Canon FTb Single Lens Reflex
This is a solid feeling, well made camera. All manual – exposure and focus. Uses a MRB 625 1.35V battery for the meter only, but being manual can be shot with no battery. If you are well experienced with judging exposures or, more ideally, are carrying a hand held light meter you are good to go wherever you may be. However, just running the meter the 625 battery lasts a long time. The FTb is not a light camera weighing in at just over 1kg with lens. Produced through the early 70s the bodies have stood up well to the years with usually only the film chamber light seals and mirror cushion needing replacement. The last iteration of the FTb came in 1973 and is quickly identified by the black plastic tip on the film advance lever which on earlier models was plain.
Canon’s ‘quick load’ film system makes film loading easy. Simply pull the leader out to the red film set mark, partially close the back while checking the white sprocket has correctly engaged the film, completely close the back and wind on 2 frames bringing the frame counter to #1. The same system is used by the Canonet QL17-GIII, Canon’s little fixed lens rangefinder. Film loading can sometimes be quite fiddly especially when you are in the field, trying to work in a shady spot with the film leader refusing to engage the take up reel, so with Canon’s design these film loading frustrations disappear.
Shutter speeds from B through to 1/1000th. Film speed ASA 25 - 2000. Plenty of scope within these parameters.
Match needle metering works well with the indicating needle centered within the aperture indicator ring giving correct exposure. We like very much the precision build with smooth moving controls. The shutter is quite mild when it fires and very similar to other manual slrs of the era. Unless the photographer is hard of hearing, the frame being ‘in the bag’ will not go unnoticed.
There are plenty of good lenses too. From 17mm ultra wide up to long telephoto. All FD mount. Earlier FL mount lens can also be used in stop down mode only. Stop down metering (preset aperture) is achieved via the lever sitting just left of the lens housing. It is necessary to read and understand the FTb manual on this procedure. FL mount lenses are worth the trouble for their optical excellence. FD lenses don’t require this as the aperture stops down automatically to the selected aperture the moment the shutter fires. The brighter lenses, F1.2 and 1.4 can be quite expensive whereas the ‘standard’ 50mm F1.8 usually can be found at very reasonable cost for the quality obtained. The lens range is huge, from a 17mm F4 ultra wide all the way to a 300mm F5.6 long tele.
The uncluttered top plate carries the film winder, shutter release, shutter speed combined with film speed dial, on/off switch and film rewind crank. All well spaced for easy access.
Getting back into analogue (film) photography is an absorbing journey which can become frustrating if your camera choice is not so suitable for your chosen genre. The FTb will not disappoint, offering many lens options, durability and satisfaction in use, plus the image results you hope for.