Feb 20, 2017

30-30-30 : Day 05 : Canon F1n

Setup for Day 05 (Feb 19th, 2017):

Camera: Canon F1n (revision of the original F1)
Lens: Canon FL 58mm f/1.2, T-60-2 lens hood
Film: Fujifilm Acros 100

Mini-review of the setup:

Camera: I'm familiar with this camera, I've shot a few rolls with it before we had moved to Portales. As such, the controls seem to be well placed. It is hefty in hand and that's without the optional battery pack and winder/motor drive. Great impression of quality as soon as you pick it up. This one is in very good condition aside from the missing bottom plate (on this style of F1 you had to pull the bottom plate to add a winder) which helps this impression of quality, but still, controls have heavy detents but are still smooth to use. Winder is nice and smooth and snaps through the stroke with confidence.

Very much feels like a "pro" camera and holds in the hand well while shooting. Standout position of the film wind lever lets you hold it without a strap easily, even with a hefty 58/1.2 lens on the front.

The viewfinder is excellent, I have the grid focus screen in it and the Speed Finder is great for use with glasses.

Speed Finder: High eye relief (you can see the whole screen from farther away) so works great with glasses or if you can't otherwise stick your eyeball right up against the view port. It also rotates around so you can use it like a Waist Level Finder, in case you want to shoot from a lower perspective. Not quite as bright as a normal finder, heavier and with lower magnification, it is not perfect but it works great for me.

Overall, it's simple and just gets out of the way. It doesn't do anything for you, for good and bad.

Lens: Dense piece of brass, aluminum and glass, this was Canon's first ultra-fast "normal" focal length lens for their SLRs. Aperture ring is up near the front of the lens, which is slightly slower in use but with a bit of use, it falls to hand naturally.

There is a second ring for stopping down the lens to your pre-set aperture for metering (hence the "preset" designation, as opposed to the later "Auto" lenses which closed the diaphragm for you) but the camera/lens will also stop it down when you take the shot. So, if you are using Sunny 16 or external meter like I do, you don't have to try to focus and compose through a dark viewfinder.

Focus is heavy and slow, but precise. If you wanted faster focusing to follow action, you likely would have gone with the 50/1.4 lens so the precision of the heavier damped focus here for portraits is welcome. It has become second nature for me, when focusing with a very shallow depth of field, to move my upper body rather than trying to get it exactly right with the focusing ring. Leaning forward/back is faster and can be just as precise when practiced.

Film: Fuji's Acros in medium format is beautiful. I haven't used very much of it in 35mm so I'm looking forward to seeing the scans.

Disclaimer about scans: My Canon Cancan 9000F has always been mediocre when it comes to 35mm and these are probably some of the worst negs I have scanned with it thus far. I can see much greater detail and sharpness in the negs themselves than I can in the scans. I'll try some alternate methods and see if I can get the film flat on the glass or possibly "scan" them in with my DSLR as that would at least give 10MP of information.

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