5 frames with...

5 Frames with a Canon F1 with a 55mm f/1.2 – James Greenoff

December 25, 2017

My Canon F1 came to me just after I’d committed to no more cameras. I have about six or seven good cameras working in a rotation and for the most part I’m an SLR shooter, (I have a a Leica M4-P which I’ve yet to fully engage with, it is a very nice ‘thing’ though). It all happened after I’d been chuntering away about wanting a super simple, super sexy, 35mm SLR, that gave me the things that I love about the Leica without without having to compromise on the stuff I like about SLRs in general. 

It came to me with perfect paintwork, a broken meter, and a few nice lenses. I added a 55mm f/1.2 to the bag and have basically just shot that since. I took the pictures below back in sunny August, while on the Street Hunters meet up. This was the first outing of my F1 with the 55mm and I was super pleased with the results. I shot on portra which both looks great and has massive dynamic range. (It smoothes the rougher edges of my slapdash metering).

I love the feel and the speed with which I can shoot it and the simplicity of operation, I like the meaty-ness of it, and the lack of ergonomic consideration. I also really like the shutter lock. At 1.4 kilos it is not light or compact, but it has become my daily driver, (unless I’m trying to engage with the M4-P).


James Greenoff’s ramblings and further photography can be found at www.jamesgreenoff.com, and on instagram at instagram.com/jamesgreenoff .

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  • Reply
    jeremy north
    December 27, 2017 at 11:39 pm

    Apart from being potentially, a lethal weapon, the F1 is a sweet camera. Very smooth, beautifully built and I’d say quite good ergonomically.
    Having handled your F1 & 55/1.2 combo, it is indeed a bit of a beast. However the end justifies the means, as they say. I like your choice of Portra to show it off. Thank you James.

  • Reply
    Racket horning and the Handsome Loaner - James Greenoff Photography
    January 2, 2018 at 7:06 pm

    […] continued to shoot my Canon F1, racking up a few more keepers and posting a  5 Frames With… on 35mmc. I was also pleased as punch to have won the building category in the Sam Driver […]

  • Reply
    Karl Valentin
    May 9, 2018 at 9:28 am

    I am a big sucker for old glass and very thankful that Nikon allows me to use my
    Nikkor 1,2/50 AIs and Nikkor S 1,2/55 (Ai modified) further with my DSLRs.
    This lenses have a lot of potential used in the right way and its a sort of challenge
    to master it on open aperture too !
    For random street photography I wouldnt suggest to use it you will bes spotted
    as a pro on the first sight……

  • Reply
    January 6, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    Hi, I reread your F-1 article. These were spectacularly well-built cameras, the epitome of mechanical precision and craftsmanship. If I wanted to start with a new 35mm system camera, I would be tempted to seek out the F-1 (but I have a Spotmatic in great condition, so I do not need another 35mm kit). Three questions:
    1. Did you get the meter fixed?
    2. Have you looked for the neat accessories, such as viewfinders and screens – and lenses?
    3. Are you still using it?
    Ciao, keep photographing!

    • Reply
      January 17, 2019 at 9:42 pm

      Hey, yep i’m still using it, although sporadically – just finished a roll that had been in there for 6 months – I didn’t get the meter fixed although I’m considering it more and more. Since I’ve been using Portra and meterless cameras I’ve been pretty slapdash with my metering. Which is less of a worry with C41. I’ve wanted to shoot more black and white of recent and I love and have HP5. I’ve been carrying a spot meter but it just isn’t as quick.

      I bought it with a few lenses, a Vivitar 135mm f/2.3, an 85mm f/1.8 and something widish, I sold most of them and bought the f/1.2 – I did get it with a WLF which I’ve used a few times, I’d like to get a 35mm for it at some point, but no rush.

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