Check Out the Ingenious Design That Went Into the 1971 Canon F-1 and Its Light Meter

The ingenious details that went into the purely mechanical design of early SLR cameras are incredible, and this in-depth video gives you a remarkable insight into how the light metering system functioned inside the legendary Canon F-1.

Alec Watson of Technology Connections gives a comprehensive lesson in the exposure triangle before going on to explain how this led to the design of the F-1’s light meter. The Canon F-1 was launched by Canon in 1971 and is regarded as Canon’s first SLR camera designed for professional use. Its build was completely mechanical with the exception of the battery-powered light meter that, as this video explores, is an inspired piece of design.

The F-1 featured Canon’s new FD mount, which was in use until Canon shifted to the EF mount in 1987, bringing a dramatic change: autofocus. The FD mount hung on for a few more years, however, with the last model to use the technology being the T60, which was launched in 1990. 

As you might expect, there are plenty of F-1s floating around secondhand, and you can typically pick one up for a couple hundred dollars. As this video from Watson notes, however, you’ll need to be a little creative in getting a battery to work with the light meter.

Do you have an F-1? Do you use a hearing aid battery to keep the light meter working? Let us know in the comments below.


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