Canon FTb: A Great Teacher


If you’re looking to learn more about the relationships between apertures and shutter speeds, the Canon FTb will be a great teacher.

Credits: duringmyheyday

Name: Canon FTb QL
Type: 35mm SLR
Lens Specifications: 50mm f/1.8
How much I paid: USD75.00 including shipping (Etsy)
How much you might pay: USD50.00 to 150.00

I have been planning to purchase a vintage SLR for a few months now but never actually saw one that has been proven to work still within my budget. I came across this camera, a Canon FTb, on Etsy while doing my routine surfing (look long and look hard!). While the seller couldn’t vouch that it would definitely work, I took faith in the fact that it belonged to her family (reasonable care) and well, I do consider myself quite lucky when it comes to cameras.

Credits: duringmyheyday

What I like:

  • I’m no expert but from what I’ve read online, the standard 50mm f/1.8 lens is pretty much everything a casual photographer needs. I love the fact that I can take close-ups (about 40cm).
  • The Canon FTb is completely mechanical, which means that you can shoot at all apertures and all shutter speeds without batteries. I’ve been taking the opportunity to work without metering and learn more about the relationships between apertures and shutter speeds. After a while, you’ll realize it’s not as difficult as you imagined. I highly recommend it!
  • Contrary to what I used to assume about SLRs, the Canon FTb has been a breeze to use. There’s really nothing complicated about it.

What I don’t like:

  • This thing is built like a tank and lugging it around might be too much for some people. Personally, most times I’m grateful for the weight because it makes the camera feel sturdy in your hands.
  • The shutter is pretty loud, as with many vintage cameras.

Tip: When buying a vintage SLR, it’s quite important to note which lens they come with. You might find a camera for less than usual but then realize it’s because they don’t come with their original lens.

Alternative cameras to consider: Canon AE-1, Nikon EM, Olympus OM-1

written by duringmyheyday on 2011-12-05 #gear #analog #review #slr #canon-ftb #lomography #slr-camera #user-review #camera-guide


  1. bpvarona
    bpvarona ·

    I agree with you about the Canon FTb being a great, and encouraging teacher :) I was wary at first to try something which I thought was so complicated, but actually wasn't after several shutter clicks. And the feel of it in your hands is quite pleasant :)

  2. itsdebraanne
    itsdebraanne ·

    i've got the AE-1 and i believe the AE-1 is a great camera as well. After shooting a while, bout 45% of the time I can correctly guess the aperture without a light meter. yes there is a built in light meter in the camera, but most of the time my pictures come out great purely on guesstimating. (:
    i suppose the AE-1 is a great teacher as well. haha.

  3. duringmyheyday
    duringmyheyday ·

    Hi bpvarona, I cannot agree with you more! I was at first skeptical that my pictures would turn out at all but I've been pleasantly surprised so far.

    Hi itsdebraanne, I played around with my friends AE-1 and because it's a newer version and there are more buttons to play around with, I find myself preferring the simplicity of the FTb. However, the AE-1 is a gorgeous camera, that's for sure!

  4. gegana06
    gegana06 ·

    If you wanna have a different view, just try with the 28mm/2.8 FD S.C lens. Very good lens for street shoot instead the 50mm/1.8 FD S.C/S.S.C.

  5. gegana06
    gegana06 ·

    Hi duringmyheyday. For the oldskool cam at the same period, the Canon FTb (and/or) the FTb QL was more easier to use than the Nikomat/Nikkormat FT/FTn. And the AE-1 was more modern and more sophisticated than the FTb. But if you talk about the Nikon EM, that was another story. The Nikon EM doesn't have the Shutter Speed Control like the AE-1. Nikon EM just have : A (auto), M90 (1/90sec shutter speed) and B (stand for Bulb: 1/1000sec shutter speed). And the Nikon EM body were built from copper aluminum alloy body and fiberglass reinforced polycarbonate plastic top and bottom covers, so the lightweight Nikon EM are more fragile than the strong heavy metal AE-1 and FTb.

  6. gegana06
    gegana06 ·

    The small stories about Nikon EM:

    The small black beauty Nikon EM are designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro, one of the best Italian car designer. Nikon EM are initialy designed as the “Nikon camera for women”, because of the operational simplicity...and also the lightweight body :)

  7. hai
    hai ·

    Very nice and informative article. Thank you for sharing.
    I recently am exploring film, 35mm stuffs, great fun and great learning.
    I too also have just got an FTb, excellent mechanical tool to learn exposure. Battery is deliberately removed.
    The colours of photos in your article are so magic. Do you remember which film you use?

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