Over the years I have amassed many cameras, both in 35mm and medium format. I have a particular soft spot for Nikon and Zeiss Ikon products, but also love Minolta, Pentax and the old East German Praktica cameras. For some unexplained reason, I have had very little experience of Canon cameras. This isn’t from any bias, they just didn’t seem to come my way. One example which did arrive, courtesy of a charity shop, was a Canon T50 complete with a 50mm f1.8 FD lens. I instantly liked both the look and feel of this camera, however it’s auto everything nature made me put it to one side. It seemed to me to be little more than a glorified point and shoot. Therefore the Canon remained dormant in a box for four or five years whilst other cameras had their moment in the sun. Well, when the sun bothers to shine in the UK that is. I would, from time to time, consider using the Canon, mostly as I was curious to see if the lens lived up to its reputation.
Shooting a ‘new’ camera is always a strangely addictive mix of enjoyment and apprehension. What is it like to use? Is it overrated or underrated? Will it work at all? Will I mess it all up? When the results return, (I no longer develop my own) the anticipation is heightened as I download the images over which I have spent time, effort and money. Mostly I’m pleased, and if there is a problem, I’m inclined to blame myself rather than the camera.
There is in England, a stately home by the name of Beaulieu. Located on the south coast close to the English Channel, it is home to a museum housing a massive collection of vintage and classic motor cars. It is also the location for the Beaulieu Autojumble, which is an enormous event where people sell parts for classic cars. Enthusiasts from all over the world are attracted to this mecca of rusty artifacts, oily components, and chrome. It has been running since the 1960s, and I’d wanted to attend for years. This year the opportunity finally came.
The weather in the late summer of 2023 was decent after a wet July, and I had to decide which camera to take to Beaulieu. I wanted something simple to use, yet capable of making decent images. I decided on the Canon T50, mostly because I’d heard that the 50mm 1.8 FD lens was a real corker. I inserted two fresh AA batteries, and the camera was ready to go. For film, I chose Ilford FP4, which is my favourite as it’s fine grained, reliable and forgiving. The discipline of using a single lens and not fussing about with light meters, is one to which I too rarely subscribe. Arriving with a light heart, and light shoulder weight, I immersed myself in this orgy of ancient junk, to which I and so many others are drawn.
The Canon proved to be an utter delight in use. It’s well shaped, good to hold with a decent heft, and so blissfully easy to use. I have autofocus cameras, but manual focus is my preference. The T50’s viewfinder is bright and clear, with just a single green LED showing P. The lens is nicely damped, which makes focussing very simple. The Canon’s automation left me free to simply compose, focus and shoot. I loved it. As for the results? The Canon 50mm f1.8 is deserving of all the plaudits with which it has been showered over the years.
In conclusion, the Canon T50 and 50mm FD lens were a joyous alternative to hiking around with assorted lenses, and all the other paraphernalia which I often feel I need. It reminded me of being back in my late teens, toting my Praktica MTL3 with it’s standard 50mm, when that was all I had. Now I must be honest. Using the T50 wasn’t a road to Damascus experience, and I’m not about to sell my other cameras, giving all to the poor. My Nikon FE will always reign supreme, and I love my Contaflex Super. It certainly won’t replace my TLR and folding cameras. The Canon T50 has, however, become a camera which I can quickly pick up and go and take photographs. I still regard it as something of a point and shoot, but that isn’t such a bad thing. Are there any drawbacks to the T50? Certainly, as it’s automation removes the element of choice from the user, and if you’re delight is to shoot wide open, the T50 won’t easily let you do so. This isn’t entirely impossible though. Switch the lens from A to your required aperture, and the camera will work, but only at a 60th of a second.
All my images were lab developed, and scanned at a standard level. I use the simple free app, Snapspeed to carry out any editing, which usually only involves contrast, and dodge and burn. It’s the results that really matter, and the Canon delivered faultlessly. It is no longer unloved, nor will it be ignored in future.
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