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Canon F-1 vs. New F-1 build quality

H Gercek , Jun 20, 2010; 07:43 p.m.

Those who have used these two cameras, which one do you think is better in terms of build quality?
I`ve used an F-1 before and although it`s a well built camera, my copy had some weak parts such as the film advance lever, bottom plate, and the prism/finder. These parts were somewhat loose, especially the vertical play in the film advance lever was irritating. I`m now considering to buy another f-1 body and I need to decide if I should get another f-1 or go with a new f-1. Feature-wise, both cameras suit me well, so the decision comes down to the build quality.


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Rick Janes , Jun 20, 2010; 07:58 p.m.

I've spoken to several repair technicians on this exact topic and they're unanimous in their opinions- the mechanical F-1 is a tougher camera as well as simpler to repair.
None of my F-1/n bodies exhibit any of the issues you've mentioned either, all work (and feel) perfect.

paul wheatland , Jun 20, 2010; 09:11 p.m.

I have had both F-1 ca 1972 and still have F-1n ca. 1977 both cameras have slight differences, neither is battery dependent except for metering. No battery power, all functions work. New F-1 ca. 1981 is battery dependent and because of 30 years old may have electronic issues with no repair parts. The earlier two Canon F-1 and F-1n are mechanical. If the meter fails use a handheld meter and your still able to shoot. My vote goes for original Canon F-1 or F-1n but not new F-1.

Mark Pierlot , Jun 20, 2010; 09:45 p.m.

I have an F-1, two F-1n's, and two F-1N's. All are superbly built and perform flawlessly. Since I usually shoot in Av, I tend to use the F-1N (or T90) more. So if you need auto exposure, get an F-1N; if not, or if you need mirror lock-up, get an F-1 or F-1n.

Philip Wilson , Jun 20, 2010; 11:29 p.m.

I own an early Fi (1974) and two New F1s ( 1982 and 1984) all are incredibly well built and perform without issue. Mine have frequently gone out in -40C and have climed many mountains (and in the case of one new F1 tumbled down one). The New F1 is probably slightly more durable as it is weather sealed unlike the older models. The New F1 is not as battery dependent as Paul suggests - so long as you remove the battery all you lose is the metering and 1/60 and slower speeds - 1/90 to 1/2000 will all work without a battery in the body. Mark gives good advice - get the F1 for MLU but the New F1 for automation and better metering options (spot, partial and center weighted). In terms of build the fact that the New F1 will be a newer body may also help with durability.

Mark Wahlster , Jun 21, 2010; 12:15 a.m.

at 30-40 years old they are all built like brick shit houses. If they weren't they would already be gone.
Buy based on what features you want/need for the photography you do.

Ed K (North Carolina) , Jun 21, 2010; 12:28 a.m.

I had a New F-1, sold it years ago and I have regretted that decision ever since. I recently acquired an F-1 (ca. 1973) and had it updated with some new parts (new top plates and back).

I agree wit the others. If you want AE, New F-1, if you want MLU and less battery dependence, then get an F-1/F-1n.

However, I never liked the feel of the film advance on the New F-1, the original F-1 is better. But if you want shutter priority AE and the smoothest film advance, get an EF. The EF is probably the most under rated camera built in the early-mid 70's. Like I said, I sold my New F-1, but I kept my EF. I'm not letting the EF go.


Rick Janes , Jun 21, 2010; 01:31 p.m.

The New F-1 has a hidden design flaw that's caught me out and probably others too: as already mentioned, the shutter requires a battery to function OR removal of same to permit use of its mechanically-governed speeds. Doing so means removing the battery access plate, which is hidden behind the handgrip when the motor drive is attached. Okay, well just remove the motor, pain in the ass it may be...but wait...with the drive removed sunlight can leak in through those uncovered holes in the camera's base plate...very inconvenient when you've got ISO 400 film already loaded and are shooting outdoors on location...it's like a bad episode of Candid Camera.
This exact scenario happened to me during MotoGP at Laguna Seca in 2008. I'd put a new battery in about a month before, it checked out aok, but began failing during the weekend. Canon did make an adapter cord which powered the camera from the motor drive's battery pack but it's only usable with the Ni-Cd battery FN...how very clever of them (and how many of those will even hold a charge nowadays?)
I think the New F-1 is a very fine camera which could've been so much better given a little more desire on Canon's part. AE lock, MLU, and direct power supply from external battery sources...imagine the WOW factor! That, and a nice shiny black finish the way an F-1 oughta.

Mark Wahlster , Jun 22, 2010; 08:44 a.m.

Rick you don't carry a changing bag in your camera bag. A real film photographer never goes afield without one.

And You can in fact easily power your New F-1 from an external battery just like any of the A series bodies. ever notice that little notch in the bottom of the battery door? that is there to allow a 2 conductor cable to pass through the door. On one end you have a little PX-28 size dummy battery on the other anything from 4) AA's to a 6Volt car battery.
You can make the adapter really easy out of a lenght of 7/16" wood dowel about 1/8th inch shorter then the PX-28 battery. Push two brass thumbtacks into the ends to act as electrical contacts and then before seating the thumbtacks tight against the ends of the little wood dowel wrap one side of some 18-22ga speaker wire to the nail on each thumbtack. Then put the little adapter in place of the battery and run the cable through the little notch to a 4) AA battery holder.

Radio shack carries the wire and the battery holder.

By the way Canon sold these they show up once in a while on eBay.

You can also have any of the Canon NiCad battery packs recelled. And NO no camera company plans on having their products being used 30 years down the road.

Lauren MacIntosh , Jun 22, 2010; 06:05 p.m.

Get a F-1 before 1973 and you will understand why the rest of us love that camera

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