles/galvanometers at work. One of these is in the camera body, and the other is within the AE finder itself.

When the meter needle reads lower-than-expected shutter speeds, does the camera actually fire at those shutter speeds? If so, the problem is in the body.

Alternatively, do you get seemingly correct shutter speeds when the needle reads low speeds? If so, I'd suggest that the problem is possibly in the contact between the body and the AE finder. If you remove the finder, you'll see these along the very front edge of the camera body, as well as along the matching edge of the finder. You can clean these with a pencil eraser.

Ryck Lent , Apr 11, 2010; 03:45 p.m.

Thanks Alan and Ben

As near as I can tell, when the meter shows slow, the shutter fires slow. What's puzzling to me is that the meter needle moves off the mark, so it's not dead, but reading very low, suggesting poor contact. There are a lot of contacts to check, it seems.

Another newbie question for this particular camera body -- does the "Hold" meter setting freeze the reading AND the AE shutter speed setting?

Regarding getting aperture-priority AE when using non-AE finders, the New F1 user manual is, frankly, unhelpful. I quote from the Shutter section:
"The red "A" is for shooting in the aperture-priority and stopped-down AE modes with the Canon AE Finder FN attached."
Also, the Exposure Modes section begins: "The Canon F-1 is basically a manual-exposure camera capable of through-the-lens, full-aperture metering and stopped-down metering with the Eye-Level Finder FN. It can be converted to automatic exposure (AE) simply by attaching the suitable AE accessory ..."
Does the New F-1, in fact, provide AE with the Speed Finder or Eye-Level FN, as I've read here on the forum? Inquiring minds ...

Chris Waller , Apr 12, 2010; 02:39 a.m.

I had a similar problem with one of my F1s. The cause was corrosion on the switch contacts. A CLA cured it.

Ryck Lent , Apr 12, 2010; 11:35 a.m.

Chris:

Did the CLA include both the body and the AE meter, or just the body or the meter? I have feeling a CLA for both might be pricey -- though maybe I just have to bite down and do it. Thanks for the info.

Next question: who does good New F-1 repairs? I'd favor someone in the greater Boston area, but will go with the most experienced anywhere.

Ben Hutcherson , Apr 12, 2010; 06:10 p.m.

Mr. Ken Oikawa did a CLA on both my body and AE finder. As I recall, the price was the same regardless of the finder type. I paid $145 for the work, although my camera was in pretty rough shape and required what he called a "Class C" service.

He is a factory trained Canon F-1 service tech, and, as I recall, was once the head of the west coast Canon service facility.

I don't presently have his contact info, but others on here I'm sure can provide that. The F-1N is complicated enough, and different enough, that I'd personally only use someone who is factory trained. If someone not familiar with it puts it back together, you can end up with problems like a meter "lollipop" that doesn't point exactly to the selected aperture.

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