Eric L. Woods

This Old Camera (Update): Canon T70

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Update 2:

I blame shelter in place and persistent internet access, but I have purchased another Canon T70. A clean copy in Excellent Condition showed up at KEH (articles from when I used to write for them) so I grabbed another FD SSC 50mm f/1.4 and were are back in action.

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Turns out the more I think about it the T70 may be one of the best SLRs I have used for my purposes. My usual go to is Aperture Priority with the lens wide open when possible. One problem with that is that outside in bright daylight I occasionally forget to close down the aperture and will have a blown exposure here and there. Was using Program Tele on the T70 (more on that below) that leans to a more wide open aperture (Program Wide does the opposite), but Tv shutter priority has a trick up its sleeve. If you set it to the top shutter speed of 1/1000s it will a) close the aperture down in bright light as expected in Tv or b) automatically invoke a smart mode in low light which slows the shutter speed down to ensure a proper exposure and makes the shutter speed and aperture blink as a heads up to what it is doing. Net result is shooting wide open at f/1.4 and/or 1/1000s whenever possible and adjusting accordingly when necessary. If you set the from button surround switch to L it will keep the 1/1000s shutter speed if you hit the UP/DOWN buttons accidentally. 1/1000s will also be retained when you turn the camera on and off again whether it is set to L or not. Oddly no matter whether the switch is set to L or not Tv will default back to 1/125s if you change the mode and change it back though. If you switch modes often, do not want to think it about it at all, and do not mind the camera closing the aperture down a bit in brighter conditions Program Tele mode is the way to go. If you want as much in focus as is reasonable Program Wide is your mode.

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Also the more I think about it that front exposure lock button is perfect for me. Combined with Partial (AE-L) camera mode which is center weighted, rather than the whole scene average Average mode, I can quickly expose and recompose with ease.

Other than the lack of stealth (startling birds in trees to flight loud autowind) this camera is awesome.

Update 1:

RIP Canon T70. A first for me. Test roll came back and turns out this particular T70 is not operational. Produced a whole lot of blank images. First time this has happened with a camera purchased from my local camera shop. What next?

  1. Thought of taking this post down, but most everything stated below, other than it working, is accurate should one find a functioning copy.
  2. Refund? Look for another T70? Nope. I moved on, kind of… I used the balance to rescue a former camera of mine from the camera shop.

Welcome home Zeiss Ikon Contaflex II w/ Zeiss Ikon Teleskop 1.7x Adapter.

And back to the original post in 3, 2, 1…

It is easy to lust after the GAS film darlings of the internet. You know, the Leica Ms, Contax Ts, Hasselblads, and the like. They elicit excitement, hype, and also comment section rage fests. They crater many a bank account. They have their fans. They have their critics.

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But what of the others. The unloved and/or underappreciated cameras. Often very capable, but many find faults perceived and real. One group that catches quite a bit of flack is computerized cameras, especially SLRs. Subjective assessments say soulless or even ugly with their Knightrider era looks and electronics. Objective persons will say they are irredeemable once broken.

But they often forget to mention a few things that are quite attractive to me.

  • Cheap. Less than $50 and sometimes free.
  • Similarly, there is usually a ton of affordable glass available also.
  • Often work with the same great legacy glass as their more popular brand mates.
  • Those I have tried have very accurate metering.
  • I kind of like that cheesy 70s/80s/90s aesthetic.
  • I like a bit of automation.

One camera I have long wanted is a Canon T70. Why?

  • It is an anti-icon. I like the underdogs.
  • I may stand alone on this, but I like the way they look.

They are typically dirt cheap. So what kept me from getting one for so long?

Typically aperture priority is my favorite mode and this camera does not offer it.

What changed?

I walked into my local camera shop and there a clean copy I knew had to be new sat on the floor with a zoom attached.

My follow-up questions:

  • Does it work? Yes.
  • Do you have an FD 50mm instead of this zoom? Yes.

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  • How much? $30. A bit more with the 50mm lens.

So…

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Like many the dog is not impressed.

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I had made peace with the camera not having aperture priority mode, but after reading the manual (go figure) I found out about some features that take the edge off of this omission.

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  • Partial (AE L) Camera Mode.
    • Perfect for exposure lock and recompose. Conveniently the T70 has an exposure lock button out front. 00100lrportrait_00100_burst20200229215642786_coverWhen the camera is in Partial (AE L) mode you can either half-press the shutter or use the AE L button to select your exposure. Great for those occasions when the subject and background exposures are not the same.

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  • Program Tele Exposure Mode
    • This is the feature I like most. (See Update 2 above) It is still full auto, but importantly the camera will lean towards the widest aperture possible. In situations that may sway into risking overexposure, this is perfect. At times I forget to stop down. After some quick tests this is actually pretty useful.

Other pleasant surprises.

  • Autowind.
    • I actually like this. Classic loud camera noises here, but if I am not looking for stealth this is convenient and prevents the occasional missed shot because I forgot to wind on.
  • Continuous autowind shooting.
    • Want to take multiple shots? No switch necessary. Just keep pressing the shutter down. Simple and effective.
  • The grip is of sufficient depth and has raised ridges to make this an easy camera to hold on to.00100lrportrait_00100_burst20200228215956584_cover
  • Nice size and weight to it.
  • Autoload and power rewind.
  • Robust internal construction with metal shutter blades.00100lrportrait_00100_burst20200228215812526_cover
  • If you want the camera to drive set it to Program exposure mode.
  • If you prefer a bit more depth of field choose Program Wide exposure mode and the camera will lean towards a closed down aperture.
  • Tv mode is your standard-issue shutter priority mode. You set the shutter speeds with the DOWN and UP buttons. 00100lrportrait_00100_burst20200229215507982_cover The shutter speed displays on the top screen. On the downside, you only see the shutter speed on the top plate and the resulting chosen aperture in the viewfinder. As a result, I could only see myself using this mode if I only cared about shutter speed. This is now dubbed “I am shooting outside in daylight right now” mode and I love it. See Update 2 at the open. Have now realized that Tv is ‘smart’ and will automatically slow the shutter speed indoors as needed while blinking the shutter speed as a heads up. Set it to 1/1,000s, focus, and let the camera sort out the aperture. This is more aggressive than Program Tele. Only problem is that it will reset to 1/125s when you switch it out of this mode, but oddly it will retain 1/1000s if you turn it off and on again.
  • If you so choose you could theoretically move the aperture off of Aimg_20200229_223949 for full manual. But when you do this the camera has no Earthly clue what you are doing with the aperture. In the three Program modes, it shows the shutter speed it has selected up top, provides the suggested aperture in the viewfinder, and wishes you luck. In Tv mode, it will provide the suggested aperture in the viewfinder based on the shutter speed you have selected… and wishes you luck. The only way that moving the aperture off of A makes sense for me is if I just wanted to forgo the camera’s metering altogether and manually select my exposure. But there are many other cameras I would choose before this one if I were going to shoot in full manual.

Me? I am going to leave it in Program Tele most of the time, focus, hit the shutter and scare small children and animals and startle civilians with the autowind.

One possible demerit is that I hear that the battery door can fail.

I am pleased with this camera and will update on it with a scanner files post once I get a roll through it. A solid low budget SLR that I look forward to shooting with.

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