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Nick's Classic Corner - No. 12 - Canon FT QL, FTb QL and TX

Discussion in 'Classic Models & Marques' started by Benchista, Oct 11, 2013.

  1. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    By the mid-60s, the SLR was beginning to dominate the serious camera market, and one of the most popular models was Pentax's Spotmatic, in various guises. In 1966, Canon introduced a direct competitor in the shape of the FT QL.
    The FT used Canon's FL breechlock mount, offering stop-down manual TTL exposure metering in a solid and well-made body. The top plate has a rewind knob, surrounded by a battery check switch; a cold shoe for flash and the ingenious meter booster, of which more later, and on the right the shutter speed dial (1s - 1/1000), shutter release surrounded by locking collar, smooth all-metal windon lever, and frame counter.

    On the front of the camera is on one side a mirror lock-up lever, with flash socket below; on the other side is a mult-purpose lever that sets the self timer, and acts as meter switch/stop-down lever for DOF preview. At the bottom is a little switch that allows the stop-down lever to lock.

    On the side is the battery compartment for a PX625 mercury battery, no longer available, of course, but alternatives are available.
    The baseplate houses the back latch, which looks like it unlocks the baseplate but doesn't, a tripod bush, and a rewind release button.

    The viewfinder has a central rectangular ground glass portion, and a microprism spot - personally, I prefer microprisms to split image rangefinders these days, so that suits me fine. On the right is the world's simplest match needle meter, a 0 and a needle.
    Also available for this model (also fits the Pellix) is the Canon Booster, an accessory that clips into the shoe and plugs into the battery socket to give several extra stops of metering ability in low light. It's awkward to use, but does actually work.

    Along the way, there had been cheaper versions of the FT and FTb - the TL and TLb respectively. Late on in the life of the series, the TX was introduced as a cut-down version of the TLb. This differed by not having the QL system, shutter only running to 1/500, no shutter release lock, meter switch, dedicated flash capability, mirror-up or self timer - and no plastic tip for the winder or flash socket cover. In other ways it was identical.

    In this day and age, with FTbs being so cheap, I can't conceive of a reason for buying a TX except for completee

    The QL in the product name refers to Canon's Quick Loading system - the film leader is pulled out to a red mark, and a secondary door closes to cover it and allow the ingenious take-up spool to take the film up. Excellent system.

    All in all, a decent no-nonsense SLR that's very much of it's era.

    As the 60s progressed and moved into the 70s, though, stop-down metering began to look old-fashioned and clumsy, and in 1971 Canon revised the lens mount to allow full aperture metering - the FD mount. With it came two new models, the professional F1, and the amateur FTb QL, which replaced the FT.

    I've two FTbs, and both are later models with a modified stop-down/self timer lever whose functions now include mirror lock-up, plastic-tipped windon lever, and the shutter speed displayed in the viewfinder, which means they're from 1973 or later. These changes aside, there are few differences from the FT - the rewind knob is now also the back latch, the battery check lever is now also the meter switch, the shoe is now a hotshoe with extra contacts for a dedicated flash (!). The flash sync socket now has a spring-loaded plastic cover. And although the battery compartment looks the same, the Booster doesn't work with this camera.

    Biggest change is through the finder - the focusing aids remain the same, but the meter has had a make-over, and now the needle is matched with a moving circle, the needle controlled by the shutter speed (and light reading), the aperture controlling the circle. A red marker appears when out of metering range. The shutter speed is indicated on a wheel in the bottom left of the viewfinder.

    The changes may be fairly minor, but they make it a much nicer camera to work with. They're also fantastically cheap these days - I got the second to get my hands on the lens that came with it - for a tenner. I like this camera, and would recommend it to anyone who wants to try the authentic manual SLR experience.

    Alongside these models were cut-down entry-level versions - the TL and TLb. In 1975, Canon introduced the TX as a new cut-down FTb - out went the QL system, the meter switch, mirror lock-up, self timer, shutter speed lock, dedicated flash capability, 1/1000 top speed, the plastic tip of the windon lever, and the flash socket cover Oh, and the meter was centre-weighted, as opposed to the partial (12%) meter in the FT series. In every other way it was identical.

    In this day and age, I can't see anyone other than a collector buying a TX - the FTb is a superior camera, and absurdly cheap.
  2. PeteE

    PeteE Well-Known Member

    Yes, I also have 2 FTBn bodies -- the original one I bought from a 'disgruntled' member of Barking Photographic Society who kept getting cameras ( thinking it was the 'CAMERA' that produced the Monthly Print Comp winners) NOT the PERSON and the IDEAS -- well , one night after Club in the Pub he moaned " I would sell ALL my CANON outfit to anyone who offered me £150- 00 " -- Well I OFFERED quicker than you can say Pentax Spotmatic and got a FTBn + 24mm f2.8, 50mm f1.4,100mm f2.8, 200mm f4 all CANON lenses, loads of 55mm filters, extension tubes and so on .
    I later sold the 24mm f2.8 to another member for £50-00 as I preferred the sharpness of my 24mm f3.5 SMC Takumar on the Canon with the Canon 'P' adapter so I got it all for 100 Quid ! Many years later a former member of Barking PS gave me HIS FTBn body having sold his F1 so I have the two now and USE them !!!
    Canon FTbn by pentaxpete, on Flickr
    I was also GIVEN a 'TX' body by a member of Brentwood Photo-Club my present Club and took it to the Philippines and gave it to an old bloke I met out there many years ago who had his AE1 stolen from his house by a boy ( who I actually MET using it with the 50mm Macro lens ) while I was photographing the Sinulog Festival with members of Cebu Images Camera Club and I wondered why he had the 'macro-lens' and didn't seem to know much about the camera or even what FILM was loaded !! All these stories ----- !!!

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